Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Magical Blogorail: Mouse of Zen

Welcome to those of you joining me from Focused on the Magic and those of you just hopping aboard. I am the 3rd stop on our Magical Blogorail.

When I started reading the beautiful haiku poetry found in Mouse of Zen, I had it narrowed down to 16 different poems I wanted to use!  I  knew I had to find just one to write about so I had to dig deep to find which one meant the most to me.

hear a train whistle
as we ride this final time
railroads fade to dust

On our last trip to Walt Disney World, it was only three of us: me, my mom and my son.  We had a magical time playing in all 4 parks and attending Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party.  I have so many photos and memories that I hope will last a lifetime.  However, there was one specific memory and photo that came to mind when I first read this poem.  It was the last day of our vacation and the last ride we went on: the train at The Magic Kingdom.  We were sitting in the last car about to leave the Main Street Station.  Cman was sitting on the outside, looking out over the main entrance to the park waving at all the guests.  Luckily, I had my camera ready and was able to snap this photo.

Right after I took this, we heard the train blow its whistle and we were off.  Cman continued to wave at all the guests as we circled my favorite park.  When we exited, he told the cast member at the back of the train goodbye and we exited the park.  I always get teary eyed when it's time to leave and this was no exception.  I too waved goodbye, turned to give Cinderella's castle one last glance and started out the gate.

Thank you for joining me today. Your next stop on the Magical Blogorail Loop is The Disney Point.

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 ~ Disney Living
4th Stop ~ The Disney Point
5th Stop ~ The Disney Chick

Monday, January 30, 2012

Meeting an Imagineer

I know at Walt Disney World you can pay to have a meal with a Disney Imagineer and have a chance to talk with him or her while you dine.  While I have not done this, I have had a pretty cool conversation with an imagineer- on accident! :)

While we were at Disneyland in 2010, I wanted to see Captain EO, but my hubby did not.  I chose to see this attraction while he and my son rode the Matterhorn one more time.  While I was in the waiting area waiting on the preshow for EO, I started eavesdropping on a conversation between a father and daughter, who appeared to be about 12.  He was telling her all about the movie and when it was out in the 80s at Walt Disney World.  He was telling her about how great it was, for the time, and that it was directed and produced by Francis Ford Coppola and George Lucas.  He was going into great detail about how state of the art it was, the special effects and how they pulled out all the stops for this production.

I think he saw that I was listening and he asked if I remembered the movie or if this was my first time to see it.  I told him I did remember it from WDW in the 80's.  We started talking more and more about WDW and Disneyland.  I told him this was my first trip to DL and he said they were still new to DL too.  He wanted to bring his daughter to see Captain EO and that was the purpose of their trip to the park that day.  He asked how familiar I was with WDW and I chuckled inside! :)  He asked if I had ever stayed at the All Star Resorts because he was a Disney Imagineer who worked on the plans for the All Star Resorts!  He had worked in the Orlando area for Disney for almost 20 years and just recently they had moved him to Anaheim to work at Disneyland.  He did not tell me the project he was currently working on and I didn't ask.  He did say what a dream it was of his to work for Disney and that it is a fabulous company to work for.  His family was treated so well and the perks were the best!

While I wish I had had more time to talk to him, I loved the few minutes we did talk before the show started!  I sat next to him and his daughter during the show.  It was very cool hearing him lean over and talk to his daughter the whole time about what was going on and how special it was for the year it was made.  He was smiling and laughing the entire time.  I guess for an Imagineer to see this production come back after almost 20 years, it is pretty exciting!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Thoughts for the Week: Jan. 21-28, 2012

Another week, another set of "Thoughts"!  In case you missed some of of the posts this week, here is a recap!

Saturday, January 21~
My sweet baby boy, Cman turned three today!  I wrote him a birthday letter as we prepared for his Jake and The Neverland Pirates Party!  More to come on that later! :)

Tuesday, January 24~
I shared some thoughts and comparisons on Sleeping Beauty Castle and Cinderella Castle.  Which castle is your favorite? 

Wednesday, January 25~
I shared some of my favorite Animal Kingdom WILDLIFE shots with Deb at Focused on the Magic as she hosted the weekly Wordless Wednesday Hop.  Which animal is your favorite?

Thursday, January 26~
Babes in Disneyland hosted the weekly Disney Blog Hop with the theme "Disney Bucket List."  Instead of a bucket list, I shared my list of "to dos" for my trip next month!  What is on your Bucket List?

I also had a post over at Chip and Co on Keeping your House Safe while traveling.  

