Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Tombstone Wednesday!

I wasn't sure if I was going to get a post up today, BUT, my little one decided to take an early nap, so here I am!  Time for more Disney History!

While Brother Roland Here Reposes
His Soul's Above, One Supposes

Brother Roland refers to legendary Roland "Rolly" Crump.  Rolly did so much for Disney that his official Disney Legends profile refers to him as Disney's Da Vinci's Universal Man - he did everything.  

He started off, in between construction jobs, assisting on Peter Pan, Sleeping Beauty, and more before joining WED (Walter Elias Disney - term used before Walt Disney Imagineering) in 1959.  His work for Disneyland includes the Haunted Mansion, Enchanted Tiki Room, and even designed the large clock on the facade of the Small World for the New York World's Fair (1964-65).

Rolly helped with the initial planning of the Magic Kingdom, but left Disney for a few years to work as a consultant for groups like Busch Gardens and Ringling Brothers Circus.

Luckily, he returned to Disney in time to contribute to EPCOT Center - including the Land Pavilion and Wonders of Life.  A true legend indeed!

 For more Disney in pictures, be sure to check out Wordless Wednesday, hosted by Focused on the

Focused on the Magic

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

DVC Review - The Beach Club

 Please welcome back Brandon, my college friend and fellow Disney fanatic and DVC member!

Hello All!  I have been given the exciting task of reviewing the different DVC resorts. My wife and I, along with our daughter, Alice, are slowly getting to our goal of staying at all the DVC resorts, so today, I am going to start with the place we stayed at most recently: Disney’s Beach Club Villas.

The Beach Club is located right next to the Yacht Club Resort but you can immediately tell this place is a little more upscale than even some of the other DVC resorts. All DVC resorts have similar layouts and floor plans, and this place is no exception: beautifully decorated rooms with beach flair. Pastels and whites accented the very spacious one-bedroom villa we stayed in. 
Sitting room at the Beach Club
Common amenities in a one bedroom (or larger) DVC villa include: a full kitchen, washer, dryer, and a whirlpool.  The master bedroom has a king bed which was incredibly comfortable and so large that one night Alice slept between us, and her legs couldn’t reach to kick my back! Comfort like this is something we have come to expect in all the DVC resorts though, so let’s talk about what makes Beach Club different.
 The Beach Club has the most popular pool in all of WDW, Stormalong Bay. The bay is more like a mini water park than a pool with a large shipwreck on one side, where the broken mast is actually a waterslide into the sand bottomed pool. Yes, you read that right. It is a zero-entry, sand bottomed pool. The pool is divided into several sections, including a great kid section where the sand rises up out of the water and the kids can play and build sand creations. Alice loved the sand once she got used to walking on it. The only downside to this pool is that it is ALWAYS crowded. You have to show your room key (the first numbers on your room key identify your resort!) to get in and they give you a bracelet. Pool hopping is not allowed at Stormalong. Not to worry though, there are at least two other, more secluded, pools on the resort that are never as crowded for those who just want to relax!

As with every DVC resort, there are great food options at The Beach Club. They have the Yachtman’s Steakhouse, which is a top steak house, a couple of nice lounges to have your adult beverages at, Captain’s Grille, and of course, Beaches and Cream. Beaches and Cream is an ice cream shop and soda fountain. We had some great ice cream there, but none of us were brave enough to try the Kitchen Sink. That is 8 scoops of ice cream with every topping in the store along with an entire can of whipped cream. I didn’t see anyone order it either, or I would have definitely taken a picture. We decided to partake in the seafood buffet at Cape May CafĂ©. This was a great setting, with all you can eat crab legs, fish, sides and more. It was about $30 a person and the price changes based on the market, but it was great. My dad and I ate until we were sick, and the little desserts they sell, especially the Oreo bon-bons, are pretty great!

