Thursday, June 28, 2012

Top 3 Tips for Your First Trip

A coworker of mine came up to me on Monday saying that she heard I was the one to talk to about a Disney trip.

She has never been to Disney - I'm under the impression she has thought of it as a place for children, and since she doesn't have any, she never considered going.

She's just hoping to have a good vacation with some old friends and her sister, but to this point hasn't started planning at all, other than her decision to take the AutoTrain from Northern Virginia to Orlando (the train carries your car and allows you to relax for the long haul.. but it's not cheap!).

But, where to start from there?

I gave her 3 tips to start:

  1. Buy the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World.  I've heard it's the best.  But for some reason, I've never purchased one..  That will change soon and I will be offering you a copy when I get mine (a new giveaway!!)  For someone like my coworker who has never been to Walt Disney World and didn't even know there were hotels on property, this is a perfect place to start!
  2. Check out  They can help you decide the best dates to go, which parks to visit when, and even help you figure out how to get around the parks!  Great for newbies and us old guys.  Touring Plans keeps improving - now with their mobile app, WDW Lines, you can optimize your plan.  Simply open it while you're in the park and they'll customize the plan based on what time and when you're there!  awesome.
  3. Once you decide to stay on property (and if it's your first trip, I highly recommend this), contact my travel agent, Kelly at Disney Guru.  Just like when you call Walt Disney World, you're working with a travel agent.  By working with a fee-free travel agent like Kelly, you're getting customized help - she'll work with you to find the best deals and do more than a simple booking that one time, like you get when you're on the phone.  They do the dirty work and you get to relax.  For no extra cost!
One more tip - ask questions!!! I love helping, answering questions, and talking Disney.  If I can't help, I'll most likely know who to direct you to for your answer! 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Tombstone Wednesday!

I love Wednesdays! I always know what to blog about - unlike so many other days!

Back for another epitaph!

Rest in Peace
Cousin Huet
We all know 
you didn't do it

Disney Imagineer (WED - prior to the term WDI/Imagineering) Cliff Huet was an architect and one of the primary interior designers for the Haunted Mansion.

For more great Disney Photographs and "Wordless" Wednesday posts, check out:

Focused on the Magic

Monday, June 25, 2012

How time flies..

In an inspiring yoga class a few weeks ago, my teacher urged us to slow down and really savor the time we have.  As she said - to some, a 75 minute yoga class can feel like an eternity.  To others, it can fly by.  Yet, we should hope for it to end and feel like the perfect amount of time.

I really focused on spending the last few weeks really enjoying time with my baby - he'll be 2 months old on Tuesday.  I can no longer say it feels as though he was just born yesterday.  It does seem like it was a while ago now.  But, that doesn't make it any easier to know that my maternity leave is now over.  

Today is my first day back at work.  My two boys are at the same daycare where I know all the teachers and I've seen my older son thrive, so I'm not too worried.  Sadly, it doesn't make it much easier to leave the youngest there all day!  

But, as time moves and as I am trying to accept reality setting in, I'm sort of able to realize the exciting things in the future.

Noah 12/06/09
becomes this:

January 2012

And Zachary:

will join us at our happy place in February of 2013.  I'm excited to have a picture of the four of us to add to our collection!
June 2011
So for once, I'm not counting down the days until our next trip - I'm going to try to savor the days I have while my boys are little and we are still their best friends. And, while they don't know any other vacations other than Walt Disney World are available!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Fitness Friday - Making Good Decisions

*Originally Posted at Chip and Co.*

Amazing food, mickey bars, drinks.  Who thinks to diet when they’re on vacation anywhere, especially not at Walt Disney World?  I'm pretty sure that I’m one of a small minority that thinks about it while on vacation!  Some people say that they like to lose 5 lbs ahead of time, to balance out all of the Mickey Bars, while others stated that they generally walk enough to not think twice about it.

Tonga Toast - Kona Cafe, Disney's Polynesian Resort

For me, however, I still think about it.  Even post after running in the 2011 WDW Half Marathon, it didn’t completely leave my mind.  I should confess, while Jennifer Hudson I am not, I’ve been a Weight Watcher since 2002 and use it as a lifestyle, not just a diet.  With this in mind, I absolutely indulge while at Walt Disney World.  I love trying new things and discovering new (to me) foods, such as the cupcakes at Starring Rolls bakery in Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  But, I shared one with my husband instead of eating the entire cupcake by myself.
Cupcake from Starring Rolls