Friday, January 27~
This past Friday was my turn to write a post for the Magical Blogorail.  Our theme was "A Disney Memory with a  Loved One."  I wrote about my husband and I spending time together before the half marathon in 2008.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Magical Blogorail Green: A Disney Memory with a Loved One

Welcome to those of you joining me from Adventures of a Disney Princess and those of you just hopping aboard. I am the Final stop on our Magical Blogorail.

One of my most precious memories at Walt Disney World was with my husband.  We traveled alone to WDW less than a year after we got married to run in the 2008 half marathon.  We left our son, JAG, at home since we would not be able to watch him while we ran.   While the race was NOT one of my best memories of the weekend, the day before the race was.

We woke up early to be at the Magic Kingdom for rope drop.  We waited about 15 minutes for the Mayor to come out and officially open the park.  After the singing, dancing and confetti shooting were over, most families rushed towards Fantasyland and Tomorrowland to ride their favorite attractions.  Not us.  We took our time!  We walked hand in hand down Main Street- yes, right down the middle!  We stopped to read the windows and listen for the sounds.  We took time at the hub to admire the statue of Walt and Mickey and had a few Photopass photos taken.  I had printed off several "hidden gems" I had found on various Disney blogs, web sites and message boards.  We found several of these and searched for hidden Mickeys.  We talked, laughed and took our time taking in the magnificence of the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World.

If I remember right, we did ride The Tomorrowland Transit Authority together and then made our way to the Haunted Mansion.  This attraction was not part of Early Extra Magic Hours, so we walked back to Fantasyland, sat on a bench and watched all the people pass by.  This gave us a chance to sit together, talk about the rest of the day and the race the following day.

It was the perfect "calm before the storm!"  The next day, we woke up bright and early... well, it wasn't bright since it was 3:00am!!  We went to the race and both finished.  Only I finished with a pulled IT band and a bad limp!  I took the rest of race day to rest and we hit Epcot the day after the race and continued to make wonderful memories at the World Showcase.

Reliving this memory just makes me more excited about what is to come!  My husband, Jonathan, and I will be traveling to WDW next month without either of the boys.  While I do feel about 2% guilty for leaving them at home, I couldn't be more excited about the memories we'll be making together at the "Most Magical Place on Earth!"

Thank you for joining Magical Blogorail Green this month. We will be back Friday, February 24th with an all new theme. Keep checking in with our blogs in between loops to keep up to date with our Disney info, photos and stories. If you are looking for more Disney magic, you can make your way over to The Magical Blogorail website to see all our members and their blogs, as well as all our previous loops.

Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail should you happen to have to make a stop along the way and want to reboard:

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Blog Hop: Bucket List for February

Today's theme for the Babes in Disneyland Blog Hop is "Disney Bucket List".  I've started a bucket list in the past, but each time I read another blog about an experience, my list grows!  I don't think I'll ever be able to do everything I want to do... eat in all the restaurants, stay in all the resorts, visit all the Disney parks, go on a Disney cruise, etc, etc, etc.  But for this list, I'm focusing on our trip next month!  There are several new things I want to do, see, taste and try- so here is my 2012 WDW Trip Bucket List:

1. Try at least one cupcake from each park!  Yes, I have a list ready...
2. Go up in Characters in Flight
3. Eat beignets at Port Orleans (where we'll be staying for the first time!)
4. See YeHaa Bob at Port Orleans
5. Take the boat ride from Port Orleans to Downtown Disney via The Sassagoula River.
6. Do the Behind the Seeds tour at Living with the Land
7. Do or is it play (?) the Kim Possible Adventure at Epcot
8. Do/ play Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom
9. See Wishes from either the California Grill or Poly Beach
10. See the "Magic, Memories and You" show on Cinderella's Castle

And most importantly... Take it slow!!  Relax and enjoy my time with my husband! :)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Sleeping Beauty vs. Cinderella Castle

