Disney Trip Planning – Granola Crumbs in My Suitcase

2013 iphoneIf there’s one thing our family agrees on, it’s how we spend our time on a Disney vacation and it’s not sleeping!  We hit the parks early – I’m talking get there before they open and be ready to make the most of the day.  There’s a reason our vacation motto is “We’ll rest when we’re dead.”.  Honestly, once the kids stopped needing naps, it became common for us to leave our resort at dawn and drag back in 15+ hours later.

I’m not going to lie – getting everyone up and out the door super early is challenging – and gets harder over the course of a week-long trip.  I have discovered one simple trick that helps a bunch.  It’s this:  Have a portable breakfast ready to go every day!  For us, this means that we pack granola bars and Pop Tarts – but if you need honey buns and mini doughnuts, no problem, those’ll work the same for this purpose.  Just fyi….if you take the Pop Tarts out of the boxes, they’re easier to pack but you cannot tell what kind they are.  I have actually gotten to expert level in detecting Pop Tart flavors strictly by feeling them in their shiny silver packages – a necessity when one child eats only strawberry frosted and the other only chocolate fudge.  But I digress…

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Waiting for the Bus, Breakfast in Hand

Here’s how it goes:  Mickey wake-up call comes in, everyone’s up, washed and dressed.  Then we check to make sure we each have the necessities (keys-to-the-world, lanyard, breakfast foods, pins for trading, camera, etc.) and we are out the door, headed for the bus or monorail stop.  Seldom does our ride show up immediately when we get there, thus allowing time to consume our portable breakfasts, dispose of the wrappers, and get ready to board.  By no means am I suggesting that mere breakfast-bar-type items keep our tummies happy until lunch, but it gets us to the park in time (with no hungry whining) to catch a couple of our favorite attractions before they get too crowded and that’s the whole idea!

What’s your strategy for getting a jump on the day at your favorite Disney park?

Halloween Homage – Disney’s Haunted Mansion

DWR2009 077We, being the normal, run-of-the-mill Disney fans that we are, have a love – a passion, for that most special, most Disney-ish of all Disney attractions – The Haunted Mansion.  So, like thousands of Disney fans everywhere, today, on Halloween, we salute our most favorite scary ride.

Ask us individually what our favorite rides are and we will each give you a different answer.  Ask us what ride we MUST ride together, multiple times on every visit to Disney World?  We will all agree it has to be The Haunted Mansion at Magic Kingdom.  In both it’s original form and it’s new post-2007-refurb-form – we have always loved every single thing about this 8-minute doom-buggy trip through one of the coolest attractions ever scared up by Disney Imagineers.

If you’ve been there, you know what I mean when I say that the “Ghost Host’ is a very important DWR2009 079part of the experience.  That voice!  Once he starts you off on your adventure, you can’t look around fast enough to take in all the carefully crafted details, thrills, oddities, surprises, not to mention ghosts the Haunted Mansion holds.  The stretching room with its crazy portraits and surprises, the dining room ghosts, the dancers, Madame Leota (“Goblins and ghoulies from last Halloween…Awaken the spirits with your tambourine!”), the bride, the cemetery, the busts singing “Grim Grinning Ghosts” , the hitch-hikers!  We love it ALL!  I guess that’s why we want to ride it again and again – we never feel like we’ve seen, heard, or experienced everything there is – and that’s just on the inside!  If you’re going, don’t miss any of the great tricks and treats that are in store for visitors in the Haunted Mansion’s queue.

DWR2009 078“Now I will raise the safety bar and a ghost will follow you home.”-Ghost Host, Haunted Mansion

Hurry Baaaaaaack……Hurry BAAAaaaaaaaack….Be sure to bring your death certificate if you decide to join us.  Make final arrangements now.  We’ve been dying to have you…”-Little Leota

Happy Halloween Everyone!

Hidden Mickeys – Another Disney Addiction

IMG_2918About 10 years ago, while planning for an upcoming Disney World vacation, I found and purchased, Hidden Mickeys a Field Guide to Walt Disney World’s Best Kept Secrets by Steven M. Barrett.  If you aren’t sure what Hidden Mickeys are, Mr. Barrett defines them as “a partial or complete image of Mickey Mouse that has been hidden by Disney Imagineers and artists….”

