Almost Time – Disney Summer Road Trip Plans

We’re calling it the “Epic Mother/Daughter Disney Summer Road Trip” and in just a few weeks, we’ll be on our way!  Packing lists are made.  FastPasses are booked.  Like all great Disney vacations, new things are in store and include quite a few Disney firsts for us.  Megan and I are more excited than I can describe and are constantly texting each other about our plans.  Speaking of plans…

Almost Time – Disney Summer Road Trip Plans

Let’s start with the firsts:  First time at Saratoga Springs, first time on the Quick Service Dining Plan, first time driving to Orlando, and (the most exciting!) first time to see Pandora!  We’ve also booked the “Caring for Giants” tour at Animal Kingdom and are looking forward to seeing the new Happily Ever After nighttime spectacular in Magic Kingdom.

Here are the plans we’ve made day-by-day…

Arrival Day:

Magic Kingdom:  We’ll get there for lunch and grab what sounds good at the time.  We have FastPasses starting right after lunch for Big Thunder Mountain Rail Road, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and Splash Mountain.  Between FastPasses, we’ll fill in with the usual favorites depending on wait times.  Those attractions are usually PeopleMover, Haunted Mansion, Mickey’s PhilharMagic, Carousel of Progress, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Country Bear Jamboree.  For dinner we’ll catch the boat to Wilderness Lodge to try Geyser Point before returning to Magic Kingdom and staying for Happily Ever After.

Day Two:

Animal Kingdom as early as possible.  It would stress me out to shoot for an exact arrival time, but it will need to be early.  FastPasses start at 9:00 am with Na’vi River Journey in Pandora.  We’ll grab breakfast there at Satu’li Canteen either before or after the ride.  Then we’ll have plenty of time to explore all of Pandora at our leisure.  Our next FastPass (Expedition Everest) isn’t until early afternoon.  We’ll do the Caring For Giants tour mid-afternoon then be able to roam around Animal Kingdom at a lazy pace, eat dinner, and use our final FastPass for Rivers of Light at 9:15.

Day Three:Animal Kingdom's Kali River Rapids

Animal Kingdom again first thing.  Our FastPasses are all in the morning:  Flight of Passage, Primeval Whirl, and Kali River Rapids.  We’ll be hopping to Epcot for the afternoon – so many great quick service options for lunch in World Showcase!  Dinner that night will be at Paddlefish in Disney Springs after which we’ll call it a day.

Day Four:Entrance for Toy Story Midway ManiaWe’ll start by rope-dropping the Studios to ride Rock’n’ Roller Coaster before using our three FastPasses for Tower of Terror, Toy Story Midway Mania, and Star Tours.  The unplanned afternoon will be spent at either Magic Kingdom or Epcot before we start the first part of the long drive home that evening.

Yes, we have solid plans for much of the time, but I think we’ve allowed for plenty of free-styling along the way.  Primarily we’ll be focused on exploring Pandora since it’s new, but we’ll also be able to enjoy many of our must-dos in every park while trying a few new restaurants too.  Mother/Daughter time should include a nice mix of new experiences and old favorites while making lots of happy memories.

While we’re away, Joseph has decided he should stay at the house and keep Raymond (and Junior) company.  So while they won’t be going to Disney World, they’ll be guys home alone doing guys stuff.  I think they’re pretty excited about it.

Are you headed to Walt Disney World this summer?  What are you the most excited to see and do?


Disney World News! Good and Sad.

In recent days, tons of announcements have been pouring out from official Disney sites.  Rumors abound from unofficial sources.  Many of you, like me, have been on an emotional roller coaster.  Let’s discuss…

Disney World News!  Good and Sad.

Rivers of Light – Finally, it’s happening!  The ups and downs of this on-again, off-again nighttime spectacular have been uncharacteristically dramatic.  The attraction was part of this week’s Disney Social Media Moms conference events with pictures and video allowed (unlike previous previews).  Having watched this video (spoiler!), I’m probably not going to rush out and schedule FastPasses or a Dining Package for our next trip.  The show looks beautiful, but I’m okay with waiting until later in the year to see it.Disney World News - World of Pandora

World of Pandora – Officially opening on May 27th!  It’s been years (and years) in the making…I sure hope this controversial new Animal Kingdom land lives up to the hype.  While not overjoyed, I’m okay with the theme and think Pandora is in keeping with the park’s emphasis on the importance of conservation, but when “Avatarland” was first announced, it was hotly debated.  Many fans were angry and disappointed that a much-anticipated Animal Kingdom expansion would not be based on mystical/mythical creatures as had been originally intended for the park.  I’m hoping there’s something here for everyone/every age to enjoy.