Having been to Walt Disney World so many times, I'm very used to seeing this beautiful castle towering over the hub at the end of Main Street USA.  This is one of the sights that makes me know I'm in my happy place!  I have more photos of this castle than I can even count!  
Cinderella's Castle at Walt Disney World
So, when we went to Disneyland in 2010 and walked down Main Street USA for the first time, I was quite disappointed in the castle at the end.  While this is a beautiful castle, it's size is what was disappointing to me.  I was expecting a huge towering castle, like WDW has.  This castle is much smaller, or shorter, but seems to be wider!
Sleeping Beauty's Castle at Disneyland
Here are a few comparisons I've made between the two:
  • Sleeping Beauty Castle (SBC) is much more colorful and "fantasy-like" 
  • Cinderella Castle (CC) is much more elaborate and majestic than fantasy 
  • SBC has a walk through attraction telling the story of Sleeping Beauty 
  • CC has an elaborate restaurant where you can dine with the characters 
  • SBC is very quaint and pretty 
  • CC is very grand and stunning 
  • SBC is the "original" that Walt designed 
  • CC has an apartment inside that was originally to be for Walt's family. Now special guests can stay there. 
  • Both castles have a moat, but SBC's drawbridge can raise and lower, CC can't 
  • Both SBC and CC allow guests to walk through the center and enter Fantasyland 
  • CC has a beautiful mosaic of Cinderella's story in the pass through area to Fantasyland 
  • Both castles are decorated for Christmas 
  • SBC is 77 feet tall 
  • CC is 189 feet tall 
  • CC's spires are painted gold 
  • SBC's spires are tipped with real gold leaf. Rumor is that Walt left one spire without the gold leaf to symbolize the fact that he never had enough money to do all he wanted to do. 
  • CC has been transformed into a birthday cake for the 25th anniversary (1997), was once "rolled" to celebrate the opening of Stitches Great Escape (Nov. 16, 2004), and was redecorated in 2005 to celebrate Disneyland's 50th anniversary with gold trim and accents, swags, banners and tapestries. Golden statues of Disney animated characters were also added to the exterior. Above the front archway was a "stained-glass" mirror modeled after the magic mirror from Snow White. The mirror changed images every 40 seconds to feature each Disney castle and the date its park opened. (See images below) 
  • With both castles, when you see the spires, turrets and moats, you know you've left the world of today and entered into a land of fantasy
images from Wikipedia (cake), Mouseplanet (rolling) and my camera (50th celebration)
What differences or similarities have you noticed between the two castles?

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Happy Birthday Cman!

Dear Cman,

I can't believe you are turning three years old today!  Wow, how time flies.  You are the best little big boy a mommy could ask for.  Even though you are three and you whine more than I like, and you don't take naps on weekends, and you don't always eat like I want you to, you're still perfect to me!  I love the way you remember to say "thank you" when I give you something.  I love the way you still want to snuggle and rock before bed.  I love seeing you play with your "guys" and make up stories about them.  I love they way you call your big brother your "best buddy."  I especially love the way you sing the Auburn fight song!  I love the way you give kisses and hugs when it's bedtime.  I love the excitement on your face everyday when I pick you up from school.  I love the way you love your friends and get so happy when you are with them.  I love that you choose to read your "baby bible" at night.  I love the way you love "Dinny World" as much as I do!  I love that you still talk about our trip to WDW that was 4 months ago!  I love everything about you.  You're the best.

I'm looking forward to celebrating with you today!  You picked a fun birthday theme with Jake and the Neverland Pirates and I can't wait to see you and all your friends dressed up this afternoon.  I know this day will be as special as you are.

I love you stinky face,


Thoughts for the Week: Jan. 15-21

It's been another busy week at A Disney Mom's Thoughts!  Our Twitter and Facebook followers continue to grow.  Thanks to each of you for reading and following. It means a lot.  I'm down to hours before the big birthday party!!  I've been working all week on the piratey details!  I also spent some time on Friday night at the local AAA listening to their Disney Specialist.  While I enjoyed it, I didn't learn anything new.  But, I did get a free Disney photo album!

Sunday, January 15~
I finished up my thoughts on Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party and what I will do next time to make it the best night possible.

Monday, January 16~
I kicked off a Disneyland theme this week with a post highlighting the history and Magic of Disneyland.

Tuesday, January 17~
Mr Toad is still alive and well at Disneyland.  You can read my thoughts on this Mr Toad's Wild Ride here.

Wednesday, January 18~
Deb at Focused on the Magic hosted the weekly Wordless Wednesday Hop with the theme of WATER.  I shared a few photos from my time at Disneyland that deal with water.

Amanda from MouzeKateerz was my guest blogger on "Stars Fell on Disney Fans from Alabama!"  See what she has to share.

Thursday, January 19~
Lisa at Babes in Disneyland hosted the Thursday Blog Hop with the theme "Special Smiles with Characters."  Check out 2 of my favorite boys with Goofy at Disneyland!

Friday, January 20~
Flashback Friday, with Deb at Focused on the Magic, featured the entrance to Disney's California Adventure.

