Monday, March 31, 2014

Pregnancy Tips for Disney Trips

I have been to Walt Disney World twice while pregnant.  The first trip I was only 10 weeks along with Big E.  The second trip was 22 weeks later... I was 32 weeks pregnant with Big E.  These two trips were quite different!  I talked with my doctor prior to each trip and with her help I was able to come up with a few tips for traveling to Disney during the three trimesters.  ** Before you travel to any Disney park while pregnant, talk to your doctor.  Follow their advise and listen to your body.  You and your doctor know your body best!

The First Trimester
During the first trimester, your uterus is still tucked safely behind your pelvic bones and you probably aren't showing too much.  My doctor gave me the OK to ride anything and everything at Walt Disney World.  She said at 14 weeks, she tells all her patients to STOP riding horses, skiing, and riding thrill rides!  So during my trip, at 10 weeks, I rode it all.  However, Disney suggests anyone pregnant not ride specific rides which are listed below.

During this time you probably don't look pregnant or even feel pregnant (aside from the morning sickness).  Even though you can't feel the baby or even added weight, your body is rapidly changing and working on developing a baby!  You will probably be more tired than normal and will require more water than normal.   Listen to your body!  If you get hot, go inside and cool off.  If you get tired, sit on a bench, go back to the resort for a nap or go on an indoor attraction where you can sit and cool off such as Hall of Presidents, Living with the Land, Universe of Energy, The Great Movie Ride, etc.  If you get thirsty, get something to drink.  Stay hydrated and remember you can get FREE water at any counter service restaurant.  

The Second Trimester
This is when you should DEFINITELY stop riding any rides listed on the "do not ride if you are pregnant list."  At this point, you are probably starting to show.  If you experienced morning sickness, it may subside now.  You may also start to have more energy and not tire as easily.  Continue to take advantage of the longer, indoor rides to help rejuvenate yourself.  Take in the great shows and movies throughout the parks and enjoy all the amazing restaurants! 

During the second trimester, you are probably starting to need a restroom more often.  This is common since the baby is growing and pressing your bladder.  Take advantage of the many bathrooms around the parks.  Become familiar with the park map and know where the closest bathroom is at all times!  Remember to use the restroom before standing in any long lines and "go try", as I tell my boys, even when you don't think you need to! 
The Third Trimester
Definitely talk to your doctor before traveling during the third trimester.  My doctor was fine with me traveling at 32 weeks, but each mom and doctor are different.  At this point in the pregnancy you are not too far away from having a baby in your arms.  Take care of yourself and that baby!  Take advantage of the indoor attractions and rest, rest, rest!

When I traveled at 32 weeks, walking around the parks became difficult.  It was July.  It was hot.  My ankles were swollen and I was miserable!  My back hurt and all I wanted to do was sit.  If you are traveling during the third trimester, take breaks.  Splurge and stay at a resort that is closest to the parks- a monorail loop resort or an Epcot/ Crescent Lake resort.  Take frequent breaks and prop up your feet.  Head to the resort for a dip in the pool or a service at the spa.  Make reservations at nice restaurants and enjoy your time.

Before you travel in the third trimester, make sure you know where the nearest hospital is, just in case.  Talk to your doctor at home about an OBGYN in the Orlando area you could call in an emergency.  There is a hospital near Walt Disney World in Celebration, Florida.  

"Do Not Ride If You Are Pregnant List"
Magic Kingdom
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
  • Splash Mountain
  • Space Mountain
  • Tomorrowland Indy Speedway
  • Barnstormer
  • I'm guessing the Mine Train will be "off limits" when it opens
  • Mission:SPACE 
  • Test Track
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
  • Star Tours
  • Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster
  • Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
Animal Kingdom 
  • Expedition Everest
  • Kali River Rapids
  • Kilimanjaro Safari
  • Primeval Whirl
Love Our Disney

Arcade Fun at Walt Disney World

On each trip to Walt Disney World our family (or at least my husband and oldest son) have to make a few stops at the resort arcade! Even though we can play these same type games in our home town at the movie theaters, bowling alleys, Chuck E Cheese restaurants and malls, there’s just something more fun about playing these games at Disney! Isn’t everything more fun at Disney than at home?!

