Monday, February 28, 2011


In 1989, Disney produced my favorite animated movie that was loosely based on the Hans Christian Anderson story of the same name, The Little Mermaid. In Disney's version, Ariel was the youngest of King Triton's daughters. She desperately wanted to be with the humans above the surface of the sea. She and Triton were always arguing about her wanting to be with the humans. Triton orders Sebastian the crab to be her guard to make sure she stayed below the surface. Flounder, the fish, was also by her side and helped her collect human items from shipwrecks. Ariel's friend Scuttle, was a sea gull who would tell her incorrect, yet comical, information about the human world.

Ariel was so desperate to be a part of the human world, she visited the sea witch, Ursula, and made a deal with her. Ariel traded her voice to get legs and become human. She had to get Prince Eric to fall in love with her in three days and give her a kiss of true love or she would become a mermaid again and belongs to Ursula.

Even though I'm sure everyone has seen this movie or is at least familiar with it, I still won't give away the ending! :)

When I was in college in the early 90s, I would watch this movie over and over again. I could literally watch the entire movie and recite every word with all the characters. My roommate hated it! In 1998 I met Ariel for the first time at "Ariel's Grotto" in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World, talked to her for a moment and got her autograph.

Maybe this is my favorite movie because when I was a little girl, my grandmother visited The Little Mermaid sculpture in Copenhagen, Denmark and brought me back a music box with a miniature version of the sculpture. I loved that music box, so maybe that's why I felt so drawn to Ariel! I don't have the music box anymore, but this is a photo of the sculpture in Copenhagen that my music box was modeled after.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Electrical Water Pageant

The Electrical Water Pageant is a free floating water parade on Bay Lake and the Seven Seas Lagoon that runs nightly starting at 9:00pm- or as soon as the 9:00 fireworks at the Magic Kingdom are finished. It is only canceled during high winds or inclement weather. This parade started in October 1971 and has run continuously as a popular attraction since. Each night 14 barges totaling 1000 feet long, containing thousands of lights strung on mesh screens, float across the water playing synthesized music from Disney animated movies. The lights form the shapes King Neptune and creatures such as dragons, dolphins, seahorses, dinosaurs and octopi (I'd rather say "octopuses, but that's not correct!). The end of the parade is a salute to America with the Stars and Stripes on the barges. The bright lights and synthesized music from the Electrical Water Pageant inspired Imagineers to create a parade for Disneyland and Walt Disney World called the Main Street Electrical Parade!

The Electrical Water Pageant can be viewed from the following resorts at these approximate times:

Polynesian - 9:00 pm

Grand Floridian - 9:15 pm

Wilderness Lodge - 9:35 pm

Fort Wilderness - 9:45 pm

Contemporary - 10:05 pm

Magic Kingdom (only during extra magic hours)- 10:20 pm

You can also see the parade from the entrance area of the Magic Kingdom near the loading dock for the ferry boats. Check with guest relations or a cast member to inquire about the best area to view the Electrical Water Pageant!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Hidden Mickeys at home

This morning our family went to the Kiwanis pancake day in our hometown. My friend Ken made Cman and I a special order Mickey shaped pancake! Cman was especially excited and ate it up. However, we failed to get a photo. But trust me, it was perfect!!

Another hidden Mickey Cman has found recently is in a set of file cabinet keys!
Now it makes sense when he asks for his Mickey keys!!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Disney FastPass news

I may be a tad late on some of this news, but I thought I'd share anyway since I blogged about FastPasses fairly recently!

First, this spring, park guests will be able to get a FastPass to meet Mickey Mouse at the Town Square Theatre at the Magic Kingdom in WDW! This will be the first time guests can FastPass a character. The Town Square Theatre will be transformed into a meet and greet area since Toontown has closed. There will be an interactive queue for guests to enjoy while they are waiting. You can read more at the Disney Blog.

Second, Tom Staggs, Chariman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, reported the following information on February 17, 2011 that could have an impact on how you plan your trip to WDW in the future! (You can read the full report at Chip and Co.)

