It’s time to make the Mousekeeping envelopes!

08/14/2014 - Leave a Response

DSC00504-sting ray towels

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – Mousekeeping is awesome! It’s so nice to come “home” from the parks each night to a tidy room, freshly restocked toiletries and kitchenette supplies, and ~ Disney bonus! ~ towel animals. Plus, if you bring a few stuffed animal friends along for the trip (or pick some up as souvenirs), who knows what kind of hijinks (with a little help from Mousekeeping) they might get up to while you’re gone all day!

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For all that effort, your Mousekeepers deserve a little something special. Why not decorate a few envelopes in which to place their tips? It’s a fun pre-trip project, helps show your appreciation, and lets your Mousekeepers know that, yes, this tip is most definitely for them.

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Do a little research before you go to find out the going rate, have fun making up your envelopes, and leave one out in your room each morning before you head for the parks. (Someone different may make up your room each day, and you don’t want to leave anyone out!) Spread the Mousekeeping love!

My Disney packing list

08/10/2014 - 4 Responses

With our next trip fast approaching, it’s time to think about packing. It’s not time to pack, mind you, just time to strategize. With three boys, I have a lot to think about before I can actually put stuff in bags. I have to make sure that everyone’s favorite clothing items are clean and ready to pack, which means taking those items out of rotation a few days ahead of time. I have to be certain that all toiletries are sufficient. (They tend to wait until they’re actually out of deodorant or toothpaste or whatever before telling me they need more. A simple “I’m getting low on <insert toiletry here>” would be most helpful.) And this year, I have to make sure our costumes for the Villains Unleashed event are good to go. There’s no way I can wing it. I need a list.

There are tons of printable packing lists out there. I read through lots of them, gave a significant amount of thought as to how to pack as little as possible and still take everything we need, and came up with my own list. Let me repeat: I try to pack as little as possible. I don’t like to lug tons of stuff around “just in case.” I’d rather pick up a random item at an exorbitant Disney price than pack everything we might need under every possible permutation of what could possibly occur while we’re there. All that to say…here’s my list:

Suitcases (I pack these for the whole fam):

  • outfits for # of days you will be there (Note: with kids who are old enough to pick their own clothes, you must stress, “bring me (x number of) outfits INCLUDING socks and underwear”).
  • pajamas (Note: with kids who are old enough to pick out the pj’s they want to bring, you must stress, “bring me CLEAN pajamas”).
  • swimsuits
  • flip flops
  • toiletries
  • sunscreen
  • breakfast food (We eat a light breakfast in the room while simultaneously getting ready to hit the parks.)
  • cups for holding toothbrushes (Disney’s Value resorts don’t give you actual glass drinking glasses, and the plastic cups are too flimsy to make adequate toothbrush holders.)
  • waist bag (In case the boys want to go off on their own for a while, this gives them a way to hold a cell phone, hand sanitizer, etc.)
  • Mousekeeping envelopes (For more info, see this post.)

Carry-on (this is for me; everyone else does what they want):

  • MagicBands
  • light jacket (I get cold on planes.)
  • shorts (If I’m traveling to FL when it’s warm there and cold here in NY).
  • umbrella
  • twizzlers (Our ear-popping treatment of choice.)
  • 3 each: gallon bags, quart bags, sandwich bags, snack bags (These just always seem to come in handy.)
  • Kindle (Loaded with something awesome.)
  • quart bag with travel size: sunscreen, hand sanitizer, hand lotion
  • quart bag with any necessary meds
  • Disney packet (You know,  that booklet they send you with your Magical Express vouchers, etc.)
  • Boarding passes
  • Disney purse: phone & charger, sunglasses, band-aids, Tums, Dramamine, ID, credit card, cash for tipping, chapstick, hair scrunchie, oil absorbing sheets. And, of course, my tiara.
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All I really need :)

This year, we’re adding a brand new, hard-sided suitcase that we bought specifically to transport our Villains Unleashed costumes. Normally, however, we can get by with three or four suitcases for the five of us.

So, what do you pack? Are you an over-packer or a lean, mean packing machine? And how far ahead to you do it?

Fall/Winter 2014 room discount released

07/23/2014 - Leave a Response

Yup, I know I said I wouldn’t be posting much this summer, but I wanted to share Disney World’s latest Special Offer with you. Save up to 30% (depending on resort level) on rooms at WDW hotels. This offer is for most nights 10/4/14 – 11/25/14 and 11/29/14 – 12/23/14. The offer has to be booked by 10/3/14.

