Sunday, December 8, 2013

Back In Action

After six months of shirking adult responsibilities on a weekly basis under the guise of blogging, everything came to a screeching halt with not a word of explanation online. A trifecta of events combined into a perfect storm leaving  Disney Every Week drifting aimlessly like yet another piece of cyber space junk. To sum it all up, here's what happened:

1. I'd decided to stop at the half year mark, because although I was having fun and always finding new things to do, I decided I preferred to take longer family trips. If we could afford my weekly trips from Jacksonville, we could afford a family trip in a deluxe resort with meal plan. The big trip was a higher priority.

2. In Aug we decided to send a child to private school, and our tuition cost all my monthly Disney gas money. Goodbye big trip to a deluxe resort and weekly trips.

3. A week after school started in Aug I had  emergency surgery. My appendix burst, but I didn't recognize it until I was sick from peritonitis and abscess, 4-7 days after the rupture according to my surgeon. I had 18 nights of  hospitalization and am still recovering. I just started driving in November, and the thought of sitting at the computer desk to update the blog or do anything is exhausting, so I'm settling for this.

Since surgery I've been to Disney for my anniversary, Thanksgiving, and am at the AKL now celebrating my birthday with my cousin Laura and frequent cohort in crime, (often mistaken for my significant other) fellow at-home mom, Jean.  I have much yet to blog and look forward to resuming after I'm more fully recovered. We also have another trip booked at Bonnet Creek in Dec over Christmas break, so I'm still going but at a slower pace.

Happy Holidays and healthy appendixes to all of you!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Lunch at Contempo

After much debate and outlet shopping, we came back to Disney to eat. We hadn't tried the Contemporary's Contempo Cafe, and I wish that were still the case. We've found one counter service with poorer quality food (AofA) but none that were dirtier. I didn't finish my dry, bland chicken artichoke flatbread, but hubby happily scored BBQ sauce for his Angus bacon cheeseburger, a condiment lacking at AKL the Mara. Since people expect McDonald's to serve a hot burger at .99, I think Disney, who charges $9, should. Call me picky, but decent food shouldn't be strictly at sit downs. Based on this meal, we'd stop by for treats, drinks, and salads but skip anything that required cooking. Staying at this resort changes nothing. Fill your mugs, grab a snack, use your counter service credits elsewhere.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Dinner at AKL the Mara

Had to make a special trip to AKL for Mr Pibb and a scrumptious chicken presto flatbread. Hubby had the Angus cheeseburger and fries. The air conditioning was oppressive so we enjoyed our meal in the fresh air, as did a few others whom we overheard mutter about the Arctic conditions inside. When my Minnesotan-born husband is chilly, you know it's cold!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Bob the Builder Arrived

He was so quick I couldn't snap the pick, but a guy in bulldozer just cruised pay the pool and right by our room. I'm not talking about one of those baby-sized, cousins to forklifts. No. This was a Bob the Builder size bulldozer running down the sidewalks, more like straddling them. That is something I have not seen at Disney, although this trip the big, new thing is Caribbean Beach Resort. Who knew the Caribbean was only a 3 hour drive?

Hello Caribbean Beach Resort!

Just checked in and are changing from a room with 2 queens to 1 king. Now, here's the Disney magic of it all. With their new keys you tap on the locks (goodbye old fashioned insert in the slot), we just called, they have us a new room number, and our keys work for that room without a trip to the front desk. How cool is that?

My Disney Teapot Collection

Well, collection might be a bit of an overstatement ...  That is my intent, though, and this is my first acquisition! Of course I bought it at the outlet store I mentioned in a previous post.

Isn't this a sweet, little pot? I could not resist Tinkerbell, my favorite Disney character, especially at 50%off ($17.99). It's going to to sit on my kitchen window ledge and remind me of Peter Pan's Flight every day. "Think of all the joy you'll find when you leave the world behind..." All you need is faith, trust and pixie dust!                                                                 
Even the box is pretty.                                                        

Friday, July 12, 2013

Why I Love Disney's Character Warehouse

A trip to Disney isn't complete without getting my Disney outlet fix. I've scored many deals that far outstrip my AP discount, some on items still being sold in the parks. I've bought Mickey jack-o-lantern mugs for $2.50, earrings for $2, shower curtain at 50% off, and lanyards with 8 pins for $10 (even Ebay can't touch that deal for traders), but here is the crown jewel. This is my Pulicati Italian leather purse in the most delicious, dark, chocolate brown that I scored in December for $36 marked down from $180, give or take a couple of bucks. This was THE color I wanted in a bag so big I can pack for an overnight, if I clean it out of course, but how ridiculous of an idea is that? With this much square footage it should come with the option of maid service, for goodness sakes! When it's "fully loaded" with both tablets, cell, and Smart Water, it weighs an impressive 11 lbs AND has capacity for more. What it really needs is wheels.

