Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Pressed Pennies

Have I told you the story about how my penny collecting started at Disney World?

Honestly, it started as a kind of joke. My friend Heath and I were visiting the World with my family at the end of December 2001 to ring in 2002. We were having so much fun! We continuously saw people with the pressed penny albums. We immediately made fun of them... who would spend roughly $10 on a penny album? There are so many "better" Disney souvenirs out there!

On one of our Epcot days we all split up into groups. Mark, Paul and Lisa. Me and Heath. Mom and dad. We had cell phones at this time, but didn't want to pay roaming charges, so none of us had our phones with us in Orlando. So we just had to wait for the 6:00 dinner time to meet up again- unless we happened to run into each other at the park. I believe it was around lunch when Heath started to feel sick. He wanted to go back to the room at the All Star Sports and take a nap. I didn't, so he left me at Epcot by myself and he went to take a nap. So, for the next 5-6 hours, I was solo at Epcot. At times it was fun to do whatever I wanted without having to consult someone else, but at the same time it was not fun experiencing all the Epcot wonder by myself!!

At 6:00 when we met back for dinner at the Garden Grill, Heath showed up. He wasn't feeling bad anymore, physically! He was feeling bad for leaving me by myself at the park, so he brought me a surprise. Wanna guess what it was? Yep. My very own pressed penny album!

(The one from Heath is the middle one!)

I now had this wonderful empty pressed penny album that had to be filled, so the hunt began! As soon as dinner was over we went to the Magic Kingdom. While the rest of the family was visiting attractions, Heath and I literally ran through the park looking for the machines! We learned quickly that you can find them at the exits of rides and gift shops. They are in other places too, but those were the top spots to find the machines! We were getting dollar bills changed out to quarters and dimes and nickels changed out to pennies quickly! It's amazing how quickly you run through money when you are scrounging for 51 cents in 2 quarters and 1 penny! Heath's pennies were building up in his pocket, so guess what time it was?! Time for Heath to get his OWN pressed penny album!

Once we were home from the trip in 2001-2002, the penny hunt continued. To this day, every time I see a pressed penny or squished penny machine I get 2- one for me and one for Heath! My collection has grown into pennies from around the world and I don't mean the World Showcase! The youth from my church bring back quished pennies from their travels too!

Here are all my "other travels" penny albums... however they are not all full, YET!

And here are all my Disney World and Disneyland pennies and a few WDW quarters:

I can't wait until the December trip so I can try to find NEW pennies to add to the albums!!

Monday, August 30, 2010

we need a new idea Disney...

So I get this new car..

and now I can't use these...

Disney needs to find something else for cars that don't have traditional antennas!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Scrooge at the Christmas Tree Lot

I met Scrooge on the trip with my mom in November 2006 for the Youth Ministry Conference. I'm sure this was taken during a time we should have been in a seminar! We were in the Magic Kingdom in Fantasyland. The parks were decorated for Christmas and Scrooge had a Christmas Tree Lot set up between Pooh's playful spot and the entrance to Toontown. There were only a few people in line to meet him. There were some others at the lot you could meet, but I had already had my photo with them and had their autograph so I passed on the opportunity. The autograph below also came from that same meeting. You can see my opened autograph book where he just signed in the photo!

Panchito from the Three Caballeros

Panchito and Donald Duck (Mexican style) were found at the Mexico pavillion at Epcot in the World Showcase on my trip in November 06 with my mom. We were staying at the Coronado Springs Resort for a Youth Ministry conference. Since the conference was so weak, bad, lacking, etc we added more days to our park tickets, skipped the conference and played in the parks! The one part of the conference we did participate in was the YES Program. Panchito's autograph actually came at the same time I had my picture taken with him!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Friday's Favorites- balloons

My 19 month old, C-man, loves balloons! He screams when we drive past a car lot with balloons on the cars! So, when I was looking at old pictures today I showed him this photo. He loved the "boons!" This Friday's Favorite is for C-man! I can't wait to see his face and hear his squeals in December when he sees these "boons" in real life!!