Wishes – It’s been around for 15 years and has become a much-loved family vacation tradition for many fans.  While I will be sad to see it go simply because of the nostalgia, I’ve opted to watch it from afar for the past several Disney World visits.  I’m ready for a new show!  “Happily Ever After” will debut May 12, 2017.Starring Rolls Cafe / Disney's Hollywood Studios

Starring Rolls – Okay, this one hurts.  Starring Rolls closed with virtually no notice on February 4th.  I’m sure the space is badly needed for a rumored expansion to the Brown Derby lounge, but this closure puts a big hole in the middle of our traditional Studios touring plan.  Yes, I’ll get over it, but I’m not happy about it.  I want breakfast at an umbrella table so I can people-watch and relax between rides on Tower of Terror and Star Tours.  I better still be able to find a Butterfinger cupcake when I want one.

Star Wars Land – Days ago Disney announced a projected 2019 opening for this large expansion in Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

From the Disney Parks Blog:  “As we’ve shared, the Star Wars-themed lands are the largest-ever, single-themed land expansions at Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resorts. At each location, guests will be transported to a never-before-seen planet – a remote trading port and one of the last stops before wild space – where Star Wars characters and their stories come to life.” 

I love Star Wars and have been a fan since the very beginning (I’m old, I know).  I’ve been impressed with the already existing Star Wars areas of the park and am 100% certain Disney Imagineering is up to the task of making the expansion every bit as great as fans of this franchise are expecting.

What bit of recent Disney news are you most exited about?  Are you unhappy with any of the upcoming changes?


What Happily Ever After Really Means

R.B.-Estelle2This is a tale of true love…not a fairy tale or make believe, but the absolute truth about two people.  Two of the best people I’ve ever known – and how they lived happily ever after.

Like most love stories, this one began with two young people.  It was the spring of 1938 when he, a strong and confident 21 year old, happened to meet a shy beautiful girl of 16 at a cake walk.  She arrived at the event, held at the home of the young man’s parents as a fundraiser for some badly needed baseball equipment, with her sister, future brother-in-law, and an unknown suitor.  As with all the best stories, it was love at first sight when our young couple met and he, not her date, drove her home that day.

A few months later our lovebirds married on the front porch at the home of the local Justice of the Peace – they had lots of love…and not much else.  The newlyweds moved in with his parents and began their life together.

This man, R.B. and his young wife, Estelle, very honestly started with nothing but love, and love was all they needed.  R.B. worked a government job during the day and, with the help of family and friends, built their first home after work and on the weekends.  During the next year they moved into their new house and welcomed their first child, a daughter.  R.B. believed in hard work and providing a safe haven for his family.  Estelle devoted her life to loving R.B. and their baby and making a comfortable home.  He was boisterous and opinionated, she was his biggest supporter.  Together, there was nothing they couldn’t do.R.B.-Estelle-Child

World War II came and separated Estelle and R.B., but their love endured.  Before long, they welcomed a second daughter and picked up life again with each other after the war.  R.B. built a bigger house for his growing family and by the time they moved there in 1956, they’d welcomed two sons.  R.B.-Estelle-ChildrenThis love story continued and, with the passing of time, this loving couple watched their children grow up and start families of their own.  Soon R.B. and Estelle became Papa and Tootsie to eight grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren and their love for each other grew along with their family.  Papa passed along his strength, wisdom, and work ethic.  Larger than life, he was a super hero who never ran out of energy or good stories.  Tootsie fussed and worried and offered comfort and encouragement – her gift was in making each member of the family feel special and cherished.Family-Shirts

By 2016, R.B. and Estelle had been married for 77 years and were 99 and 94 years old.  They were constantly together, but growing tired.  They had unfailingly honored the commitment they’d made to each other back in 1938, by remaining steadfast in their love for each other first and foremost.  The power of this love, so strong and enduring, was a shining example to their family…there was nothing they couldn’t accomplish together.Family-Trip-Louisiana

In their final days, R.B. and Estelle sang to each other and each encouraged the other with words of love and support.  Surrounded by family and friends in the home they’d shared for more than 60 years, they left this earth just 12 hours apart on April 24th and 25th.  He, in his usual manner, led the way and she, as she’d done for three-quarters of a century, followed.  They loved so well, their love for each other spread to all who knew them.  I know because R.B. and Estelle were my mother and father-in-law for 27 years – I will never find a more perfect example of everlasting love.  I will always be proud and honored to have known them and been part of their story and I will do my best to carry on their legacy with my own family.Family-Trip-Arkansas

Of course, the most important part of this story is that from that very first day…

They lived Happily Ever After. R.B.-Estelle