"As a result, we are currently developing an innovative system that will, in essence, create a version of FASTPASS for their entire Disney vacations. Now we define the guest experience as beginning from the time a potential guest sits down at a computer or picks up a phone to make a reservation. Our new tools will help them better understand all that we have to offer and better plan their time with us. They’ll be able to create a personalized itinerary that gives them the exact Disney vacation they want.

Guests will be able to reserve times for their favorite attractions and character interactions… secure seats at our shows and spectaculars… make dining reservations… and pre-book many other favorite guest experiences – all before even leaving their house. We also plan to simplify the check-in process so that guests will arrive at the resort with room key in hand. They will be able to go straight to their room or a theme park – again, allowing them to get to the fun faster. "

Right now, I don't think that I care too much for this idea. I'm all for making a plan, staying organized and getting things accomplished, but this seems to take away from some of the fun that is Disney. There have been numerous times during our trips we had a "plan" to ride certain rides, see certain shows or eat at certain restaurants, but things came up. Maybe we decided to stay a little longer in a gift shop, stop and watch a street performer, talk to a cast member, ride a different ride because there was NO line, sit on the curb to eat a Mickey bar and people watch or ride the monorail to get out of the rain. I like using the extra magic hours to plan which park I'll be visiting and I'm fine with making my dining reservations 180 days out, but to plan my entire vacation- meals, rides, shows, parades and character meets- is a little too OCD, even for me!

Third, Chip and Co. has some breaking news regarding the new "FP 2 FP" idea at Walt Disney World. Check out what they have to say about FastPassing the FastPass machines! :)

Magical Blogorail Green Introduction

Hey y'all! My name is Beth and I'm a mother of 2 (now three!) boys living in North Alabama. I'm a full time youth minister in the United Methodist Church. I love my God, my family, my friends, my youth, Walt Disney World, and Auburn University, to name a few!

I've been blogging for almost a year. Before that, I followed several "Disney Blogs" religiously but never thought to start one of my own. I even had a twitter account just to follow some of the moms and dads on the Mom's Panel. It wasn't until last March when I heard about the first Disney's Social Media Mom's Celebration that I started a blog of my own. When I read about this event on other blogs and on twitter, I knew I wanted to attend one day and the only way to "get in" would be to be an active Social Media Mom! I had to get on the bandwagon. I started "A Disney Moms Thoughts" on March 20, 2010 and @adisneymom on twitter in August 2010. I originally started both for selfish reasons- I wanted to attend the Social Media Mom's Celebration. But, after almost a year, that's not why I do it anymore. Sure, I would love to attend at some point, but if I don't get to, that's OK. I've "met" some really awesome people and have learned more than I thought I could by reading other blogs. In December, during my most recent trip to WDW, I even used some tips and tricks I picked up from fellow bloggers!

I knew I could maintain a blog solely on Disney, specifically Walt Disney World, because I love it that much! I've been to Walt Disney World 15 times and Disneyland once. Right now I'm in the planning phases of trip # 16 in the fall with my 2 year old and my mom! You can read more about my previous trips here. People often ask me why I keep returning to Walt Disney World. I don't have a specific answer, just a few thoughts.

1. The magic that is present at WDW. If you are reading this, you probably "get it"! I'm able to leave everything behind when I head to Walt Disney World. Unlike other vacations, I'm not reminded day in and day out of what I've left behind in Decatur, Alabama. Disney does a phenomenal job of transforming you into a world of magic where everything is great. It's no wonder children with life threatening illnesses go to Walt Disney World everyday. It's magical.

2. It's never over. There are always plans for the future with Disney- a new park, a new land, a new ride, a new restaurant, a new resort, a new movie, new characters, a new theme, a new parade... I could go on and on. No matter how many times you go or how often you go, there is always something new to see, eat, do or experience. There is also so much to do at Walt Disney World, I don't think you could ever do it all!

3. You can get a glimpse of the vision Walt had. If all companies, businesses, entrepreneurs, churches, schools, etc. had the dream, vision, drive, and imagination Walt had, this would be a different world. We all can learn so much from a man named Walt Disney.