My personal favorites are the classic Mickey head balloons inside the clear balloon!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Thursday's Thoughts- packing

As I mentioned yesterday, I have a friend taking her family to WDW next month. I have already sent her my standard "tips email" that I change to fit each families needs before I pass it along. But I started thinking more about different tips to add to my standard email. The first thing I'm going to add to it is


Orlando is typically very pretty and comfortable year round. It can get very hot and humid in the summer, but the other months are usually comfy. However, I have been down there and needed multiple layers, hats, gloves and coats before. My tip is to pack extra for all seasons and weather. You never know when you'll need to change clothes because you have soaked your first outfit with sweat in the hot summer sun! Many times in the late fall and winter you are fine wearing shorts and a tshirt during the day, but once the sun goes down it gets pretty chilly! I typically wear capri pants and a short sleeve shirt and carry a light jacket with me. But, back in our room, I always have a few extra sweatshirts, jeans, layers and coats for the nights where it dips below 35 degrees! Extra sweatshirts, pants and jackets for the whole family can be very pricey if you have to buy it at the park because you weren't prepared when you packed your suitcase!

Also, be sure you pack for rain. I have never made a trip to WDW where it didn't rain at least once. Bring an extra pair of shoes if one pair gets soaked in a rain storm. Pack extra ponchos from the drug store at home and carry them in your backpack. You can pick them up for $1 each and throw them away when the rain stops. It beats paying $10 or so for one at the world and feeling obligated to carry it around the rest of your trip because you spent so much money on it!!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Baby Care Centers

I have a friend who will be traveling to Orlando in a few weeks to experience Walt Disney World for the first time with her 3 year old. I know 3 year olds aren't "babies" but parents of toddlers can still take advantage of the Baby Care Centers at all of the theme parks: Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Epcot and Hollywood Studios.

What are baby care centers? These are special areas in the parks where parents can change and feed their baby(s). There are changing tables, high chairs, a play room, private nursing areas, and a small store selling baby "stuff" such as formula, diapers, clothing, pacis, etc. They even provide some basic necessities for parents of young kids. These areas are air conditioned, which can be nice in the hot, humid, summer months! The play rooms have toys and Disney playing on the TV. There is even a small kitchenette to warm food and bottles and find utensils to use. These centers are great for small children (or parents) that need to take a break during the day or need to have some privacy for feedings. If I'm not mistaken, the first aid stations in each park are located beside or very close to the Baby Care Centers.

The Baby Care Center in the Magic Kingdom is next to The Crystal Palace restaurant on Main Street, U.S.A.

At Epcot the Baby Care Center is inside Future World's Odyssey Center.

The Baby Care Center at Hollywood Studios is in the Guest Services Building inside the Main Entrance.

Animal Kingdom has a Baby Care Center behind Creature Comforts in Discovery Island.

Typhoon Lagoon, Blizzard Beach and Downtown Disney do not have Baby Care Centers, but they are equipped with baby changing stations.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Another duo... Chip And Dale

This photo was taken on our family trip to Walt Disney World in June of 1996 after I graduated from Auburn University. I had about 2 weeks between graduating and starting graduate school! What a great way to spend that time!! I think it was taken in the Magic Kingdom, but I can't remember 100%!

This photo with Chip was taken in Epcot in June of 1991. My brother Mark and I were having fun meeting different characters in the world showcase I don't remember when the autograph happened.

The photo with Dale was from our first trip in 1983. Dad took the picture of Mom, Paul and I while we had breakfast at Chef Mickey's in the Contemporary Resort. I barely remember this breakfast, but thankfully we have photos to help trigger my memory! The autograph was not from 1983... believe it or not, I don't remember when it was acquired!

Monday, August 23, 2010

The "dogs"- Goofy and Pluto

This photo was taken in January of 2003 while I was "running" the Walt Disney World marathon. I was staying at the Coronado Springs resort with my friend Deb. If I remember correctly, this was the long stretch between Magic Kingdom and the back entrance to Animal Kingdom. I think it was around mile 15 or so. Yes, I was in pain at this time but seeing the dogs helped lift my spirits! I ran with a fanny pack on that held a disposable camera, my cell phone, and mini snickers bars because the "goo" stuff that real runners use tastes awful! I have no idea when or where I got Goofy's autograph besides WDW.

The photo with Pluto was on our family trip in June of 1991. All of my family went, mom, dad, Paul, Mark and I and my HS boyfriend. He's in the photo with me and Pluto. We stayed off property that year somewhere in Orlando. This photo was taken in the Magic Kingdom on Main Street USA, I think! I don't know when I acquired the autograph.

I know it's been said many times before but I still wonder: Why does Goofy talk and walk on 2 legs but Pluto doesn't talk and walks on all 4 legs?