There are several great times to visit the arcades at your resort. We tend to visit on the first day, before we start hitting the parks and the last day, after we have finished the parks. Other times are in the evenings after you return from the parks but aren’t quite ready to head to the room. It’s also a nice place to hide if it’s raining outside!

The arcades are open from 7:00am to midnight. The games offered are suited for all ages- mom and dad can find their favorite games from their Atari 2600 and Nintendo days. Kids can find their favorite games from PlayStation, Xbox, and Wii. Players can play sports, dance, battle aliens, play pinball, ride motorcycles and more. If you win tickets from any of your games, you can redeem prizes from a cast member on hand.

When you enter the arcade, you need to find the vending machine kiosk where you can purchase an “Arcade Players Club Card” filled with game credits. You can use cash, credit/ debit cards or your Key to the World card to purchase your play card. Once you have the card, you swipe the card into the games to play and you don’t have to worry about your stack of quarters falling off the machine! The play cards can be refilled by visiting the vending machine kiosk at the arcade. These cards can be used at any arcade on Walt Disney World property that uses the cashless play card system.

The following resorts at WDW have arcades:

  • Animal Kingdom Lodge 
  • Beach Club Resort 
  • BoardWalk Inn Resort 
  • Contemporary Resort 
  • Grand Floridian Resort & Spa 
  • Polynesian Resort 
  • Wilderness Lodge 
  • Yacht Club Resort 
  • Caribbean Beach Resort 
  • Coronado Springs Resort 
  • Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter and Riverside 
  • All-Star Movies Resort 
  • All-Star Music Resort 
  • All-Star Sports Resort 
  • Disney’s Pop Century Resort 
  • Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa 
  • Old Key West Resort 
  • Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground 
Have you or your family spent time at any of the arcades on property? What were your thoughts? I’d love to hear from you!!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Hollywood Studios Attractions: Voyage of the Little Mermaid

Voyage of the Little Mermaid is a 17 minute live action musical show that captures the story of Ariel from Disney's The Little Mermaid.  This show has captured guests hearts since it opened on January 7, 1992.  As you enter the theater, you are made to feel like you are going underwater with Ariel and her friends.  In the show, you can follow Ariel's adventures through puppets, live performers, movie clips and special effects. 

The show opens with a curtain of water misting the audience.   Sebastian and his friends open the show singing the Award Winning song, "Under the Sea."   From there you will meet Ariel, Eric and Ursula where Ariel trades her mermaid fins for human legs and gives up her beautiful voice for this trade.  

  • Check the Times Guide at Disney’s Hollywood Studios for the schedule and show times. Show times are subject to change.
  • This show is accessible to guests in their wheelchairs and ECVs.
  • To see this show with the shortest wait time, visit first thing in the morning.
  • While this is a family attraction, some young children find it frightening due to the darkness and Ursula, the sea witch.
  • The middle or rear of the theater is the best for seeing all the special affects in the show.
  • Children may need to sit in an adult's lap to see everything.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Hollywood Studios Attractions: The Magic of Disney Animation

The Magic of Disney Animation opened at Disney's Hollywood Studios in November of 2003 in the Animation Courtyard.  This is attraction is great for all ages and all families.  It's all indoors so it's a great place to go when it's really hot outside or raining.  

When you enter, you will go to a small theater where you will watch a 9 minute movie about how animators create characters for the screen.  Mushu, from Mulan, and a Disney Animator will explain the process in the film.  After the film, you are taken to a large interactive area where you will learn more about drawing Disney characters.  You can participate in the following areas:

  • Animation Academy: Here you will learn from a Disney artist how to draw your own Disney character.  You can take your drawing home as a free souvenir! 
  • The Sound Stage: Experience creating your own soundtrack by mixing music and sound effects to a Disney movie scene.
  • Digital Ink and Paint: On a touchscreen, you can add color to a Disney animated movie sequence.
  • You're a Character: Answer questions with the help of Lumiere from Beauty and the Beast to find out what Disney character you're most like. 
  • Animation Gallery: Walk through an outstanding display of awards, animation cells and props from Disney history.
  • Character Meet and Greet: This is my favorite!  Meet some of your favorite Disney characters at select times throughout the day.  Check your times guide when you get to the park for more.
  • Flash photography is not allowed, so make sure it's off!
  • Guests in wheelchairs can remain in their chair.  Guests in ECVs must transfer to a wheelchair.
  • If you have watched the movie and participated in the Animation Stations activities and want to return just to meet characters, enter through the gift shop (at the exit of the attraction) instead of going through the building again.
  • Lilo and Stich, Mulan and Brother Bear were produced within the Magic of Disney Animation's studios.

In 2003 they updated this attraction to it's current state because Disney no longer created cartoons in this location.  From 1989-November 2003, the opening video "Back to Neverland" featured Walter Cronkite and Robin Williams (below).  It's rumored that because of this video, Disney cast Robin Williams to be "Genie" in the 1992 movie Aladdin.  Disney pays tribute to Back to Neverland in Aladdin when the genie is dressed just as Robin is, as a tourist, in the beginning of the Back to Neverland film.

"The Pirate Fairy" Products

On April 1st, you can own Tinker Bell's new movie "The Pirate Fairy" on DV and Blu-Ray.  This new adventure is full of laughter, heart, magic and thrills.  With this new movie comes a whole new line of Tinker Bell and friends Pirate dolls, dresses and more!  

Being a mom to three boys, I won't have a chance to ever play with these fairies, but being a mom to boys does mean lots of Pirates!  I love the idea of combining the two, Fairies and Pirates!  While we have not seen the movie yet, I know when we do my boys will enjoy it... even if it is Fairies! ;)

Here are some of the new Pirate Fairy dolls, costumes and figures.
$29.99 at Target






In addition to the dolls and costumes, you can also find cute, sassy tween clothing with Tinker Bell images at JC Penney stores and   You can find tanks, dresses, tees and leggings that are available for a limited time.
$30.00 at JCP

$28.00-$158.00 from Le Sportsac

Friday, March 28, 2014

Walt Disney World Freebie Friday: Animation Academy at DHS

This attraction closed in July 2015.  This information is for historical reference only.

At Disney's Hollywood Studios in The Magic of Disney Animation attraction, guests can learn to draw a Disney character led by a Disney trained artist!  The FREE part is that you get to take your drawing home with you!  The classes run about every 30 minutes and classes often fill to capacity.   Check your times guide to see what time the classes end, since often times this closes before the rest of the park.  

TIP: If you want to keep your art from getting wrinkled, consider bringing an empty paper towel roll from home to hold your rolled up artwork.  You can get a bag from the gift shop to protect your art from weather.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Plan for Souvenirs at #Disney

Most families spend a lot of time planning for their trip to Walt Disney World. They work with the Disney web site or a travel agent to plan the perfect vacation. They look at ticket options, room rates, and dining plans/options. One thing many families over look is souvenirs. First time visitors may not realize how easy it is to get “sucked into” the souvenirs at WDW- adults and children alike!

My suggestion is to plan for souvenirs if you are on a budget or money conscious! I could literally spend hundreds of dollars each time I visit if I’m not careful. I’ll share souvenir tips, a list of a few cheaper souvenirs, and some of our families favorite souvenirs too.

Tips for souvenirs:

  • Consider saving money to only be used on souvenirs. 
  • Reward your kids with Disney gift cards found at your local grocery store or drug store or pay allowances with gift cards.
  • Give Disney gift cards as gifts for holidays and birthdays. 
  • While at WDW, make notes (mentally, on a piece of paper or snap a photo with your phone/ camera) of your families favorite souvenirs. Towards the end of your vacation, go back and purchase those “must have” souvenirs instead of buying everything you see the first time you see it! 
  • Early in your vacation, make a visit to Downtown Disney and visit World of Disney. You will find a plethora of Disney souvenirs for everyone here and it will give you a great idea of what you will see at most of the shops in all 4 parks. 
  • The Emporium on Main Street at Magic Kingdom and Mousegears at Epcot are two other great options for finding large amounts of souvenirs. 
  • When you do purchase souvenirs in the parks, you can have them sent back to your resort (if you are staying on property) or have them sent to the front of the park to pick up on your way out. This way you don’t have to lug around your packages all day. 
Cheap and Free souvenirs:
  • Pressed Pennies. For 51 cents, you can have a penny pressed with the image of your favorite park, character, resort or attraction. These machines are located all over all 4 parks, Downtown Disney and the resorts.

