Saturday, December 31, 2011

Reader Question - Trip planning!

I love answering reader questions - if you ever have any Disney related questions - heck or anything else I've experienced including nursing (especially at the parks), baby wearing, etc, I will always do my best to help, even if that means expanding the question to other knowledgeable Disney folks!

Yesterday on the facebook page, I received this question from Jessica S.:
Starting to plan a trip for May '13 for me, dh, dd (will be 5), and ds (will be 2.5). Trying to decide the best week to go to take advantage of cheapest rates, least amount of crowds, best weather(my kids love to swim) We are open to switching dates....anytime after the Holidays works for us since we have ample time to plan.
Planning far ahead is a fantastic idea - it's great for budgeting and may make you crazy trying to figure out the best deals.  My 2 big suggestions for this are:

  1. Check out Touring Plans - for $9.95 a year, they have years of historical crowds to allow for a 365 day crowd calender - helping you pick the best time for you to visit if you want to avoid the crowds.  I absolutely love this feature!  And no, I don't get paid to say this.  It just really is an awesome travel tool.
  2. Find a travel agent.  I have several friends that are Disney TA's - they're FREE and get paid by Disney.  I've worked with Pixie Vacations Agents before (and honestly, hope to join their ranks if the Mom's Panel thing doesn't work out in 2012 and after I've readjusted to life with an infant!).  I do know several other amazing people that I'm sure would be incredibly helpful in your travel planning!  They're constantly in communication on The Facebook Page, so make sure to stay active to keep up to date!  A travel agent will do all the hard work for you.  If you book this far out, they'll help you change dates if necessary and continuously look for new deals to save you money!  I recently had a friend save $75 on a 2 night trip thanks to a quick thinking Travel Agent!  **I have had a bad experience - an agency highly recommended by a very popular Disney community.  I don't want to post against them publicly, but I will email you if you are curious.  Just know - if they don't answer all your questions or do a lot of research, MOVE ON.  They get commissioned to help you, so make them help and earn their money!**
This will be our first time staying on site ( thinking Pop of A of A). Should we get the DDP? There is so much to consider...any advice would be appreciated! Thanks!

I love staying on property and while it isn't always the best for our travel plans (i.e. marathon weekend where we have to leave at 3 am and have someone else watch our little guy), if we're on a regular trip, we do try to stay on property.  Pop seems to be the favorite Value Resort but the Art of Animation looks incredible.  The problem with Art of Animation is that it is almost entirely suites - depending on when you go, these no longer seem value!  And, the only section that has regular rooms is the Little Mermaid section, which may not be the theme you were hoping for.  Again, a travel agent is your best bet to help you figure out the pricing - and if you happen to go when the crowds are low, the prices will be lower and you're more likely to find good deals..

Including..

Free Dining.  I would personally rather take a large room discount and choose how much I spend on food to free dining, but that's not always an option.  Every person in your room, 3 years or older, has to have the plan if you purchase it (and everyone 3 or older gets it during free dining).  Depending on how much your children eat, you may end up spending more to buy a 2nd childrens meal, or maybe your children would only eat enough to share a meal.  Under 3 do eat free at buffets, so that is another good option if you're planning to do a sit down meal.

The DDP that is standard at the value resorts is the Quick Service Plan - In 2012 that is 2 counter service meals and 1 snack, down from 2 snacks in 2011 but the price did not drop.  I believe you can save up your credits to do a sit down, but mostly, you'll end up eating 'fast food' for the majority of your trip - you can upgrade, but that's more fees.

Here are some past articles I've posted about the DDP.  It's a very controversial topic.  Many swear by the DDP for their convenience and ease so my side is the side that prefers to save money - and even if you're DDP, you'll still be pulling out your wallet to tip, as those haven't been included in a few years.

Hope these help!!  I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Insane Crowds

I love Disney World.  You know that, obviously.  But, I've also come to really love it without crowds.  Our standard June trips are around a 5 on the Touring Plans crowd calender, which means there is a fare amount of people, but if you plan correctly, you can still do everything over a few days.

And, back in my college days, we would often drive up the day after Thanksgiving or in between Christmas and New Years.  I also remember going the days before bowl games - walking around the World Showcase is unbelievably crowded.  But, I've never known about park closures or anything.  I knew Mellie said they had reached capacity during her Christmas visit a few years back, but I luckily hadn't experienced that.

In fact, until yesterday I didn't even know that they have a 4 part system - phased closures -in place for crowded closures.  Of course they do.  Walt Disney World had a plan in place before the U.S. Government on how to handle 9/11, so of course they're prepared for everything, right?

