Thursday, March 31, 2011

Thursdays with Mel... We go for the kids: The Final Edition

Disney gives us  license to be "goofy."
Over the past two weeks, I have spoken with my daughter, Alexa, and my middle son, Kevin,  about their favorite Walt Disney World memories. They've drawn lists, given on-camera interviews and happily relived magical moments. (just click on their names to see their memories) Then there is my tween son, Kyle... twelve years of mood and attitude.

He's not interested in strolling down memory lane. He doesn't want to recall when he was picked to be the Polynesian Resort's Prince-of-the-Day. He had positive words for just two attractions: Tower of Terror and Expedition Everest, and he also praised every buffet we went to - because most of them had fries or bacon.

Now, as a mother, here is what I recall about my jaded tween's Disney experiences.

As soon as we passed through the gates, the jaded, tough exterior facade dropped. He behaved like an 11 to 12-year-old kid. During breakfast at Chef Mickey's, he played with Pluto and danced with Goofy. He was thrilled when Space Mountain broke down, so he could get a better look at the inside of the ride, and the "Return Anytime" FastPass was pretty cool too. He did cannonballs into the pool each day. He ran to be the first in line for the boat that took us from the Polynesian to the Magic Kingdom - in fact we had the first boat of the day all to ourselves, another good reason to wake up early at Walt Disney World.

Only part of the magic of Walt Disney World lies in the memories you make. The rest of the magic lies in how it transforms people the moment they enter the resort. As adults, we have license to become kids again. Our kids can let down their jaded, 21st century outer shells and become little kids again too. At Walt Disney World we are not weary of strangers and cultural differences are embraced.

He may not want to recall all the magical memories right now, but when he is ready, I have all the memories kept safely waiting for him.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Hidden Treasures - Dapper Dan's!

As many of you may already know, the Dapper Dan's are the official Barbershop Quartet of WDW and Disneyland.  They started singing at Disneyland in 1959 and their East Coast counterparts began in 1971, when Walt Disney World opened.

The first time I remember seeing them?  June 2010.  Crazy, right?  We noticed them on the back of the horse drawn trolley heading down Main Street, U.S.A. immediately after rope drop.
In January, however, we somehow missed rope drop both times we tried at the Magic Kingdom, but we were still there just in time to get into the parks with everything starting and all the magic happening.  But, this time, the Dapper Dan's were on an empty horse drawn trolley, after it had dropped off all of it's passengers!
And, as I had my camera out (Day 1 in the parks, first thing.  Is there any other way?), I called over to them and simply said "Hey, Dapper Dans!"  And, to my surprise, instead of simply waving, they came over to talk to us!  They all commented on our Donald Duck Half Marathon medals and were super friendly.  I'm not sure why that surprised me, they are cast members, after all, but it was definitely a magical moment to feel as though you're friends with the Dans!
Why didn't I take a picture of them with us?  I don't know!  That same reason that Chad over at Days in the Parks didn't get a picture with Goofy..  Simply getting caught up in the Disney Magic leaves you with amazing memories, but often without the picture proof!

Luckily, later that day, after Noah's haircut, we got caught in a rain storm while walking Main Street.  While in the candy store, Noah fell sound asleep, but the Dan's found a perfect place and time to perform!
I've been a barbershop fan since my college days (nothing screams "college days" like barbershop, right?  Well, I was a music major and my neighbor created one.  It was awesome.  Just take my word on it!), so I loved seeing them perform!
They are absolutely some of my favorite characters on Main Street!  What are yours?  Leave me a comment here, on facebook, or at twitter @DisneyBabiesBlg

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Mouse of Zen Blogorail


Welcome to those of you joining me from A Disney Mom's Thoughts or those of you who have just hopped aboard.  I am the last stop on our special edition of the Magical Blogorail.

For this special edition of the blogorail, we have all chosen a Disney-inspired Haiku that meant something to us.  When I read this particular haiku, I could think of one wonderful experience, which I wanted to share in a few simple pictures.  I hope you enjoy!

lust in swirling flames
one eye on the red apple
other, on my witch






Let go of My Eggo... or Apple, as the case may be!


Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail Loop should you happen to have to make a stop along the way and want to reboard:


3rd Stop ~ A World View
**You are here** Final Stop ~ Disney Babies Blog 
 

Thank you for joining us this month for this special edition Magical Blogorail Loop.  If you are looking for more information about JB Conway’s haikus, you can go to the Mouse of Zen Facebook page.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Disney Magic-A Moment That Changed our Vacation

We had a moment of Disney-magic with a cast member named Gary. We rode Toy Story: Midway Mania. After we got off the ride, Piper was walking outside and a lady was rushing to get a fast pass and knocked her to the ground.  Piper hit her head on the concrete. A cast member named Gary was amazing. He noticed us sitting trying to console her crying while we held ice on her head.

He came over, asked what happened, and tried to console her, calling her “princess”. Then he left and came back holding Wheezy, the penguin, and asked Piper if she wanted to take him home with her. I thanked him, and told him he didn't need to do that.  He said that he would "gladly give away all of Disney's merchandise if it meant keeping a little girl from crying."  She kept saying, “Buzz”, so Gary said he would try to see if he could get Buzz to meet her. He came back and said that, when she was ready, Buzz and Woody would love to meet her. The line to meet them was 45 minutes, but he brought us in a side door, and she had an awesome meet and greet with them.



Buzz kissed her head, and Woody loved her Woody pin. Gary went above and beyond his job to make a little girl feel better and it brought us to tears. Every time she looks at Wheezy, she says, “Nice man.” She knows a nice man gave him to her. We made sure to go to customer service later that day and we filled out a form about what happened so Gary would get recognition. I hope he knows how much it meant to us.  Wherever you are, Gary, you made our vacation so magical, and we thank you! 

Have you ever had a Magical Moment during your vacation?

See ya real soon!
~Mellie

Friday, March 25, 2011

Foodie Friday - Disney Dining Plan-Is it worth it?

This trip, we were on the Disney Dining Plan.  It included one quick service meal, one table service meal, and one snack per person for each night that we were staying there.  This means that for our 4-night, 5-day stay at the Walt Disney World Resort, we would have 8 quick services, 8 table services, and 8 snacks for David and I to use.  Piper ate for free off our plate(she was 21 months). 

I did the math before we left, and approximated that it would be about the same price for the Dining Plan as it would be to pay our way, so we decided to try it.  At the quick service meals, we got an entree, drink, and dessert.  At the table service, it was the same.  We found that we wouldn't normally order desserts, so they were sometimes wasted. We also returned to the room one day and brought snacks with us the other days, so we only used 2 of our snack credits in the park.  The last night, my mother-in-law and I raided the Food Court at our hotel and grabbed 6 snacks each to take home.  I still have Main Street Kettle Corn and Chip and Dale pretzels in my pantry!  Tips weren't included in the dining plan, so we paid those out of pocket.  We ended up with PLENTY of food, more than we could've eaten, and paid more than we wanted to. 

So, was the dining plan worth it to us?  In a word, no.  It might be beneficial if you are feeding teenagers, but we didn't think it was worth it at all.
Hope this helps!

See ya real soon!
~Mellie

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Thursdays with Mel... We go for the kids: Part 2


This is a proud Mommy Moment: Kevin, my middle son's, first ever vlog. After talking with my daughter last week about her favorite Disney World memories, I thought I would sit down and talk with her big brother. He had a lot to say, so luckily I had my camera handy. Here is just a small snippet of what Kevin had to say about his Disney favorites... 

video



He's a kid after my own heart. He wants me to say that he likes the rides at Hollywood Studios best. Epcot is his favorite park for eating. And Magic Kingdom has his favorite fireworks. And as you could tell from the clip, Animal Kingdom is home to his favorite attraction, Expedition Everest.
Kevin also talked about what he is most looking forward to on our upcoming Disneyland trip.  Looks like I have lots more video to edit. This kid is anything but camera shy, even with a fat lip he got from baseball practice, you can tell, he has a lot to say! 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Hidden Treasures-Voyage of the Little Mermaid

Disney is doing all these great things to help guests forget about WAITING!  Of course, as adults we know that, wherever we go, we are going to wait at Disney World.  Our kids aren't always that patient, so Disney has found ways t

o entertain them while they wait.  Of course, there's the interactive line at the Winnie the Pooh ride, the game at Space Mountain, and the brand-new Haunted Mansion queue (which opened TWO DAYS after we left), but did you know that even the SHOWS have things to entertain you with while you wait?  I just discovered this.


