Friday, April 29, 2011

Blogorail Interuppted

We had originally intended to bring you a special edition of the Magical Blogorail today - members from all of the different loops coming together to share experiences and memories from the special events held at Walt Disney World throughout the year.  However, due to circumstances caused by the insane weather down in Alabama, our friend over at A Disney Mom's Thoughts is (last I heard!) was out of power, so instead of skipping her portion, we wanted to hold off until she's able to join us, hopefully fully restored and safe!

So, instead, I bring you a guest post from fellow Chip & Co. writer, Michele.  A travel agent for my the nice people over at Pixie Vacations and author of new blog A Pixie Perspective, Michele wrote an article for me that she calls the 5 W's, about why a travel agent for Disney travel is a great idea and how to help you choose the write one.  I personally have had good and bad experiences, but all before I found Pixie.  I know my next full on Disney trip will have a completely different experience, now that I know what to look for!  Enjoy!

It seems that the women are generally the travel planners in the family, especially
when it comes to Disney travel. There are so many details to you park
hop or not, should you do the dining plan...if so, what are ADR’s and how do you make
them? We deal with details everyday, sometimes you want a vacation to be just that...a
vacation, not another job to do and more details to worry about! That’s where a travel
agent comes in!

Let’s go back to journalism 101 and hit the basics: Who, What, Where, When, and
Why(in no particular order) and cover the highlights (because we all know you really
don’t have time to be reading blogs, you have laundry to do!)

Why: Coming to the realization that you might need a travel agent is the hardest part
for most people. You have to realize that considering a travel agent is NOT admitting
defeat in your vacation planning. It’s a very wise choice to consider a professional who
can help you plan your vacation. It minimizes your stress and maximizes your savings.
A good agent will look after all the pesky details you don’t want to think about and
answer your questions in a timely manner.

Who: Choosing an agent is THE single most important thing you can do for your
vacation. Here’s what to look for:
comfort-you are putting your precious vacation in this person’s hands...if you can’t tell
them what you want, or think they don’t want to hear what you want, they are NOT
your agent!
knowledge -If you are planning a Disney vacation, work with a Disney Vacation
Specialist. They are trained through the Disney program and should be knowledgable
about everything that Disney has to offer, be able to answer your questions and make
service - if you have a lot of questions, or want to have a worry free vacation (you don’t
like to deal with the details, just bring on the magic!) find someone who will provide
you with the level of service you need. You want to find someone who will be as
involved, or uninvolved as you want them to be.

What: What should a travel agent do for you? Unfortunately there is no precise answer
for this question. The best rule of thumb is mentioned above: find someone who will
be as involved, or uninvolved as you want them to be. If you want someone to handle
your advanced dining reservations, ground transfers, reservation monitoring, etc find
an agent who is active with their clients and will meet your needs. Beware of large
agencies that offer you the world on a string, you might not find the lack of service worth
the booking incentive they lured you in with.

Where: Where do you start looking for an agent? There are so many agencies and so
many agents you may not find the perfect one at a first glance. Ask family and friends
if they recommend anyone, search blogs, fan sites and facebook pages until you find
someone that peaks your interest and you think would be a good fit.

When: It’s not too early to start considering an agent. If you have a trip on the horizon
or just want to get general information about what an agent, or agency has to offer, start
a dialogue. Sometimes it takes a bit of time to get to know someone and see if they are
what you are looking for in an agent. I’m not recommending calling every agent and
requesting fake quotes, this is a waste of time for you and the agent. It’s ok to inquire
about general information and services don’t feel bad if you aren’t asking for a specific
price on something. If an agent won’t give you the time of day when you are inquiring
about their services, move on. If you aren’t their priority before the booking you won’t be
their priority after either.

If you have questions about anything in this topic please feel free to email me: i’m always willing to answer questions and i’m always
looking for new clients to spoil! Make your next trip Pixie Perfect!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Thursdays with Mel... Head lice are not invited to Disneyland!

The week prior to any vacation is nothing short of organized chaos. Laundry to be done, suitcases to locate, electronics to be charged and haircuts for the kids. I am dizzy just thinking about it, and I am only halfway through the week.

I do like to get the clothing packed and the carry-ons prepared a couple of days early. This leaves the days prior free to run errands, get those haircuts, get my neglected nails filled-in and get the dog happily installed at the neighbor's house.

Well, this week, Mama's plan hit a great big road bump when we found lice in my daughter's hair. We caught it pretty early, so the damage was limited, but my pre-vacation schedule was blown... and anyone who knows me, knows I love my schedule. I cling to my schedule. Nay, I cannot live without my schedule.