I prefer 10 minute wait times!

Well, here's the plan - it's pretty straight forward, but I still find it very interesting!


  1. Close the Parking Lots to Casual Visitors
    1. Have a 1 day single park pass and are starting your day late?  Nope, not today.
    2. Trying to get in with a Cast Member friend?  Try again.
    3. Haven't purchased your tickets yet?  Time to explore your resort.
  2. The people getting in the park are the following
    1. Those staying at Disney Resorts.  If you're like me and stay off property to save a few money or to enjoy extra space, peak periods may not be the best idea.  Of course, if you have more room, you can spend the crazy peak time enjoying a movie or relaxing in your own personal heated pool...
    2. Annual Passholders - as long as you don't have one of them with blackout dates..  Apparently, this is a big problem at Disneyland Resort!
    3. Re-entering the park - Went home for a nap and trying to get back in?  You're safe!! Another reason not to sleep in and miss rope drop!
    4. Park hoppers - coming from one of the other parks?  You'll be allowed in.
    5. Those with ADR's or other reservations - a good excuse to make a reservation for a haircut at the Harmony Barbershop or splurge on someone at the Bibbity-Bobbidy-Boutique
    6. Those arriving on Disney transportation - leave your car at your resort.  That bus guarantees you entrance in the 2nd phase
  3. Restrictions are much tighter - now only the following can enter:
    1. Those staying at a Disney Resort
    2. Annual Passholders
    3. Those with in park reservations/ADR's
  4. No one
    1. In the 4th phase of Park Closures, no one is allowed to park or come through those turnstiles.

If you do plan to attempt the parks on crowd breaking days, relax and expect to do more people watching than attraction viewing.  With a 2 hour wait for pretty much everything, you won't get in and out of everything, but you'll still have a wonderful atmosphere to enjoy!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Wordless Wednesday!



Focused on the Magic

I'm taking a break from my usual Window Wednesday to actually follow the theme offered by Focused on the Magic!  Can you believe it?

If I were to make a 2012 Calender for our family, I can't necessarily pick our album cover, but the month of January is easy:

post 13.1 January 8, 2011

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

5 New To Us Attractions

I hope that everyone has had great holiday celebrations!  Tonight, we will celebrate the final night of Chanuka and my husband will finally tell me what my present is!!  So far, I know that it's colorful and from Main Street, U.S.A.  Only time will tell!!

I did share the Disney love with my husband - note the Phillies Mickey he received "from Noah" on the 1st night of Chanuka!

Anyways....  As you may know, Noah has already been to Walt Disney World for a total of 11 days - 3 different trips, there are still several places/attractions we still haven't checked out.  Some of these, even after years of touring, I still haven't seen - or have no recollection of when I saw them.

  1. Country Bear Jamboree - This attraction hasn't changed much since the opening day of the Magic Kingdom, October 1st, 1971.  I'm sure I've seen it before, but it's been too long for me to have any recollection!
  2. Tom Sawyer Island - This attraction I do remember - one trip in college I thought "hmmm.. I've never been over there, let's check it out." and against my friend's better judgement, we went anyway.  For college aged people, this is not of interest and our raft got stuck, stranding us for much longer than we intended.  But, I've heard it's a great place for youngsters.  So, I think we'll give it a try!
  3. Mission: SPACE Advanced Training Lab - I only did Mission: Space one time.  2004, I believe - before it was split into 2 versions.  The feeling it left me with is enough for me to never want to go back, but recently, I heard about the Advanced Training Lab.  Located at the exit of the attraction - the "post show" has different adventures for all ages, including a "Space Base" - an interactive play area for "junior space explorers"
  4. The Boneyard- this playground at Disney's Animal Kingdom looks fantastic.  Somehow, due to naps, poor planning, or time in park, we've missed this one!  We'll definitely have to take a break at this one to get some energy out!
  5. Wishes- Amazing, right?  The last time I actually sat and watched Wishes was.. again.. 2004.  Actually, it may have been New Years Day 2005.  But, right about that time.  We've seen it from attractions and our resorts (both the Contemporary and Grand Floridian), but we haven't tried to actually get a spot and watch The Magic, Memories, and You and Wishes.  We'll still have to play it by ear to see how late Noah can hang, but the parks do close earlier in January, so I'm hopeful!
Wishes from the Contemporary

I have so many to-dos, don't I?

What's on your to do list?

Monday, December 26, 2011

Remember These?