4. Families can really be families at Walt Disney World. There is something for everyone- all ages, all sizes, all genders. Nobody is left out of the fun. For my family growing up and my family now, when we are at WDW it's all about us. We aren't competing with TV shows, ball practices, video games, cell phones, computers and friends. We are one. We play together, eat together, stay together, shop together, ride together, laugh together and sometimes cry together! We all need to learn how to take a bit of this magic home and spend more quality time together!

Focused on the Magic

I also included this in the Magical Blogorail Rides Again Blog Hop. Head over to the 
to check out everyone else's Disney inspirations!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Win an iPad through PassPorter!

Direct from PassPorter's web site:

Did you know PassPorter books can now be downloaded and read on an Apple iPad? Enter our contest and you'll have a chance to win your own 16GB Wi-Fi Apple iPad filled with every current PassPorter edition! To enter our iPad contest, begin by simply browsing the web pages at between February 17, 2011 at midnight ET and May 1, 2011 at midnight ET. On our pages, look for this concierge bell:

When you see a concierge bell, tap it -- you'll get an awesome travel tip and you might also discover a contest entry ticket. Many tickets are hidden under our concierge bells, and the more tickets you find and save, the greater your chances to win! We'll be adding more tickets throughout the contest period, too, so be sure to check our newsletter, message boards, podcast, and Facebook page for announcements.

The Grand Prize winning ticket will be randomly selected on May 1, 2011, along with 10 Second Prize winners who will receive their choice of a PassPorter electronic edition. Please see our contest rules at the bottom of this page for more details.

For more information about this contest visit the PassPorter web site!!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: It's what I need to be doing!

Disney's Photopass Services

Disney offers a free photo service to all park guests called PhotoPass. Throughout all the Disney Parks around the world cast members are waiting to take your picture with characters, at key spots in the parks (castles, "mountains", icons, etc), in select resorts, at water parks and at character meals. These photographers use really nice cameras and take pretty good pictures. I have had some who aren't the best at picture taking, but I've had others who are great! Either way, using the PhotoPass photographers, you are guaranteed photos with ALL of your family members at very memorable locations and at very memorable times during your vacation.

It's fairly easy to use PhotoPass. When you first see a PhotoPass photographer and have your first PhotoPass photos made, they will give you the card below. On this card they will digitally save all the photos they took, and you will be able to view them and purchase them, if you want, later on your computer. Throughout your vacation, you can save all your PhotoPass photos on this card. If you leave your card at the hotel room or if your party splits up, you can get a new card from a PhotoPass photographer.
When you get home from your vacation, you can visit the PhotoPass website and enter the 16 digit number on the back of the card(s). You will be able to view all the photos taken from your vacation! You can edit, crop and add borders to your photos. Once you decide which photos you want to order, you can choose the size photos you want, select your payment and shipping methods and your photos will be mailed to your house! You can also order your photos on a CD or print your favorite photos on a tshirt, mousepad, luggage tag, mug or several other options! You can upload your personal photos to the PhotoPass web site and create a PhotoMovie, PhotoBook, or PhotoCards.

In addition to using the free PhotoPass photographers in the parks you can schedule a 30 minute private photo session as long as you purchase a package. I have not been able to find much more information on the Disney web site than this:

You can call 407-824-1700 to book a session and get more information.