Friday, August 20, 2010

another couple: Donald Duck and Daisy Duck

Donald, like Mickey, is one character I've met over and over on Disney vacations. Being one of the Fab 5, he is fairly easy to find in the parks. This photo was taken in June of 1996 at The Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World. We were in Liberty Square waiting by the River for the Liberty Belle Riverboat. This trip in 1996 was my college graduation trip with my family, mom, dad, Paul and Mark.Again, I have no idea when or where the autograph was taken. All I do know is that it was at Walt Disney World.

Daisy is not as easy to find as Donald. I was lucky enough to find both Donald and Daisy together at MGM Studios in February of 2005. I was walking down Mickey Avenue and they were in front of mini RVs! I guess those were their "dressing rooms" while on set!

Mickey and Minnie Mouse

I think I "meet" Mickey every time we go to Disney World and Disneyland! I have multiple photos of me, my family and friends with Mickey Mouse. This particular photo was taken at then, MGM Studios, in June of 1996 with my 2 brothers, Paul and Mark. I chose to go to Walt Disney World with my family for my college graduation trip. This was the trip the autograph collecting was born. The guy I was dating at the time could not come with us on the trip, so I collected autographs from the characters to give to him as his WDW gift. A few months later, when we broke up, I was so mad that he had all those wonderful autographs! So, from that point on, I was determined to "remeet" all those characters and get my own autograph from them!

This autograph and photo were not from the same trip. I don't remember when or where the autograph came from, other than Walt Disney World! I do know the photo was taken on our very first trip to WDW in 1983. My mom may remember what month it was- I don't! We were in the Magic Kingdom on Main Street. My brother Paul and I were meeting several characters that day. I do remember that the characters were all around and there was usually no line! Boy, how things change! I do like how the 1983 Minnie seems much more "furry" than the 1996 Mickey does!!

autographs and photos

As I mentioned on my "characters" page, I love meeting characters, taking photos and getting autographs! I'm always on the lookout for someone new that I haven't met before. If I've counted correctly, as of today, I've met 99 different characters through the years. Hopefully, over the next few weeks or months I'll have a chance to post about all 99! Once I get the autograph and photo, I add it to these scrapbooks:

These are the basic, small scrapbooks found at Michael's craft store. I use the sheet protectors and 6x6 (i think) precut pages to add the photo and autograph. As I continue with these posts, you'll see I've become MUCH more creative through the years! My first few pages (the fab 5 and a few more) are VERY basic! I didn't use paper to frame the photos or anything! Maybe when my life slows down I can redo those pages! :)

Monday, August 16, 2010

ways to keep it going

I was reading a blog or web site today that shared ways to keep the magic alive once you leave Disney World. It listed things like:
wear Disney tshirts.
watch Disney movies.
listen to Disney music.
use a Disney credit card.
look at photo albums of past trips.
start planning your next trip.
etc. etc. etc.

These are all great ideas and things I do at my house, but you can take it a step further. Some of you may have entire rooms dedicated to all things Disney. If my house were larger and I had a room all to myself, I may do that. But, I don't. Instead I have little bits of magic in several of the rooms in our house.

In our family room I have 2 shelves dedicated to Disney. One shelf holds some of my Disney animated movies and the planning DVD. The other shelf holds my trip planning books, character autographs and photos, Kingdom Keepers books, Celebrations Magazines, and my personal planning binder.

In our kitchen we have all sorts of Disney magnets and photos on our fridge. Another subtle Epcot reminder is a framed collection of English beer coasters we picked up while touring the World Showcase.

In our master bedroom there are several photos from past trips and several stuffed Mickeys in the closet or on a shelf. I didn't take photos of all these... just know they are there! ;) On my nightstand, I have a Disney photo cube, a snowglobe from a past student of mine and a photo album of the first trip JAG took to the world. On the wall I have the 2003 marathon race course framed with all my students "autographs" from that year. On JGs dresser, he has a framed photo of Mickey shaking hands with a cop.

Our master bath even has subtle hints of Disney on Broadway...

JAGs room doesn't have as much anymore. He's growing up and has passed on some of his "stuff" to Cman! He does still have a Mickey frame and his pin collection!!

As I'm writing this, Cman is asleep, so I couldn't take photos of his room and ALL the Disney magic in there! That'll be another post just for him!

How do you show your love for Disney in your home?