I don’t necessarily think about points/calories/fat while I’m on the road, but I try not to fully indulge the whole day.  If I’m planning on having a big dinner, I might go for a lighter lunch.  Instead of a Mickey bar every day, I might have one once during a long trip, but than have a chocolate covered frozen banana instead.  Instead of a Margarita (which I absolutely do love, but unfortunately know the calorie count), I’ll skip the Mexico Pavilion for the Italy Pavilion and pick up a glass of Rosa Regale, my favorite dessert wine.
Don't get me wrong, I splurge!! Via Napoli

I know some people head to the trails for a run or hit the gym before traveling the parks, and while I have been known to do that on vacation (on my honeymoon…), I agree that with all the walking, I’ll mostly even out some of the extra calories I’m eating.  Realistically, even going Park Commando for a few days, I’m not burning enough calories to eat 3 buffet meals a day for a week and not gain 5 pounds.  But I can walk the world showcase and stop for a few treats, I just try to choose wisely.  I don’t feel guilty having a Bavarian pretzels at the German Pavilion, even though those nachos in Mexico smell divine. I’ll have pretty much anything instead of those Turkey legs served in the American Pavilion and several other places around Walt Disney World.  At a whopping 1000 calories, they fooled me once thinking that they’re healthy, but that won’t happen again!

And, post baby, I'm back attending weekly meetings and still adjusting my daily life to making the best/healthiest/realistic decisions.  I celebrated my birthday with a cupcake and Mexican food, but held myself to a handful of tortilla chips instead of 2 baskets.  If I can do that on my birthday, I sure can do that at Walt Disney World!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Great Cast Members

As I sit here trying to finally order birth announcements (what's 7 weeks in the grand scheme of things?) dealing yet again with Shutterfly Customer Service through an online chat, I'm reminded again of the amazing cast members that work at Walt Disney World and how different they are to the majority of people you'll deal with on a day-to-day basis.

On our January trip, we had a couple of amazing experiences with cast members.

Our first?  At the Walt Disney Railroad when the 'conductor' saw Noah fall and made sure to make his experience extra special.  He even became the "guest conductor" of the Grand Circle Tour!

Another fantastic experience from January?  Late one night (okay, not late, but late for a 2 year old) as the crowds gathered for The Magic, Memories, and You, I joined the crowd at the Confectionery on Main Street, U.S.A. for a Mickey apple (top 5 favorite treats!).
yum.. Candy Cauldron DTD style

The line was fairly long and Adam was doing his best to entertain Noah.  He was actually in great spirits, but being past his bedtime with no nap, he definitely wasn't great at simply waiting.  Luckily, he started flirting with the Cast Members creating the treats.  They loved the attention and to his enjoyment, she gave him a Mickey-eared rice crispie treat!

I sadly don't have pictures because they were lost when my old computer crashed, so I thought the Dapper Dans inside the Confectionary would do the trick!
Dapper Dans inside the Confectionary

So, how do you thank these cast members?

If you're really outgoing, enthusiastic, and have time, you can find the nearest manager/lead cast member (not sure of the exact term!) and tell them how someone really helped your experience.

If you're like me, write down their names and the date/time/location and head to Guest Relations before you leave.  They have comment cards to fill out.  This may seem silly, but these cards going into the cast members files and help them, especially if they're on the career path.  They can help get promoted, awards, and it's a great honor to be honored by the guests!  

Have you ever thanked any cast members for great experiences?  I'd love to hear about it!  Share in the comments or on the facebook page!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Tombstone Wednesday!

Only a few more days left of maternity leave.. not sure if that means I'll find a better routine for blogging or what, but hopefully I'll be posting more in the upcoming days/weeks/months!

But, I think I found a tombstone of WDW's Haunted Mansion I hadn't covered yet!

Mister Sewell
The Victim of a Dirty Duel
Peaceful rest

Imagineer Bob Sewell ran the Model Shop for WED from 1960 until his retirement in 1981.  He must have been well loved, as he was honored both here and with a Window on Main Street, U.S.A.

This post is linked up with Focused on the Magic's Wordless Wednesday!

Focused on the Magic

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Birth Announcement!

Mod Marquee Blue Baby Announcements
Find hundreds of cute baby birth announcements at
View the entire collection of cards.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

It's Giveaway Time!

In honor of Disney Pixar's newest film, Brave, I have joined in with several other bloggers to bring you another wonderful Disney Gift card Giveaway!  I hope you are as excited as I am!

Entering is easy, thanks to the wonderful people at Rafflecopter!  Enter away and tell all of your friends!