The nits have been picked, the massive amounts of post-lice laundry have been taken care of and I am only a bit behind schedule - thanks in part to large quantities of coffee and Diet Coke. The packing has now begun.
The  Pile "Before"

Here is the "After"

My sweet husband, Mr. Incredible rushed out to buy the Lice treatment, and he later went out and purchased about ten fluffy new pillows - because the thought of sleeping on a pillow with the remote possibility of transferring lice was to icky to contemplate. While he was at the Mega-mart, he bought our sunscreen for the trip. I was thinking he would grab a tube and maybe a can. Nope, when he buys sunscreen, he really buys sunscreen!

I have a stockpile of sunscreen.

And finally, for the long, transcontinental flight to California, a little reading material to set the mood!

I love the Birnbaum Guides for any park. The Unofficial Guides are chopped full of great info and a touch of snarkiness - just the way I like my Disney. I also have Fodor's Souther California & Fodor's Disneyland & Southern California - both are great for when you only have a few minutes to read a bit about the area.

I will be bringing back lots of pics & memories to share in the coming weeks! I can't believe I get to scream, "I'm going to Disneyland!"... but the lice are not invited!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Disney Dining Plan - Not for the Dieters

Everyone has their own perspective on the Disney Dining Plan.  Melissa shared that for her family, it was simply too much food. Many have shared that it's absolutely worth it, because that way they can order whatever they choose, without feeling guilty ordering the most expensive thing on the menu.

But, I have a different take on that.  What if, maybe I'm being difficult just to be difficult here, but what if you're ordering the most expensive thing on the menu not because that's what you want, but because it's what you feel like you've already paid for.  For example - at Kouzzina by Cat Cora, a favorite of ours - the dish I have ordered on our 2 past trips has been the Spiced Briami.  Lots of vegetables, orzo, coated with cheese and baked.  Absolutely delicious and only $19.99.  If I had the dining plan, would I feel obligated to get the NY Strip Steak priced at $31.99 because it's that much more expensive, even if I just wanted the vegetable dish?  Maybe.  I'm not a huge steak person and our 1 steak dinner at  Le Cellier is enough steak (and delicious, I might add) to last me a month.

Or, what if we have all these huge meals and one night I simply want soup and salad?  As I've mentioned before, both here and over at Chip and Co., I'm a weight watcher and like to balance my meals - I don't like splurging every day on vacation, even after running a half marathon.  In fact, after a long run, I often crave salad.  Weird, isn't it?  But true.  And, if I've already obligated myself to a specific priced dinner, buying a salad may seem financially like a waste.

Plus, I know that I don't need my own dessert after every meal.  I'd much rather make my husband share with me (like a cupcake at Starring Rolls!)

What do you think about this side of the Dining Plan argument?  Leave comments here, on our facebook page, or @DisneyBabiesBLG on Twitter

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Day the Boat was Faster

Last June, I saw my first rope drop ceremony.  Yup.  Over 20 years past my first visit, I discovered the rope drop ceremony at the Magic Kingdom.  Like many, I was awed.  We recorded it, and I watched it at home, looked up others on YouTube, and couldn't wait to get back to the Magic Kingdom 45 minutes prior to opening to watch the show again.
Photo credit: Disney Digest
Our first possible rope drop morning, post half-marathon, we headed to pick up my friend Ruth at the Caribbean Beach Resort.  She had to check out and we knew we would be cutting it close, but we headed to EPCOT, knowing we would en our day there and wanted to save a stop parking there.  We ran straight up the ramp to get on the monorail to TTC then transfer over to the Magic Kingdom.  Maybe it was the additional stop, but we headed into the park shortly after the gates opened, missing the ceremony completely.  Slightly disappointed, I was convinced we would easily make the ceremony the following day, so we headed to Fantasyland to start our day.

The second of our 3 park mornings, we headed to Disney's Hollywood Studios.  We caught the morning show - surprisingly, because the previous June, there had been no morning show.  Similar to one of the street shows, the  DHS rope drop was a nice welcome, but I still was determined to catch the Magic Kingdom rope drop.

Our 3rd and final morning, we arrived at the TTC parking lot with plenty of time.  We knew the two options - ferry boat or monorail.  The ferries have always been the other option - when the monorails were over crowded, or at the end of the night with no rush.  Maybe it took the same amount of time, but it always seemed to be more leisurely - waiting for more passengers, and then a slow ride across the lake.  So, we headed straight to the monorail headed to the magic kingdom.  The doors closed, and we had no doubts that we would soon be at the Magic Kingdom for rope drop.

Until the doors reopened.  The monorail wasn't working and we all had to disembark and change trains.