  • Buttons. You can get free buttons at Guest Relations at all the parks to celebrate various things: Birthdays, Anniversaries, Family Reunions, Just Married, Just Engaged, First Visit, etc. 
  • Trading Pins. The pins found at all the parks and resorts can be expensive, but they can also be very affordable too. Some families even purchase pins online (sites like ebay) prior to their vacation for cheap. Then they trade these pins with cast members (Disney employees) for ones they like better. 
  • Autographs. You can buy a WDW autograph book or bring one from home and collect autographs from characters throughout your trip. 
  • Maps, napkins, and park tickets can also be fun souvenirs to add to scrapbooks!

  • If you are staying on property, you can save the hotel soap and shampoo as a souvenir! 
  • Another idea is to purchase Disney themed toys, treats and goodies from stores at home prior to your vacation and give them to your kids while at WDW. You can buy Mickey stuffed animals at drug stores or “big box stores” much cheaper than the ones found in the parks. 
My 5 year old sons favorite souvenirs:
  • Anything Star Wars
  • Stuffed animals 
  • Figures of Disney characters 
  • T-shirts 
  • Pirate attire and accessories 
  • Sports “stuff”
My 13 year old sons favorite souvenirs:
  • Anything sports related 
  • Pins 
  • Vinylmation Figures

  • T-shirts 
  • Food- churros, caramel corn, caramel apples, & rice krispy treats 
My husbands favorite souvenirs:
  • anything history related from Epcot, Liberty Square, etc. 
  • clothes (golf shirts, t-shirts, etc) 
  • anything with Mickey and Alabama, Steelers or Red Sox 
  • kitchen gadgets 

My favorite souvenirs:
  • Pressed pennies 
  • Pins 
  • Kitchen gadgets 
  • Clothes 
  • Jewelry 
  • Christmas ornaments 
Hopefully these lists will help you in planning for souvenirs on your next WDW vacation! What do you most look forward to purchasing on your next trip?

What did you write about this week?

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Customer Rules by Lee Cockerell

This review for The Customer Rules by Lee Cockerell is part of a Magical Blogorail sponsored campaign. Copies of the book were received free of charge for a review. Opinions are those of the reviewer and do not represent those of the author.  Your opinion may vary.

Lee and the Boss
Lee and The Boss
The Customer Rules - The 39 Essential Rules for Delivering Sensational Service was written by Lee Cockerell. For 10 years, Mr. Cockerell was the Executive VP of Operations at Walt Disney World. Prior to this, he held executive positions at Hilton Hotels and Mariott. While at Walt Disney World, he created the "Disney Great Leader Strategies" which was used to train and develop the 7000 leaders at Walt Disney World. Now he speaks and teaches about leadership and professional development on behalf of the Disney Institute.

The Customer Rules was amazing. To be honest, I'm not a reader. It usually takes me weeks, or months to read a book. I started reading this book on Friday evening and was finished with it (all 180 pages) by Sunday afternoon! That's huge for me! :)

The Customer Rules is a great book for anyone who works whether that is as an executive, in a small business, or as a mom. This book is an easy read and is very practical. I believe anyone who reads it will be able to apply many of these rules to their business or life immediately. Mr. Cockerell breaks down 39 essential rules into 39 easy to read chapters. Each chapter offers examples, advice and ways to apply the rule.

While I was reading, I continued to think of people I know who could benefit from this book.  I obviously read it from my perspective as a youth minister and saw countless ways these rules could be applied to ministry.  I was underlining paragraphs, folding down pages and commenting in the margins throughout the book.  I believe everyone on staff at my church should read this book!