I thought the book would be a lot of fun to take along with us to Disney World where there are literally hundreds of Hiddey Mickeys to be found.  I explained to The Fam about Hidden Mickeys while we were driving to and waiting at the airport for our flight to Orlando.  Then I managed to locate and point out a couple of Hidden Mickeys right after we arrived at Disney World.  Joseph had always been a champion at finding things (money on the ground, Easter eggs, bugs, lizards, etc.), so he was quick to join the fun and soon everyone was caught up in the excitement of hunting the elusive Mickeys.  This was and still is a GREAT way to kill time while waiting in line for attractions!

DSCN2584Turns out, once you start looking for and discovering real, “official” Hidden Mickeys, it’s hard to turn off your Hidden Mickey “eyes”.  Ever since that first trip when we learned about those cleverly incorporated Mickeys and discovered our love for finding them, we all see Hidden Mickeys in our everyday lives.  It’s a very fun way to keep the Disney magic alive between vacations.

Soap bubbles in the sink forming a familiar image?  “Hidden Mickey!”  That shout-out, heard from time to time at our house, always answered with, “where? lemme see!” is a great reminder to me that not only have I done my job prepping the next generation of Disney fans, but also that our vacations to The Happiest Place on Earth make magical memories that last long after we’ve come home.

Yesterday when I was leaving for work, I passed a catch-all container in the garage and guess what I saw?  YUP!  You betcha!Med Cruise 2013 iphone 002



Vacationing at Disney World – Magical Aromas?

IMG_5124Over the years there has been quite a bit of chatter on the Internet about the different scents people experience during a visit to Disney World.  If you look hard enough, you can even find suggestions for how to bring some of those smells home (certain candles, air fresheners, bath products, etc.)…I’m going to look into some of these and get back to you.  Anyway, whether it’s your first visit to Disney World or your 10th, there are a few smells you can’t help but notice.  The really cool thing is, the next tIMG_3280ime you smell THAT smell, it’ll make you happy; immediately evoking memories of your Disney World vacation!

Main Street USA – freshly baked goodies.  No matter what time of year or what time of day – when you walk down Main Street in the Magic Kingdom, you will smell the delicious smell of baking cookies.  To me it actually smells a bit like the waffle cones they sometimes bake in ice cream stores.  However your own sniffer interprets it, you can’t deny that the Main Street-smell is fantastic!  Puts a smile on my face every single time I smell it.

Staying with the Magic Kingdom, let’s talk about the smell in Mickey’s PhilharMagic…pretty darned super!  If you’ve ever experienced this magical 3D marvel, you know what I’m talking about.  It’s the smell of the berry pie that floats right by your face as Lumiere belts out “Be Our Guest”!  Oh, how I love that smell!  It’s not the only reason to adore Mickey’s PhilharMagic, though, so if you haven’t had the pleasure, add that attraction to your must-do list.

Moving on to Epcot, more great places to engage the old schnozzola await (wait…did I really just say IMG_0940that?).  Space Ship Earth is a great place to start.  As you’re riding along, the smell of Rome Burning is an awesome detail in this attraction!  I tend to forget about it until it happens, then I’m thinking, “Oh, how COOL!” whenever we get to that part – probably not appropriate to the seriousness of the tragic losses Dame Judi Dench is busy describing in my ear, but there it is.

Ask anyone whIMG_5052o’s been there about the smells of Disney World and they’ll be quick to mention Soarin’ if they’ve been on this extraordinary attraction in The Land at Epcot.  There also tends to be some lively discussions when the subject of Soarin’ smells is brought up about the exact number of different scents there are to be enjoyed in Soarin’ – this seems to be up to the individual smeller – I am 100% positive I smell both orange groves and evergreen trees at different parts of the experience…as for any other scents that may be there, I’ll let you decide for yourself. There’s one more smell at Epcot I want to mention.

Over in World Showcase.  I strongly suggest you stop in Germany’s Karamell-Kuche!  At last, something to smell AND taste!  Take the time to look around while you’re enjoying the smell of caramel and you’ll be tempted to try a IMG_0941taste of one of the many treats offered in this shop (owned by the makers of Wherther’s Original Caramels).

At Animal Kingdom, another 3D show offers another smelly experience.  This one isn’t quite like the others I’ve mentioned, but certainly adds to the entertainment of, “It’s Tough to be a Bug”!  Beneath the Tree of Life is the theater for this 9-minute show filled with some truly amazing details that include a very special smell.  You’ll just have to try it for yourself if you’re there.

This list is by far not complete.  There are many other aromas (good and bad) to experience at Disney World….What are some of your favorites?