As we finally reached the Magic Kingdom, the ferry was long since gone from dropping off it's passengers, headed back towards the TTC.  The train at the Main Street U.S.A. train station was pulling away from the station- the rope drop had been dropped.  We had missed the show again.

Disappointed, we entered the Magic Kingdom for our last park day.  Luckily, the park was filled with magic and uplifting spirit again.  Hopefully next January, for our WDW Half Marathon 2012 trip, we'll actually successfully make it to the Magic Kingdom on time for the show.  Maybe, we'll take the ferry instead.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Disney Family History

At my parents house last week, I started going through family history - my paternal family tree.  Thanks to and facebook, my dad has connected with family he never knew about and we're learning more about our family history than ever thought imaginable.

My maiden name is a very uncommon name.  In fact, even now on facebook, the only ones are in my immediate family.  But, researching my genealogy over the weekend, I remembered something from EPCOT as a kid:

Maybe you can help me place the attraction!

I remember as a child, being on a ride, that in my head was something like the Universe of Energy seating-wise, but ended looking at a panoramic movie screen that listed names of people from around the world.  I wish I could remember the context, but I was under 10 the last time I saw this, so the details are all a blur.

But, I do remember seeing our name with a slight spelling varient on the screen and knowing that somehow, that was a relative of mine.  And, searching through genealogy, finding old surnames, tombstones, and so much family history, I found that the odds are strong that it truly was a relative of mine on the screen!

Did anyone else ever find this kind of connection at Disney World?  I know in the UK Pavilion, they have family crests, but being of Eastern European descent, I'm pretty sure that's not in my history!

I'd love to hear about your history as well!  Please share here or on our facebook page!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Disenchanted with Jet Blue

I remember my first flight on Jet Blue Airways.  2004, shortly after my college graduation and after a long road trip from Baton Rouge, LA to Buffalo, NY, my friend and I flew back to Baton Rouge on the fairly new airline.  I remember loving everything about the flight.  We had our own individual tv's with direct tv and snack options - not just those crappy snack mixes from the other airlines that have like 200 calories for 4 bites.  I also remember they had funny little cards about how to exercise on the plane, courtesy of Crunch Fitness.  We thoroughly enjoyed our flight and I raved about Jet Blue to everyone.

Fast forward 7 years (holy cow, I graduated from college nearly 7 years ago).  Flying is a little different.  Those exercise cards have been missing for as long as I can remember, but we still have snack options and tv's, though we've flown more than once with tv's that don't work.  If they don't work, you can get a $15 credit for your next trip, but you're s.o.l'ed on this flight.  But really, those tv's aren't my main focus: I'm flying with a toddler.

Waiting to get on board, I've got Noah's car seat in a carrier bag on my back, bags of stuff, and a very wiggly 16 month old ready to get situated.  Boarding for our flights to and from Florida was late, so we were becoming anxious.  When they finally started the boarding, we heard something that we weren't expecting at all.  When we expected to hear "Pre-boarding for those who need extra time and those traveling with small children" we heard instead "those passengers in rows 1-5 and in the extra leg room seats."  What?????

Jet Blue doesn't have 1st or business class.  It's all exactly the same, but for $15 extra dollars (which we've done more than once) you can get a few extra inches of leg room.  Great for a a lap child trying to run around, but not necessary when we've already purchased a 16 month old his own seat.  

So now, my husband and I are stuck juggling the car seat on one of our bags, a bag of toys and books, a diaper bag, food, and a wiggling 16 month old and waiting until their fake first class takes their seat before we finally get our chance to get on the airplane.

Now, maybe this seems like a silly complaint, after all.   We'll have plenty of time to get situated and have plenty of time on the plane.  But, the problem is, now we're all getting ready to board, all the children are going nuts in the terminal because they know they're waiting for something AND, now that there are already people on board the plane, it's harder to get through the aisle of the plane with all of our stuff.  Even random passengers in the terminal thought this was ridiculous, to have the people who need more time to board the plane wait.  What is wrong with this picture?

Now, there is more to the story than this.  My disappointment with Jet Blue goes deeper than pre-boarding. All may be silly, but still true, none-the-less.  I've dealt with rude (and I mean rude) attendants checking in and trying to get our bags checked in.  But, now, both flights to and from Florida, as I'm trying to get the car seat unbuckled and back in the carrier bag after every other passenger is off the plane, the flight attendants start their clean up and start complaining about the messes that are on the floor (not at my seat, because that would obviously be rude, but the row next to or in front of ours) and talking about how disgraceful and disgusting it is that parents would allow their children to make such a mess.  