Not only was I writing for my own blog this week, I had my first post at Chip and Co. on "Ten Games & Activities To Do While Waiting In Line!"  Be on the lookout for more with Chip and Co.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Flashback Friday: CALIFORNIA

I chose this picture to accompany my posts this week about Disneyland and Disney's California Adventure.  We visited both parks in May of 2010.  It was a fabulous vacation, but way too short!  

One thing that I loved was the entrance to DCA.  I know a lot of people hated it, but I thought it was beautiful.  The large letters spelling out CALIFORNIA, the mosaics flanking the sides and the Golden Gate Bridge that was also the monorail track, were all so "Californian" to me!  Now, my understanding is that the letters are now gone, the mosaics have been dismantled and the Golden Gate Bride is also being torn down to get a new look.  The new bridge will be the Hyperion Bridge and it should be finished sometime this year.  The artists drawing of the new entrance to DCA looks very familiar to me!  
From the OC Register: "Disney spokesman John McClintock said the new entrance is themed after the acclaimed entry facade of the historic Pan Pacific Auditorium, built in 1935 in Los Angeles and the home to auto and boat shows, sporting and political events." 

Pan Pacific Auditorium:
photo from the LA Public Library
While I will miss the original entrance to Disney's California Adventure, I am excited about all the changes that are coming to this park!  Having the entrance look so similar to Disney's Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World makes me feel "at home!"

Focused on the Magic

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Blog Hop: Special Smiles

The theme for this weeks hop is "Special Smiles with Characters."  I have a TON of pictures with characters at WDW, but I wanted to stay with my Disneyland theme for this week.  I chose a picture of 2 of my 3 favorite boys with Goofy!  We didn't spend much time meeting characters on this trip because we only had 2 days and wanted to see, ride, taste and experience as much as we could. But, when there was NO LINE for Goofy at all, we jumped at the chance.  This was taken on Main Street USA at Disneyland Park in May of 2010.
Thanks to Lisa from Babes in Disneyland for hosting today's hop!  If you haven't joined the hop, I suggest you head over to Babes in Disneyland and link up! :)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Stars Fell on Amanda from Mouzekateerz

Welcome back to "Stars Fell on Disney Fans from Alabama!"  I'm excited to introduce my newest Disney Fan from Alabama!  Amanda is a fellow mom from south Alabama.  She is a photographer and teacher.  Hopefully she can teach me how to take great pictures!!  I "met" her when we both joined as writers for The Disney Moms and now we are also both writers for Chip & Co.  I have learned over the past few weeks that we would make great WDW companions: we both could live on a diet of cupcakes, burgers and fries! :)

My name is Amanda Major from mouzekateerz.com, and the essential part of my Disney vacation, my Nikon camera, is held up by a red Mickey Mouse camera strap. How fun to be featured on A Disney Mom's Thoughts in the “Stars Fell on Alabama Feature.” Last year I was reading blogs, and now here I am writing for them!

I'm pretty new to the writing scene, and I arrived there differently than most true bloggers. While my kids were riding Disney roller coasters, I was standing around taking photos of buildings and flowers and places that I loved in Disney World. When I looked at these images, I felt like I was back at Disney again, even if it was only for a few minutes in my mind. Pictures became a way a way to hold on to that vacation magic.  After collecting these Disney photos for several years, I thought I had some examples of good photography that other people might like to see. 

My ten-year old-son and I took a walk one night, having just looked through some vacation scrap books, and we talked about me sharing my photos with Disney fans outside our family. That night last October, I set up a Facebook page, and in trying to spread the word about the Facebook photos, I started writing for a web site I personally read every day for Disney information called Chip & Company. A couple of months later, with tremendous help from Mike at My Dreams of Disney,  I started my blog, mouzekateerz.com, as a platform for more people to see my photography and read an occasional thought I had on Disney architecture or snacks.  I started writing each week for Mike’s My Dreams of Disney , so while I didn’t start out to be a writer, I have suddenly developed into one.  Natalie got me involved as a writer with her Meet the Magic and  The Disney Moms blogs. I have just recently become "the Photo Diva" for Kristin at Tips from the Disney Diva . Three months after I talked 16 of my friends into joining a facebook page featuring my Disney pictures,  I now have almost 1,000 Facebook fans and nearly 2,000 people have visited my blog.  How fun is that?! I'm now doing a lot of daily writing, and I'm still taking a lot of pictures I'd like to share when we make it to Orlando. Every year I tell my students to get out of their comfort zone and take a risk. Putting my thoughts in writing and my photography out there for possibly thousands of people to see every day was my way of taking a big risk. I do believe every photo has a story.