While we were waiting for the Voyage of the Little Mermaid show to start, we were in a holding room which, I discovered, was full of hidden treasures for me to find.  Did you know that they have the candle that was pulled from the belly of Monstro the whale in Pinocchio?  Or the typewriter that The Old Man and the Sea was written on?  Of course, these are all props, but I found it so clever that they made these, along with a Sea Monkey, Herman Menville's (author) fishing rod, and King Triton's triton, which actually lit up as the show was getting ready to begin.  Sometimes, we rush all around the World, and miss the little nuances that the Imagineers put in.  Ah, Disney, you never cease to surprise and amaze me!








See ya real soon!
~Mellie

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Taking tips from Disney

I've noticed lately at my local Harris Tetter (grocery store) that the standard swarm of birds is no longer in attack mode..  instead, there is a loud soundtrack of bird calls.  Actually, they're definitely not bird calls.

My Disney mind goes directly to what I've read about how Walt Disney World tries to keep the birds out of the World Showcase - soundtracks of birds in distress.  Now, everytime I walk up to the store, the sounds of birds most definitely in distress.  Outside, the sounds are loud. However, the previous attack of the birds is no longer there!

I think they'd also had some problems with birds entering the doors to the entryway to the store, because they have a different level of bird noises inside, but still they're very obviously there.  My guess is that most people don't notice them, and those that do may be annoyed by the loud volume of bird noises.

But, everytime I walk into my store, I'm reminded of the World Showcase.  Now, if I could only stop off for a fiesta margarita or a bavarian pretzel, and I'll be set!


Monday, March 21, 2011

Hidden Treasures - the Piano Man!

As you hopefully read on our most recent Blogorail Hop, I have a Disney Bucket List.  Nothing set in stone, but since I've become so "Disney-fide," I like to have a few goals per trip.  

For January's Half Marathon trip, I found/accomplished almost everything on my list:
And, that last one, I lucked out in finding!

On Marathon Monday, Adam, Noah, Ruth, and I headed to Casey's for a quick and easy lunch.  Noah had his haircut appointment that afternoon, so somehow, we ended up at Casey's.  Somehow, I had never been there, but even at the Parks, I try to eat healthy, so a hot dog is generally on the veto list.  However, this trip, I made an exception!

And, while we were eating outside (no tables inside.. no high chairs anywhere, parents beware), I started to hear music playing... 


The Piano Man sat down to tickle the "ivories!"  I was so excited, I grabbed Noah, and we ran up to listen to him play (and take dozens of pictures).

He has his tunes memorized and plays adorable arrangements of Disney tunes in a ragtime style.  His piano had a mirror, so he could watch his audience while he played, which I thought was pretty cool!

While I could do without the hot dogs or even the corn dog nuggets, I could easily see heading back to Casey's in hopes of finding him (or one of the other players!) again.  

And, I have to admit, I've added this hidden treasure to my short list of Disney Dream jobs.. 

Have you ever run into this or any of the other piano players at Casey's?  What are your favorite hidden treasures? Let me know by leaving a comment here, on facebook, or find me @DisneyBabiesBlg on twitter!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Foodie Friday - Bringing the Mouse Home!

My husband loves having breakfast for dinner.  Simple foods, like pancakes, sausage (turkey sausage!), bacon (low fat), and fruit can really make a fun and (somewhat) easy meal.  

My favorite part?  My husband is the pancake maker and he apparently loves to have fun while he's baking!  Here are some pictures of our last 2 breakfast dinners!
Served on our awesome plates from Target
And, even better - for St. Patrick's Day, Adam had a lot of fun with dinner!

All free hand.  Pretty good, don't you think?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Thursdays with Mel... We go for the kids. Really we do.


Yep, I bought these!