Lastly, the thing we loved most about the Beach Club is the location. My wife’s favorite resort is the Animal Kingdom Villas, but we have to drive everywhere from there. We have no patience for the bus system. This was not the case at Beach Club. Both Hollywood Studios and Epcot are within walking distance. And the Epcot trail takes you into the back entrance right into the World Showcase, which is our favorite part of Epcot. The rest of WDW is also bus accessible if you have patience for that sort of thing. All in all, Beach Club was one of our favorite DVC experiences so far! Let me know if you have questions regarding Beach Club or DVC and I would love to help out!

Have a Magical Day!


Monday, May 28, 2012

Face Painting!

Reader Rebekah asked:
Where is the best place for my two daughters to get a face painting of Minnie Mouse on their cheeks?  Thanks! 
Face painting is a fun and inexpensive treat for children of all ages while at Walt Disney World.  There are several locations around the resort to take advantage of this - this is the most up-to-date list I could find!

Magic Kingdom
As of early April, there was no location solely for face painting, due to the Fantasyland Expansion (previously this had been available in ToonTown).  A fancier option is available at the Pirates League!

Located in the World Showcase, there is a kiosk in between the German and China Pavilions.

Animal Kingdom
Two Locations: Outside of Tusker House and one in Dinoland U.S.A.

Hollywood Studios
Ever changing, but I believe there is a location near Pixar Place

Downtown Disney
Near guest relations at the Marketplace

The Boardwalk
Located near the ESPN Club, there is face painting available in the evenings.

**Make sure to save your receipt - the company that does the face painting offers complimentary same-day retouches!!!  

Friday, May 25, 2012

What is Rider Swap Anyways?

If you're traveling or considering traveling to Walt Disney World with small children, you may wonder how you'll find the time to ride the attractions you want even though your children are too small.

Don't worry - Disney has it all figured out!

With the Rider Swap you can both ride the attraction separately while only waiting in the line the first time. 

How this works: Both adults and the child not large enough simply walk up to the stand-by line and find the Cast Member in charge.  Tell them you'd like to take advantage of the Rider Swap.

They will ask where the child is and who is watching them - we made that mistake - left the child with one person not too close by and walked up.. whoops!

They will then hand the person/people immediately loading the attraction a modified fast pass - allowing 3 (or 4! I'll make sure to take a picture next time!) riders to go into the fastpass line.  After the original riders exit the attraction, they hand the Rider Swap pass the person/people watching the children and then they can ride without waiting in the line.

**This option is allowed to be used with Fast Pass!**  If you plan correctly, you can both ride without any lines!

Another perk - if you have one child old enough to ride, they can ride both times!  Once with you in the standby and then go back.  Can't wait to take advantage of that perk with Noah!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

A Minnie Mouse Birthday!

Welcome to those of you joining me from A Disney Mom's Thoughts and those of you just hopping aboard. I am the 6th stop on our Magical Blogorail.

When we first started talking about creating our very own Minnie Mouse Birthday party, I had all intentions of making one or two Minnie-inspired treats or cakes to share.  Unfortunately, I'm currently on a hiatus from dairy (making life easier for the new baby and harder for me!) and can't eat chocolate.. or pretty much anything dessert-y, so, instead, I'm going to share some incredibly cakes, cupcakes, cookies, and more!  

I hope these inspire you!

If you're really good with fondant or have a good baker, check out this amazing creation from Cake Central and Flowers by Bella.

or by JaKlotz1...

However, if you're like me, there are better more do-it-yourself options:

Cupcakes with oreos I can handle!
Or my favorite idea - Minnie Mouse Chocolate Caramel Apples!!

One more option - as my friend Melissa did for her daughter's 2nd birthday party:

Pink Mickey/Minnie shaped cookies (homemade)
and a Cookie Cake!  

Can't go wrong with a cookie cake.. unless you can't eat dairy.  And than it can go very wrong..

