Friday, March 26, 2010

PARK HOPPER PICKS

TIP of the WEEK- ONLINE CHECK in--------while it is somewhat new in the world of the mouse, online check in is a nice addition to the disney family.   IF staying at a disney resort, you can check in via the web up to 10 days prior to your vacation.    What's the benefit? Well you reduce your time waiting in a potentially long check in line and can move forward with starting your vacation (and potentially waiting in line for Space Mountain instead!).    What's required?  Simply a credit card for incidental charges, arrival/departure time, guest names, address, on site phone number (cell) and any specific room requests.   YES, you can still make room requests when checking in online.  So once you arrive, you go to the special 'online checkin' area, show your photo ID, get your welcome folder, room key and off you go (if your room is ready).    I've been to WDW a few times where the check in line (at Port Orleans Riverside for instance) was at least 20 people deep.   So online check in is definitely a nice perk- use it!

NEWS!
Disney opens the new Ridemakerz store in Downtown disney.   This unique custom toy shop lets guests build
their own customized radio controlled car!   They offer everything from hot rods, dump trucks, fire engines and more!  It is located in the old Virgin Megastore location.  RIDEMAKERZ

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Helping Daddy rake leaves.  and yes, he sweeps too!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Will enjoys his new play room we set up in the loft, including having tea or meals with Pooh and friends!  He keeps saying "eat with Pooh" (like we did at Crystal Palace).



Friday, March 12, 2010

PARK HOPPER PICKS- Weekly Tip

TIP
Don't go in blind.  
It can be overwhelming.   There is so much to planning a trip to WDW and you might miss out on a lot if you don't invest a little time along with your money.    Ensure you get a good return on your investment!   A little research and planning go a long way at WDW.   So many people go on this 'trip of a lifetime', after spending years and years saving up, only to get there and realize they can't get a table in a sit down restaurant, because it is free dining time and unless you have a reservation, you are stuck with fast food.    Or they go at an extremely busy time and wonder why the lines or so long?  Or get upset that the line for Toy Story Mania always seems to be 90 minutes or longer and they won't get to ride it now. 

These problems never have to happen.   Just spend a few hours researching online or buy one of the many available Walt Disney World planning books- my favorite is the "Unofficial Guide".   As a kid, we loved reading the classic Birnbaum's as well.     Doesn't matter which one, just get one or at least look up some information online.   My favorite sites for info include http://www.wdwinfo.com/ and their forums http://www.disboards.com/.    This site offers so much info, park hours, best/worst times recommendations, park maps, restaurants, specials, parade times and the forums are a WEALTH of info from other park goers like you- with objective restaurant reviews, tips for avoiding long lines, secrets, photos and more.  Heck, there is even a "food porn" thread where you can look at photos of all the different food/plates or meals offered throughout Walt Disney World.  So looking at what you might want to eat is going a little too far for some, but not for all.

Another great one is http://www.allears.net/.   Deb Wills does a great job with detailed menus of all the restaurants (can you tell we like to eat at disney?) and tons of other great info too.   There are even sites to help you with an itinerary (based on your family- adults only, kids etc.) to make the most of your time with sites like TourGuideMike (fee applies).  

I can't tell you the number of friends that have been grateful that they did a little planning- just knowing to make ADRs (advanced dining reservations) at 180 days out (breakfast with Cinderella books up FAST!) or knowing to be at the park at rope drop (opening) to ride the popular rides with little wait.    Heck, just seeing a map before you go helps too.   So you are probably investing thousands of dollars in your vacation at Disney (I know it ain't cheap!), invest a little time too and you'll be glad you did. 


Without a little research, we would have missed the Grey Goose slushie while drinking around the world in epcot.



or missed the Cool Dude hair treatment for only $10!




NEWS
  • Sherman Brothers Get Window on Main Street at Disneyland- I promise you've heard their music.  Richard and Robert Sherman have finally received the honor of a window on Main St.   Many of Walt's key team members and famous disney executives and cast members have their names etched on the glass of these windows.    This is the highest honor a cast member can receive.   The Sherman Brothers window reads "Two Brothers Tunemakers"-    They created many of the songs you know and love from popular attractions like the Tiki Room, Carousel of PRogress (It's a great big beautiful tomorrow!), It's a small world (Ok, so maybe we can take or leave that one?), as well as songs from movies like Mary Poppins and Winnie the Pooh.  
  • D23 Expo 2011 announced- D23 has announced they will hold their expo every other year.  Next one scheduled for August 2011 in Disneyland.  
  • TRON takes over the monorail............The WDW monorails will feature a unique overlay to promote the upcoming release of the new TRON movie set for release in December.   LINK to TRON
  • Princess Half Marathon a Success- the 2nd Princess Marathon was a huge success at WDW with over 13,000 runners, many decked out in 'princess' wear or costumes.  Nothing like running through the empty streets of Disney World at 6am in your tiara and gown! Disney offers a variety of races throughout the year Disney Endurance Series

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

My Monkey

Will is just all boy- lately he loves climbing on the staircase railing back and forth.  

He also loves building his blocks!  He likes to say the numbers and ABCs on the side of them too as he builds.

And of course he loves fighting/playing with his cousin!  Even at the dinner table, across Papa!


So this week we got a lot done- our new futon is coming in so we can complete his playroom in the loft upstairs!   And I finished doing a faux finish in our downstairs guest bath- what do you think?