While we are busily preparing for our upcoming Disneyland Resort vacation, I took a moment to talk with my daughter, now 8 years old, about her favorite memories from our last trip to the Walt Disney World Resort. She got out her purple pen and actually wrote a list for me.
As expected, Soarin' and Chef Mickey's topped her list, but so did a few other experiences that took me by surprise and warmed my heart a bit. She loves her first pair of Mickey Mouse Ears, especially because she spent her own money to buy them. 
She also remembers our time in the Haunted Mansion, not because she was scared, but because the ride broke down several times causing the lights to go up. We got to see parts of the attraction usually only seen by cast members.
She wanted me to mention that she loved, loved, loved the pool at our resort. Not a shocker. We were at Disney’s Polynesian Resort. The pool had a breathtaking view of the Magic Kingdom, and when the kids swam at night, we could sit and watch Cinderella Castle as it changed colors.
Finally she gives top praise for the hotel’s arcade. “The games were fun.” And we usually had the whole arcade to ourselves. Priceless! We were able to spend a day with her best friend - who just happened to be in the area at the same time. It was wonderful for her to get that "girl time!" And I liked that she had a buddy to ride with in the Tea Cups. Mama does not do Tea Cups. 
So, it goes to show you that is isn’t all about the theme parks or the day working out as you had planned. Quiet times at the pools, family time at the arcade and even rides breaking down all create memories just as special as meeting the Mouse himself. All priceless.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

What Not to Wear - At Disney

No, not the show.  I'm thinking more about What Not to Wear at Disney.  Those Disney Fashion Faux Pas that everyone notices, and everyone knows, except for maybe the person wearing the problem!

When I was podcasting with the awesome people at MouseChat.net, we were chatting prior to recording.  We were talking running in costumes and then I remembered the craziest thing I saw during the WDW 2011 Half Marathon: Slutty Snow White.

What?  Yes, really.  Prior to 5 a.m., a woman (definitely older than me... pushing 30) thought it was a good idea to run 13.1 miles in a tacky Halloween costume, showing off everything, including a lot of fake tanning.

My first tip for What Not to Wear at Disney? Leave the Slutty Disney Princess Halloween Costumes to the college aged girls that will be drinking a lot on Halloween night - not for a race.

And, if Slutty Snow White is reading this blog, know that we all noticed you, so maybe I'm being mean (meant to be more funny than mean), but... yeah, stick to cute running clothes!  Wow.  

Monday, March 14, 2011

One less thing!

Since our January trip, we have already dropped 1 previous "must travel with" item: sippy cups.
Making a mess with a regular cup at Le Cellier
At 6 months, I was still nursing, so that was farely easy, but we brought a sippy cup along for water.
At 13 months, Noah was starting to drink from a straw, but generally soaked himself when drinking from a regular straw, so we had to bring cups for milk and water with us.

Now, at 15 months, we officially don't need ANY of that!  We have our nice bottles with straws, but he now has no problem drinking from a regular cup with a straw (though holding the cup may be a different story).  By our next trip (January!), we definitely won't need anything!

It's the simple things in life, don't you think?

Friday, March 11, 2011

Magical Blogorial - Disney Bucket List

Welcome to the Magical Blogorail.  We are a group of bloggers who have come together to share our love of Disney. As you follow us through this month's loop, you will find at the end of each post a link to your next stop. Feel free to follow our blogs, add your own comments and share our blogs with your friends. This month we will be sharing our Disney Bucket Lists.  I'm leading the way this month, so thanks I wanted to say thanks for joining us and enjoy the ride on our Magical Blogorail! 
Now that I'm past my Park Commando days, I have a list of attractions or hidden gems that I now make my goal to find and see on trips.  Instead of riding absolutely every ride in the Magic Kingdom on our first day, I headed down Main Street, U.S.A. to search for the telephone so I could listen into the conversation between a mother and her daughter, talking about marriage and how to find her perfect husband.
My husband listening to the conversation!
And, while I did cross of several of the items on my Disney Bucket List during my January trip (finding Push, eating at Le Cellier, running in a WDW Half Marathon), I still have a few items left on my bucket list.  In no particular order, I'll give you my current "Top 5" goals for my Disney Vacations.