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

1st Stop ~ Delightfully Disney with Minnie Mouse Invitations
2nd Stop ~ Disney Donna Kay with Minnie Mouse Decorations
3rd Stop ~ Growing Up Disney with Minnie Mouse Attire
4th Stop ~ Can Do It Mom with Minnie Mouse Inspired Drinks and Snacks
5th Stop ~ A Disney Mom’s Thoughts with Minnie Mouse Games & Crafts
6th Stop ~ Disney Babies Blog with Minnie Mouse Cakes
7th Stop ~ Pursuing the Magic with Minnie Mouse Gift Ideas
Final Stop ~ Disney In Our Blood with Minnie Mouse Favors

***All photos except last two found on Pinterest.  I'm addicted to that site.  Feel free to follow my pins!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Tombstone Wednesday

Who is ready to decode more epitaphs from the Haunted Mansion tombstones?

Dear Sweet Leota,
Beloved by all
In regions beyond now,
But having a ball

Inspired by Disney Imagineer and Legend Leota (Lee) Toombs Thomas, Leota is the name of the the ghostly character who resides in the Haunted Mansion.  It is Leota's face that you pass through the crystal ball - she claims it's because her face fit the model needed!  

Though her voice was considered "too girly" to be heard throughout the majority of the ride, "Little Leota" at the end reminding guests to come back and "be sure to bring your death certificate" is the true voice of Leota!  

Leota played a pivotal role in creating It's a Small World, Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, and even worked on Pirates of the Caribbean and Haunted Mansion.

Now even her daughter is an Imagineer and has been used in the Nightmare Before Christmas overlay for the Halloween version of Disneyland's Haunted Mansion!

This post is a part of Focused on the Magic's Wordless Wednesday

Focused on the Magic

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Reader Question - Water Parks!.

I recently received this question from reader Anna -
Congratulations on your new baby. I know you are busy, but I was wondering if you could offer an opinion which water park is best for families with young children. My family is traveling to WDW in late August. This will be my 4 year old son's second trip and my 1 year old daughter's first trip. Since Florida is extremely hot in the summer, we are thinking of spending an afternoon at a water park. I've never been to any of them so I don't know which would fit young children best. Thanks for your help!

Water Parks are a tricky question - especially with young children.  **Disclaimer - I have never experienced Disney's water parks!**  Being that I only have second hand knowledge of the water parks, I reached out to my readers for their opinions:

  • Whitney said:  We took my 4 year old to Typhoon Lagoon last year. She liked it enough. The wave pool scared her though so we stuck to the lazy river and the kiddie area
  • Heather said:  Yes we did...3 and 5. I picked Blizzard Beach because Tike's Peak is closer to the Entrance then Ketchakiddee Creek at Typhoon Lagoon. The 3 year old was able to do the little slides and she loved it!
  • Laura said:  My son is 4. I think we like Blizzard Beach best.
  • Jessica said:  I took my 2 year old to both water Parks! He loves them both better than the resort pools. We stayed in the shallow end of the water, and be was able to go on the "MEDIUM" sized slides! He is a bit of a dare devil though.
I've heard accounts from friends that preferred Typhoon Lagoon with young children.

My personal choice - especially for the afternoons - is to save the money and enjoy the resort pools!  Walt Disney World is known for their themed pools - many have pool slides, splash areas, and are great areas to spend an afternoon!  

I've also heard that the theme parks fill up quickly in the hotter and more crowded months - to get on the rides and get chairs, it's best to go first thing in the morning.  

I say - wait until they're older and tall enough to enjoy the big rides and enjoy the resort time in the afternoon!  For height requirements, click here

I'd love to hear opinions of my readers who have been to the water parks with little ones - what do you think?

Friday, May 18, 2012

First Fitness Friday!

Only 3 weeks post-baby, I'm not quite ready to get back into my fitness routine.  Okay, okay, that's not true - I'm mentally ready to go for a long run or a yoga class, but my Dr. said I should probably wait about 4 weeks before I start back into things, so I'm being patient.  Not to mention, I just don't really have time - and finding motivation?  Not always easy!
Ready for a run!