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Remember… the time frame for this offer overlaps with the Free Disney Dining Plan special offer previously announced, so be sure to figure out which deal will save you more. Happy planning!

My next Disney to-do list

07/20/2014 - 2 Responses

As our next WDW trip approaches, I’ve started thinking about the things I’d like to do while there. This time, we will be touring as a group of nine. With so many people along for the fun, I realize the chances are slim that I’ll get to experience everything on my list. But I’ll give it my best try!

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So, here we go! These are some things that I’ve either never done before, or did so long ago that I barely remember them:

Magic Kingdom

-       Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

-       Festival of Fantasy parade

-       Cinderella’s Royal Table

Epcot

-       American Adventure

-       Voices of Liberty

DHS

-       Butterfinger cupcake at Starring Rolls

-       Animation Academy

Animal Kingdom

-       spiked Dole Whip at Tamu Tamu

-       Pangani Forest Trail

-       Festival of the Lion King

-       Finding Nemo

-       Rafiki’s Planet Watch

Well, there you have it! How many do you think I’ll get to? What’s on your next Disney to-do list?

 

What time is it? Summertime!

06/23/2014 - 5 Responses

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With the arrival of summer, my posts will likely be fewer and farther between. The boys and I have lots of fun things planned for this summer – including a trip to Disney World – yay!! So I’d like to take a moment to say thank you to all who have followed along with my Disney ramblings. Your comments, kindness, and friendship are much appreciated!

And with that, I leave you with my favorite summer anthem. From Disney’s High School Musical 2, here’s the video for What Time Is It:

Have a great summer, everyone!

Disney food for the whole family

06/18/2014 - 2 Responses

You may have noticed that I do a lot of food-related posts. No, I’m not trying to be The Disney Food Blog Jr. (Though I do highly recommend that site for all kinds of information about Disney World food.) It’s just that I bring a unique set of skills to the table, so to speak. You see, I live at a crossroads between picky eaters (having three boys who are all picky in different ways) and a foodie (my husband, who is an advertising photographer specializing in food). Being surrounded by gourmet delights on a daily basis, my husband goes for the good stuff. My kids, being kids, go for the kid stuff. At home, I customize their meals as much as possible without driving myself crazy. On vacation, I try to find places that satisfy us all so we can spend more time together as a family. That isn’t always easy, and we sometimes end up going in different directions.

At Disney World, some of the places that all five of us enjoy are:

- Casey’s Corner (Magic Kingdom): With nachos, hot dogs, corn dog nuggets, and specialty hot dogs, there is something for each of us here.

BBQ Slaw Dog at Casey's Corner. Yum!

BBQ Slaw Dog at Casey’s Corner. Yum!

- Columbia Harbour House (Magic Kingdom): Specialty sandwiches, shrimp, fish, chicken nuggets, and more – all in a relaxing atmosphere.

- Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Café (Magic Kingdom): This huge counter service restaurant requires a bit of strategy as the different “bays” serve different items. There is some crossover, though, so check it out before you get in line. With things like barbecue pork sandwiches, grilled chicken sandwiches, rotisserie chicken, turkey sandwiches, chicken nuggets, hot dogs, cheeseburgers, salads, vegetarian items, and more, we can all find something that appeals. And with the toppings bar, my foodie husband can turn his sandwich into a masterpiece!

- Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Café (Magic Kingdom): Burgers (including a veggie burger), barbecue pork sandwiches, chili-cheese fries, and salads are the staples here.

- La Cantina de San Angel (Epcot): This counter service restaurant in the Mexico Pavilion is a favorite of ours. The tacos, empanadas, and nachos are our mainstays. For less adventurous eaters, there are chicken tenders on the kids menu.

With Disney's big portions, we can usually split 4 meals between the 5 of us. Photo courtesy of 2eat2drink - check it out!

With Disney’s big portions, we can usually split 4 meals between the 5 of us. Photo courtesy of 2eat2drink and used with permission.

- Sunshine Seasons (Epcot): Located in the Land Pavilion, this counter service place has a nice variety of healthier options. Check out the menu to see what I mean.

- ABC Commissary (Hollywood Studios): With salads, burgers, seafood, and more, this is a quick stop we all enjoy.

- Backlot Express (Hollywood Studios): Burgers, hot dogs, specialty sandwiches, and chicken nuggets make this place a crowd-pleaser.

- Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater (Hollywood Studios): Yes, this is the first table-service restaurant on my list. When the five of us go to Disney World, we tend to be in too much of a hurry to do many sit-down restaurants. But…we love this one! Specialty sandwiches, burgers, pasta, steak, and ribs – all while watching clips from “B” movies in a drive-in like setting. Pure awesomeness!

The Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater.

The Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater

- Flame Tree Barbecue (Animal Kingdom): Ribs, chicken, pork, turkey legs, yum!

- Tusker House (Animal Kingdom): The second table service restaurant on my list, this is a buffet that features character dining during breakfast and lunch. There’s a variety of African and American fare on the buffet, so everyone is sure to be well-fed. Plus, the character interaction is fantastic! This is the place where Goofy refused to leave our table until I got up and gave him a hug. :)

tusker house3

- Chef Mickey’s (the Contemporary Resort): This buffet is the only place on my list that isn’t in one of the parks. We love the wide variety of food and the great character interaction here!

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Disney World has TONS of great dining options, but these work best for our big family (and our varied tastes). What Disney restaurants work well for your family?

Monsieur Paul – fine French cuisine at Epcot

06/11/2014 - 6 Responses

What was once called “Bistro de Paris” is now known as Monsieur Paul, an elegant but welcoming restaurant in Epcot’s France Pavilion. Located above Les Chefs de France, it has a quieter, more intimate vibe. Perfect for a date night!

Even the staircase is elegant.

Even the staircase is elegant.

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The elegance continues upstairs.

We started with the raviole d’escargots with a parsley cream sauce. So good!

Raviole d'escargots

Raviole d’escargots

For our entrees, my husband had the scallops, while I had the duck. Both were melt-in-your-mouth delicious!

The delectable duck.

The delectable duck

While enjoying our meal, we were able to catch glimpses of IllumiNations through the windows across the room. If you’ve never seen this fireworks show, it’s definitely one to check out.

Of course, we couldn’t leave without dessert. Since we were both getting rather full (the portions were much bigger than we expected), we opted for the relatively light meringue with vanilla ice cream, raspberry sorbet, and Chantilly cream. Magnifique!

monsieur paul dessert

Cinderella with a twist

06/09/2014 - 2 Responses

Hi Disney friends! I don’t usually talk about my novels on this blog (though you can check them out here if you want to!), but a writer friend of mine has a new book out that I think you might enjoy. Mary Waibel writes “twisted fairy tales,” taking classics and putting a newer, more modern spin on them. I’ve read two of her Young Adult novels so far, and thoroughly enjoyed them both! They’re fun, quick reads with a dash of sweet romance. Since Mary’s latest book is a twist on Cinderella, I thought it would be a good topic for this blog. Seeing as it just came out today, I haven’t read The Mystery Prince yet, but am looking forward to it!

The Mystery Prince 300dpi

You can find The Mystery Prince on Amazon. Right now, it’s on sale for just $0.99. I’d better go grab my eCopy!

Tutto Gusto Wine Cellar – delizioso!

06/03/2014 - Leave a Response

We popped into Tutto Gusto, a lounge at Epcot’s Italy Pavilion, for a light supper one evening. The ambiance was cozy and inviting, the Prosecco was lovely, and the food was delizioso! Seated at a table by the bar, my eye was drawn to the cool light fixtures made out of wine bottles.

tutto gusto lights

Along with a refreshing glass of Prosecco, we had La Serenissima. This plate included semi-soft Asiago cheese, white asparagus with lemon and olive oil, and a salad of shrimp, octopus, and squid over greens with lemon and olive oil. Also served were crispy bread sticks and yummy flat bread.

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I can’t rave enough about this meal, and look forward to exploring the menu further!

Visiting my Disney friends

05/28/2014 - 2 Responses

I started this blog to help big families (like mine) navigate Walt Disney World. I had no idea that blogging would lead to meeting new people and making new friends. What a wonderful surprise! This week, I had fun visiting with some of my Disney friends.

On the Geekin’ on WDW podcast, co-hosts Curtis and Lindsay invited me over to chat about visiting Disney World with a family of five, favorite Disney memories, and our top five scents in the World. Sounds like fun, right? Well, come on over here for a listen!

On Living a Disney Life, Lisa asked me to fill in on her blog for a day while she’s at Disney World. I was honored that she asked, and happily accepted. You can find my guest post here.

We all come from different areas of the country, but were brought together by our love of Disney. What a small world it really is!

Senior Class trip 1989. A different group of  Disney friends from those I have now!

Senior Class trip 1989. Though a different group of “Disney friends” from those I have now, each era has its own special memories!

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