Before that unfortunate monorail accident a few years ago, I almost always asked to sit up in the front with the driver.  It was simple - ask the cast members working at the station and they'd take you to the front area to wait.  There was a limit of 4 people at a time, so sometimes we would have to wait, but that was no problem.  It was fun - the view up there is AWESOME.  Full windows and you see exactly where you're going.  

Our trip in June 2009, we rode up there for potentially the last time.  And, unlike other times, they handed us these:


Our co-pilot license!!  They usually handed out the circle Mickey Mouse stickers, but these cards were pretty cool, don't you think?

Did you ever ride up front?  I'd love to hear about your experiences!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Packing Confusion

Here in the D.C. area, it's been unseasonably warm.  In fact, the past few days have been near 60, much warmer than usual for December.  And, with our trip coming up quickly (we'll be there in 2 weeks!), this weather is making it tricky to know what to pack and what to wear.

Honestly, being 6 months pregnant, my favorite outfit (my maternity uniform these days) consists of a dress, leggings, and boots.  All of my jeans fall down when I walk - not really sure why they fit so differently this time around!  Even ones that fit perfectly in the fitting room... sag, sag, ugh!  Unfortunately, for 4 or 5 park days, I know I won't be comfortable in my cute boots.  They're comfortable, but not for 6-10 miles per day!

Another issue - we don't know what the weather will be like in Florida in January!  Last year it was in the upper 60's - perfect weather in my opinion.  Two years ago, it was sleeting and miserable.  Current forecasts predict the next 2 weeks to have highs in the upper 70's-low 80's with evenings in the mid 50's.  Quite a gap between morning and night!  Luckily, we'll have our car parked nearby, so we can easily have a change of clothes nearby or simply store jackets in the stroller basket. 

So, I'll obviously have to keep a close eye on the forecasts, but now I'm wondering if we should pull out some shorts.  It seems as though we'll have to pack some winter clothes for traveling, if nothing more, and enough to layer!  I can't even imagine the upper 70's right now - hope my maternity shorts fit better than my pants!
One thing for sure - I'll be packing my Baby Wants a Mickey Bar t-shirt for a day in the park!


Whatever the temperature - we'll be at The Happiest Place on Earth in less than 2 weeks!!!  Hooray!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Pregnant Touring

With our upcoming trip (2 weeks!), I know that we'll be touring a little differently than our most recent trips.  So far with Noah, we make sure to hit all the attractions that Noah can enjoy and than use Rider Swap for all attractions that Noah isn't big enough for yet.  But, this trip will be different.  Basically, I can only ride the attractions that Noah can and even a few of those are considered off limits.

Here is the list of attractions that are recommended to skip for pregnant women:

Magic Kingdom
Animal Kingdom
  • Expedition Everest
  • Primeval Whirl
  • Dinosaur
  • Kali River Rapids
  • Kilimanjaro Safari
Epcot
  • Test Track
  • Mission: Space
Hollywood Studios
  • Tower of Terror
  • Rock 'n Roller Coaster
  • Star Tours
And my guess - Sum of all Fears and the Disney Quest rides are probably good to skip as well..

Obviously, there have been women to ride several of these successfully, but I tend to be a bit over cautious, so I'll skip most of these!  I had originally thought about Safari and figured "that's not so bad" but after talking to my midwife (who I regularly see for my prenatal appointments) I've decided to skip.  She actually grew up in the Congo (real Africa?  craziness!) and had a friend who had major complications after a bumpy ride on a back road.  So, I'll skip that one this time.

Animal Kingdom does become a bit obsolete to us Preggers, but seeing as it's Adam's favorite park, we're still going to spend some time there.  After all, we have a breakfast ADR at Tusker House and I really want to see the Festival of the Lion King

Pregnancy Tips
  • Take breaks - during our June '09 trip, we took daily nap/pool breaks.  This time, we may not go back for naps every day, but I'm sure I'll be sitting a lot more than usual and going to sleep earlier at night
  • Stay hydrated - even when it's cool/cold outside, it's incredibly important to stay hydrated!  Drink up!  Water preferred to carbonated/caffeinated beverages, but I was told once by a nurse that Icee's are perfect for pregnant women - ice and sugar!  So, we may be stopping to try some of those new slushee type drinks!
  • Bring/buy healthy snacks - WDW is behind Disneyland in healthiness of food and snacks, but there are several places to buy fruit and veggies for snacks or as sides instead of french fries.  Don't get me wrong - I'm sure I'll enjoy a few serious treats, but I do also know we both need our vitamins from actually healthy food!
  • Wear comfortable shoes - this is a no-brainer for me.  Whether you've had some swelling or not, the likeliness is so much higher when you're pregnant, you don't want to exacerbate any problems by wearing shoes/clothes that don't allow for good circulation!
  • Consider a belly support belt - Depending on how far along/big you are, these can be very helpful to relieve lower back or lower abdominal pain.  I wear mine for running and I'm sure I'll pack mine for long touring days!
I'm sure there are more tips, but this is what I've got!  What are some of yours?  Have you braved the parks while pregnant?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Window Wednesdays!