My guess?  That flight attendant never flew with children.  I almost spoke up yesterday, after the flight attendant complained about cheerios on the ground in the row next to ours.  How could that mess have been made?  A mom was in a row with her 3 children 5 and under by herself.  Yup.  a 5 year old, 3 year old in a car seat, and 1 year old lap child and her.  Her husband was in the back with other family, but somehow she got the hot spot by herself with those 3 kids.  If cheerios keep the kids quiet and peaceful for the flight, than let the mess be made.  Because, if you have a lap child, you can't actually be on the ground cleaning up the mess because you're holding a baby, but, it is a baby, so there will be a mess.  

I was just so shocked and annoyed that they were complaining that I had to share.  No longer is my favorite airline the warm and wonderful company I once thought it to be.  It's now rude and jaded like every other company I know.... aside from the Disney Corporation.  Those cast members really should show the airlines how to treat people!

And, I wrote this complaint up to Jet Blue this morning, so we'll see if I get any response.  I'll keep you updated.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Thursdays with Mel... Disney Characters with Character

I usually talk about my kids here on the Disney Babies Blog. Today, it's all about me! Well it is really about one of my favorite pastimes at Disney, and one that I often do not allow enough time for: Meeting Characters - one in particular.

What makes many of us love Disney is the stories. Stories are no good without memorable, flawed  & fabulous characters. I happen to have a soft spot for Prince John - The Phony King of England from Robin Hood. He is so bad at being bad! He is also elusive. I have not spotted him in over three years. Hopefully, we can rendezvous somewhere at Disneyland (Prince John - if you're reading this, call me!)

Here are two pictures of me with my -um- Prince Charming! I'll be looking for you really soon!

Prince John  & me - age 11

The Prince & Me: age 16

Reminder: Today is your last day to enter The Disney Lifestyle Blog's D23 watch giveaway. Click here for all the details.

And today on The Disney Lifestyle Blog, I have lots of great ideas to fill your little one's Easter basket full of Disney delights!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Flying with a Toddler, again?

According to the mother of 3 in front of us on the plane, the crying is never as bad to the other passengers as it seems to the mother of the crying baby.

It's a nice thought, isn't it?  Flying at 11:30 a.m., we departed D.C. for South Florida (we're on our non-Disney Florida trip) in perfect time for Noah to eat and take a nap.  And, in a perfect world, he would have actually done that.  But, of course, this is reality, so that wasn't totally to be expected.

This trip was different because, as I mentioned last week, we purchased a seat for Noah.  I lugged Noah's car seat on my back through the airport, and once we were able to get on board, installed it into his own seat, located next to the window (that's the rule, car seat by the window).  The flight attendant, though hesitant to actually help, eventually came over and helped me - I had to simply put the seat belt behind his seat to "secure" it to the seat.  It wasn't all too stable, but it was stable enough for us.
Noah seemed to enjoy being able to look out the window, while we were still on the ground, he could watch the other planes and trucks zooming around.   Once we were in the air, I lowered the window shade in hopes that he would eventually conk out. After several minutes of fussing, we gave up and turned on Noah's favorite: Cars.

Luckily, at around 1 p.m. Noah finally fell asleep.  Adam and I were thrilled and finally sat back to enjoy our own movie (Harry Potter 7.1)

Unfortunately, this adorable peacefulness didn't last very long.  An announcement over the airplanes intercom woke him up with only a 30 minute nap.

Even though he didn't sleep as much as I had hoped, I would definitely say the car seat is the way to go for us.  Noah never tried to get out of his car seat, so even though he fussed a good bit (it was a bumpy ride), it was a much easier experience for us.

Looks like we have our new preferred method of travel...

Monday, April 18, 2011

I'm Not at Disney World Anymore...

Last week, I had the opportunity to explore the Hershey Lodge, i.e. Hershey Chocolate.  Located only about 2.5 hours away from Washington, D.C., Hershey, Pennsylvania is home to the famous chocolate.  And, last week, hosted an annual PA music conference that my band (yes, professional clarinetist here) performed for.

I was excited to finally see the Hershey Lodge.  I'd heard of the Hershey Spa and was expecting to see a 5 star resort - my mind was somewhere in between the Grand Floridian and the Wilderness Lodge (though I've never been inside the latter, I've seen pics... I'll have to change that soon!).  As I walked inside, I soon realized that my expectations were a bit too high.  The decor was dated, and not nearly as charming as I'd expected.

But, I put that aside and with a couple of colleagues headed to the Hershey Store - the main gift shop inside the resort.  We walked excitedly - chocolate shopping!  What could be better?  Well, my guess is Ghiradelli Square out in California or simply the Main Street Bakery.