Some of my favorite rules were:
#4 Don't Get Bored with the Basics.
#5 Ask Yourself, "What Would Mom Do?"
#8 Always Act Like a Professional
#10 Be Your Own Shakespeare
#14 Treat Customers the Way You'd Treat Your Loved Ones
#17 Listen Up
#18 Be A Copycat
#19 Fish Where the Fishermen Ain't
#21 Make Yourself Available
#23 If They Say They Want Horses, Give Them a Motorcar
#38 Keep Doing It Better

There were several sentences and paragraphs throughout the book that were applicable to my life.  I think the paragraph that spoke to me the most was found on page 35 under the "Always Act Like a Professional" rule:
Professionals show up- on time and ready to go.  If a situation demands that they come in early, or stay late, or give up their usual day off- no problem.  They are present and accounted for.  In their interactions with coworkers, the are upbeat and positive. They don't indulge in petty gossip; they don't whine when things don't go the way they wish them to; they don't moan about workplace hassles and snafus.
    I think this is great for everyone in life.  No matter what you are doing or where you are going, be professional, be on time and be ready to go.  Be present, upbeat and positive.  Don't gossip whine or moan.  

    Mr. Cockerell shares great rules for customers, businesses and life in this book.  He also shares some snippets of information about Walt Disney World- did you know the Kilimanjaro Safari drivers use computer simulation to rehearse their spiels?  I thoroughly enjoyed this book and look forward to reading his previous book: Creating Magic - 10 Common Sense Leadership Strategies From A Life At Disney - Based on the principles taught at the World Renowned Disney Institute®.

    The Customer Rules by Lee Cockerell, Former Executive Vice President of Operations for Walt Disney World
    This review of The Customer Rules by Lee Cockerell is part of a Magical Blogorail sponsored campaign.

    Former Executive Vice President of Operations at Walt Disney World Resort, Lee Cockerell, shares his 39 Essential Rules for Delivering Sensational Service in his latest book  The Customer Rules. And if you want more from Lee Cockerell check out his first book Creating The Magic: 10 Common Sense Leadership Strategies from a Life at Disney.

    Purchase the Book Here 

    Enter to Win a Signed Copy of Your Own

    If you would like a signed copy of Lee Cockerell's The Customer Rules please enter to win our giveaway below.  We will be giving away two signed copies. Please click here if the entry widget is not shown below.

    Keeping Cool at Walt Disney World in Summer

    Have you ever been to Walt Disney World during the summer?  I have one word for you... HOT!  We spent a few days at the world in July of 2012.  I was 32 weeks pregnant which made it feel even 50 degrees hotter!  I learned a lot on that trip though!  Here are five things you may want to consider packing to help you endure the Florida summer heat!

    #5. Sunglasses- During the summer, sunglasses (or at least a hat with a wide brim/ bill) are a MUST!  The Florida sun can be brutal when there is no cloud coverage.  Even when it's not hot, sunglasses are nice to protect your eyes.  But, you should probably take them off from time to time to keep from getting "Raccoon Eyes!" 

    #4. Sunscreen- Even when it's not summer, you should wear sunscreen daily.   But in the summer, when you are sweating, you need to bring the sunscreen with you into the parks so you can reapply.  Sunburn + Touring the Parks= Not Fun!

    #3. Washcloth- We used these during our entire trip in July.  We didn't actually pack these, we bought them in the gift shop.  We would wet the washcloths in the bathrooms to wipe off our brow or wrap around our necks.  These were a lifesaver!  If you travel with a small cooler containing an ice pack you can store the wash clothes in there and when you pull them out they are nice and cool.

    #2. Ponchos- These are needed all year in Florida, but on the hot days, it's nice to have a poncho to keep you dry during the summer showers.  After the rain, it's more humid outside and if it's humid and you are wet, you can feel quite miserable!