Focused on the Magic

And, I'm back with a new Window Wednesday!!


Open Doors '71
(the year Walt Disney World opened)
Magic Kingdom Casting Agency
"It Takes People to Make the Dream a Reality"
Walter Elias Disney
Founder and Director Emeritus (retired/no longer working but still deserving of the title!)


Make sure to take note of the hidden Mickey at the top of the scroll work!


**Thanks again to Mary from Capturing Magical Memories for the fantastic pictures!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Holidays in the Parks!

In honor of the upcoming holiday, I wanted to revisit a post from my good friend, Melissa.  She talks about one of her favorite times in the park - Christmastime!



Friday, December 16, 2011

Foodie Friday Review!!

After trips, I love to review our dining choices.  I run out of these pretty quickly, because unlike AJ at the Disney Food Blog, I can't make this into a career to pay for that life - talk about a dream!

So, while I'm insanely busy this week, I wanted to share with you some of my past meal choices!!

Meals:

Sweets and Treats

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Baby Wearing Basics

When Noah was younger - 10 months and smaller, I used to 'wear' him a lot.  As a fussy/gassy baby who wasn't a good sleeper from the beginning, wearing Noah made my life easier.  And, I've already found my carriers for Baby #2, due in April.

This week, I wanted to share with you my first Baby Wearing Wednesday - how I started wearing and how I learned about the different carriers.  Hope this helps some of you!!  I'd love to hear about your favorite carriers as well!

Baby Wearing Basics


and for more on babywearing - 


Baby Wearing Options

Monday, December 12, 2011

Review and Giveaway - Red32 Designs!!

I love browsing Etsy stores and facebook pages.  While I don't order nearly as much as I would like to, I often see things and think "some day."

At 22 weeks, some day has come!

But, getting up to this...  One of those particular days, I stumbled upon a facebook photo from Red32Designs.  This particular designer does everything from onesies to custom autograph books.  But, the one thing that caught my mind was a shirt that I knew someday I would have to own.  That day came back in August when I discovered I was pregnant!  The shirt was an interesting order - I picked out my shirt and for a very reasonable price, they did the design for me!  I wish I had stated which color writing, because it's pink and I'm having another boy... but, I'm a girl, so it's okay, right?
"My Baby is Craving Mickey Ice Cream Bars"
When I ordered the shirt, I contacted asking if they would want to do some sort of promotion through my blog - and when they sent me my shirt, they included this adorable onesie to give to one of you!!  They sent 0-3 month, so I know not everyone has someone to give this to, but it's still so cute I hope you can find a good home for it!  I may have to buy one for my little one!
Too cute!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Never Have I Ever...


Welcome to those of you joining me from CanaDisney Blog and those of you just hopping aboard. I am the 4th stop on our Magical Blogorail

This month's topic is:
One thing I've Never Done at Disney World but would Love To!

A few months ago I mentioned one thing I really want to experience at Walt Disney World - Characters in Flight.  Then, after listening to a WDW Today podcast and hearing Len Testa talk about seeing the balloon having landing problems, I think I may wait until I'm not pregnant and already closer to nausea than normal!

There are many things at Walt Disney World that I hope to someday experience.  A couple that I have no control over - like staying in the Cinderella Castle Dream Suite or being the family of the day at the Magic Kingdom.  A girl an dream, right?

But, the one thing that I haven't experienced that I would love to and hope to fulfill on my upcoming trip:

I've seen the Broadway production (traveling show, not on Broadway), but have somehow missed Camp Minnie Mickey - I've never even been to that side of Disney's Animal Kingdom.  We had hoped to go on our last few trips, but somehow missed it every time. 
Image courtesy of DisneyWorld.com
Our only hesitation - we're not sure if Noah can sit through a 20+ minute show.  He is only 2 so is attention span is about 14 seconds.  I once told his doctor that he had baby a.d.d. and the Dr. just laughed and told me it's normal.  So, a 20 minute show?  It may captivate his interest, but we may have to leave early.  I do think we'll have to try it on our next visit!

What's on your Disney To-Do List?