So, when I received an email from KLUTCH Club asking me to share their product with my readers, I knew this would be a perfect way to help motivate me (and maybe some of you!) to get into better shape!  

I've always liked a new product - new running shoes or a new outfit - to help me get out on a run, so a product like the "Spring Clean Your Body" box is a perfect way to get back out there!

These boxes, for only about $17, contains nearly $70 worth of motivational products - snacks, a Power Yoga DVD, and even a coupon for $25 off really expensive yoga clothes.  The idea is to help you keep up-to-date with the newest products for healthful eating and living - so without having to try everything in the stores, you'll get samples of all of the options to see what you might want to buy on your own!

This particular box includes:
  • A Power Yoga DVD starring Kristin McGees
  • Zico Coconut Water - considered one of the best post-workout drinks - filled with natural electrolites!
  • Organic Flax Seed Oil - used to add extra Omega 3's into your diet, unfortunately it's recommended that pregnant or breastfeeding mamas avoid this, so I'll be passing this along to a friend of mine!
  • A cleansing organic deep-pore facial wash
  • Soothing teas filled with anti-oxidents to improve your skin!
  • Healthy snacks - nut free/gluten free trail mix, healthy chips, etc...
I personally love this idea - each month for $18 or less (depending on how many months you sign up for!), getting a new box filled with goodies to get my butt out of the door (or to my tv to do an at-home workout) - much less expensive than a new pair of running shoes every month!

And for you - if you use the code "BrightPink" during the month of May, you can save 10% AND donate 10% to this charity - dedicated to the prevention and early detection of breast cancer in young women!

I plan to be doing more "Fitness Fridays" in the coming weeks - I'll be re-starting my journey with Weight Watchers (I've been a lifetime member since 2002) to get back to my goal weight, as well as yoga and hitting the trails again, since I haven't run since January's 5k due to hip issues!  I'm still hoping to convince some more of you to join the Magical Blogorail Running Team in the upcoming WDW Races - to raise money for Autism Speaks, as well as enjoying the best races around.  Hope you join with me!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Window Wednesday - New Windows!

Before I start the post, I need to give a HUGE thank you to Chad from Days in the Park.  Without him and his camera, I wouldn't have these pictures at all!!  If you don't know Chad, he's a Disneylander, blogger, podcaster, and a fellow member of the Magical Blogorail Blue.  He's a great guy, even if he is a Bama alum.

Now, this is a 2-for-1.  The window on the left has been in place for a while, but the window on the right was dedicated just last week!

Far East Imports
Exotic Art
Marc Davis

Small World Costume
Alice Davis
Seamstress to the Stars

Marc Davis was one of Disney's Nine Old Men - he designed characters from major Disney movies, such as Flower from Bambi and Maleficent and Aurora from Sleeping Beauty.  Beyond that, he worked on many of the original Disneyland attractions and is even honored in them - including Pirates of the Caribbean (look for the sign that says "Marco Daviso" and the Haunted Mansion (check out his tombstone).

His wife, Alice, is also a Disney Legend - known for her creativity in costume making.  She designed many of the costumes for the original Mary Blair Small World ride at Disneyland!  She's a pretty amazing woman and it's very exciting that she's finally honored with her own Disneyland Main Street Window!

Focused on the Magic

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Disney Treasures!

As you've probably noticed, I haven't been blogging as much as I like lately - having a newborn at home (who prefers to sleep on me during the daytime) makes it fairly difficult to find much (if any) computer time to write a post.

But today, I had to find the time.

We were at the Walter Reed Military Medical Center (formerly Bethesda/National Naval Medical Center) for Zachary's 2 week appointment this morning when I saw something AMAZING:

Are you ready for it?

The Three Caballeros

Ben and Me - thanks to those who helped me find that out!

Sleeping Beauty!

Donald Duck on a box car train!

The Walrus and the Oysters from Alice in Wonderland!

Recognize the signatures in every one of these frames? Yup, that says Walt Disney!  All 5 of these prints are signed by the man himself.

