Tag - Disney

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Disney Dream – ing
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Passporter’s Walt Disney World guidebook and giveaway
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A New Era
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A Few Magical Moments
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Rescue At Sea
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Disney Cruise 2
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D is for
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Mad About the Mouse
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Disneyland Never Gets Old
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Really Didn’t See This Coming

Disney Dream – ing

Ok, I admit it.  Part of the reason blogging has been light around here is that we took off on a Disney Cruise at the end of September.  It was Disney Vacation Club members-only cruise on the Dream, with two stops at Castaway Cay and a day at sea.

Saying it was fun is an understatement.  To sum it up, I’ve been having to make my own bed and cook my own food since we got back and I’m very sad about that.  Boo had a blast in the teen clubs.  Pumpkin Girl critiqued all the dancing in the shows (nicely).  Crush (the turtle from “Finding Nemo”) nicknamed Bip “Niko”.  Pipsqueak wandered off with Stitch.  We snorkled with sting rays and sang “It’s a Small World” with Richard Sherman.  We got to preview “Toy Story of Terror” and see a presentation on the making of “Saving Mr. Banks”.  I think “amazing” might just cover it.

 

Castaway Cay

AquaDuck BooBirthday  BirthdayPinInnerTubeBoys InnerTubes SandCastle SplashZone WalkingOffWithStitchWaterTrikes

 

Passporter’s Walt Disney World guidebook and giveaway

*note: The giveaway is over and the winners have been notified*

So…you’re going to Walt Disney World! A trip of a lifetime, right? An expensive trip of a lifetime! You want to get the most out of this vacation, spending your money wisely while enjoying all that Disney has to offer.

You do a search for Disney planning and you are instantly overwhelmed by the choices. What the heck is an ADR? What is a touring plan? Are these paid planning sites worth it? Who has the time to cull all of the tips out there into one cohesive document?

You slowly step away from the computer and wonder if this whole Disney vacation is going to be entirely too stressful even just to plan.

I get that. PassPorterCoverIt can be stressful. Disney is expensive. And crowded. And hot. But there is help. (Well, not so much for the heat.) Let me introduce to you Passporter. Passporter is the Ultimate Disney Planning Guide. If you’re like me and prefer to sit down with a book, highlighter and sticky-note flags, you will love Passporter. Passporter has planning guides for Walt Disney World, the Disney Cruise Line and Disneyland. This week I am focusing on their WDW guide.

Passporter’s Walt Disney World guide takes you through everything you need to know to plan this trip of a lifetime. They review all of the on-site hotels and resorts, all the rides, all the restaurants. They walk you through all the dining reservations you may need. They include touring plans of all the parks and explain why you even need them. If you are still in the pre-planning stages of your trip, they have a crowd chart to help you decide when you might want to go. (And you know what, I take it back about the heat.  There is a chart of average temps in Orlando by month.)PassPorterResort

We are Disney People, but we go mostly to Disneyland. So when we were started planning our first trip to WDW in 2007, I was pretty clueless. I turned to Passporter’s Walt Disney World to plan our whole trip. We went with my cousin and his family – four adults and 5 children who ranged in age from 2 to 9. Using the advice in the Passporter guide, we were able to plan an enjoyable vacation for everyone.  Even after we had arrived, we decided to try a character meal and out came my Passporter to help us decide which one.
PassPorterRestaurant

What else can you possibly need? Full color pages? Got ’em. Worksheets for your notes and travel details? Yep. Fold-out maps of each park? Oh yeah! Tips for teens? Tips for tweens? Tips for kids and toddlers? But of course! Not only that, these tips are for kids, by kids!
PassPorterRides

It really can’t get any better, can it? How about built-in folders (called PassPockets) for you to store tickets, receipts and other paper souvenirs! And each folder has space for you to log your day, confirmation numbers, money spent and thoughts for your next trip.
PassPocket

Can you see why I love Passporter guides?

I have 3, count them THREE, WDW Passporter guides (spiral bound) to give away. These guides are the 2013 version, which have been expanded for use all through 2014.  There will be 3 winners, each will receive one book.

You can find the easy to use entry form at the bottom of this post.

Contest will run from June 20, 2013 until June 26, 2013 at 11:59 PM, MDT.  Winners will be notified by email and have until June 30 to provide me with a mailing address or an alternate winner will be chosen.

Oh, and Passporter provided me three free copies of their Walt Disney World guide book in return for this review.