So if you drive to Orlando or get a rental car, be sure to look up these outlet stores. Downtown Disney is fun, but bargain shoppers will surely appreciate the deeper discounts that will stretch your souvenir shopping budget.

Where To Watch Magic Kingdom Fireworks

Everyone knows to stand in the hub in front of the castle or in the Main Street mosh pit, but we have some other favorite spots to watch the fireworks. In no particular order, almost.

1. The beach at the Polynesian - Stand or sit back by the sidewalk to hear the sound track.The Poly is even better than being in the Magic Kingdom. Why? Firstly you have no obstructions and get to see the whole shebang. The July 4th fireworks were expansive, and if you were anywhere in the park, you didn't see the whole picture. They weren't just behind the castle. Secondly, you aren't in the crush of people trying to exit the park. (This should be compelling enough.) Thirdly, you get the reflection off the water.

2. The TTC at the entrance/exit for the ferry - It's almost as good as the Poly, but it lacks ambiance. Still, it is the utmost in quick exit and good viewing. You beat the monorail crowds and have the castle view. You can also ride the ferry during fireworks, but you need to position yourself at the rear or by a right side window for a view.

3. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Hop on this at the beginning of fireworks and score a short line along with an awesome ride. When you exit, stay there for the finale. You will know where "there" is.

4. In Adventureland close to Tiki Birds - Grab a seat along the stone bench, and enjoy a Sunshine Tree Terrace root beer float while you're there. You should be facing Aladdin's Magic Carpets.

5. Storytime With Belle - This is a conundrum. Do you utilize the fireworks to finally have a decent wait time for this attraction, or do you watch fireworks? We watched while in line, but this area of Fantasyland has some interesting viewing. It doesn't have to be at this attraction.

6. On the boat from Fort Wilderness - Admittedly, this takes some planning as you have to get to Fort Wilderness and then time it right heading back. It does give you a free fireworks cruise, though.

7. The resort buses - This is for the person who is more concerned with a hasty get-away than the best viewing area. If you head to the buses, stop along the walkway at the top/center of the big arc. We had a good view but the least ambiance available at Disney for the last night of July 4th fireworks. (Thanks to Limited Time Magic, Independence Day fireworks were all week.) Still, I would go there again, because I like seeing fireworks and being ahead old the throng.

8. Fort Wilderness - The beach at Fort Wilderness is for those who like quiet or those who missed the fireworks ferry. We enjoyed watching from there one crisp evening, although we didn't have music.

9. Shades of Green - If you walk out by the little lake/pond, you can see the fireworks quite well without going all the way to the Poly, or maybe you could catch them on the way back to the hotel if you exit the monorail at the Poly and walk to SOG. Again, it's hasty exit fireworks viewing but with more ambiance. 

10. The Contemporary viewing deck - You may think that the superior view from this spot should put it at the top of my random-order list, but the area is small, fills fast, and those 10 seats really should go to guests of the Contemporary. It's always nice to watch from the Poly or CR, but the folks staying there are paying plenty, and they shouldn't get crowded out of their amenities like fireworks viewing by guests staying elsewhere. The Poly has plenty of beach for everyone, but the CR has little space. So please don't take your family of 10 to CR's deck. There are plenty of other places big enough to accommodate you.

Do you have any great or unexpected places to watch fireworks? Please post and share your ideas!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

The Mystery of the Missing Weeks

The clues: an annual pass, limited time magic events, a blog, one Disney maniac, a new camera, a malfunctioning cell phone, and a tablet.

