Friday, April 25, 2014

Easter 2014

We had a really nice, laid back Easter weekend at our house. On Saturday we went to our church's little egg hunt then to the library for books and a show. It was a beautiful day out so we did a little bit of yard work when we got home. Later Michael and I had fun coloring Easter eggs!

He was a very serious artist! We got a kit that was 24 Carrot (haha get it) Gold coloring set and it had little glazes that you paint on with a brush and Michael loved it the best. I was in charge of coloring the regular eggs and have loved eating hardboiled eggs every day for a snack!

Michael was up early on Sunday and found his basket with all sorts of fun treasures in it. We then headed to church and had our egg hunt when we got home. Michael had so much fun and ran all around our whole yard looking for eggs!

Confetti egg!

Michael has been loving these little Star Wars Angry Birds figures that you can get at Walgreens. They were the perfect size to go in an egg so now his collection has grown quite a bit! 

We headed to our friends house for lunch and also had another really fun egg hunt! Michael had fun playing with some new friends and it was a really nice way to spend an afternoon!

I hope you all had a great Easter weekend also! 

Happy Friday!

Saturday, April 19, 2014


Happy Weekend! I have been slacking off on my InstaFriday but only because mostly my photos have been Disney related and I've shared those with you already! 

Clean desk at work and sub plans ready to go for my days off before our trip. Obviously it was a moment worth documenting! 

Boys, star wars books and spiderman blankies. 

My favorite souvenir from my trip! I'm not a big souvenir person but this is a good reminder of the good times to me. I like that it is not overly disney and very practical (and fits in my white ceramic travel mug motif). 

Pulling his weight around here! 

We've been enjoying this beautiful weather! A dinner on the deck was a good celebration of spring (hopefully) being here for good! We are excited for summer! 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Disney Wrap Up

Here is a round up of all my posts from 2014 trip: 

Also helpful this time was reviewing my "bucket" list that I had made last year after our vacation. It helped jog my memory on which things I knew I wanted to accomplish on our next trip and what to make a priority! The things we did are in red and commented on in blue. 

1. Lodging
  • We would love to stay at a Walt Disney World property next time or buy points from Scott's parents to stay at Bonnet Creek. Yes! We loved saying on property!
  • The two resorts I like the most are the Polynesian and Art of Animation. These obviously differ in price radically but wouldn't it be nice to stay on the monorail? It would be so awesome to me. Yes, we loved the Art of Animation! We did all price the Poly but wow...still expensive. It is also undergoing a major construction project this season. Maybe in the future! 
  • I think if we stayed on a Disney Resort we would still take our own food and plan for one meal out a day. I think this worked really well and easily costs half as much as a dining plan. Yes, we did this! We are cheap and it was fast, easy and delicious! 
2. Parks
  • We would love to do a day or two at Epcot next time, but not sure how this would impact our overall travel plans....and would also love to stay for more than 7 days. Did not do this....add it to next time's list!
3. Attractions
  • While we did hit a lot of attractions we didn't do the previous time we visited Disney world, there are some that we missed this time that we can hopefully do next time. 
  •  Magic Kingdom
    • Tomorrowland Speedway Check!
    • Tea Cups
    • Meet Ariel Check!
    • 7 Dwarfs Mine Train (will open in 2014!) not open yet :o( 
    • Splash Mountain (was under construction) Check!
    • Space Mountain (too hard to do with a little one) felt like Michael was still too young!
    • The Castle show before Wishes Check! 
  •  Animal Kingdom Did not visit this time :o( 
    • Tusker House Character Breakfast before park opens
    • Finding Nemo- the musical 
    • Flights of Wonder
    • Walk the Jungle Trek
    • Parade....basically I felt like we didn't do very much at our day at Animal Kingdom and I know there is so much there to offer. It was also one of the days that felt the busiest and most claustrophobic to me and I felt like we just walked and walked. 
  •  Hollywood Studios 
    • More character meet and greets (I had forgotten they were in the animation building) Did not get to :o( 
    • Take the Animation class at Art of Animation. 
    • Enroll Michael in Jedi Training Academy Yes! 
    • Do Star Tours Yes!
    • Do a dinner and advance seating package to Fantasmic! Did not do dinner but still saw Fantasmic-a must see!
4. Other
  • Take more photopass photos (and get photopass plus so we can get ride photos) Yes! Bought ahead of time to save money and took over 200 photos- a much better price than paying $200 or $15 for each photo! 
  • Start a monthly savings account for vacations. Did not do, but saved some Christmas money from family members and saved for a few months beforehand
  • Plan a princess dining meal at Akershaus in Epcot (I will go by myself if I have to!)
  • Rent or buy a wide angle (or wider prime) lens to use at the parks for better night photos.  Yes, used my 35mm lens the whole time! I loved the crisp photos and the wider angle. 
  • Be sure and take the kids out of the stroller for photos (we were so worried about Michael running off but seriously...he is in the stroller in about 95% of our photos!) Yes! Much better job at this one this year! Just parked the stroller by the photographer and we were good to go. 
  • Visit in early June when school is out instead of spring break. Historically (looking at crowd calendars), it seems like the beginning of June has been less busy than the middle of March. Itdid seem way busier when we were there this time compared to last time and overall it seemed like this past March Disney World had some record crowds (most were luckily the week after we left).  Did visit at a time other than spring break! Seemed less busy in april but was much warmer!
I also took some time to revisit My Disney World Tips to see if my tips still rang true this time. 