    #1. Small Fan- Anytime it’s hot, a fan is nice to have.  We had small keychain size fans clipped on our backpack, but you can find larger fans attached to spray bottles at many stores that will help cool you off even more! :)

    How do you keep cool on hot summer days at Walt Disney World?  

    Monday, March 24, 2014

    Fort Wilderness Campground at Walt Disney World Review

    image from
    One of the things on my bucket list is to camp at Fort Wilderness.  This may be a bit difficult though because my husband refuses to camp. :(  I grew up camping and have amazing family memories from different campgrounds.  I love the outdoors, sleeping under the stars, being able to listen to the crickets and wildlife as I lay in my sleeping bag, playing with the sticks and stones in nature and so on.  Camping was always so relaxing and fun for us.  

    Since my experiences at Fort Wilderness only involve food, shows and movies, I can't properly share any experience about camping there!  But, my friend Larry from "Dis Is How We Do It" has had the privilege of camping at Fort Wilderness, so I'm going to let him share! Thanks Larry!

    So you are thinking about a vacation to Disney World. You’ve heard about the various resorts and while they all sound amazing, you and your family really enjoy a more relaxed pace of the great outdoors. Have you considered a visit to Fort Wilderness? If you are a camping family, it may provide you with an option that makes a dream vacation to Disney World a reality for you.

    My name is Larry Opiela and I have been going to Disney World since I stayed at Fort Wilderness in the 70’s. Now I am a travel agent helping other families plan their magical vacations and still a Disney guest multiple times each year.
    image from
    While Fort Wilderness may not be the perfect choice for everyone, it does provide a lot of options for families that enjoy the outdoors. Campsites and cabins provide a little more space than a traditional resort room. A typical campsite may be used for up to 10 people. A campsite for a tent or popup camper may be rented for as little as $49.00 per day and up to $81.00 for a Premium Campsite that will hold a unit up to 45 feet long. Seasonal pricing may make the price higher for your visit, but you should always plan to make reservations in advance for your stay.

    Campsites are secluded for privacy with dividing plants and trees between each of the sites. Sites are also paved for convenience. Sites are equipped with a charcoal grill as well as running water, electricity and cable TV hookup. Wi-Fi connection is available at the Meadow Trading Post.
    image from
    The campground is arranged in a variety of smaller circular camping areas so that within the large campground, you are never far from a comfort station and bus transportation. The bus transportation is available to take you to anywhere within the campground including the trading post, the marina, the swimming pools, transportation to the theme parks, etc. The bus typically stops at the entrance to each camp loop and runs continuously throughout the day approximately every 15 minutes. If you desire, there are also golf carts available to rent while you are there or you are welcome to bring your own. Vehicular traffic within the campground is limited for safety. While you can drive to your site, you are traveling outside the loop.

    Comfort stations at Fort Wilderness are among the best that I have ever experienced in a campground. The facilities are all tiled and well maintained. As with most places at Disney World, it is difficult to find the facilities in need of attention. There are multiple showers and plenty of hot water to go around.
    image from
    The Meadow Trading Post is available for supplies and souvenirs. You also have a wide variety of recreation options within the campground. There are multiple swimming pools. Basketball and volleyball courts are also available. Do you enjoy horses? The Tri Circle (Reference to the Hidden Mickey in the Brand) Ranch is available for horseback riding, pony rides, wagon rides and at certain times of the year, sleigh rides. If Robin Hood is your favorite character, you may want to check out the archery range. Are water sports more your thing? There are a variety of options to rent including canoes, kayaks, motor boats and more. If that is not enough, there are playgrounds, bike rentals, nature trails, jogging trails and more to keep you busy. There is a daily campfire and movie under the stars featuring a different Disney favorite daily.

    Dining options? You bet. The Trails End Buffet is there at Pioneer Hall along with Crockett’s Tavern. You also have a couple of great dinner shows in the Hoop Dee Doo Review and Mickey’s Backyard BBQ.

    Outside of Pioneer Hall is the beach and marina area. This area also has the water shuttle to the Magic Kingdom and Wilderness Lodge. This area is a lot of fun during the day, but also a great area to view the Electric Water Pageant and the Wishes Fireworks display from the Magic Kingdom. Times for these will vary seasonally and should be checked to confirm.