Hypothesis: The Disney maniac has been using an annual pass to see limited time magic but has become engrossed in the new camera and the blogging possibilities of the tablet and phone, but it's thrown off her whole system of posting. (Plus when weighing go to Disney or stay home to blog about going to Disney, which do you think wins?)

Confession: OK, I admit it. I forgot my sign a couple of times (just like I forget to answer my "Where am I" and have to go back and edit) and took trips so close together I couldn't keep it straight or get a Disney day blogged before I went the next time. I should always blog before the next trip to keep my sanity. I also should blog bits about Disney daily. This WAS supposed to be about how fun Disney is no matter how often you go, though, so I'm conflicted about making blogging feel like work. But, it's Disney, so how much work is that to discuss? Ummmm...NOT!

Currently: I'm on what has turned into a two week trip spanning 4 hotels including Kidani Village, Bonnet Creek, and Port Orleans Riverside, and the Florida Mall Hotel.  These 2 weeks actually span 3 in my every week plan. When I get home, it will be time to start blogging and adding resource links to the blog. I have much to add... if I can get out of the parks long enough. TTFN...Ta-ta for now!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Celebrating 237 Years of Freedom

My husband, a Navy man, came up with that one, and it's pretty darn perfect, methinks! We thought it was so patriotically festive that we all wore "I'm Celebrating" pins with that on it. Ironically, Independence Day meant Limited Time Freedom at the parks with the Magic Kingdom reaching capacity around noon. We've btdt, and we know better, so we started our day at 1900 Park Fare then made our way to the other parks. Yes. We hopped to all 3 after finding that Mr. Ice Cream (middle son, construction worker, and ice cream taster) had a hopper, a detail we'd forgotten the prior day we thought we were handcuffed to the Magic Kingdom. We wrapped it all up with Mickey bars, Epcot fireworks, and back roads that totally avoided the July 4th traffic. That's like getting the hot fudge sundae with whipped cream, cherry, sprinkles and NO calories!  Woo Hoo! Total Score! (The ice cream fixation didn't fall far from the tree.) Hope your fourth was top notch, with or without ice cream analogies.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Celebrating the half way mark!!

We are at Disney celebrating week 26, and I have other weeks to blog. Every day it's rain, rain, and more rain! I've been so busy going to Disney that keeping up the blog has been difficult. Blogger hasn't been cooperating, either. (This post is also about testing Blogger yet again.) If I can get blogging on the run figured out, then this is going to be much easier.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Week 20 Root Beer Float King & ADA Snag

Just when I thought it was a done deal, a cast member at Sunshine Tree Terrace showed me how wrong I was. Too bad I left my good camera at home, because my phone couldn't capture this monument of ice cream excellence. He presented me with a no-spill, perfectly piled dome that made Disney pricing seem absurdly reasonable. I'm headed back tonight to get an honorary picture since I missed the photo op.

Week 20 was pretty laid back just enjoying Magic Kingdom favorites. My new experiences were trying hummus and chips at Gaston's and pointing out ADA infractions to Guest Services, ahem. Vegans take note that the hummus is Sabra, like you can buy at Walmart. The hummus is plentiful but I wanted more chips. This would make a good snack to stock in your hotel frig or carry in a small cooler if you like to do that. At Gaston's expect to pay $4.00.


I love how Disney accommodates special needs, but there is an issue with the new passes. For many families it won't be a problem at all, but for passholders who have kids who cannot scan their fingers, it may be. Disney no longer overrides and lets those kids through. They want their tickets linked to someone else's finger. Here's the problem. Mom, Dad, 17 year old, 15 year old, 12 year old special need child (adult ticket), and Grandparents all are passholders. Disney links the special needs child to Mom, and now no one else can take the child through the turnstile. Dad can't, and that child's ticket shouldn't be restricted like that. Mom and Dad should have the right to send their child with Grandma or whomever they trust without consulting Disney.

You might wonder why someone couldn't scan a finger. I know children who would not understand to put their finger on the scanner, don't always respond well to physical touch, and might then launch into a full on melt-down, thus ending their Disney day. Ask any family with an autistic child.