  1. Visit the Animal Kingdom Lodge.  As simple as this sounds, I've somehow never made it in to see this resort.  I've heard it's absolutely incredible, and the pictures I've seen make me want to buy in DVC to have my own piece of the property.  But, that's not realistic for me right now, so I'll be happy with a stop for dinner and a tour!
  2. Complete the Coast to Coast Challenge.  We talked about it for 2011, but we can't make it out to Disneyland this September.  While we're on this one...
  3. Visit the Disneyland Resort.  I haven't spent any time in California since 1997, and then it was only a ridiculously long layover at LAX International that left our youth orchestra stranded long enough to visit Universal Studios for 3 hours (yes, 3. luckily, we didn't pay for it!).
  4. Go on a Behind the Scenes Tour. Any of them.  
  5. See the Suite in Cinderella Castle.  Hey, a girl can dream, right?  
These are just 5 of mine.  I have several others, some as unrealistic as visiting the Cinderella Suite (playing at WDW again).  

I would love to hear what some of your to-do's are - either comment here, on facebook, or tweeting at me @DisneyBabiesBLG

And, once you've let me know, you should head over to Cooking with Mickey to see what's on Kristen's bucket list!

Make sure not to miss any stops on this month's Blogorail Blue Loop! 
** You are here** 1st Stop ~ Disney Babies Blog
3rd Stop ~ Meet the Magic
6th Stop ~ Days in the Park
Final Stop ~ The Canadisney Blog

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Thursdays with Mel... Making the Disney Memories Last

All Disney enthusiasts are familiar with that post-Disney-blues that comes at the conclusion of a wonderful Disney vacation. It can be hard to return to the every-day routine after living in the magical, wonderful world of Disney.

My post-Disney humdrums begin with unpacking - or the laundry associated with unpacking. I run every day through my mind, cherishing special moments, all the while cursing those moments that did not turn out as planned.

One thing that gets me through the aftermath is planning and creating my memory books of the vacation. I used to scrapbook - almost religiously. Now, who has the time? Now I upload my photos to Walmart.com, and within a few hours I have a lovely photo book filled with memories. I like the Walmart.com photo center's program, though many drugstore/photo sites have similar ones. You choose layouts, backgrounds & fonts. You journal about the special moments and edit out the ones you'd rather forget. These books keep me goin' til the next time I get to visit the Happiest Place on Earth again!

Front cover of our 2008 book.


The Crystal Palace

Downtown Disney Pages

Year after year I treasure these books and the memories they contain. I hope you have a special way you like to preserve your cherished Disney memories. Do you scrapbook, make photo ornaments or create collages?  Share how you keep the magic alive once you return home!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

No Disney?

Monday I mentioned that I've had PDTS (Post Disney Syndrome).

Now, we're planning a trip to Florida without a visit to Mickey.  What?!  Prior to having a baby, if Adam and I went to visit my family is South Florida, we would absolutely spend a day or two in Orlando - borrow a car, make the 3+ hour drive, go Park Commando, then return home.

Now, though, with a 15 month old, those plans are done.  While we've done the drive before, we can justify spending over 6 hours in the car with a crazy park day in between those drives.  So, we'll be heading to Florida for several days, without the parks.  Sad, don't you think?

Noah, unlike so many other children, does not love the car.  We've taken him on long drives before, but the most he's ever slept was 45 minutes.  Now that he's turned around, he does better watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse or other shows/movies, but I don't want him staring at the tube for 6 hours in 1 day.
He may not sleep, but he does love his toys!
And, maybe the most odd part, I think I'm more worried about the trip not visiting the parks.  How will we entertain a 15 month old without our standard toys?  Or, staying in a house filled with antiques and collectibles AND a pool outside.

So far, I'm looking into planning a trip to the Miami Seaquarium, hopefully a zoo, and the beach.  Hopefully we can keep our not-so-little one entertained!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Post Trip Lull

We've been back from Walt Disney World since mid-January and with no current trips in planning, I'm in a total Disney lull!  What to do, what to do?

I still enjoy a variety of podcasts, and while I'm not consistent, I pick and choose based on topics usually, from several different shows (WDW Radio, Beta Mouse, Mouse Chat, Be Our Guest, etc...). Sometimes, those totally give me a boost.

Our next "plan" is for the 2012 WDW Half Marathon, which, for the day tripper that I am, it's just way too soon to even think about planning!

So, for now, I'll live vicariously through Melissa, who is headed to The World tomorrow!