And a big thanks to Dana from The Dragyn's Lair for setting this up! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, June 15, 2012

Fitness Friday: Disney World Made me a Runner

I have never been a runner.

Remember in school having to run the mile? I walked. I’d jog a few steps when the gym teacher would yell at me, but then I’d go right back to walking my 16 minute mile.

Soccer? I never liked soccer: too much running. Softball was more my speed, but I only played that for a few years.
Then, one summer in college, a friend convinced me to run. Several times a week, we’d head out to a beautiful 4-mile lake near campus, and go. I started jogging 1 minute at a time and slowly built up to more running than walking the 4 mile trail (and a 20 lb weight loss!) But, I definitely wasn’t a runner and could never complete the 4 mile loop.
Army 10 miler 2011
A few years later, I enlisted in the U.S. Army. Just to enter basic combat training (boot camp), I had to run 1 mile in 10 minutes. No problem, though I was nervous about it!  In boot camp, we ran several times a week, either group runs, track runs, or interval training. By the end, I could easily run 2 miles in about 19 minutes. But, I still wasn’t a runner.
Before my first WDW Half Marathon, I would frequently head out on a run to stay in shape, but rarely ever more than 3 miles. Heck, 4 or 5 miles seemed incredibly long for me. It was about 7 or 8 months into my first pregnancy- 7-8 months of taking walks and practicing slow yoga, I knew I wanted a change; I wanted to become a runner.
I have never enjoyed running, but longed to find a way to enjoy the experience. After all, I have to run for the duration of my career. Then it dawned on me: Walt Disney World. The races run through the parks – and more importantly, through Cinderella Castle! Not convinced? Check out the main page video at runDisney. I’ve almost convinced non-Disney-addicts with that! Somehow, at 36 weeks pregnant, I convinced my husband and a good college friend to sign up for the 2011 Disney Half-Marathon. 13. 1 miles. Sounds scary? It does to me, too, but I’ll be running from EPCOT to the Magic Kindgom, and back. And through both parks.
Excuse the cell-phone quality pictures!
I purchased the “In training for the Disney Half-Marathon” tech shirts for my husband and myself in hopes of motivation. We followed runDisney’s Training Consultant and Olympic marathoner Jeff Galloway’s training programs, and set out on our journey to become runners.
26 weeks pregnant WDW Marathon Weekend 5k
Now, I've completed 2 half marathons – my first at Walt Disney World in 2011- a lot of firsts: first half-marathon, first medal, and first run through Cinderella Castle. Since then, I completed a local half marathon and this past January, my husband finished his 2nd (WDW Marathon Weekend 2012) while I watched after completing the 5k the day before.  At 26 weeks pregnant, I knew 13.1 miles was too much, so we completed the relaxed 5k.   
Now, we consider ourselves regulars of runDisney.  In 2013, we're planning to experience the Princess Weekend Half Marathon (due to a work conflict marathon weekend).  A big thanks to Walt Disney World and runDisney. After years of faking it, I now consider myself a runner.  

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Disneyland E-Book!

I'm sure that everyone reading this has heard about "One More Disney Day" - on February 29th, 2012, when both Disneyland and Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom opened their gates for 24 hours.  People stood in line prior to the 6 a.m. opening to receive mouse ears, buy shirts, and be apart of the magical day (sounds exhausting!).

Tom Bricker, photographer and author for Touring had another idea - he decided to show Disneyland in all it's glory.  In his new photobook ebook, Disneyland: Sunrise to Sunrise, Bricker shares over 200 stunning photographs, viewing the park for literally 24 hours.  It's not often regular guests will see the Disneyland resort at sunrise, but now we can see what it looks like!

As I flipped through it (I have an Android based tablet which it showed beautifully on), I wished I could have a print copy for my coffee table.  Luckily, I don't actually have a coffee table (removed because of a clutzy toddler...), so carrying this around with me is even more fun.
As I haven't actually been to Disneyland yet, this books serves as a guidebook - things to look forward to, places and attractions to see.  It's visually stunning!  

Even my husband, who enjoys WDW but not nearly on the same level as I do, kept looking over to see and say "ooh, what's that?"  

I had originally expected it to be in order from start to finish, which it wasn't.  I found that odd - but, then you would be seeing pictures in the same lighting the whole way, and having it more mixed up gave it more visual interest.

As you can see, Tom shares the time of day and the descriptions of attractions, for those of us not as familiar with the park.  These photographs are beautiful and I love that this book is now available for purchase!

This beautiful book is only $8, with the code SUNRISE2012, I get to offer you an extra 25% off!  $6 - I spend that much at Starbucks a week!  Not bad at all!

Hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Disney Savings Plan

Does anyone else love Pinterest as much as I do?  I'm sure many of you do.  It has caught on and is apparently the fastest growing social media outlet ever!  (Follow my Disney pins here!)

Well, last night as I was perusing the popular items, I found one that I loved from the online store Uncommon Goods:
Dream Bank

For only $25, you can buy this ready made box and add your own picture of whatever you're saving up for.

Or, you can buy a shadowbox at a crafts store (or a store like HomeGoods), add your favorite picture of Cinderella Castle (or your favorite Weenie, as Walt would have said. Yes, Walt called the monuments or attractions that would draw you to an area a Weenie.  When I find out why, I'll share that with you!)
I can't wait to have this picture as a family of 4!

Carve a slot on the top/side to add drop your extra pennies/gift cards, etc... and save up!  Talk about a fun way to have a Disney savings account!

I'll be making one of these.. eventually.. when I actually have time to do crafts again!  And then, I'll share that with you, too!

Do you have any fun ways to save your Disney money?

Friday, June 8, 2012

Extinct Attractions!

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

Many of my childhood memories are incredibly vague, especially those from Walt Disney World.  We visited every so often, but the details are fuzzy.  However, I do remember loving Delta Dreamflight.

Located where Buzz Lightyear's Astro Blaster currently resides, Delta Dreamflight, once "If you Had Wings," "If You Could Fly," or simply "Dreamflight" was part of an obvious sponsorship with Delta Airlines (anyone else remember that partnership?).  But, it was also a peaceful and happy ride!

A basic omnimover attraction, this ride had riders sitting in an airplane, flying through a pop-up book of beautiful scenery.  I wish I remembered more, but I just remember loving it.  Of course, I love Buzz Lightyear, so I've accepted the change, but I still wish I could ride it!  The you-tube video doesn't really help me much!

The other attraction that I think many miss?  Horizons.  I had to look it up a few years ago (before I really became engrossed in the Disney community).  Proposed as a sequel to The Carousel of Progress, this ride was more of a futuristic world, instead of a blast from the past.  Again, the details are hazy, but I remember a few scenes including the boy walking the dog on the ceiling:
Courtesy of
And, I also remember at the end, you could choose your own tomorrow!  I wish I could remember more, but luckily, YouTube can help there, too!

What attractions do you miss?

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

Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail should you happen to have to make a stop along the way and want to reboard: 1st Stop ~ The CanaDisney Blog 2nd Stop ~ Disney Babies Blog 3rd Stop ~ Meet the Magic Final Stop ~ Pursuing the Magic

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Disney Basics

Do you ever read/see/hear various Disney terms and acronyms and have no idea what people are talking about?  If you're new to the "Disney scene" or are just planning a family vacation and don't understand what people keep telling you about, you're not alone!