Friday, March 5, 2010

PARK HOPPER PICKS- WEEKLY TIP

DISNEY TIP OF THE WEEK
GO EARLY!   This isn't vacation folks.  Oh wait, yes it is.   But if you are touring Disney World during a busy time and want to actually hit the big attractions and see more without standing in line for hours, well you have to get up early.     I've found we can accomplish more in the first two hours a park is open (especially the first hour of an extra magic morning) than we can in a 1/2 day!   Because so many of 'us' like to sleep in, you'll notice that a lot of folks tend to NOT go to the parks until 10-11am.  That is when the real flow of traffic starts.    If you can beat them in - you'll have a few precious hours with minimal waits.  Besides, who doesn't want to join the mad stampede to Toy Story Mania at rope drop?  

Rope drop--what is it, you might ask?  Rope drop is when the park officially opens and allows the flow of traffic to proceed through the park.    Many guest try and 'make rope drop', meaning they arrive at the park early enough to see it.   There is a little 'ceremony' with each rope drop.    At the Magic Kingdom, Mickey and his friends come out to the train station area and perform  a little opening show, then you are allowed in.   Usually in all the parks, the cast members will hold a rope to slowly move traffic into a certain area- like towards tomorrowland, so that no one runs or gets trampled.    But yes, folks still try and run.   Anyhow, if you make 'rope drop', you aren easily be one of the first on Dumbo, Space Mountain or another popular attraction that will inevitably have an hour wait later in the day.  Plus, you can get a fast pass, then get on a popular ride- lessening your wait even more later on! 

So even if you aren't a morning person (I magically become a morning person at WDW), take at least one day and get up early, be at the park 15 MINUTES before they open at least.    If the MK opens at 9am, be at the gate at 8:45.....which means you need to be at the bus stop or in your car driving over by 8:15ish at the latest.   So yes, it is early, but waiting 5 minutes for Dumbo with an antzy toddler vs. waiting 45 minutes, well it is worth losing a little sleep.  

DISNEY NEWS
  • They've officially broken ground on what will be the largest expansion in the history of the Magic Kingdom.   The Fantasyland expansion is now 'officially' underway.   Much of the work is happening behind the scenes, since the expansion is taking place over many back stage areas that are being converted to guest areas of Fantasyland.   The new Fantasyland will feature four disney classic inspired areas- featuring storybook princesses (Snow White, Belle, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty), then the Dumbo area and later the pixie hollow area will be added too.
  • NO D23 EXPO this year.   It's been announced finally, no D23 expo this year.   The inaugural event was last September at Disneyland and featured amazing announcements, workshops and celebrities.    Word on the street is that this will be an every other year event.   My sisters, mom and I were hoping to go to the expo this year......oh well, we will just visit DL anyhow in Sept!
  • RIDEMAKERZ will be the newest addition to Downtown Disney at WDW, allowing guests to customize radio-controlled vehicles. It is scheduled to open in late March and has been a hit in Disneyland.   I think this is another attempt to reach the male audience and balance out all the girl/princess offerings.
  • The Disney World Flower and Garden Festival opened on Wednesday, March 3rd and features many new amazing topiaries and special events- even a sunday brunch!   Check out some great pictures at
    http://wdwmagic.com/Events/Epcot-International-Flower-and-Garden-Festival/News/03Mar2010-Photo-tour-around-the-2010-Epcot-International-Flower-and-Garden-Festival-opening-day.htm

COMING SOON
  • TODAY is opening day for the new Alice in Wonderland flick starring Johnny Depp!
  • D23 March 10th event-
  • March 7- Disney's 2010 Princess Half-marathon

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Wordless Wednesday- ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

Worn out after a long day Sunday- asleep in Dada's arms

Monday, March 1, 2010

His First Crush..... a Princess at that!

So I think my little guy has his first crush!  Will really enjoys looking at photos from our recent Disney Trip in December.  He likes pointing out all the family members and saying their name.   We look often, since it is good practice for his speech development. 

What is that smile?  Oh, it is the smile of true love!  Will holds his cherished photo of Cinderella!

As we are flipping through, we come to a photo of me, Will and Cinderella at the Princess breakfast in Norway at Epcot.  This was originally intended as a breakfast for my niece, but the rest of the family bailed, except for us and my sister Mandy and her hubby.   So the 5 of us had a breakfast with the Princesses.  Of course Will had no clue who they were, his character library only consists of Pooh Bear, Dora, Elmo and Mou-Mou (Mickey) at the ripe old age of almost 2.5.     So at the meal, he smiled and liked them, but wasn't all that interested.   

But when looking at the photos yesterday, he was enthralled with this photo.  He wouldn't let us turn the page in fact.  He wanted to leave the photo album on that picture, so I took it out and gave it to him.   He walked around with it, kissed the photo and put it on his easel.  This morning, after breakfast, he ran to the easel, found the photo and started carrying it around again.  He even took it to day care with him.  Let's hope he doesn't lose it!  Cinderella was a beauty too- so he has good taste (I can't say the same for the Sleeping Beauty that day, she was a little 'off' (see for yourself).   


So here is Will's 'first crush'.    And so it begins, little girls and gorgeous princesses start to steal my little guy's heart!  I was hoping "mommy" could keep it a while longer, but I guess that doesn't last forever.  

I guess we might have to make a special trip to see Cinderella on our December trip in 9 months now.  Or maybe he'll have moved on to someone else by then?  Time will only tell!