1. Plan well to maximize time. 
Check, check and check. I loved frequently all the blogs listed and used the lines apps extensively. I created plans using a mixture of guidelines from and the touring plans. 

2. Get to the parks when they open.
 Check and check. We did extra magic hours at Hollywood studios and go there before the opening show at Magic Kingdom. It makes for a great first few hours in the park! 

3. Get a good stroller.
We rented a stroller again from Kingdom Stroller because we had an easy experience with them last time. My son was 4 on this trip and he still needed it especially for navigating through crowds. He got tired enough the way it was without wearing out his little legs even more (and plus we dreaded him getting tired and making us carry him). 

4. Consider brown bagging it. 
Check! We stopped at the store on the way to the resort and stocked up on deli meat, cheese, snacks, water, chips, cookies....for about $80 for 4 meals plus snacks. Even a quick service meal in the park runs about $50 for our family so this was a big savings especially since we did breakfast in the room too. 

5. Get dining reservations early.
 We got an email to get a fastpass lunch to Be our Guest and we waited a few hours to check it out and by that time the times were all gone! :o( Lesson learned!

6. Use photopass and the photographers. 
I bought the package early to save $50 and we got a ton of photos for just being in the parks two days. Most of them were from character meets and Jedi Training but I knew I wanted the ride photos too. It is a big savings and helps force you to get your photo taken as a group if you know you already paid for it in advance. 

7. Know yourself and your family. 
We were busy but we tried to get in what we could! We understood that we couldn't do everything on this short trip and that was okay! 

8. Put on the mouse ears. 
Check! Did I feel ridiculous posing with the princesses? Yes of course. Did I have a really fun time meeting them? Yes of course! I tried hard to remember that this is a vacation and the ultimate goal is to have fun as a family. I saw so many upset parents yelling at their kids in the park and it was a good reminder to me to not be cranky and just go with the flow. I think I did a pretty good job and the only time I got nervous was when I thought Michael was going to miss his time for Jedi Training because he was riding Star Tours but it all worked out. 

I will definitely be looking back at our list for future trips. For now, I think our next plans for visiting Disney will probably be a cruise in 4-5 years. My dream is to plan it as a land and sea trip where we do a few days at the park and then a few days at sea. We also have plans to travel to Disneyland at some point but we'll see what the future holds! :o) 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Magic Kingdom

On Sunday, we headed to Magic Kingdom for our last day in the parks before leaving on Monday. We left bright and early (around 7:30) to pick up Denise, grab coffee, park and hop on the monorail to be at the gates nice and early for the opening show. 

Who's excited to be riding the monorail? Woo hoo! 


It was another beautiful morning and I love being at the Magic Kingdom before it opens. As you can see by the clock, we got there right around 8:10. It seemed like most people arrived around 8:30 and the opening show started about 8:40. We were in the gates well before 9 a.m. 

We also scheduled our fastpasses with a castmember who was outside the gates. They were out of Enchated Tales with Belle fastpasses and only had two times for Splash Mountain (9:15-right in the middle of prime touring time or 5:30-pretty late). I was really disappointed and I am afraid I made the lady feel bad but seriously? We ended up with fastpasses for Tomorrowland Speedway, Big Thunder Mountain and Splash Mountain at the late time. Just a reminder that we couldn't book them ahead of time because we used Denise's guest passes but most people who buy their tickets ahead of time can book their fastpasses weeks ahead of time. 

We took our requisite photos in front of the train station and waited for the show to start!

Soon enough we heard the train coming and there were the residents of main street welcoming us to the park! 

Michael was so excited when he saw Stitch on the train! He was waving his buddy Stitch at the real Stitch- so cute. 