While having to take a newborn (or anyone really) to see a Doc may not be fun, this definitely made the experience so much better!  And my husband only acted slightly surprised when I told him to take pictures!

Friday, May 11, 2012

In Need of a Transplant

Welcome to those of you joining me from TheCanaDisney Blog and those of you just hopping aboard. I am the 2nd stop on our Magical Blogorail.

When we started talking about this month's Magical Blogorail Blue topic - transplanting an attraction from another park into our favorite Disney park, I immediately thought of something I'd heard on a WDW Today Podcast: Bring Horizons to Tomorrowland - next to it's sister attraction, the Carousel of Progress. Apparently, Horizons was the next generation of the Carousel of Progress - and as an attraction I vaguely remember (with fond memories!), I'd love to see it back in action.

Image from

However - I have something I would like to see more:

Toy Story Playland.
Image from Disney Parks Blog

I originally heard of this area - located at both Walt Disney Studios Paris and more recently at Hong Kong Disneyland - around the time Disney announced they were bringing Avatar and James Cameron to Animal Kingdom. While I have yet to understand Avatar, Toy Story Playland makes perfect sense.

Pixar Place at Hollywood Studios - one of only a couple reasons we ever go into Hollywood Studios - relies heavily on Toy Story Midway Mania.  And, while that attraction is fantastic, it could use some friends to help with the extreme lines.  Plus, Hollywood Studios has more dead area - empty buildings where shows come and go, the Streets of America - once part of the Backstage Area now are rarely busy, aside from the Osborne Family of Lights, etc...  

Image from Disney Parks Blog
Now that it is DHS and not MGM and no longer a working studio, DHS could use a major pull - it does have 3 E-ticket attractions (Rock 'n Roller Coaster, Tower of Terror, TSMM), but it could use some more in-between attractions.  Toy Story Playlands have just that!
I believe that Jim Hill said Pixar Place was originally expected to be much larger, but I think that money became an issue - well, as an Imagineer, I would love to point out that Disney profits are up 21% this year already and this would be a great place to start sharing that wealth!

I personally would love to see these attractions, but don't expect to visit Hong Kong Disneyland or DLPR in the next.. well honestly, 20 years or ever, so I think they should bring them closer to home!  As an Imagineer, this is where I would start!

For more pics and description of the Toy Story Playland, check out this post on the Disney Parks Blog from 2010, when it originally opened in Paris!

Thank you for joining me today. Your next stop on the Magical Blogorail Loop is 
Cooking With Mickey

Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail should you happen to have to make a stop along the way and want to reboard:
4th Stop ~ Meet the Magic
Final Stop ~ Days in the Park

Monday, May 7, 2012

Souvenirs for Kids - Guest Blogger!

Tips & Observations to help make your souvenir shopping a snap, from Melissa at Picturing Disney.

When my niece was little she used to carry a picture around of me, my husband, and “tink” from a Photopass magnet I gave to my parents.  It was super cute because she would carry us around with her while she was at my parents’ house but this got me thinking…   if that little magnet made her happy in a way that generic toys did not how could I pick out something she would love when we were away again?

Here are a few of the secrets I have learned, as a non-parent who loves to bring things home for her niece and nephews, over the years:

1.  Be mindful not to buy gifts that will make the kids wish they had come with you.
It seems like everyone in Walt Disney World everything says “Walt Disney World” or boasts pictures of the castle or Spaceship Earth.  I found that although I always wanted to splurge on the monorail or Cinderella Castle playset it might be a little enticing to a kid, especially knowing that there are ads for the Parks all over TV and magazines. 

2.  Be careful of transporting items!
Some of the bigger snowglobes cannot be carried onto planes anymore and same with some of the water filled toys for kids.  Check the boxes *before* you buy- they have notices right on the label and shipping home can be pricey.  I have now seen people told they could not carry a snowglobe home on the plane twice, and told they had to be gate-checked.  On the other hand, I got my niece a super adorable Disney Cuties snowglobe that was on the smaller side, (and conveniently made mostly of plastic which was great for a kid) wrapped it up in my clothes, and was on my merry way.