Thank you for joining me today. Your next stop on the Magical Blogorail Loop is Meet the Magic

Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail should you happen to have to make a stop along the way and want to reboard:1st Stop ~ Pursuing the Magic
2nd Stop ~ Days in the Park
Final Stop ~ Meet the Magic

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Running through the World Showcase

I'm getting super stoked for our Marathon Weekend trip - One month from today, I'll have completed my race and my husband will be running his half marathon.. with 20,000+ other people!

Though I may not be seeing as many characters as I saw during my 13.1 miles last year, I've heard the courses of the 5k (3.1 miles) have a lot of characters and entertainers, so I do hope to get some good pictures of the family as we run thru Epcot!

Yup - the other really cool part of this race?  It's almost entirely through Epcot!!  The start and finish are just outside the park, but then you run through the World Showcase and out of Future World!  If you're curious to see the course, it's here from RunDisney's website.

So, I know most of you guys aren't runners, but I am curious - anyone seem more interested in these races than before?  Let me know if you've considered!!  We - members of the Magical Blogorail -  have some exciting plans for the 2013 Marathon Weekend races in the coming months and would love for some of you to join in with us!

If for nothing more - it's really fun to walk around the park with a medal on!  Talk about feeling accomplished!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Window Wednesdays!

Temporarily back in action!!  My good Disney friend, Mary from Capturing Magical Memories sent me this and a few other photos of Main Street Windows for my use and all of our knowledge!


Focused on the Magic



Chinese Restaurant
Fine Foods and Teas
Jim Armstrong
Vegetable Buyer

Jim Armstrong was the Food Administration Vice President of WDW

Not too much of a stretch, right?

I always remember seeing a Chinese Restaurant outside one of the house windows of the Carousel of Progress.   According to the DisBoards, it's Kahns, but it makes me wonder if there is a connection between the two Chinese Restaurant windows..   I'll have to take a closer look in January!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Happy birthday, Noah!

Today, Noah is 2 years old!  Time seriously flies, doesn't it?  Seems like just yesterday we celebrated his first birthday, and here he is, turning 2.  He's picking up words like a parrot and is constantly learning.  He's out of the crib and forgetting that he's only 2 most of the time.

For this birthday, we had family over for a little party - just family, but with 3 cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and even a great grandmother, that's plenty for a party!

The theme started with a cake - I asked Noah what we wanted - Mickey, Mater, or Nemo.  And, to no surprise, he answered "Mimmy" which either means Mickey or Mater, but with enough asking and even showing him the cakes, we chose Mater!

Then, Noah and I took a trip to our local party store where I found some great party supplies!

Mater Party hats and Cars cups
Noah loved the cake and that it had toys on it - 2 cars for him to play with!

And, his family new him well enough to give him amazing presents, including a fire truck loaded with sounds that he's obsessed with and a really cool "garbyguck" or Garbage Trucks as those of us with a full grasp on the English language say.

Happy birthday to my little man - the one who inspired me to want to discover the full magic in everything Disney and help others discover the magic and share it with their little ones!

Monday, December 5, 2011

One Month!

One month from today, we will be packed and headed to MCO for Walt Disney World's Marathon Weekend 2012!

Our plans are pretty similar to last years - head to the race expo at the ESPN Wide World of Sports, get our race packets, pins, mouse ears, maybe shop, then head to our rental villa (Windsor Hills) to meet up with my parents again.  Then, we'll celebrate my mom's birthday at Kouzzina by Cat Cora at Disney's Boardwalk - one of my favorite restaurants!

Of course, since I made my big announcement on Friday (with a Giveaway) you'll understand now why I had to defer my half-marathon registration to the 2013 WDW Half Marathon - I'll be 25 weeks pregnant come marathon weekend and the idea of running 13.1 6 months pregnant wasn't so appealing.  Frankly, running 3.1 at 26 weeks seems like a struggle!  I'm still regularly running 2-3 miles 1-3 times per week, but it's so much harder!  


But, I'm excited to earn the cool Donald Duck medal and, weather being decent, I plan to go cheer on my husband and some friends while they run the half marathon!  And Noah gets to run in the kids race again - this time he's a much more experienced walker/runner, so I shouldn't have to carry him to the finish line!
13 months and toddling along

And, in one month, I get to tour the parks again while pregnant.  My last trip pregnant, I was only 16 weeks - barely showing.  This time, I'll be seemingly huge and much more uncomfortable!!  Luckily, I'm more interested in the magic and the "extras" than I was 3 years ago, so I'll have more to see or do when I won't be on the big coasters and other attractions suggested to avoid.