Disney's solution is a step. It's imperfect, but I'm sure there are those who would be outraged. They have on file a permission slip for me and a few others to accompany a child through their gates, and they asked her parent for information regarding the disability which legally they aren't supposed to do. It was a clear violation of the ADA, but I understand them asking for this in an effort to stop ticket fraud. In the absence of photo ID, it seems reasonable to me and to the child's parent. THE EASIEST SOLUTION if you have a child who can't scan their finger is to GET A STATE ID for the child. Then Disney can match the pass to the ID. State ID's are cheap, and if you have a high needs special needs child, it's sure to be handy down the line.

Week 21 monster summer party, May 24-25

Couldn't miss the chance to pull another all- nighter at Disney! Another all-nighter, you ask? Yes, this is the second time the Magic Kingdom stayed open 24 hours straight, the first being an Extra Day of Disney for leap year in 2012. I scored the first shirt along with the caffeine-fueled 3 hour drive home at 5 a.m., but by the time we arrived at the Monster Summer P,arty, the only size available was 3X. Disney marketing lost out on real earning potential as we were part of a nomadic throng people scouring the park for shirts. They were available online for 72 hours after the event, but I wasn't feeling the love when I had to forfeit my passholder discount AND pay shipping for 3 Disney-priced (think somewhere between pizza delivery and college tuition) tees. When I was ready to cave in, it was too late. And THAT is how to save money on Disney souvenirs! Don't pack your bags to bursting point. Decide to call the park merchandize line when you get home and have it shipped. I promise it takes some of the excitement right out of it. If I couldn't wear my shirt at the event, that shirt had less meaning. Well... That's my story and I'm sticking to it. If you happen to know anyone selling Monster Summer Party shirts on the black market, I need an XS, L, & XXL.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Week 16 – Macho Men & Vera B at prom


I'm on a quest for both root beer floats and Caesar salads.Epcot is a good Caesar salad destination, but it's weak on root beer floats. We headed to The Land's Sunshine Seasons food court where I sampled a kid's chicken Caesar, grapes, and soy milk. Thisyd saladd the meal fills me. There are other sides available, and soy milk, available in chocolate or vanilla, is no extra charge like it would be for an adult meal.  If Disney meals are too big for you, you can always order a kid's meal just like you would any other meal. No one asks if it's for a child. They don't care that someone over the age of 10 wants a kid's meal. It doesn't matter at table service or sit down. You won't be able to pay the child's rate for an adult at character meals and buffets, obviously, so if you can't eat much and don't feel the experience is worth the money, skip those


Very important on the agenda was previewing my next major purse acquisition, the Disney Vera Bradleys. It's not too early to start my Christmas list is it? There are 2 prints (don't know HOW Santa expects me to choose between them.. insert pouty face) and a variety of styles. I took several pictures (refer to the Vera Does Disney post)


                                     After ogling the bags, it was concert time!


Macho, macho man! I want to be a macho man! In the navy, you can sail the 7 seas. In the navy, you can...

Stay at the Y M C A!  It's fun to stay at the YMCA-A. They were funny and they played their hits. It was worth the drive! 

On the way back around World Showcase we caught some Off Kilter. I love me some rock-n-roll bagpipe! 

However, they were upstaged by this...


Mama duck and her ducklings  ran into the crowded walkway, so some guests halted traffic and played bodyguard,

keeping small hands away from them (because the parents weren't, don't get me started), and escorting them to safety.


I wonder how the band liked ¾ of the crowd turning their backsides to them? They played on without commenting

on the strange behavior. I imagine they've seen odder things and are pretty impervious to it.

Back to The Land we went to ride Soarin' and Living With the Land. We learned, well our memories were jogged, that these murals are identical except for 1 dark tile that serves as the artist's signature. As you face the doors, the "signed" wall is to your right. A cast member can likely point it out for you. They enjoy sharing Disney trivia with guests. It breaks up the monotony of reciting where the nearest restroom is.


We also learned the food court seating is decorated to represent the seasons.

No, I did not visit during the zombie apocolypse, this is how it looks right before 

closing time. 


That was our cue to leave. When Soarin' and Sunshine Seasons are empty, the

day has truly come to the end at EPCOT.

(Blogged from my Google Nexus.)

Happy 19th Birthday on the 19th Week!


Miles – Too many! I’ll let you know when the supercomputer finishes the calculations.


Happy 19th Birthday to my Mother’s Day baby, Connor


Ahem! Keeping that peek G rated….