It was so fun seeing the castle again for the first time this trip. We stopped for a quick photo and then hurried to get to our first destination. 


Unfortunately, the paths to the lands were still roped off as it was still before 9:00. What? I didn't realize that could happen so we waited by the side of the castle for a few minutes before heading into Fantasyland. 

Our first stop was at the Princess Fairytale Hall to meet Cinderella and Aurora! We were the 2nd family of the day to meet them and no waiting! 

Michael was cute talking to Cinderella. He warmed up quickly as she asked him about his missing tooth (oh the tooth fairy? She is a friend of mine!) and about Stitch (he is a very naughty alien!). She was as sweet as could be! 

Next up was Aurora and she was so sweet too. Of course Denise and I jumped in for our own Sleeping Beauty Photo...or Sleeping Beauty and two sweaty tourists photo. :o) 


After a quick stop to try and pull out the sword in the stone we headed to Peter Pan to hopefully jump in a short standby line was down!! It was actually down the whole day which was pretty sad. So we headed on to the next stop- New Fantasyland to meet Ariel and ride Journey Under the Sea. 

There was also a short wait for Ariel (probably 5 minutes) and she was neat to meet since we didn't see her last year. Michael and her had a good talk about dinglehoppers and sailing- was he scared of sea witches or was he a brave sailor? She was really sweet and of course Denise and I jumped in for our photo too. 

Next we journeyed Under the Sea....another walk on! 

Mine Train construction is coming along! We were hoping it would be open by our trip but it looks like late spring/early summer for an official opening. Next we headed to the Storybook Circus area for rides on the Barnstormer, Dumbo and meeting some more characters. 

Here they come! 

This boy was so happy after the ride! I caught him skipping right on down the exit! 

Dumbo was next and it was also a walk on. Michael was really sad we had to skip the play area as it was his favorite last time but it is one of those things we just had to pass this time. It is the difference between going to the Magic Kingdom for three days last year vs. one day this year. 

While we were in the area we also met Goofy and Donald at Pete's Silly Side Show. I had heard wait times are usually pretty low here since it is in the back of the park and we waited about 15 minutes to meet the guys. 

Next we headed down to the Haunted Mansion. The next two photos are from that ride (still work on dark ride photography!). 

The ride actually got stopped for an extended amount of time so it was an extra long, cool break for us. It is a fun ride! 

At this point, things were starting to pick up in the park and wait times were increasing. We decided to wait 25 minutes for the Jungle Cruise which seemed pretty long at the time. It was a fun ride and Michael got to help drive the boat with the Skipper. He was so cute when asked if he would trade one of his heads for two of the head hunters heads and Michael solemnly said, "yes." into the walkie talkie. 

We backtracked through fantasyland as we had our fastpasses for Tomorrowland speedway next. Michael and Scott actually rode twice in a row as Denise and I didn't want to ride. Last time Michael felt so bad we didn't do this ride so it was a must do this time. 

We were getting pretty warm and a little tired so we ate our sack lunch by Storybook Circus in a nice shaded spot. Afterwards we let Michael run in the Casey Jr Spash area for a while and he came out totally soaked! He was having a blast so I can't blame him! I bought a conveniently located beach towel to towel him off and we then hopped on the train and got off in Frontierland for our fastpasses to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. 

I also took a break from this one and enjoyed a nice cold water in the shade while everyone else rode. I was worried about this ride as it was Michael's first big roller coaster but he thought it was awesome! He is a fearless little boy! 

It was a little after 2pm at this point and it seemed like people were staking out spots for the afternoon parade. I knew it started at 3 but after talking to a castmember she told me that there was actually a preparade at 2:30 so that is why it was all roped off already. We staked out a spot in frontierland by the DVC booth in the shade and Denise and Michael held it while Scott and I went to grab Dole Whips. I have never had one before so I was really excited however....the line was SOOO long and moved SOOO slow. We stood in line for over half an hour! It was ridiculous! 

However, the dole whips were amazing and it was worth it. I got a Pinapple/Pineapple float, Denise got Pineapple/Vanilla, and Michael got Vanilla. It was a good treat for a hot day although it was melting almost as fast as I could eat it! 

Shortly after getting settled, the parade started!!! 

The Festival of Fantasy Parade is a brand new parade for the Magic Kingdom's afternoon slot. It was so awesome! We were sitting on the ground right at the front and had a great view. Scott was standing in the back behind us and he also had a great view-the floats are so big I'm sure you can see it well from anywhere. 

Anna and Elsa! And Olaf!!