While I'm extremely busy and may be a bit behind on blogging during the next couple of weeks, expect to see some Pregnancy Touring Tips/plans for me and you, in case you're considering traveling while you're pregnant as well!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Disney Cuteness for You and Me!

I've been meaning to tell you something for a while..

Looks like Noah won't be the only Disney Baby in this house!  Come April, he will share his toys, family,  trips, and life with...
a baby brother!!

You may remember me posting about this amazing knitter I found on Etsy in May.  Well, since then, I've had a good bit of communication with her and ordered Noah one of those great Mickey ear hats for the winter.  And, let me tell you - the hat is REALLY nice. It's a thick black wool and the ears are shaped like ears - curved in!  Noah's not a huge fan of wearing a hat, but he loves looking at himself in the mirror wearing it!

The Minnie Mouse outfit is amazing as well, but I'll be saving that to buy for a friend's baby and not my own!


Lady Hudd is so wonderful that she offered readers of Disney Babies Blog a special offer!  Enter the code *Blog27* for 10% of your order!  Her prices are already very reasonable, so it's a great deal!

And, now, I get to offer you - my readers - a chance to win one yourselves!  They're not just for babies - Lady Hudd can make them in any size!  I may be ordering myself a pair when I put in the order for the Mickey outfit!

Magic Kingdom - Not so High Tech

A coworker/friend of mine recently took her husband and 2 young boys to the Magic Kingdom for 1 day - the boys first time visiting and their first time since childhood.

With a castle like that, how can you not find the magic?  That I may never know.

But my friend's husband - he didn't get it.  He wanted more 'rides' and faster, more intense coasters.  For those of us regulars, we know that for intense coasters, you need only check out Disney's Hollywood Studios - Rock 'n Roller Coaster or search for the missing yeti in Disney's Animal Kingdom's Expedition Everest.

Though the Magic Kingdom has a couple of mountains, they're not the fastest or most intense.  Space Mountain tops out around 35 mph.  Not too scary when you think about it that way!

I'll agree - the best coasters overall are probably at Islands of Adventure.  But theme?  Walt Disney World wins that hands down.  However, my friend's husband wanted more flash and thrills.  He wasn't convinced by his first trip.  Probably doesn't help that it was a crowd level 8 on Touring Plans that day, being the Sunday before Thanksgiving.  I don't miss touring in high crowds!

The magic has captivated me for as along as I can remember.  The walk down Main Street, U.S.A. and a step into the hub is all I need to be as happy as can possibly be.  Rides - I love rides, but I've also traveled pregnant and have skipped every single E-Ticket attraction.  And, I'm okay with that!

The 2 boys - ages 3 and 5 (or 6?) had a BLAST.  They enjoyed every parade and the older even asked to stay for the fireworks.  And the dad thought they'd give up before dinner!

Have you ever had a first timer not get it?  What's your take on magic vs. technology at the Disney Parks?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Disney Moms


I'm excited to share today, that I am now a part of a new blog to help you plan your Disney travels!!


Created by fellow Magical Blogorail Blue member, Natalie, of Meet the Magic, the goal of this new blog is to be more all-encompassing, with parents covering different age ranges and other issues, such as food allergies, special needs, and more.

I love helping give tips for fellow WDW travelers with youngsters - having taken my nearly- 2 year old (2 on 12/6!) now for 3 different trips, I have a lot of experience traveling with those youngsters, but multiples, tweens, teens, etc... obviously I'm still learning!

Now, we have a group of fantastic parent bloggers here to answer questions that we couldn't answer alone.  Check out who is helping on this new project:

For the 0-4 year old category:

Lisa - author of Beyond the Attractions
Mary - expert scrapbooker from Capturing Magical Memories

5-12 year olds
Natalie from Meet the Magic

13-18 year olds
Heidi from Heidi's Head
Mary from Capturing Magical Memories is also helping in this category!

Foodie Topics
Sheila from Cooking Underwriter writing about Gluten Free Disney
Tricia from Return to Disney writing about Disney Dining

Homeschooling

Disney Fashion and Beauty Tips

International Travels
Janine - our British friend who is also a contributor at Meet the Magic

Special Needs
Melissa from Disney On Wheels will share her experiences and tips for special needs travelers

With all that The Disney Moms have to offer, how can you resist adding another Disney blog to your reader? Check us out and enjoy!  

Monday, November 28, 2011

Disney for Free

On our January trips, we often head down to Orlando for several more days than we plan to be in the parks.  This works for us for several reasons - we participate in marathon weekend and don't want to be exhausted for the races.. and frankly, we don't want to spend the money to be in the parks for that many days!!  We have an amazing military deal for 4 park hopping days, so 4 park hopping days it is.  We have 1 day left over from a previous trip, so we may actually enjoy 5 park hopping days, but more than that isn't likely.