    If you like the sound of Fort Wilderness, but camping is outside of your comfort zone, there are cabins available for your stay as well. These feature a kitchen along with sleeping space for 6. The cabins are also a nice option for families who would have to reserve multiple rooms in a traditional resort to fit the whole family comfortably.

    As you can see, Fort Wilderness is more than just a campground. It is part of a magical vacation at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida. If you would like to explore the possibility of a vacation at Fort Wilderness or another resort, please feel free to email me at or to visit my Facebook page at

    Thanks for reading this and I look forward to your feedback,

    Travel Agent
    Magical Vacations by Me

    Friday, March 21, 2014

    Walt Disney World Freebie Friday: Chip & Dale Sing A Long

    image from
    I love Free things at Walt Disney World!  I also love meeting the characters.  When I heard that guests could meet Chip and Dale for free, without going into a park, I didn't believe it!  But, I found that it in fact is true!  

    Head to Fort Wilderness near the Meadow Trading Post.  Any guest can enjoy a night of s'mores, sing along songs and a visit from Chip and Dale.   A "cowboy" will come out with his or her guitar and lead the group in a sing a long.  We sang familiar Disney and children's songs such as BINGO and Hokey Pokey along with It's A Small World.  After the singing, it was time for Chip and Dale to appear!  They came out, mingled with the crowd, posed for pictures and signed autographs.  You can read more about my experience here.

    It was a lot of fun and following our visit with Chip and Dale, we stayed to watch a free outdoor movie under the stars!  You can find a movie schedule at The Mouse for Less.

    Thursday, March 20, 2014

    Walt Disney World: My Home Away From Home

    image from
    When asked me to write about my home away from home, it was obvious what I was going to write about... Disney.  More specifically, Walt Disney World.  

    My first trip to "the world" was in 1983.  At that time Walt Disney World only consisted of Magic Kingdom and Epcot.  I was too young to appreciate Epcot, so Magic Kingdom was my favorite.  I could meet my favorite Disney friends, ride attractions featuring my favorite characters and totally immerse myself in fantasy at this park.  It was fabulous!  Not a care in the world!
    1983                                                           1991

    Several years passed and new parks opened.  While I loved and still love Animal Kingdom and MGM Hollywood Studios, there was just something special about Magic Kingdom.  I felt drawn to this park.  I don't know if it was the charm of Main Street USA, the excitement of Tomorrowland or the make believe of Fantasyland, but it just felt right.  It was where I belonged.  

    2002                                                              2003

    2006                                                           2008

    2008                                                    2010

    After about 15 trips to Walt Disney World, I decided I couldn't get enough of it!  I knew with our growing family, full time jobs and finances, I couldn't get to my "home away from home" whenever I wanted.   I had to find a way to bring this "home away from home" to my actual home!  That's when this blog, A Disney Mom's Thoughts, was born.  On March 20, 2010, I was able to bring my love of Disney into my home on a daily basis!  After almost 1,150 posts, I still get just as excited about talking to others about Disney as I did when I walked down Main Street USA for the first time in 1983!  

    For me, there is something truly magical about the Magic Kingdom and Walt Disney World as a whole.  The way Imagineers have created a place where you can literally leave your worries behind and only focus on your family and the memories you are making is unbelievable.  When I'm at Walt Disney World, I honestly don't think about what's going on in the outside world.  I don't worry about what is going on at home or at the office.  All I can think about is the here and now.  I'm able to focus 100% on my kids and my husband and soak in the excitement.  I can't do that anywhere else.  When I'm other places, I still think about home, work, stressors, finances, my to do list, etc.  But not at Disney.  I can totally relax and feel at ease, at home.


        February, 2012

    July, 2012

    Right now we are planning our 20th Disney vacation.  There is so much excitement as we prepare to take Big E for the first time, not in utero! :)  I can't wait to share with him my "Home away from Home!"  I know C-man will be able to show him the ropes and all of us will make even more memories at our special place.  

    Until then, I am counting the days until...

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