I loved the lost boys dressed in newsies-esque attire. 

We even saw Prince Phillip trying to slay the evil dragon Malificent!

The parade ended of course with Mickey and Minnie and it was such a fun parade to see! We loved it! 

After parade crowds- scary! 

We knew we had some time to kill before our 5:30 Splash fastpass so we tried to do some things without a wait and in the shade. It was feeling really hot by now and we were getting a little tired. So we headed to Mickey's Philharmagic (my favorite and a great air conditioned break) and then the Peoplemover (which had a line-what??-but we were on in no time). 

Up next was Michael's request- Stitch's Great Escape. I had some hesitations about this due to the face that my nephew got his pants scared off him when we went back in 2006. It is a deceptive ride as it features Stitch but there are parts where the room is pitch black with weird noises and air puffs that feel like someone is touching you. It is actually a redone Alien ride hence the scary stuff. Luckily Michael did fine and seemed to enjoy it! 

Finally it was time for Splash Mountain! We actually had a little panic beforehand because it was running empty logs for a while but it was up by the time everyone got in line. Yay! This was down last year when we visited (and plus Michael was too short) so it was a must do on our list. I was proud of Michael for being so brave! 

The heat was really getting to me and so I took a break and got some lemonade and water and rested in the shade for a bit. It was a welcome break and also it seemed like the sun was going down a bit by 5:30. I would not recommend staying in the parks from seemed like it was so hot and so busy and everyone was cranky. Usually this would be when we took our break but couldn't because of the fastpass stuff (so schedule them early!). 

Anyway, the ride photo speaks for itself! So funny! Poor Michael! 

Since we were right by the Frontierland Station, we hopped back on the train and rode it around to the front gate just to get a break from battling crowds. We made our way back to our hotel, ate dinner at Landscape of Flavors (it was okay but not busy) and finally settled down for a rest in our hotel room around 7:30 p.m. I was worried because this is pretty close to Michael's bedtime and wondered if he would just think he was going down for the night. 

Well, he was out COLD. We could not wake him up for life of us. He was obviously okay, still snoring and would stir a little bit but would not wake up to go back to the park for the parade and fireworks. I felt so bad leaving him behind but we decided that Scott would stay with him in the room and Denise and I would head back to the park. 

We did rent a car on this trip but I didn't feel comfortable navigating (and was afraid it would be a long parking lot walk on my poor, tired feet!) so Denise and I took the park bus from our resort and it worked out really smoothly. 

We got to the park around 9:00 and caught a little bit of the Main Street Electrical Parade and then moved into the street by the hub for the castle show Celebrate the Magic and Wishes (fireworks show). 

I had actually never seen the castle show or had such a good view of Wishes so I got to cross two things off my list! It was nice watching right by the hub and it wasn't too crowded. We did scoot out of there before the finale so we didn't get caught in the post fireworks crowds-a nightmare! 

I do love Wishes and it is so much more than just a fireworks show! I love the way everyone is echoed in the music and dialogue- really unlike anything else!

So Denise and I exited towards Tomorrowland and made our way back to Fantasyland to check on Peter Pan which was now up and running but still had long waits. There wasn't too much else I wanted to do except Enchanted Tales with Belle. I felt so guilty doing it without Michael but it was lots of fun! 

The first show we went to had a beautiful Belle and it was lovely except no one got up at the end to sneak in for photos without being part of the show. We really wanted our photo and plus when we came out the exit there was NO line so we jumped back in and were volunteering for parts in the next show just minutes later. It was pretty embarrassing (honestly, salt and pepper shakers?) but it was fun too and we got a nice photo with Belle. 

As it turns out at THIS show, tons of people got in line after the show to get their photo taken so we would have gotten one without being in the show but this way we were legit, I guess. 

At this point, the park had really cleared out and it was so nice and cool out. As you can see by the clock, it was about 11:30 and lots of people were leaving (even though extra magic hours went to 1 a.m.- would have been fun!). We stopped in the new Main Street Starbucks, did a bit of shopping (for me feeling so bad that I went back to the park without Michael) and then said goodbye the Magic Kingdom! 

It was a very fun and magical day and I'm glad we could share it with my sister Denise! It was a long day but we got a lot in and made some great memories. Michael can't stop talking about his girlfriends (Ariel, Cinderella, Aurora, Anna and Elsa) and about the fun ride he rode. It is so fun just being the park and soaking up the atmosphere. 

As they say in Disney...we'll see you real soon! Hopefully we'll be back again before we know it!

I just have one more wrap up post coming and that will do it for our Disney trip! 
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