So, what else is there to do?

A LOT!  Aside from Downtown Disney, there is plenty to see and do!


  1. Visit Celebration - the town literally created by the Disney Co.  Though no longer owned by Disney, it is extreme suburban perfection.  A little Stepford, but still pretty fantastical.
  2. Head to Disney's Boardwalk - at night, the Boardwalk is alive with entertainers of different sorts, but even during the day, it's a beautiful walk with plenty of restaurants and shops.  Or, head to the Beach Club/Yacht Club area - not as big, but still several restaurants to look in and see!
  3. Resort hop - I love to check out different resorts for meal time, but even if you're not hungry, you can stop by and check out the different scenery and stories!  In the last year, we looked around the Polynesian, Pop Century, and Animal Kingdom Lodge - Kidani Village all for meal time.
    1. Resort tip - if you're stopping by the Animal Kingdom Lodge - Jambo House at night - make sure to ask where you can get the night vision goggles to view the animals!! Free every night!
    2. Wilderness Lodge hosts the Chip n' Dale Campfire Sing-a-long - movie and campfire!  Free to resort guests - you can bring or buy your own marshmallows!
  4. Ride the Monorail!  Who doesn't love the monorail?  If you're a resort guest, you can park at the TTC (Ticket and Transportation center) with your hotel parking pass, or bus on over.  If you're just coming for a few minutes, stop at a monorail resort and say you want to shop.  You can park for free - not recommended for extended periods of time, but perfect for resort hopping/monorail viewing.
There are too many more options for this post..  I'll have to add more later!

What are some of your out-of-park favorite activities?  Share them below or on our facebook page!  

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Travel Map and Diary - Review and Giveaway!!


Sponsored by Tomoson.com
If you're like me, you probably save everything from your vacations...  Plane ticket stubs, park tickets, Magical Express tags, etc...  I have a box that I know put everything in, but it's just a mess.

So, when I saw the Travelers Gift Set, I thought this would be perfect.  And, I was pretty close to right.

A 2 part gift set, there is a Travel Stub Diary and a Scratch World Map - think World Map + lotto ticket.  It's a fun concept, don't you think?

The Travel Stub Diary is basically a photo album decorated for the traveler -


Inside, there are two options - sideways 4x6 pockets, for full length pages - both with places to write notes about what you're keeping - all in an easy to flip through book so you can actually easily flip through your memories instead of storing them in a box in a closet.


The map is interesting -
It comes fully covered in gold and at first, I thought it was dry erase.  Once I really sat down to look at it, I realized the gold would scratch off and since I don't play the lotto often, this gave me an excuse to use a penny!

I sat through and scratched off all the places I've been - though not too many as of yet.



Look closely and you'll notice that the different countries are different colors underneath the gold and they show different cities, rivers, lakes, etc...

Now, you may automatically think this isn't for you if you don't travel frequently, but I had a different thought.

This would be awesome for Epcot's Food and Wine Festival.  You could save all of your souvenirs in the Travel Stub Diary, but then you could also scratch off on the map where you sampled the different food and beverages.  Clever idea, don't you think?  Probably travel more in that one festival than in 20 years!

Looking for other gifts?  Uncommon Goods, the creators of these clever projects also have great stuff for a variety of gift givers/getters:

1.      Gifts for Travelers
2.      Quirky Gifts
3.      Funny Gifts

Now for my favorite part: A Giveaway!!!  I get to give one of my lucky readers one of these fantastic gift sets!!  You have from today through next Thursday to enter!  Open to U.S. residents only (sorry!!)

Wordless Wednesday!



Focused on the Magic


"Here Lies Good Old Fred
A Great Big Rock Fell on His Head
RIP"

Fred Joerger, Disney Legend and Imagineer.  He created 3-D models of attractions, to help Walt visualize the theme parks.  Along with other Disney legends, was part of the original "model shop" that helped create Disneyland.  He also built miniature sets and props for movies including Mary Poppins and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.  

And, as with many others, he is also honored in a window on Main Street!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Attractions I Love- The Peoplemover!

Depending on when you first visited the parks - or truly made your first impressions, you probably know this ride as something different.  To some, it's the TTA (Tomorrowland Transit Authority).  To me, it's the Peoplemover.  Others may refer to it as the "Blue Line" from a period int he 90's.  I've taught Noah to say "Wedway" - it's easier to say than Peoplemover, and being the original 1975 name "Wedway Peoplemover" it's all acceptable to me.