Photopass warnings:
  • If you lose your PhotoPass card at any time during your vacation you aren't guaranteed that Disney will be able to locate your photos. The best thing to do is take a photo (with your camera or cell phone) of the back of the PhotoPass card as soon as you get it from the photographer. That way, if you do lose your card, you still have the 16 digit number off the back so you can retrieve your photos.
  • You can not have your photos printing services on Disney property from your PhotoPass card. This needs to be done from your computer.
  • Once you log onto the PhotoPass web site and enter your card number(s) you only have 30 days to preview, edit and purchase your photos. After 30 days they will expire and will be lost forever.
Other perks with using Disney's PhotoPass services:
  • You can pre-order a PhotoPass CD before you even leave for your vacation. For $99.95 you can order a CD with all the photos you have taken by the PhotoPass photographers while you are on your vacation. Once you return home and load your card numbers, you can edit your photos and Disney will mail your CD with all your photos, plus some, to your house! You also receive a license agreement to make as many prints of these photos as you want! We went back and forth deciding if we should do this on our most recent trip to WDW. We knew it was $14.95 for 2 4x6 pictures (of the same picture). I could choose 8 photos from our vacation to print for $120 or buy the CD for $99.95 before the trip and have ALL the photos taken. We decided to pre order the CD and I have 127 photos from all 4 parks of our family that I can print, email, copy and add to Facebook or my blog.
  • If you pre-order the CD, one added perk is that they include photos of characters in fun locations around the parks. For example, if you have your photo made in front of the Tree of Life at Animal Kingdom, they will add photos of the characters (without your family) in the same location to your CD. Cman loves to look at the photos of the characters from our CD! These photos are postcard worthy!
  • If you choose not to pre-order the CD, you can always have the PhotoPass photographer use your personal camera after they use the Disney camera. You will have the PhotoPass photo added to your card and a similar photo taken with your camera.
  • If you attend a special party (Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party or Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party) you will get a PhotoPass card similar to the one below from Disney's Pirate and Princess Party. After the party is over you get 40% off photos taken at the party and saved on this card by the PhotoPass photographers!
Some of the good and not so good PhotoPass photos from our December trip:

Monday, February 21, 2011

Monday's Memory: Flights of Wonder at AK

During our trip to Animal Kingdom in 2008 we decided to watch the Flights of Wonder bird show. We got there right as it was about to start so we were sitting on the next to the last row in the center. Not bad seats considering we got there with about 3 minutes to spare! This is a 25 minute bird show that features about 20 different birds, their habits and behaviors.

During one part of the show they asked for a volunteer who had their camera out and ready. I held up my camera and they chose me along with 2 other ladies! They invited us up on the stage and told us where to sit. Then they brought out a big owl, but I can't remember what kind of owl it was. One lady told us to focus our cameras on her hand about 7 feet in front of us while another guy took the owl to the back of the audience. Where he had the owl was only about 5 feet from where JAG was sitting at the end of our row.

While they were talking about the owl, his behaviors and what was going to happen I was looking at the owl with my camera focused and ready where the lady told me to have it focused... but then I saw JAG and Jonathan, so I refocused and snapped their picture. I was too busy looking at them and snapping away and wasn't really listening to what they were saying. Then I took a picture of the owl on his perch. And just then, he took off flying right towards me! I had my camera ready, obviously since I had been taking pictures already, and I snapped the picture of the owl when he was about 5 feet from my head!

Once the owl swooped over my head it landed on it's perch on stage. I was able to take more photos of him right after he flew, which was an additional perk to being on stage!

Tip 1: If you want to be a part of this show, have your camera ready when they ask for volunteers and JUMP UP with it in your hand to prove you are ready!!

Tip 2: If you are chosen to go on stage, listen to the cast members! When she says to focus your camera on her hand, do it. Then you'll have a really cool picture of the owl flying towards your head instead of an out of focus picture of an owl flying towards your head!

Jonathan is in the back center holding the video camera.
JAG is at the end of the row on the left of the shot in a red shirt.

The owl on his perch ready to fly.

The out of focus owl flying towards my head!

The owl after he flew past my head and landed on his perch.

The "Dreams Come True" certificate I received for participating.

Best Places I've Ever Been- Disney on Travel Channel

On Saturday February 26, 2011 from 06:00 AM to 07:00 AM (EST) or Monday, March 7 from 08:00 AM to 09:00 Am (EST) on the Travel Channel is

Best Places I've Ever Been - Disney Memories
Viewers are offered a look at the different Disney attractions, from the original Disneyland in Anaheim, California, to Walt Disney World in Florida and the many destinations that the Disney Cruise Line currently visits. From princess makeovers to dining with Mickey, going on a safari to going on a cruise, find out why some of your favorite stars say, "Disney is the best place I've ever been. Period."

If you haven't seen this show yet, set your Tivo or DVR for 2/26 or 3/7! This is a great show that will get any Disney Fan excited about your next trip... or it will help fill that void if you don't have a trip planned on the horizon!