Lots of Easter candies, large bars, twizzlers of all shapes and sizes, but nothing that couldn't be picked up without the premium price at the local drug store except dark chocolate crackle.  And, really, crackle are some of the best candies.  It's like Nestle Crunch, but for some reason are so much better - maybe it's because they can only be found in the miniatures bags, along with Mr. Goodbar (another favorite!).

So, when I spotted the dark chocolate crackle miniatures in a candy store section (lots of individual bins of all different types of candies), I was seriously excited.  Until, I saw the only way you could buy them was in a $9.99 clear take-out box filled to the brim.  $9.99 filled with candy?  For the same amount that's in 1 large bag of candy? I don't think so.  So, when I went to the register and asked the worker (ready for the kicker?), she said:

"You can have 1 candy for $9.99 or fill the box.  They're not sold individually."   And yes, feel the tone that is written in those words.  Who else is irked by that?

So, I left the Hershey Store without buying a single thing, and happily went back to the Twizzler Bites I'd bought at the gas station down the street.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Thursdays with Mel... The Hunt for Hidden Mickeys

A Hidden Mickey, waiting to be found

My kids like to search for Hidden Mickeys at Disney World. But I love the quest for Hidden Mickeys that takes place prior to our vacations! It has become a tradition in our house. In the weeks leading up to a Disney Vacation I simply draw a Classic Mickey on a post-it note, and I stick the note on a chore that needs to be done.
  • Dishwasher ready to be unloaded.
  • Glass doors covered in fingerprints.
  • Laundry to be put away.
  • Dusting (this time of year, everything is dusty)
All I do is stick a sticky note on 'em and quicker than you can say Bibiddy Bobbidy Boo, a child who once balked at the idea of helping out, all of a sudden becomes a more than willing assistant housekeeper. 
He's happy he found it.
I'm happy he's unloading it!

Why do they do this?

To earn the Hidden Mickey, they must complete the task. In the past, the one with the most gets the Disney Trading Pin of their choice at Disney. So with our Disneyland trip so close they can taste it, the hunt for Hidden Mickeys officially begins today. This time, however, I changed the game. Now, if they earn 20 Hidden Mickeys before our trip, they will get the pin of their choice. This gives them a collective goal, instead of making them compete against one another. It gets them involved and engaged in the trip-planning process. And, hey,  I won't unload that dishwasher for weeks!

DisneyLifestyleBlog announcement: Today begins the Spring Break Giveaway. Next week I'll be giving away a D23 watch to one lucky follower of The Disney Lifestyle Blog. Check out today's post for official details.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Cars 1.0

Noah's absolute favorite movie is Cars.  First thing in the morning, he points to the tv and says "Cars?"  which we avoid as long as possible.  Days like today - overtired, teething - we watch the opening scene (and more) of Cars at least twice.

My boys watching Cars

As you can probably imagine, I'm quite tired of this movie and sort of looking forward to Cars 2 this summer (or whenever it comes out on DVD).  But, now we're watching at a different level.  We're starting to look beyond the movie for the details that the creative team at Disney - Pixar left for us to discover.  Here are a few we've found:
  • Dinoco - the Major Sponsor that Lightening McQueen is trying to take over after "The King" retires, is the also the name of the gas station from Toy Story
  • Lightning McQueen's tires are "Lightyear" tires
  • We think the numbers on the cars are symbolic - 
    • Lightning McQueen is 95 - in 1995, Toy Story was released - Pixar's 1st full length feature
    • Chick Hicks - the Green car in the 3-way tie for the Piston Cup is 86 - 1986 is the year that Pixar was founded
    • We can't come up with anything for The King's number - 43.  
I started looking up more and found a page full of extras (and confirming those that we'd already noticed!)

Hopefully we can start watching different movies (Noah allowing!) soon, so we can start looking for these different movie tie-ins!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Tuesday Travel Planning!

This weekend, we're heading down to the warm state of Florida to visit with family.  Unlike my past... I have absolutely no idea how many.. trips to Florida, we will be staying in the lower half of the state and not heading up to visit with Mickey.  Also different?  Instead of Noah being a lap child, as allowed for the first 2 years, Noah is getting his own seat.  

This was totally our option.  He's only 16 months and can legally stay as a lap child without paying for a seat until he's 2, so why would we consider this a reasonable option?  Several reasons.  All hopes, of course.  This may be a complete failure, but at least we'll have tried!