Whatever you may refer to it as, this attraction is a wonderfully slow moving ride throughout Tomorrowland.  The views you capture while riding are some of the best available 

Cool view of the crane taking down the holiday lights

If you look closely, you'll see a small part of the original "Progress City" model - the city that led to the dream of EPCOT.
Excuse the blur!


This ride is great for sleeping or feeding/nursing babies - sit down and get comfortable!  I've heard the cast members have allowed people to stay on and ride again in such situations.  As the lines are rarely long (or lines at all), it's a nice place to sit for 10 minutes to take a tour.

Just beware - I do remember a trip from my college years where it was closed for maintenance.  When we asked why, the cast member reminded us that the ride worked on magnets and that the polarization had gone a little loopy - Beware of Bumper Peoplemovers!!!  Whoops!  

A Family Portrait (taken by me!) in January 2011

I'd love for you to share some of your favorite pictures from the Peoplemover!  You can share them on our facebook page!  Or, just leave a comment letting me know what name you use referring to this favorite attraction!


Monday, November 21, 2011

Child Friendly... Grand Floridian


Possibly the most elegant resort on Walt Disney property, the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa is home to the Wedding Pavilion, a luxurious spa, and is in the works to house the next Disney Vacation Club (DVC) Villas.

And, the Grand Floridian is also very child friendly.  One perk?  There are actual cribs and not just pack and plays for the little ones.   

Another obvious perk?
Being on the monorail line and having the ferry right there, getting back from the Magic Kingdom or EPCOT for nap time or after a fun day in the parks is really easy.  Not quite as quick as the walkway to the Contemporary, but still - very good options!

If you think the resort may be too stuffy, remember that at the entrance of the Main Building is 1900 Park Fare - a restaurant that has both character breakfast and dinners.  There are constantly children and costumed characters in the building!  Not to mention, when you walk in you are immediately welcomed by beautiful characters in the floor!  Walk around a little more past the check in area and you'll even find a small sitting area with a television playing old Mickey Mouse cartoons playing.   

The pools are also a great place for kids.  Though there are quite pools, one located directly outside of our  building in June, the best for us had a splash pad, a walk in end, and a fun water slide.  Though at 18 months, Noah was too small for the slide, we got to enjoy it while he played in the shallow end and the splash pad!

Our favorite part of the resort - our balcony.  We requested a bay lake view, but if we looked at the right angle, we could see the castle.  With that, we could see the fireworks, hear the music, and had a perfect view of the monorail loop.  Another perk - The Electrical Water Pageant!  Who doesn't love to see the floats go by?  Plus, Noah loved running out on the balcony in the morning.  It gave him a little extra room to play while we were getting ready.

Not convinced?  Check it out yourself next time!!

What resorts are your favorites with or without children?  We still like to try out the different resorts, but have had the most success on the monorail loop.  Next up will have to be the Polynesian!



Friday, November 18, 2011

Mickey's Birthday



Welcome to our Mickey Mouse Birthday Blog Hop!  This year, Mickey Mouse is turning 83 and we thought it would be fun to all celebrate with our little ones.  I'll be sharing about making Mickey Mouse birthday invitations, great for our blog hop and for my little one's 2nd birthday!  You can find links to other party ideas at the end of the post!

To make Mickey's invitation, I thought about copying what Melissa made for her daughter's 2nd birthday.  I have to admit, that would have been much easier.  But, instead, I got on Etsy to get some creative ideas - and it worked!  
The Final Product
If you're up for some paper crafting, here's the process!

First, I pulled out a lot of paper and tools to get my motors working:
I had already traced a Mickey on a scrap of paper to be the base for everything and used traced around it to cut out both black and red mice:


 The next step was the easy one - I used a tape roller to stick the red cut out to the black mickey, then stamped some buttons on.  I embellished the buttons by using button brads as well:


Then, for the invitation, I used stamps, scraps of paper, a sharpee, and stickers to make:



I hope the invitation made it to you and you enjoy Mickey Mouse's Birthday Party!!


Thanks for joining us as we celebrate Mickey's Birthday!  Don't forget to check out the other blogs for great ideas on a Mickey Mouse Birthday Party!



Capturing Magical Memories shares how to makes a birthday sign!


A Disney Mom's Thoughts helps create the party games!


Growing Up Disney shares making the birthday cake!


Pursuing the Magic makes party favors!


Delightfully Disney makes party snacks! 


Return to Disney gets crafty for the party!