Do you have any tips and tricks for me and anyone else missing the world?  Please share them with us here or over on the facebook page!
~Jenn

Friday, March 4, 2011

Podcast Crazy!

This week, I'm a guest over on Mouse Chat's weekly podcast.  Steve, Lisa, Chris, Lauren, and Bob (Natalie was out!) welcomed me into a part of their great show to talk about Marathon Weekend!

The show starts out with news and some fun banter, and then they sort of just let me talk about the races.  Totally a bizarre experience to just talk, but I had a lot of fun!

For more information about Mouse Chat's podcast, check out My Dreams of Disney's post, find them on facebook, or head to their website!

Let me know what you think :)  Enjoy!! 

Thursdays with Mel... Disney Hoarding

Yesterday TLC ran a marathon of "Hoarders: Buried Alive." I must admit it is a guilty pleasure to watch. I am not known for my housekeeping skills, so these folks make me look like Martha Stewart. I by no means want to belittle the mental disorder which is known as compulsive hoarding. I am related to hoarders and know the struggle.

Watching back-to-back episodes did motivate me to dive into my to-be-filed box. I wish I had the forethought to take a "before" picture for you, but after three hours, I have made a respectable dent in two years of neglected papers.

What does this have to do with Disney, you may ask? Well, in all of that paper mayhem, I came across bills and papers of Disney vacations from long ago. I found receipts from my January 2010 vacation piled on top of reservation confirmations from my 2008 trip. Talk about a floodgate of memories. When you have been to Disney World as many times as I have, you know that these papers can accumulate! I even saw the receipts, one from my oldest son's birthday lunch at the Crystal Palace.

These old papers held the hopes and promises of Disney vacations mingling with the memories of the reality of the vacation itself. Disappearing room reservations - problems solved by a quick thinking Cast Member. The receipt for possibly the best coffee drink on earth - served at the Ghirardelli Chocolate Shoppe in Downtown Disney. The magical mailings, park maps and Keys to the Kingdom.

All treasured mementos of Disney vacations... all have now been happily shredded or tossed. I will not be a Disney hoarder. My photo books & trading pins are all the memories I need.  

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Queue Madness - Winnie the Pooh

As you've probably heard, Walt Disney World is upping their game.  They don't want people to feel like they're wasting their trips standing in line.  So, in addition to Fast Passes, they're improving the wait lines.  At Space Mountain, they've added a 90 second video game (which people now complain holds up the line!), Haunted Mansion has removed the famous tombstones and is about to open their new, interactive queues, and, my personal favorite (so far): The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh ride in Fantasyland.

I never thought too much about the ride.  It took over for Mr. Toads, but, I really don't know who Mr. Toad is. I'm not sure what his story is, so while I liked the ride, I was indifferent to the change.  And, when I heard much ado about the progress on the stand-by queue, I didn't think much about it.

I didn't think much of it, that is, until we walked up.
As always, I didn't take enough pictures.  But, I loved these!  The vegetable garden - all drums!  How creative?  Some of the areas weren't working, but hopefully Melissa will take some more pictures of Piper playing there next week, so we can see more in use!


These big screens were amazing.  Just like reading a Winnie the Pooh storybook, these giant pages were filled with overflowing pots of honey (big tv screens!) and thanks to Noah touching everything, we realized that you can make designs in the honey AND, if you move enough, you'll see Winnie the Pooh and his friends hiding underneath!

Also in the line - kids (or adults!) could move the bumblebees all around the loops, from honeycomb to honeycomb.  Unfortunately, the only picture I took had a random child in it, and I didn't want to put him online without permission!

Have you checked out these new lines yet?  What are you favorite updates?  I'm hoping Peter Pan really is next.  That line is always insane, but I love that ride...

Thanks for stopping by!
~Jenn


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Haunted Mansion Makeover

The Haunted Mansion queue is getting a makeover.  There are some pretty cool things happening.  Guests will walk by a graveyard with full size graves and monuments to some characters of this attraction, some whose stories have been lost during the years.  One monument is of a sea captain, and you can see part of his body coming out of the grave!  It looks really neat.  There are also graves of the "band" and "organ player", and these could possibly be interactive! 

To see pictures click here

See ya real soon!
~Mellie