  • He'll be in his own car seat, hopefully more comfortable than sitting on our laps for 2.5 hours
  • Having his own seat and area, he'll be able to watch his own tv (Jet Blue!) or whichever dvd we decide to show him
  • We will have our own seats
  • We won't be forced to chase after him for the duration of the flight.  In January, he wanted to run around.  We don't generally have that issue in the car, especially if Cars or Mickey Mouse Clubhouse is playing. 
  • Safety, safety, safety.   While not mandated, it is much safer for all of us.   In case something happens, or even for turbulence, he'll be buckled in so the crazy images that LOST put in my head of people flying to the top of the plane can be put to rest. 
I have a crazy car seat carrier backpack which I bought on Amazon (but since have seen some at TJ Maxx and/or Marshalls), so I'll look a little crazy carrying that darn thing through the airport, but for our situation, we think it's a good idea.

Now, I'd love some advice from my readers!  Any other suggestions on flying with toddlers?  Have you flown with a toddler in their own seat?  In the car seat or just on the seat?  This will be Noah's 4th round trip flight, so we're getting some practice, but I always love tips and comments!  Especially if you've ever installed a car seat to a plane seat...

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Mondays about me!

Ok, I'm jumping on the survey bandwagon: here goes!

First Theme Park Memory: Disney World.  I remember riding Space Mountain when I was maybe 6 or 7.  I was so excited to ride the big ride with my cousins Juli, Joy, & Danielle.  Danielle cried the whole time! 
First memorable Disney trip: Probably that one.  We were there with my Mom's entire family and my cousins.  At the time, there were 12 of us, and 10 of us were born within 8 years!  It was awesome!
First Disney Resort Memory: Probably staying at Caribbean Beach with my Aunt Pam and her family.  I thought it was awesome because we NEVER stayed on property when I was younger.
Last Disney Trip: March 2011-Mardi Gras.  An amazing trip for my little girl!
Next Disney Trip: Not for a while :(  Probably when Piper's 4 or 5.

Into the Parks - Magic Kingdom

Tomorrowland - Favorite Ride - Space Mountain
Fantasyland- I agree with Jenn-Peter Pan.  I do love Philharmagic now, too!

Liberty Square - Haunted Mansion!  I cannot go one trip without riding!
Frontierland- Splash Mountain
Adventureland - Pirates, of course.  Wow, I see why Jenn & I get along so well...


Futureworld Attraction - Soarin' & Spaceship Earth
Futureworld Restaurant - I have NEVER eaten in FutureWorld (lol)
World Showcase:

Favorite Snack - Crepe in France
Favorite Drink - Ooh, Pina Colada!
Favorite Meal - I love Mexico because it's a tradition for us to go.  I also like Nine Dragons in China, and was lucky enough to be there in 2008 during Chinese New Year!  I need to try more countries.


Favorite Animal Kingdom Attraction - Expedition Everest-no question!
Favorite Hollywood Studios Attraction- It's always been Tower or Terror.  I love Toy Story Midway Mania too.

Restauraunt- 50s Prime Time Cafe
Favorite Non-Park Restaurant - Kouzzina by Cat Cora at the Boardwalk-me too!
Top 5 Disney animated movies-no Pixar
Beauty and the Beast
The Lion King
The Little Mermaid
Princess and the Frog

I loved this, Jenn!  I hope y'all did, too!

See ya real soon!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Magical Blogorail Blue - Keeping the Magic Alive!

Welcome to those of you joining me from The CanaDisney Blog.  I am the 2nd stop on our Magical Blogorail Blue!  This month we're discussing how we can keep the magic alive in between trips to our favorite parks!

Everyone has their favorite ways to keep the magic alive in between trips.  I'm lucky enough to have annual trips, and have been annually (or more) for the past 10 years, so even if I have let the magic slide at home, I always had a trip right around the corner to think about.

But, now with a toddler at home, it's become even more fun to keep the magic alive.  On the trip Adam and I took when I was pregnant, we chose to end our trip a day early (yes, seriously!) and spend the money we would have spent in the parks on decorations on our kitchen.  My kitchen is currently not neat enough to take a picture of to show you, but we have a great Chef Mickey clock, dish towels, salt and pepper shakers, and a spoon rest.

Noah has finally started looking at the clock and realizing that it's his favorite Mickey Mouse!

Still in the kitchen, thanks to Target and TJ Maxx, I'm continually adding Mickey Mouse mugs, plates, bowls, and other kitchen gear.

And, one of my favorite ways to keep the magic alive - our Mickey Mouse meals:

How do you keep the magic alive?  Make sure to follow the blogorail to see how many others keep the magic alive in between trips!! Thanks for stopping by! Your next stop is Cooking with Mickey!