Saturday, February 19, 2011

Princess Kidagakash

Milo and Kida from Atlantis: the Lost Empire.
I have not even seen Atlantis. When it came out in 2001 I had a lot going on in my life and watching movies wasn't high on my list of priorities. At the end of 2001, my family, my brother's girlfriend (now sister in law) and one of my best friends went to WDW to ring in 2002. While we were there, we spent a good bit of time meeting characters. We were at then, MGM, getting autographs and pictures by the Sorcerer's Hat and found this interesting character. None of us knew who she was, but we went on and got the autograph and photo. Once we left and looked at the actual autograph, we still didn't know who she was! As you can see below, she writes in Atlantis, I guess!! We had to ask a cast member who was assisting the characters who she was and what movie she was in.

I wonder why she is not included in the Disney Princesses? This was the only time I've ever seen her at any of the parks. Maybe since the movie wasn't the hit they had hoped for she never became a popular Princess...

Me, Kida and Lisa at MGM

Friday, February 18, 2011

Friday's Favorites: Pirate and Princess Party

The Pirate and Princess Party was a special event ticket similar to Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party (MNSSHP) and Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party (MVMCP). In 2004 the cast members at MNSSHP noticed how many of the children attending the party were dressed as Pirates or Princesses. So they spent the next 2 years planning a special ticket event that would be held January- June. The first party was held January 2007 and the last party was held in June of 2008, I believe. The park advertised party dates in late 2008 for 2009, but cancelled the party prior to tickets going on sale. I never heard the reason behind the cancellation.

Our family was lucky enough to get to participate in this party in February of 2008. I had never had the chance, at the time, to visit MVMCP or MNSSHP, so we took the opportunity to attend the Pirate and Princess Party. I didn't want to dress up, since I'm not really the princess type, so I just purchased a plastic tiara at Target to wear to the party. We found JAG a Jack Sparrow wig/ do rag and eye patch to wear while we were at the Magic Kingdom prior to the party. At the entrance to the Magic Kingdom we were given a black "loot bag" to collect our treasures at specific locations around the park. We also got a treasure map of the park showing where entertainment, the parade route, characters, and "loot" were located. There was a special parade only performed for this party.

Since this party is no longer offered at Walt Disney World, I'm very thankful that we had the opportunity to take part in this fun party!

Party sign outside the MK

Minnie "Princess" topiary outside the MK

Mickey "Pirate" topiary outside the MK

Our family at the MK entrance

JAG with the welcome sign where we picked up our adventure maps
A creepy pirate in the parade

Goofy, the pirate, in the parade

Below is the Adventure Map we received at the party showing some of the entertainment, attractions and food options during the party.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

10 attractions I won't do at Walt Disney World

Obviously, I love Walt Disney World, but there are a few attractions I will not do. (As soon as I say that, one day my son will probably want to do these things and I'll have to eat these words!) This is not a top ten list, it's just a list of things I don't enjoy and would be OK with not doing again. I'll start my list with some shows, which all happen to be at Hollywood Studios, interestingly enough.

1. Sounds Dangerous with Drew Carey. The only good thing about this attraction is that it's air conditioned in the summer and you can possibly catch a quick nap if you need one.

2. Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular Once you've done this attraction, you've done it. I know everything, just about, at WDW is the same each time you experience it, but this is just different. I've done it several times over the years and the last time we experienced it, in 2008, I swore I wouldn't do it again.

3. Lights, Motors, Action Extreme Stunt Show We did this show in 2006 when it was still fairly new. We were excited about it at first- especially JAG who was 5 1/2 at the time! During the show JAG was yawning and looking around the theatre. He was interested and LOVED when there was fire involved, but it was long and didn't hold his attention. Jonathan and I just plain didn't like it. When we returned in 2008, we didn't even mention it so JAG wouldn't ask to see it. Are we bad parents?!

I'll end my list with rides... especially the rides that spin or give you the sensation of spinning!

4. Journey into Imagination with Figment It saddens me to actually type that. When Imagination opened in 1983 it was my MOST FAVORITE thing in all of Epcot. I rode that ride and could play in the ImageWorks lab for hours. Then I would try to catch the jumping water outside! But in 1998, they changed it all and now it sucks. I rode it in December just so Cman could do it, but I'll be OK not to ride it ever again... unless they go back to the original ride! :)

5. Stitch's Great Escape I wasn't a huge fan of Alien Encounter, but I would do it. Then they changed it to Stitch hosting to make it more "child friendly" and I don't enjoy it at all now. This is one I'm happy to pass.