You can visit the PassPorter.com site where you will find a whole community of  friendly people who can answer your questions as you plan your trip.  You can also check out all the other books that PassPorter publishes, most of which are also available as e-books.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

A New Era

We went to Disnyland last year as our big vacation. Boo was 13 and Pumpkin Girl was 11, so we did something a little different. We let them go off on their own. We had rules they needed to follow, including not leaving the park and checking in either physically or by phone. We gave them gift cards to use as spending money, but if they wanted us to pay for food, they needed to link up with us for meals.

For several months beforehand, they studied a Disneyland guidebook and made their plans. They had some sort of scheme for riding all their favorite rides and when the day came, off they went!

Now, you have to know that the two of them get along very well. They also behave well in public and have thus far proven to be trustworthy and reliable. They also understood that no matter what, they were to stay together. Even if they got angry, they both needed to come find us together. As it turned out, they had a grand ol’ time.

And they came back with funny stories.

They rode the Jungle Cruise with a mom who was very concerned about them. When the ride was over, she held back her husband so Boo and Pumpkin could get off the boat first. Her husband asked her, “So,why are we waiting for them?” And she replied, “well, I just don’t know where their parents are!” Boo and Pumpkin Girl, to their credit, were polite to her.

For the record, Disney’s own policy is that you must be 7 years old to ride alone and to escort someone younger, you must be 14.

Another time they were walking along wearing these hats:

Who should come walking up behind them, but the Mad Hatter and Alice. The Mad Hatter said to them, “Congratulations”. And turning to Alice he says, “They got married, you know!” Which of course, set Boo off, sputtering indignantly, just like Donald Duck.

Meanwhile, Phil and I enjoyed spending time with just Bip and Pipqueak, riding the slower rides and taking a more leisurely pace. We don’t often spend time with just our younger boys and we enjoyed it very much.


This was Pipsqueak’s first visit to Disneyland.  He wasn’t quite sure what to think of the whole thing.

We were happy to give the older two kids a chance to spread their wings, make their own decisions and act like young adults. They appreciated the opportunity, too.  It’s a whole new era in Disneyland adventures!

A Few Magical Moments

I still haven’t figured out how to sum up a Disney Cruise in just a couple of posts. I could talk and talk, but I’d probably bore you. So I’ll show you a ton of pictures instead. I hope you don’t mind. I think I’ll split the pictures up into a couple of different posts, though. And now I’m just kind of babbling to make the text line up nicely with that picture on the left. It’s one of the ship’s stacks.

Here’s Bip, with his friends Patches and Whee, looking out of the porthole in our room.

We enjoyed having a porthole this time around. Some of the things we saw (besides the Cubans) included…

this neat boat as the sun set over Key West.

And Mexico…

Every night after dinner we attended the show. Sometimes it was a musical, as only Disney can do them. Other nights it was a variety show. One night it was movie night and we saw “Tangled” in 3D. We hadn’t seen it yet, so we were excited about that. We loved it! Then after the show we’d usually head off to bed. Waiting for us was a towel animal sitting on our bed.


Or just hanging around.

Our room attendant often staged the children’s stuffed animals, too.

Of course, most of the magic happened outside of our room. There were plenty of opportunities to meet our favorite Disney characters, get their autographs and have pictures taken. Everyone has the opportunity to attend one character breakfast during the cruise. Here’s the children with Chip.

Other characters at breakfast were Mickey, Pluto, Goofy and Dale.

The waiters kept us entertained by making hats out of the napkins.

But the best moments happened during chance encounters around the ship. One of our favorite memories from our first cruise was finding Belle sitting and reading by herself in a quiet corner of the ship. This time we found her just walking along. Pumpkin Girl and I were headed to the gift store when we found her. She stopped to chat with Pumpkin, and posed for a picture.

Bip and Philip were meeting up with us at the store, and I was thinking it was too bad they’d missed Belle, when Bip came running in, telling me that Belle was right there in the hallway! She spent a long time talking with him and showed him the book she’d been reading.

He was completely enchanted.

Rescue At Sea

Our first full day on the Disney Cruise was a half day at sea and a half day at Key West. Our progress was interrupted mid-morning by an announcement that we had altered our course to intercept a vessel that was in distress.

Not long after that announcement, a second one was made that we had reached the vessel, which could be viewed off the port side, and we’d be waiting there until the US Coast Guard could arrive.