I am a high school Leadership teacher at Foley High School in Foley, Al., just miles from the beautiful Gulf of Mexico.  I am essentially southern born and educated. I grew up in the Alabama town of Fairhope, where I graduated from Fairhope High School. I went to college at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, Ms., where I earned undergraduate degrees in English and Philosophy. I have a Master’s Degree in Education from the University of South Alabama in English Education. I have taken additional graduate level classes from the University of West Alabama.  I love to read, and I join in reading contests with my students each semester. I’ve never finished less than 5th place, which is a personal accomplishment with everything I have going on.

I’ve been married to the love of my life, fellow educator and band director Carl Major, for almost twenty years. We have three vacation-planning children and a Katrina rescue dog named Willi Baby.  A self-professed “Life Coach”, I really enjoy pushing my 9th grade students to reach their personal potential as I strive to reach my own. Recently, I have also discovered a great sense of enjoyment seeing people find entertainment through my photography.  I’ve developed some amazing relationships within the on-line blogging community.

If you find yourself in need of a mental Disney vacation, I have just the spots for you. You will find me on facebook at Mouze Kateerz, where you can take a virtul Disney vacation in photographs each day. For a larger collection of pictures in one convenient location, stop by Mouze Kateerz on Pinterest.  If you have some artistic Disney vacation photos you would like to share, send me an e-mail of your favorite architectural location to mouzekateerz@chipandco.com.

Thanks again Beth for the opportunity to stop by A Disney Mom's Thoughts. Ya'll be good!

Wordless Wednesday: Water, Water, Water

Water is present at the Disneyland Resort, but I sure didn't see as much water there as I do when I'm at Walt Disney World!  Below you will see a few shots I got of water: The Jungle Cruise and Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage at Disneyland and the Paradise Bay in Disney's California Adventure. 

What is your favorite "water" at Disneyland?

Focused on the Magic

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Mr Toad's Wild Ride

According to Wikipedia: "Mr. Toad's Wild Ride is a dark ride at Disneyland Park. It is one of the few remaining attractions that was operational on the park's opening day in 1955. The ride's story is based on Disney's adaptation of The Wind in the Willows, one of the two segments of the film The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad. It was once an attraction at the Magic Kingdom park in Walt Disney World, but despite a long protest against its closure, Mr. Toad's journeys to nowhere in particular were put to an end in 1998 and the ride was replaced the following year with The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. However, a statue of Mr. Toad can be seen with many others at a pet cemetery outside the Haunted Mansion."
This attraction was on my "must do" list when I visited Disneyland in 2010.  In the past at Walt Disney World, this was one attraction I would do each trip, but never really cared for.  I think because I had never seen the movie, I didn't relate to the ride.  When it closed in 1998, I was not sad since it was never high on my "like" list.  

Fast forward to 2010.  When we decided to go to Disneyland, I told Jonathan we MUST ride Mr Toad's Wild Ride.  I realized that this was an original attraction on opening day in 1955.  That meant Walt rode it, had a good bit of input in it and thought it was important enough to be there on opening day!  At that point, I knew I had to be on this attraction before Disneyland decided to close it like WDW did.  

Well, we rode it and I'm glad I did.  However, if I head back to Anaheim, I doubt I'll ride it again.  It still doesn't do much for me and it's still not high on my "like" list.  Call me crazy, but it's just not a favorite. 

What attractions should you like, but just don't?

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Magic of Disneyland

In 2010, our family made our first trip to California.  My husband was attending a work conference in Long Beach.  He decided to take me and our oldest son along for the trip.  Being in Long Beach, and being married to a "Disney Nerd" he decided we needed to take a few days and experience Disneyland and Disney's California Adventure... I did not complain one bit! :)

We had a great time, but it was way too short!  We spent 2 full days exploring the parks and I'm dying to go back.

For the next few weeks, I'll be featuring some of the things I learned and experienced while in Disneyland.  To help kick this off, I'm sharing this beautiful infographic on the history of Disneyland from the CityPASS blog.  Enjoy!

The Magic of Disneyland

Sunday, January 15, 2012

MNSSHP~ Suggestions for Making This Night the Best

One thing I know I wouldn't do differently is attend this party!  This party was the best of the three I've attended at Walt Disney World: Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party, Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party and Mickey's Pirate and Princess Party (in that order!).   This party was full of so much fun- from the treats, the parade, the fireworks and the costumes.