Or, follow the Magical Blogorail Blue from the beginning:

**2nd Stop ~ Disney Babies Blog**
4th Stop ~ Meet the Magic
Final Stop ~ Days in the Park

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Thursdays with Mel... Disney Birthdays

This is the Mickey wallet
given to me on my
17th birthday.
Birthdays and Disney, what could be more magical? My son and I have each had the chance to spend a birthday - or two - at Walt Disney World. The last time I spent my own special day at Disney, I was turning 17, and was about to begin my senior year of high school. It was in the early 90s, and that is all I will admit to! A gaggle of 7 or 8 of my friends spent a day at the Magic Kingdom as a farewell to summer. Lucky for me, it was also my birthday.

We didn't celebrate at any fancy Disney restaurant - unless you count Pecos Bills. None of us had the money for that. But my friends did manage to surprise me. They pooled what money they had and bought me a small leather wallet with a Cowboy Mickey Mouse imprinted on the front. I still have that wallet and treasure it each time I pull it out of my memory box.

Now that I am all grown with kids, birthday celebrations are a bit more extravagant, but still just as meaningful. On my oldest son's 9th birthday, we celebrated at the Crystal Palace. I have to admit, I was concerned he was too old for Winnie the Pooh and Friends. But, when you are at Disney, magic is ageless. He wore his Birthday Button (available to at any at the Guest Services area in the Parks) and received well wished from Cast Members and passers by.

Our next vacation began on his 11th birthday. This time he wore his birthday button the entire week. After all, is it important if your birthday greetings from Mickey are a day late? A birthday hug & cupcake from Mickey and his pals is something you never outgrow.

Note from Mel: After a short hiatus, The Disney Lifestyle Blog is back in action. So stop on by. Also, Disney's has begun its Happily Ever After contest. Participants enter for a chance at the Grand Prize, an ultimate Disney dream wedding or vow renewal ceremony. There is also a Voter's Choice prize for a $1000 toward the Disney gown of your dreams. Vote for my Mr. Incredible & me... or enter by sharing your own love story!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Fun to Travel with Friends!

In January, after the race, we spent Marathon Monday at the Magic Kingdom with my college friend (to me and Melissa) and fellow half-marathoner, Ruth.  She's a native Floridian and the one who taught me how to run Park Commando, so it was fun to go back to the Magic Kingdom with the person who really taught me the lay of the land.

But, this time was different.  No Park Commando, no running Space Mountain as many times in a row as possible, heck, we didn't even start with our standard Tomorrowland - no, with Noah, we head straight to Fantasyland.

And, knowing the rides like the back of her hand, Ruth had an idea - she decided to take our camera and take pictures of us while we were on rides!  She did this for Peter Pan, Winnie the Pooh, and Dumbo!  Check out the great view we have from some of these rides.


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Hidden Treasures - Laughing Place!

You may remember reading about the Laughing Place in a previous Thursday with Mel, but I wanted to cover it in a little more detail (meaning with my own pictures!).

The Laughing Place is a little covered play area for young children located by the exit to Splash Mountain in Frontierland.  I remembered passing this area last June, but at 6 months, Noah was too little to need to run around and burn off steam.  Luckily, I remembered seeing it in January, when he had more than enough energy to run around!     

Similar to the play area, Toon Park, that will surely be missed, this is an amazing haven for parents of young children.  Being cooped up in strollers all day, even in between rides, can take a toll on the little ones!  I know Noah, in particular, hates being contained, and while he handles it much better at Walt Disney World than he does at the mall, he still much prefers to walk on his own and run around when possible.

Though we didn't ride Splash Mountain because it was being renovated - they were adding the lap bars - we didn't really miss the ride!  It was cold, anyways, so the idea of getting wet didn't really appeal to me very much!  But, even with the ride down, the Laughin' Place as available.  And, even before we made our way down to the play area, they had a Cast Member set up with coloring activities, probably entertaining children while their parents rode on Big Thunder!  Noah still only chews on crayons, so we didn't stop, but I loved that Disney had this option available!

I hope you a couple more pics of all of us running around the Laughing Place!

My boys!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Monday about Me!

Like that title?  I'm hoping I can convince both Mel and Melissa to do the same thing - they can just add a few extra letters and be ready to go *hint, hint*

Over at Chip and Co, where I am "on staff," we all did Chip's version of a Disney survey to let all of the readers get to know a little more about us..  I wanted to elaborate on that a little more with my own Disney survey!  And yes, back in the live journal days (and even early days of MySpace), I was one of those people that constantly did surveys.. not sure what that says about me.. So, here goes!