Conveniently, our room was located on the port side and we had a nice porthole. We could easily see the vessel and my first thought was, “Blog fodder!” and I took some pictures. The vessel – it was clearly not a boat- was very close to our room, so I got good pictures. When I zoomed in and showed the pictures to Phil, he immediately said they were Cuban refugees.

We waited there for about 15 minutes until the Coast Guard arrived. While they waited, the men occasionally waved at our ship. Boo, who was up on the highest deck watching from outside, said that there was a number of people up there with him, including a number of the ship’s officers. We were speculating about what the Cubans were thinking, floating out there in ocean. They were almost certainly despairing of reaching land safely, when out from the horizon comes Mickey Mouse himself. God bless America!

But it was Coast Guard that came to the actual rescue.

The refugees were given life vests.

Then they boarded the Coast Guard boat.

Notice the guy on the far left is getting patted down and that all the Coasties have gloves on.

Take a good look at this picture (click on any of them to get a better look). A square, tarp covered vessel, small rudder, some kind of engine. Think of the desperation that prompted them to this. The secret planning, the willingness to leave everything behind.

In the end though, the Cubans were repatriated. In fact, they made it home before we did.

Posted on Thursday, 02.10.11

The U.S. Coast Guard repatriated 30 Cuban migrants this week, including five men spotted on a raft on Sunday by the Disney Magic cruise ship. The men were found about 21 miles southeast of Key West. A small Coast Guard crew boat picked up the refugees to transport them to a larger cutter for repatriation. The other Cuban refugees were picked up in separate incidents in groups of seven, 15, two and one. All the Cubans were returned to Bahias de Cabañas.

In addition, five Haitian migrants were returned to Haiti.

“The U.S. Coast Guard policy is to deter and respond to dangerous, disorderly and illegal maritime migration by intercepting vessels that pursue perilous and illegal voyages,’’ said Capt. Steven Banks, Seventh Coast Guard District chief of enforcement, in a prepared statement. “We continue to maintain a robust presence of cutters and aircraft throughout the Caribbean to respond to illegal migration and migrant smuggling activities.”

Once aboard a Coast Guard cutter, migrants are provided food, water, shelter and basic medical care.

Miami Herald Staff

Disney Cruise 2

How to capture the essence of a Disney Cruise in just a few blog posts? I don’t think it’s possible. I shall try.

This was our second Disney Cruise so we were a little less excitable when we arrived at Port Canaveral. Just a little. After handing over our bazillion pieces of luggage to the porter, and parking the RV, we entered the terminal. As you’d expect from Disney, their terminal is fun and fully themed. On the floor is a mosaic of the Caribbean and Bahamas, including a little spot to indicate their private island, Castaway Cay.

After we checked in – in our special line for members of the Castaway Club (return cruisers), and received our special Castaway Club lanyards, Phil got in line with the children to take pictures with Minnie Mouse. I nursed Pipsqueak on a comfy chair. Phil then got Pumpkin Girl and Bip their electronic bracelets for the kids clubs, we changed Pipsqueak’s diaper and then it was time to board.

Boarding a Disney ship is so much fun! First, they corral your family to take a group picture and then you prepare to board. They ask your family’s name and announce you as you walk in.

“Disney Magic, please welcome back the Mac and Cheese family!”

And several crew members applaud as you walk on. The lobby is fabulous and you’re completely in awe. A crew member steps up to tell you all you need to know about lunch, when your room will be ready and other details of the day.

We ate lunch at the buffet and to my delight, I found the much loved Disney strawberry soup. I love this soup. I had some every time I found it in the lunch buffet. It’s cold and sweet and creamy and…here, my online friend Tinker Kell gave me a link to the recipe. I saw the recipe in a Disney cookbook they were selling on board, it is pretty much the same. Disney’s Strawberry Soup

We cruised with my parents this time, but they were not with us when we boarded. I knew about what time they should be arriving, so we headed down to see if we could find them. We were standing near to where passengers were boarding and after not even 5 minutes, we saw them. We cheered when they were announced and hugs were exchanged all around.

Lifeboat drill, then the sail away party. We danced and sang with our favorite characters until it was time to count down.

And then the ship’s horn sounded. Not just any horn, of course. It plays the opening line to “When You Wish Upon A Star”.

That moment – when the ship horn sounds – is magic. All the dreaming and planning and hoping and praying have resulted in this. Magic.