3. Think like a kid!
Sure as an adult I might think that a really nice print or shirt would be adorable but kids want something fun and even a little exciting! There are toys everywhere in Walt Disney World and even some really cute books with CDs (I got my niece an awesome It’s a Small World book that had the lyrics to the song throughout the book that was filled with awesome drawings and it came with a CD of the music.  Now my sister probably hates it but it was a really cute way for me to bring home a book!)

4.  Don’t overlook World Showcase!
Some of the best shopping for anyone of any age can be done here! I especially love the shops in Japan and UK! There are unique toys with great learning opportunities attached so you can teach your friend, niece, nephew, grandchild, cousin, or whomever you are buying a souvenir for a little about world cultures.

5.  When in doubt stop at Goofy’s Candy Shop!
Filling up a cup with candy on your last afternoon or just picking up some nicely wrapped sweets from Downtown Disney or one of the bigger shops like Mouse Gears in Epcot is one sweet way into the heart of any kid! 

Melissa is a World History teacher living with her husband and dog in NY.  She is a frequent visitor of WDW and occasional DLR guest as well.  Melissa currently shares her love for Disney with her fantastic Photo Blog, Picturing Disney.  She also happens to be really nice and an awesome Disney person I hope to meet someday in real life!  Thanks again for the cute Mickey watch, Melissa!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Tombstone Wednesday!

I can't believe I found the time to do a Tombstone Wednesday!  I love this series too much to ignore it, so here is your Disney Haunted Mansion Trivia for the week!

Farewell Forever,
Mister Frees
Your Voice Will Carry On the Breeze

Paul Frees was a character and voice actor.  For Disney, he voiced Professor Von Drake in 18 episodes of the Disney anthology TV series.  More importantly?  He's the voice of your Ghost Host in the Haunted Mansion at both WDW and DLR, as well as the auctioneer for Pirates of the Caribbean.

Can't you hear him saying the words "Ghost Host" in your head?  I know I can!

Paul Frees passed away in 1986.

Focused on the Magic

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Favorite Attraction: The Magic

When I recently posted that I skip Mission: Space in a recent post, I recent some feedback that honestly surprised me a little!  Many people agreed that they'll skip that attraction or Stitch, but a few said "You're a Disney, why skip anything?"  My guess - they didn't actually read the post in which I described my feelings during and after that ride!  No question why I avoid that attraction!

But, my thought - if you're so busy in and out of lines, waiting to go on rides and shows, you'll miss the magic.  Back in my day tripping days, that was how I hit the parks: running.  Before I'd heard of Touring Plans, we had our own process of how to ride nearly every attraction we'd want to see in our less-than-one-full day style, before we'd head back home that same night.  Meal planning included: eat at whichever counter service was located near we were when we were hungry - or make reservations for dinner around lunch time.

When I ran from ride to ride, I missed the Hidden Treasures.. like:

Or, the working Party Lines (phones) on Main Street U.S.A.  We loved hearing all about how to get and keep your husband from the mother talking to her daughter!

 If you're there at the right time of day (they usually stop mid-afternoon), the Characters of Main Street, including the Women of Main Street, the Mayor, the Fire Chief, and the Dapper Dans.  Not to mention the Main Street U.S.A. Trolley Show, the Main Street Vehicles, and all the magic that is Main Street!

I knew about Forced Perspective (the way the buildings line Main Street U.S.A. - the ground floors are full sized and the upper floors are all smaller, leading your eye straight down the street towards Cinderella Castle - a trick stolen from the movies!), but never really paid any attention to the windows and the dedications that those windows hold.

Since I've slowed down, I may not ride every attraction (though, thanks to the time of year we usually visit, we generally don't miss much), but I take in so much more magic that it's okay.  

For more Disney Trivia and Magic, check out my trivia page!  Learn about the Windows of Main Street and so much more!