Let start:
First Theme Park Memory: Opryland! I remember my sister dragging me on my first coaster, riding my first loop next to my friends' mom because I was so scared, and collecting little glass figurines for $1 each!
First memorable Disney trip: After dropping my sister off for her first year in college at the U of F, my parents took me for a couple of days. I was 10 - I know we went before, but this is the earliest recollection
First Disney Resort Memory: Staying at the Grand Floridian during 6th or 7th grade while my dad was on a business trip.  My clearest memory - Hulk Hogan filming a movie or tv show on the beach.
Last Disney Trip: You all probably know this one! January for the WDW Marathon Weekend - running my first (and not last!) half marathon!
Next Disney Trip: January 2012 for the WDW Marathon Weekend!! Sticking to the half :)

Into the Parks - Magic Kingdom
Tomorrowland - Favorite Ride Past and Present: I had to do past and present, but I remember riding Delta Dreamflight and loving it as a kid.  Present?  As much as I loved DDF, I do love Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin... and Space Mountain.  Both absolute musts for me!
Fantasyland- There has only ever been 1 - Peter Pan
Liberty Square - Haunted Mansion, no doubt about it!
Frontierland- Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
Adventureland - Pirates... Other than Pirates, we generally skip over Adventureland..Not much of Dole Whip people, either.  I know, I know..

Futureworld Attraction - Though this is a tough call - no trip is complete without at least 1 trip on Spaceship Earth, I love Soarin'
Futureworld Restaurant - Sunshine Seasons.  Yum!
World Showcase:
Favorite Snack - Bavarian Pretzel, German Pavilion
Favorite Drink - A Margarita in Mexico, or a glass of Rosa Regale in Italy
Favorite Meal - Having been a day tripper for so long, I haven't had too many sit down dinners around the World.. But, going against popular word of mouth, one of my favorite meals/experiences was at the Moroccan Pavilion at Restaurant Marrakesh - the meal was awesome and we walked in without reservation... of course, the same thing happened in January at Le Cellier, and that truly was one of the most incredible meals ever...

Favorite Animal Kingdom Attraction - Rafiki's Planet Watch Conservation Station!

Favorite Hollywood Studios Attraction- Toy Story Midway Mania

Favorite Non-Park Restaurant - Kouzzina by Cat Cora at the Boardwalk!

Top 5 Disney animated movies - I can't include Pixar.. that would be an impossible list!
In no true order:

  • Peter Pan
  • Lion King
  • Aladdin
  • Beauty and the Beast
  • Fantastia/Tangled/Princess and the Frog 

What did I forget?  I'm sure so much!!  If you're a survey-geek like me, definitely add this to your blog or wherever, but I'd love if you link back and comment so I can read about you, too!!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Blog Carnival Time!

Make sure to head over to Dismarks for their 18th Disney Blog Carnival!

I actually shocked myself when I realized that I actually did submit an article!  Look for us as "Growing up a Disney Baby" which was what we originally called the blog, until we found Amy over at Growing up Disney!  Oops :)   Anyway, the carnival filled with excellent posts by some other great blogs, so check it out and enjoy!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Foodie Friday-The Earl of Sandwich

Our vacation began this year with a trip to Downtown Disney.  We were on 2 missions: find food and find Dumbo.  I'll come back to Dumbo in a moment!  We stumbled on one of the best dinners we had on our entire trip that night.  First, we tried (like fools) to go to Rainforest Cafe without a reservation.  We learned there was a 2 hour wait, so we tried another restauraunt that had a 50 minute wait.  It was an hour past Piper's dinnertime and she wasn't waiting. 

So, we walked into the Earl of Sandwich.  The line snaked through the restaurant; it looked like we were waiting for Peter Pan or something!  The line only took 15 minutes, and when we reached the counter, we placed our order.  David got a meatball sub with broccoli cheese soup and I got the club with chicken noodle soup and a fruit cup to share with Piper.  The subs came on Artisan bread, and the soup was delicious!  We all left there full and satisfied.  It was one of those meals where everyone is saying, "Mmmm" after each bite.  We even tried each other's food.  Grammy & PaPa ordered chocolate cake for dessert.  It was a piece big enough for 3 of us to eat off of.  We ate at a table outside, under the night sky while listening to the Disney music that was playing in the background.  I don't usually order soup and sandwich, but this place made it a great choice!  They have about 12 different sandwiches and maybe 4 soups. 

Unfortunately, when you're trying to feed a hungry child, you don't remember to take pictures, so I have no pics of that delicious food. :(

We also accomplished the Dumbo mission!  Grammy wanted to find Piper a stuffed Dumbo, and she found him at World of Disney!  That store is immense!!!  Piper loves her Dumbo, and sleeps with him every night.  She has full on conversations with him in her bed, too.  I love this age!

See ya real soon!