Just Back From Disney World – 10 Things I Learned

RM-WDW SignWhat an amazing, surprisingly unusual trip to Walt Disney World we just had!  I knew it was going to be different because I was participating in my very first runDisney events, but so many wonderful and unexpected things happened that have forever earned this vacation a special place in my heart.  I’ll be writing individual reviews on restaurants, attractions, and activities over the next couple of weeks, but if you read anything here and you have questions or want more information – shout it on out in the comments section and I’ll do what I can to oblige.

Just Back From Disney World – 10 Things I Learned

1. The Walt Disney World sign still makes my heart beat faster – Even after all these years, there’s nothing more thrilling that visual proof that you have arrived at your favorite place to be (away from home).RM-Frozen-5K-2015

2. It can be freezing in Florida in February – I live in Louisiana, I know we get an occasional cold snap, but in Florida?  I honestly wasn’t expecting wind chills in the 20’s.  Luckily, we packed for just about every possible weather and were prepared.  I only wished my homage-to-Donald “costume” for the Frozen 5K (appropriately named, for sure) had included a bit more coverage for my knees.RM-Flag-Retreat

3. The Flag Retreat in Magic Kingdom makes me cry – I’ve heard about it for years and have never found myself in the right place at the right time to experience this unbelievably touching, patriotic ceremony.  I tried to sing along to God Bless America with the Dapper Dans, but I was too choked up to croak out even a few bars.  This is a must-see and you should put it on your Disney to-do list right now.RM-Lisa-and-Glass-Slipper-Sign

4. The hype you hear about runDisney events is well-deserved – I have participated in dozens of races over the past 17+ years and some of them were pretty amazing and well organized.  Nothing – not even in my wildest imagination – could have prepared me for the truly magical execution that makes a runDisney experience far superior to any other event.  Unless you have your heart set on a personal record, then you should know, that goal would be very challenging during a runDisney race.RM-Fiesta-Donald

5. Donald Duck is still my favorite Disney character.  And that’s all I’ve got to say about that.

6. Il Mulino at the Swan is an absolutely fantastic restaurant – This place was so special – everything about it was perfect to us and a full review of our dining experience will be written very soon.

7.  Being Stranded at Walt Disney World induces euphoria – I’m sure for some people, being iced-in and unable to get home, even from Orlando, would be a major inconvenience.  For us, at this particular time, it was the gift of not one, but TWO extra Disney days to enjoy – and enjoy them we did!  Ferris Bueller-style, we packed so much extra happiness into those two days, you won’t believe it…story to follow, so check back.RM-Polynesian-Village-Resort-Lobby

8. The Polynesian Village Resort’s renovated lobby is gorgeous – I’m not insensitive to the long-time Polynesian fans who are heartbroken by the changes to their favorite resort, but to me, the new Poly is a beautifully improved Poly.  I think the colors, furniture and décor, and overall feeling of welcome is lovely.RM-Hat-Shopping-Downtown-Disney

9.  Disney Springs is coming right along.  Sure, the construction walls are a big ugly pain to maneuver around, but something in the atmosphere has changed – there’s now an air of expectation and excitement.  We can tell the Downtown Disney area is going to be better than it ever was before.  The new hat shop’s a gem – of course I’ll write a post on that too.RM-New-Tree-of-Life-Roots10.  Animal Kingdom is starting to reveal what the future holds – and if the new details to the Tree of Life are any indication, this park (that I love SO much) is going to be even more incredible.

Please let me know what you want to hear most about in greater detail.  Check back over the next couple of weeks for more scoop on what made this latest visit to Walt Disney World a truly extraordinary Disney vacation.

Magical Memory Monday – Loving Donald

IMG_5202I must confess…while growing up, I was never a Donald Duck fan.  Watching Disney cartoons on TV, I thought he was always kind of crabby and pretty grumpy in general.  Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, and Daisy were so happy, Donald just suffered by comparison.  Based on those childhood feelings, It surprises me how much of a Donald fan I am now…He is, without a doubt, my favorite Disney character!

What happened to make me fall in love with Donald Duck?  Disney magic, that’s what!!!

It was during a spring break trip to Disney World in 2005.  We were staying at the Contemporary and were on our way out to the parks for the day when Megan realized she’d forgotten her key-to-the-world card.  Joseph and I waited on the monorail platform while Raymond and Megan ran back to the room to get it.  Joseph was occupying himself in the way 10-year-old boys tend to do as I looked down over the railing at the goings-on at Chef Mickey’s.  Donald was out in front of the restaurant posing with a family for pictures.  After the pictures were taken and the family went on inside, one of those magical Disney moments took place that changed my feelings about Donald Duck forever….

Donald glanced up at me as I stood there by myself looking over that wall on the monorail platform.  And when he saw me, he threw his arms wide and stepped back in surprise…one hand flew to his heart while he pointed right at me with the other…perfectly miming, “It’s YOU!”  Then he began madly blowing kisses to me with both hands.

At first I was so shocked I just sort of waved back a little, but Donald’s enthusiasm (at seeing me!) and those kisses he just kept flinging at me, quickly snapped me into the magic of the moment and before I knew it…..I was wildly blowing kisses back at Donald with, I’m sure, a ridiculously huge, dopey IMG_5201smile on my face!  Yeah…..so that was just about the time I heard, “Mommmmm?  What are you doing?”  And I answered the only way I could….”Oh, Joseph!  Donald and I are having a moment!”  Then, Raymond and Megan got back so Donald and I both went on about our day…but, in that one brief moment, grumpy, crabby Donald became special, magical Donald and had won my heart forever.