From meal planning to attractions, Disney is a world unto itself.  In the military we have a lot of acronyms, but Disney comes in close behind in usage.  Hopefully, I can help clear some of this up for you!
  • Cast Member - Employees!  Disney Parks are a show, not simply a park.  The employees are part of the adventure, thus their title.
  • Attraction - As a Theme Park (not simply an amusement park), the rides are attractions - from the queues through the entire ride, there is an attraction, not just a ride!
  • The Hub - The design of the majority of Disney Parks
    • Just like on a tire, the hub is the center of the park that has spokes leading out to the different lands.
    • At the Magic Kingdom - the Hub is the area where Main Street U.S.A. and Cinderella Castle meet.
      • From the Hub, you have entrances towards all of the Park's lands.
  • ADR - Advanced Dining Reservations  
    • It may seem strange to make dining reservations when visiting a theme park, but thanks to the Disney Dining Plan, to get into many of the table service restaurants for lunch or dinner - especially during 'normal' meal times, you'll need to make these reservations in advance. 
    • ADR's may be made 180 days in advance - if you're staying in a Disney Resort and having reservation ID, there is an added 10 days to that - check with your travel agent for specifics!
      • Table Service - Any sit down restaurant
      • Counter Service - "fast" food
    • Believe it or not, some restaurants - at more popular "peak" times of year - make it necessary to schedule 180 days out!
    • Popular places that need ADR's:
      • BBB - Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique - (not dining, but still requires a reservation) the pricey Princess Makeover - available at Cinderella's Castle and Downtown Disney
      • CRT - Cinderella's Royal Table
      • BOG  - Be Our Guest Restaurant
  • Fastpass - A system put in place by Disney assigning times to ride attractions
    • Outside of the bigger attractions (Space/Splash/Big Thunder Mountain and similar) there are 2 lines - one stand by - go in and wait until you reach the front of the line - or a line that included with admission (using your ticket!) you can get a ticket for a return window.  There is a 1 hour window on that ticket that is being enforced, so make sure to come back when it says!  There are clocks near the fastpass machines that tell you what the return time is before you get one.
    • You can only get one fastpass per time period (usually around 2 hours, but sometimes less - it will say in the bottom of your fast pass ticket!
    • Fastpasses for character meets aren't affected by the last time you picked up a fastpass, so you can get a fastpass to meet Mickey or the Princess at Town Square Theater and immediately go to your favorite Mountain to get your next fastpass!
    • Avoid wasting fast passes on attractions without lines - seems simple enough, but there is a fastpass machine at attractions like Mickey's Philharmagic - I love this attraction but haven't seen lines for it in a long time! You may even receive a "surprise" fast pass for this attraction - they often come with other Fantasyland fastpasses!
  • Rider Swap - Available at attractions with height limits - this attraction allows parents with children too small for the rides to still enjoy them!  
    • To take advantage of this option: Both adults must go to the cast member at the standby (or fastpass if you have fast passes!) line with the child.  
    • Once the first person/people have ridden the attraction, hand the "rider swap" pass to the remaining people and they can ride immediately- enter in the fastpass line.
  • Photopass - Disney Photographers
    • Located throughout the theme parks are "trained" photographers, waiting to take your pictures.
    • You are given a card that the photographers scan all over the parks to keep your pictures together.
    • You can purchase them before you go, within 30 days of your trip, or at the parks and resorts
  • Hard Ticket Event - 
    • Separate entry ticket required, usually starting in the afternoon and going into the late night for special events. 
    • Costs less than a single day ticket and has a limited number of people (still a lot, but nearly the capacity of a normal park day)
      • MNSSHP - Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party
        • Held annually at the Magic Kingdom on select dates leading up to Halloween
        • Many say the parade for this event is the best parade at the parks.
      • MVMCP - Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party
        • held annually at the Magic Kingdom leading up to Christmas
  • Magical Express - Transportation for persons and luggage staying on Disney Property.
    • Offered Free to resort guests
    • This service gives transportation from the Orlando Airport (MCO) to the resort.
    • With planning ahead, you receive luggage tags so that the Magical Express retrieves your luggage and it arrives in your room a few short hours after you arrive.
  • Park Transportation - Depending on your resort, there are buses, monorails, and boats!
    • Transportation between parks and resorts is complimentary, though resorts with monorail, boat, or walking distance to Parks generally costs more than those a bus ride away. 
  • Resorts - 
    • Value - the least expensive:
      • Pop, All-Star (Movies/Sports/Movies), AoA - Art of Animation
        • All Stars and AoA have family suites - basically 2 adjoining rooms with 2 bathrooms and a kitchenette.  Sleep 6.
    • Moderates - Generally more themed than values. Priced higher but not as high as Deluxe.
      • CBR - Caribbean Beach Resort - huge, sprawling resort
      • POR/POFQ - Port Orleans Riverside/French Quarter - considered by many the nicest of the moderates
      • Coronado Springs - more of a business resort - often more quiet and has more amenities than some of the other moderates.
    • Deluxe- you guessed it - the most expensive and nicest resorts on property
      • AKL - Animal Kingdom Lodge
      • WL - Wilderness Lodge
      • Contemporary/Bay Lake
      • Polynesian
      • GF - Grand Floridian
      • Beach and Yacht Clubs
      • Boardwalk
      • Saratoga Springs
      • OKW - Old Key West

I'm sure I've missed a few things, so please let me know what I'm missing to this *hopefully comprehensive* list!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Tombstone Wednesday!

I know I'm not blogging as regularly as I'd like these days (and hopefully as you'd like to see!), but I try to make sure I get a Wednesday post up.  I love sharing Disney trivia and hope you enjoy it, too!

First Lady of the Opera
Our Haunting
Searched for a Tune
But Never Could Carry It

Disney Legend Harriet Burns was the first woman hired in Walt Disney Imagineering in a creative matter instead of an office capacity.  She started painting props and sets for the new Mickey Mouse Club tv show, including designing and painting the "clubhouse."  

She helped create Sleeping Beauty Castle, New Orleans Square, the Haunted Mansion, and more for Disneyland.  She even appeared in episodes of Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color when discussing new theme park attractions.

This post and many more can be found at:

Focused on the Magic