Another thing I wouldn't change is dressing up!  Our group decided to go as Carl, Russell and Dug from up.  My son decided at the last minute not to wear his costume.  He said Dug was scary!  Luckily, I planned for this and had a tshirt made with Dug's picture on it that said, "Hi, I'm Dug... But I won't wear my costume!"  If you go to this party, I would HIGHLY encourage you to dress up.  We saw everything on all ages, sizes and shapes.  Many groups were dressed as Disney characters, but others weren't.  We saw groups dressed as board games, cowboys and Indians, Super Heros, sports figures, food items and animals.  There were lots of Pirates of the Caribbean characters, Princesses, Fairies, and Haunted Mansion Ghosts!

The first thing I would do differently at MNSSHP is not ride the rides.  While we didn't spend much time at all on attractions, it did take up time and I should have used that time to do things that guests can't do on a normal operating day.  The only exception to this "rule" is the Haunted Mansion!  We did not ride it this time because Cman was too young, but if your kids can handle the Haunted Mansion, I think it's a must for this night!

I would suggest getting a seat for The Boo To You Parade early.  If your party isn't too large, you could have a member in your party save your spots on the parade route while the rest of the group grabs a snack or hits the Trick or Treat Stations.  I would also suggest viewing the first parade.  Then if you missed the pictures you wanted or if your kids want to see it again, you can catch the later parade later.  This parade route gets full quickly.  Do plan to stay through the end of the parade as cast members pass out candy to the kids who are on the front few rows of the route.

As for the Trick or Treat Stations, we spent a lot of time early in the night getting candy.  Cman loved trick or treating, but it took a good bit of time out of the night.  I know we can't do this on normal operating hours, but we can buy candy any time we'd like.  One thing I did notice was later in the night the cast members were wanting to get rid of candy, so they were handing out bigger handfuls.  My suggestion is to save the Trick or Treating for the last hour of the night.  The lines will be shorter and handfuls are bigger!

Along with the Boo To You Parade, I would encourage you to see the Hallowishes Fireworks show!  This show had a Halloween twist to the normal Wishes show.  You can view this show anywhere on Main Street in front of the Castle.

One thing we missed that I regret is the Villain's Dance Mix and Mingle in front of the castle.  This is a Halloween show featuring the Villains.  Following the show, the Villains come meet and greet guests.  We were able to catch the last 5 minutes of the meeting time when we saw Gaston.

If you have younger children who like to dance, I would suggest visiting the Character Dance Parties!  We had a lot of fun here and Cman had a chance to dance to the entire song, "Who Let the Dogs Out" with Stitch!  While I would participate in these, choose your dance party wisely.  Look at the party guide and decide which characters your child would enjoy more.  We spent time at the Tomorrowland Dance Party and if I had known it would be such a hit, I would have rather danced with Woody and Jessie in Frontierland.

When I do this party again this is my plan:
1) Arrive early so you're ready to go as soon as the party starts.  Be in costume and decide which of the character meet and greets is most important to you and get in line.  Hint: choose a character who will only make an appearance at the party and not daily in the parks.  I wish I had met Flynn and Rapunzel. This could take up to an hour.
2) As soon as you have met this character, visit one of the Dance Parties and dance for a while.
3) Eat dinner if you haven't or grab a snack.  Depending on the time, you may want to start marking your spot for the early parade at 8:15.
4) Following the parade, hit a few trick or treat stations or visit some characters who have shorter lines. Be on Main Street for the Hallowishes show early enough to get a good viewing spot.
5) Hallowishes is at 9:30.  After the fireworks, stick around Main Street for the Villain's Dance Mix and Mingle at 10:05 or hit the trick or treat stations in Fantasyland and Tomorrowland, but be back in time for the show!
6) Following the Villain's, you can stay on Main Street if you want to view all or part of the Boo to You parade at 10:30.
7) Trick or Treat, Dance Party or Characters.  You choose which is more important to you at this point!  Villains will be back out in front of the castle at 11:15.
8) ENJOY your night!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Thoughts for the Week: January 8-14, 2012

Another busy week has passed here at A Disney Mom's Thoughts!  I've been busy planning my son's 3rd birthday party.  It will be next weekend, so stay tuned for details on our "Jake and the Neverland Pirates" party!  One downer this week was the fact that I had to cancel my plans with Melissa from Disney on Wheels on Friday.  We were supposed to see Beauty and the Beast together, but my son got sick.  I guess it's better to be sick this weekend than next weekend and miss the party...

Here is a quick recap of the week, in case you missed something.