We waved to the staff at the terminal, who waved back with giant Mickey gloves. We were off!

Our dinner the first night was in the restaurant called Parrot Cay, a Caribbean themed restaurant. On the menu – my most favorite food from our last cruise, cold Mango Papaya soup. I got the recipe from the chef last time and this time I took a picture to go with it.

The day ended with a fun show before we headed off to bed.

Next time – a rescue at sea!

D is for

DORK!
I totally forgot that Monday we were supposed to share our D pictures! Such a dork. So I should totally put a picture of me here, right?

Not so much. How about I give you a little preview of what our vacation was all about?

D is for Disney Cruise!

Isn’t this a great picture? I took this while riding a tender to Grand Cayman. Because of the coral reefs around the islands, cruise ships can’t dock. So they drop anchor and those going ashore ride little boats back and forth. Makes for beautiful pictures.

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You know the deal – if you have a D picture, leave a link in the comments back to this post. Even if you haven’t participated yet, now is a good time to jump right in!

Mad About the Mouse

We’re a little crazy for Disney around here.  That’s putting it mildly.

It seems that everywhere you look in our house, you can find that iconic Mouse in red, black and yellow.

rsz_dsc02313On the floor near the boys’ room.

rsz_dsc02314Waiting to play.

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rsz_dsc02330In the kitchen.

mickey-watchOn my wrist.

So that after awhile, we start seeing Mickey everywhere!

mickey-carDoesn’t this car look suspiciously familiar?  Go ahead, scroll up to my watch…and back to the car.  You see it, too!

I’d say we need help, but we refuse to admit that we have a problem.

But if you’d like to stage an intervention, may I suggest holding it at the Disneyland Hotel?

(And let’s not even mention what’s going on in the bathroom…)
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Disneyland Never Gets Old

Our impromptu trip to Disneyland was success.  We were able to pull it off because of the military appreciation tickets that Disney was offering, by staying at the Disneyland Hotel for free with our vacation club points and getting good air fare.  It all just came together like it was meant to be.

We were able to spend a whole day with my grandparents and nuclear-extended family (as opposed to the whole, entire clan). Pumpkin Girl just loves my grandparents house – she says she feels cozy there.  The boys love it, too.  It’s hard not to have fun when you are surrounded by love! The next day, my cousin April and her son joined us at Disneyland, which was a nice treat for all the kids.

I won’t bore you with all the details, since we seem to have a Disney trip every year.  But here are some of the highlights:

Boo rode on the Haunted Mansion, with his eyes open this time.

I went on the Matterhorn for the first time in years.  I’ve been pregnant during almost every trip, except the last one and that time the Matterhorn was closed.

In an attempt to curb the souvenir buying frenzy this year, we limited the children to 2 souvenirs each.  We suggested that they keep lists during the week of the things they saw and we’d come back later to buy their top 2 selections.  This worked wonderfully for Pumpkin Girl who divided her list into three parts, ranked by how much she wanted each one.  The plan totally backfired on me when I told Bip to put the stuffed Eve (from Wall E) on his list, and when he talked about it constantly and was very, very sure that that was something he wanted, returned to buy it…and it was sold out.  As in, the whole darn park was out.  I spent 3 days looking in every darn store, asking  cast members, all in vain.  We were successful in finding her before we left, so a catastrophe was averted.
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Boo coolly turned down Jedi Training Academy again this year, stating matter of factly that he was already a trained Jedi.  Pumpkin Girl, however, wanted to attend.  When the Jedi master began choosing Padawans, I told her to jump up and down and wave both her arms and make lots of noise.  She was chosen, trained and then battled  Darth Vader. He found her lack of pants faith disturbing.  She defeated him anyway.  She’s fierce.
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We happened to be at the right place at the right time when the Monorail arrived and asked to ride in the rear compartment.  These private compartments are bigger now, so our whole family fit and we got an amazing view on our way into the park.
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Hopefully, this trip will give us our Disney fix for a while.  Though I hear another cruise is in the plans…

Really Didn’t See This Coming

So…Thursday night our conversation turned to Disneyland and Philip said, “We should go!”

Friday morning we booked the hotel, flights and picked up the military appreciation tickets at the local Army base.

And as I type it is Saturday night and I’m in the Disneyland Hotel, ready to start enjoy our impromtu vacation.

We’re probably crazy, but we’re enjoying ourselves.  I’ll see you when we get back home…

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