Monday's Memory... Cirque Du Soleil- La Nouba

Many years ago, while I was at Walt Disney World, I wanted to see La Nouba. La Nouba is a show at Downtown Disney on the West Side. La Nouba is a theatre style show that requires a ticket to see, but not a WDW Park Ticket. I had seen a few other Cirque Du Soleil shows and wanted to compare this show to the others. However I wasn't willing to spend the extra money on a ticket! Now, in 2010, they are $84 a person... So, I did what I do for Auburn football games. I hung out around the entrance to see if anyone was wanting to scalp a few tickets! With no luck, we started to leave. We were walking around the side of the building and a man asked if we were seeing the show. I told him we weren't because we didn't get tickets. He asked if we wanted to see it and and I answered yes. He then told us his wife's plane was delayed and they weren't going to make the show so we could HAVE his tickets!! He told us to have fun and literally ran off to pick up his wife!

We went in and had great seats about 12 rows from the front. The show was mesmerizing! If you don't know what La Nouba is, don't expect anything "Disneyish" from this show. There are no characters and nothing "Disney." This show is a combination of acrobatics, gymnastics, music, and pure talent! There isn't really a story line, so don't expect that. Don't expect a circus either, because it's not really a circus! This show could compete with anything on Broadway- music, lights, sounds, sets, costumes, etc. If you enjoy theatre and creative acts, you should enjoy La Nouba. An excerpt from the program might help you,
"Once upon a time, a door opened and two worlds collided. Dreams clashed with reality. The mundane mixed with the marvelous. It was no longer possible to tell where one world began and the other ended. This new place was called La Nouba."

Thursday, August 12, 2010

counting down to your disney trip...

There are so many fun things to do and different ways to count down until you leave for your Disney vacation (or any vacation for that matter!).

My favorite is the Apple dashboard widget "Disney Trip Countdown."

Other ways to count down are to:
1. download the Disney Vacation Connection
2. download a countdown ticker from Mickeypath.
3. make your own construction paper chain link to countdown the number of days.
4. make a Disney calendar. Use character stickers in the different squares for different days (50 days til WDW, 40 days til WDW, etc).

Fun things to do as you are counting down the days to your trip:
1. Have a Disney Movie night. Each week leading up to the trip one family member gets to choose which Disney movie the family will watch. We usually start this 6 weeks out. That way each of us will get to choose 3 movies. Once C-man gets older, we'll do it 4 weeks out and each of us will choose 1 movie to watch. Pop popcorn, drink sodas, make pallets on the floor and possibly make other Disney themed treats to go along with the movie.

2. Listen to Disney music. You can download all types of songs from parks, shows, movies, cartoons, etc. It's a fun way to get in the mood!

3. Have Disney breakfast and make your own Mickey Pancakes! They may not have his face on them like they do at the World, but you can make the classic 3 circle Mickey easily with pancake batter.

4. Surprise your kids and family with Disney presents. You can find cheap candy, toys and "stuff" at the $1 bins in Target, at the party supply stores and at the dollar stores. Keep your eyes open. Disney stuff is everywhere! And while you're at it, buy some extra stuff to give the kids once you arrive at WDW. This helps cut back on the amount of money you have to spend on souvenirs!

5. Order the free planning DVD from Walt Disney World and the free personalized park maps.

6. Do some of the free downloads from The Mouse for Less: luggage tags, calendars, countdown chains, autograph pages, trivia questions, travel journals, word searches, etc!!

7. DVR or watch TV shows related to Walt Disney World.

What does your family do to count down to your trip??

Monday, August 9, 2010

Resorts and Buses

Maybe some of you can help me... I am wondering how many resorts share bus transportation between resorts and parks. I've stayed at all of the All Star Resorts and know the Sports, Music and Movies all share transportation. I've also stayed at the Boardwalk and know that resort shares buses with Yacht and Beach along with Swan and Dolphin. The other resorts I've stayed in are Pop Century, Coronado Springs and Animal Kingdom Lodge. All of those resorts had their own buses, which was nice. I liked "not sharing" a bus with other hotels!

With the All Stars and Boardwalk area hotels, if you are the last stop to pick up, the bus is usually full or close to it because they have passengers from the other hotels. There are also more people waiting at the parks to go back to the resorts.

What about the following? Do any of these share buses?
Grand Floridian, Polynesian, Contemporary, and Bay Lake Towers?

Wilderness Lodge and Fort Wilderness?

Port Orleans Riverside and French Quarter? I'll assume these do just because they are both "Port Orleans."

Caribbean Beach, Saratoga Springs and Old Key West?

I haven't had the luxury of staying at all of the resorts... yet! But, I do know I didn't like having to share buses with other resorts. Can anyone out there help answer this question?