Don't forget about The Disney Mom's Dooney & Bourke giveaway!  Have you entered the giveaway?  Several of us from "The Disney Moms" have come together to have this awesome giveaway!  Don't forget to enter for your chance to win.

Monday, January 9~
I shared a guest post on Meet the Magic on Living with the Land at Epcot.  This is one of our families favorite rides! 

Finally, I had a chance to recap part of our time at Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party (MNSSHP)!  We spent quite a bit of time at the Tomorrowland Dance Party with Goofy, Pluto and Stitch.  You can see video of my baby dancing! :)

Tuesday, January 10~
Check out this "Tuesday's Tip" about decorating your resort window.  Does your family do this?

I also reviewed the Boo To You Parade at MNSSHP.  This is a must see if you are a guest at the party! I shared some crummy photos and a video of the Headless Horseman's ride.

Wednesday, January 11~
Wednesday begins my blog hop days!  Today I participated in Deb's hop at Focused on the Magic.  The Wordless Wednesday theme was "Characters Great and Small."  Do you know where my photo was taken?

Thursday, January 12~
The next blog hop was Lisa's from Babes in Disneyland.  Each Thursday, I do my best to join her "hop."  This theme was "What I'm looking forward to in 2012- Disney Style!"  Read about my exciting plans!

Friday, January 13~
Deb at Focused on the Magic hosted another hop today- Flashback Friday.  I shared a photo my dad snapped during a trip in the 80s when we were riding the Skyway to Tomorrowland.  Do you miss that attraction as much as I do?

I also answered a Facebook question on my blog today.  I hope Ami finds it so she can see my thoughts on Transportation in WDW!

Around the Web~
Here are a few of the Disney related articles I enjoyed reading this week:

Heidi from Heidi's Head posted about her interesting week.  After taking her first Disney Travel Agent's test, she had a medical scare with her memory.  Continue to pray for Heidi as she recovers.

Melissa from Disney on Wheels shares a delicious review of Via Napoli at the Italy Pavilion at Epcot.  I'm really excited to visit this restaurant... I wonder if they'll make my pizza without cheese!?!

Beth from Pursuing the Magic shares a guest post from Deb at Focused on the Magic as part of her "In Pursuit of Pirates" series.  Deb shares tips on taking photographs on dark rides, such as Pirates of the Caribbean.

Chip over at Chip and Co shared a list of snacks at Magic Kingdom and Epcot that are a part of the Disney Dining Plan.  I've already copied this list and highlighted all the snacks I'm interested in trying... don't judge! :)

Magical Blogorail Blue and Black were both busy with loops this week!  Check out Black's 2012 Disney Resolutions and Blue's Favorite World Showcase Pavilions!

Don't forget you can also follow "ADMT" on Twitter and Facebook!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Facebook Question...

On January 6, Ami asked a question on the FB page:

I would love to find more information on Disney Transportation. It seems a bit confusing to me, since I am travelling with a young disabled child, I want to try to understand and have planned as much as possible for getting around and eating. I have a list of eateries that offer foods he and his sister can have, so I think I am set there, but the transportation still confuses me a bit. There are ticket centers, some parks have monorail, some have buses, some boats....And some reviews say to plan for an hour and a half travel time on a bus? We're going Feb 26-March3 I'm hoping we will not sit on a bus for over an hour with an autistic child..Other than that I have a lot of amazing info and feel well prepared! Thank you!

I have a few thoughts on this, but I don't know your exact situation.  I don't know where you are staying, so that will factor into transportation.  If you are on a monorail resort (Contemporary, Polynesian or Grand FLoridian) you will use the monorail a lot more than the other resorts.  If you are staying at the Boardwalk area (Beach Club, Yacht Club, Swan, Dolphin, or Boardwalk) you may use the boats and buses.  If you have figured out your dining already, you have half the battle won!

I have never had to spend an hour and a half on a bus, or any mode of transportation for that matter.  The only thing that may have lasted an hour and a half was the entire time from point A to point B.  If I left my resort room at 8:00, it would take a few minutes to walk to the bus stop.  Then I may wait for a bus, which adds more time.  Depending on where you are staying, once you get on the bus, you may have to pick up other passengers at another resort or at another location within your resort.    Once all the stops have been made to pick up guests, it can take 10-25 minutes to drive to your destination- again depending on where you are going within WDW.  Once you arrive at the final destination, you'll exit the bus and have to walk to the entrance which will take another 5 minutes or so.  The hour and a half time that you read about is probably the ENTIRE time from point A to B.  I still think that's an exaggerated amount of time.