6. Star Tours This ride gives you the feeling that you are flying through space and the motion makes me sick. It's a cool ride, but I can't handle the way I feel when I get off... and dramamine won't help me either! I've tried! I let the boys ride this while I walk around, take pictures and people watch! (Plus, I'm not a Star Wars fan, so it doesn't bother me too bad that I skip this one.)

7. Mission: SPACE Again, this is a fabulous innovative ride, but it makes me sick. The sensation of flying, spinning, etc. gets to my head and stomach. I MAY try it again one day since they offer the Green team experience now that is not as intense.

8. Circle-Vision 360 movies at World Showcase- China & Canada I wish I could watch these movies. The way the screen is wrapped around you makes my head spin. I walk away with a killer headache and it's just not worth it anymore. One day I may force myself to sit through it and suffer through the headaches just to see these wonderful movies again.

9. Primeval Whirl Again with the spinning. The ride is fine and actually fun, but the spinning makes my head all sorts of wacky!

10. Mad Tea Party If you've picked up on the whole "I get sick when I spin" concept, you were probably waiting for this attraction to make the list! Obviously, I can't ride this. My head hurts for hours and my tummy is upside down. Even if I don't try to spin my tea cup, I still get sick.

So, there's my list. What do you stay away from when you are visiting Walt Disney World?... or Disneyland for my California friends! :)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Disney's influence in Hollywood

Country Bears

Even though I'm not a fan of the attraction "Country Bear's Jamboree", I still like to meet characters and get photos and autographs!I met Liverlips, above during our trip for the marathon in 2003. Karen, Deb (taking the photo) and I met the bears at the end of Main Street USA near the train station in the Magic Kingdom. The autograph was at the same time.
I met Big Al (on the left) and got his autograph during our trip in February 2008. We were in Frontierland in the Magic Kingdom.
This photo above and the autograph below from Shaker was during my trip in February of 2005. This was also in Frontierland in the Magic Kingdom.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Buttons from the World

One thing we always do when we are visiting Walt Disney World is visit Guest Relations to get free buttons! If we have an event happening within the month we are there, we'll get buttons to celebrate. Some people will get buttons just to get free buttons, but in my opinion, that takes the fun out of it! Why pretend to have a birthday or a special event when it's not even close to your big day!?! Maybe to try to score free stuff... not my style.When we were visiting Walt Disney World in 2008, we were only 3 weeks away from our first anniversary. Naturally, we got "Happy Anniversary" buttons to wear! We got free ice cream in the Magic Kingdom for wearing these buttons and lots of well wishes from cast members!
On each of our trips to Animal Kingdom we make a $1 donation to the Conservation Fund and receive this button for our contribution as a thanks!
We were at WDW in December of 2010 for C-man's first visit! Getting his button was one of the first things we did! We also got buttons at Disneyland in May of 2010 for our first visit. I didn't take a picture of that one- it's just like the WDW one but reads Disneyland!
Since the rest of the family was with C-man when he made his first trip down in December we all celebrated with him and got the "I'm Celebrating" button!

Below are some of the other buttons you may be able to get. I found these photos on auction sites, so if you don't want to get them on your vacation, you can always look online to buy them!
In 2010, if you volunteered in your community you could get a free day in a Disney park! "Give a Day, Get a Day!" These buttons were given to the Voluntears.
If you are celebrating a family reunion at WDW, ask for these free buttons at Guest Relations!
Not sure the reason for these buttons, other than you have a wonderful life and want to let everyone know! :) They are probably for after you get married and are on your honeymoon!
If you visit after an engagement or get engaged at WDW, don't forget to pick up this button!

I'm not sure how to get these buttons or even if they are still available. I've never seen these in person, just stumbled upon it while I was searching for Disney buttons!
The button I want is a "Happy Birthday" button! None of us have been to WDW close to our birthdays, so we haven't picked up this one. Maybe one year in June, I can make another trip down! The last time I was at WDW on or near my birthday I don't think they gave away free buttons... it's been that long!!