I called WDW Information and asked "Kenny", but he couldn't tell me any more than what I already knew!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Friday's Favorites- MK rides

I finally read the official Disney World blog post about the PeopleMover! This makes me so excited because I still call that ride the WEDway PeopleMover even though it's been named the Tomorrowland Transit Authority since 1994! So now the two blend- "The Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover."

This is one of my favorite rides at Disney World! I'm not exactly sure why. Maybe because there is hardly ever a line or you can see so many neat things in Tomorrowland or the fact that I rode it with the Y.E.S program a few years ago and learned how it works (with magnets!). But this is one ride I never miss when I'm at WDW.

Other Magic Kingdom attractions I don't miss are (in no particular order):
1. Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin- I love this ride. It's so fun to see how many points you can rack up! I always reread message boards before we go so I can try to find the targets that are worth more points! Cheating? Maybe!!
2. Space Mountain- I haven't been on this ride since they redid it recently. I'm looking forward to seeing the changes. I think one reason this ride is "special" to me is because this is where Jonathan and I found out how to fastpass cheat! ;) I won't tell...
3. Splash Mountain- I love the details in this ride! The colors, music and characters bring a smile to my face. I love the thrill of the last drop and the quick prayers that I won't be the one to get soaked! I always leave that ride humming "zip a dee do dah!"
4. The Haunted Mansion- This is a classic. I've always liked this ride, the attention to detail, the way the cast members stay in character and the floating ghosts! I love to see which hitchhiker will join us at the end! There are several recent events that have made me like this ride more: I saw a family "win" the night in the castle when they got off the doom buggies and I got to go behind the scenes with the Y.E.S. program I mentioned earlier to see how they use the Pepper's Ghost effect.
5. The Jungle Cruise- As corny as it is, I love it! I can't tell you how many photos I have of the same guys climbing up the tree or the elephants squirting water or the rhinos popping out of the water! The jokes by the boat captains crack me up, even if I don't laugh out loud all the time! I also loved the time JAG got to "drive" the boat! Plus, riding at night is even better than daytime!!

What are your favorite Magic Kingdom rides that are "must dos" when you visit?

Monday, August 2, 2010

Why I love Disney World...

"at Disney, in the fantastic world of imagery and imagination, there's no cynicism; all things are possible, and every dream can come true. Kids can be kids; free to dream, and let their imaginations soar! That's the feeling I keep in my heart and etch in my memories of these days, in my mind, and through the pictures that we capture. I hope it's the feeling we're cultivating in our son's heart and soul too."
I copied this quote off a blog or web page several months ago. I wish I wrote down where it came from so I could give credit to the person who wrote it. I think it's beautiful and successfully sums up why I LOVE Disney World!

I've tried to tell people so many times when they ask, "Why do you keep going back? What do you like about it so much?" But, I've never been able to articulate it as well as this person did.

Usually I answer with one of the following:
1. When I go to Disney World I can truly leave behind all the other things that are going on- work, stress, worries, chores, bills, etc. I step on to the Disney property and can leave everything at home. Everything is magical. Occasionally you will see the family who is yelling and stressing out because they can't agree on something, they are tired, they are hungry or the kids aren't acting the way the parents think they should (which is another post in itself!). But, besides those families and situations, everyone at Disney is there to get away, to be a kid and to act like a prince or princess! When I travel to other places (New York City, Boston, DC, etc) I'm always reminded of the things I'm leaving behind because I see other people going to work, having business phone calls on the sub ways, running to catch a cab, hauling around briefcases and laptops. I see those people and am reminded that I'm still in "the real world" even if it's not my "real world." But at Disney, I'm transformed into a magical place where dreams can come true and nobody "really" works!
2. The amazing attention to detail and themeing! Maybe I've been too many times, but the detail in the different lands of the parks, the story lines behind all the attractions and restaurants, the costumes the cast members wear and the different themed hotels are too detailed to even begin to write about... and give it justice!
3. To see with my eyes the dream Walt had. He was an amazing man with incredible vision, imagination, and dreams. To see all of his work in real life is wonderful! And to know that there are other people out there with the same vision, imagination and dreams to continue his work gives me goose bumps!
4. For the love of family. Growing up whenever my family would go to Disney World my brothers and I didn't fight. We loved each other and showed it. Maybe it was because we were on vacation and not at home, but I think part of it was also the magic of Disney!

I hope that I can instill the love for Disney in my son like my parents did with me. I don't think my folks did it intentionally, but I give them the credit! Thanks mom and dad!