The time you are traveling will be one of the least crowded times of the year.  You chose a great week!!  The crowds should be low, so chances are high you'll always get a seat on the bus, boat or monorail.  If you children are in a stroller and you are using yours from home, you will need to have the stroller folded up prior to boarding the buses.  If you have your own car with you, or a rental car, you may find it's easier to use that and opt out of the WDW transportation.

When our family is at Walt Disney World we take the buses 95% of the time.  The only time we take the monorail is to get from Epcot to the Magic Kingdom and vice versa.  We have been known to take the boat from Epcot to Disney's Hollywood Studio's, but not often.  If you have a smart phone you can download this app (Walt Disney World Transportation Wizard) that will tell you the different transportation options from point A to B.  All you have to do is choose your locations and it will show you different options with travel times.  I still use this from time to time just to see if there is a shorter option.  Sometimes I use it just to try a new route!

Here is an article from All Ears on the different types of transportation within WDW that may help you! 

I hope you have a great vacation and best of luck!

Flashback Friday: Skyway to Tomorrowland

I'm happy to be participating in Deb's Flashback Friday hop!  I love getting old photos out of the albums and scanning them into the computer... if only I could figure out how to get the old VHS movies, which are burned onto DVDs now, onto my computer so I could upload them! :)

Today's Flashback Friday shot was taken from the sky on the Skyway to Tomorrowland buckets.  I'm sure my dad took this picture on our trip in 1983 since mom is scared of heights!  I just wish we had a shot of us in the bucket.

I do miss the Skyway.  I'm not sure exactly why it closed.  A few rumors I've read online are that it closed due to the death of a cast member at WDW in 1999 and the park guest at Disneyland in 1994 who fell out of the gondola.  Or it could be for economic reasons.  I've also heard it was due to the fact it was not wheelchair accessible, but several rides still aren't accessible, so that doesn't make much sense...

Do you know why they closed the Skyway attraction?

 Focused on the Magic

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Blog Hop: 2012 Excitement!

What I'm looking forward to most in 2012...  That's the theme for this weeks blog hop with Lisa at Babes in Disneyland...

WOW- that's a trick question!  I have two very special trips planned for 2012 to Walt Disney World that I am so excited about!  But I'm REALLY excited about my trip TOMORROW!!!  I get to go to Chattanooga to meet my friend, Melissa from Disney on Wheels to see the Beauty and the Beast 3D movie!  We met online last year, met in person at WDW in September and now have a day of fun planned since she only lives 2 hours from me.   :)

The first trip I'm looking forward to is the trip with my hubby.  We are headed down next month, without kids, to experience the world for a week.  We have dinner reservations for each night at restaurants we wouldn't normally eat at.  We have plans to visit different clubs, bars and lounges each night that we've never been to.  I am planning on eating a cupcake at each park at least once- something I wouldn't do with kids!  We may not even ride any rides... but who am I kidding!  I know we will, but we won't be rushing from one attraction to the next because our boys are hounding us. We'll get to stroll, yes, stroll, and take our time looking at all the details, taking pictures and admiring what is Walt Disney World.  I am beyond excited!

The second trip I'm excited about is the mission trip to Orlando with my high school students in July!  I get to "work" at WDW!!  Not work for WDW, but I get to go to WDW for work!  We will spend 3 days doing mission work in the Orlando area for the less fortunate and spend 2 days at Epcot and Magic Kingdom.  It makes me giddy to think about spending time at these parks with the youth I love so much.  I love my job and I love my youth- I absolutely LOVE when two of my loves collide like that! :)

What are YOU looking forward to in 2012 regarding Disney?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Tuesday's Tip: Window Decorations

On our most recent trip to Walt Disney World we stayed at the Pop Century Resort.  At this resort, along with the other value resorts and moderate resorts (at least the ones I've stayed in) have doors that open to the outside with a large window facing the outside sidewalk.  One thing that we always do is decorate our window.  It makes it fun and easier for the kids to find our room when we return from the parks and it just makes it fun! :)
Here is a picture of our most recent window decor.  I used the countdown calendar we made for our trip and added "WE MADE IT!!" across the front.  I also added the names we used for our iron on t-shirts along with the window gels I had from a previous trip.  C-man (my 2 year old) had a fun time adding the Cars, Little Mermaid and Finding Nemo gels- however I had to rearrange them since he put ALL of them right on top of each other and they kept falling off the window!

What do you to make your room or window more personal while at Disney?