Now, take a wild guess ….



Answer: The best place to get a peek at the Fantasyland construction!


Turns out this shot is a little harder to get than you’d think.

 IMG_2022 IMG_2028

But Chris kept snapping & captured the moment


Don’t you love the dad behind us? Wish he could see this picture! It makes me think that I should try to watch for strangers in my pictures and hand out my card so they can see them. I’m constantly previewing my pictures.  It wouldn’t be that hard. 


He captured the whole moment, the reality of our family pictures. Make of that what you will.


It goes without saying one cannot ride Dumbo without a stop by the Big Top to ogle and drool … on the pastries ladies! How can you not love a cast member who steps out, poses, and completely upstages Mickey apples? So now when you go in for your Dumbo cupcakes, look for Dave, and tell him you saw his picture here. Fun people like this make Disney an awesome experience!  IMG_1989

Let them eat cake…or Not!

In what has to be considered a true sin against chocoholics, Disney has shortened the hours at Starring Rolls to 3:00!! It was bad enough when it was 4:00, but then they teased us with the Spring Break hours of 6:00 only to drive a plastic fork in our hearts with a new 3:00 closing time.  Our carefully planned, squeak into the Studios and dash to get a birthday cupcake at 3:55, was unceremoniously derailed by this most heinous of changes.

Well, if you can’t eat your cake, you can always get ice cream, and although the Studios has some really good hand-dipped ice cream, the best place in the parks is still the Plaza Ice Cream Parlor on Main Street at Magic Kingdom.


IMG_1947    Waffle Bowl Station IMG_1949

3 All Americans for my 3 All American Kids, Please!

(Corny blog talk quota exceeded for this post. Author has lapsed into sugar shock.)


IMG_1952 IMG_1955 IMG_1959

Chocolate & Vanilla ice cream, Fudge, Peanut Butter Sauce, Whipped Cream, Chips, & a Cherry!

And now the food critics’ reviews….

IMG_1963 IMG_1964


Why is all the rum ice cream gone?


To summarize:



A picture is worth a 1000 words, but I’ll spare you a few hundred.  There’s the man who left both cameras on the front seat of an unlocked car casually holding my new baby the Canon EOS Rebel T3i. Looks OK, doesn’t it? A few seconds prior, said camera was suspended a foot off his lap because, evidently this ride requires at least one hand in the air, or you lose a notch out of your man card. I’m more concerned with losing another camera, but I don’t carry a man card. Fortunately both camera and man card survived the ToT. 


Ride pictures are a competition sport after all, and everyone else on the ride at that time is your competitor. Having no plan, we just freestyled it. The other riders pointed and laughed at our picture, so we won. (like there was any doubt) Some day we’re going to do it up big with props.IMG_2165

And in case you were wondering… IMG_2162

But just to clarify…


Time for one last silly picture. I think the villains & heros parking signs have interesting possibilities.


Pictures are the best vacation souvenir, after all, and the more irreverent the better.


Someday we’re going to get ice cream from the dinosaur, because I’m sure it will taste better and


will likely hold the key to world peace, or peace in our family. Today they went extinct right before we walked up, and we will not, Never, no-no go to the place right by them, Oasis Canteen, for ice cream.  This is the place NOT to buy your mini replica of a root beer float.


We had a Definitive Root Beer Float Tie Breaker at Sleepy Hollow in MK, the BEST place for this treat!


Why is Sleepy Hollow the best? Just look… (OK, guys, it’s not just because of this gorgeous blonde.)


They don’t skimp on ice cream here. They know how to fill the cup. Since the price is the same everywhere, wouldn’t you rather have a full float? That’s right. More cellulite yumminess for you!


The winner is: Twist ice cream

Whether you like vanilla or chocolate, twist gives more depth of flavor than either.


Sleepy Hollow also has the best view. Pull up a seat and enjoy.



That’s the way to end the evening!

True, the view is better out in front, but for my money the view is best from a seat.





HotPinkMickey Now what could we possibly have done that was new? Well, there were a couple of things.  One was more about what we didn’t do. We were about to board Big Thunder Mountain Railroad when it “failed to proceed” to borrow a term from Rolls Royce. They were going to have to walk the tracks and evacuate the cars. We got a FastPass that was good through the next day. (We took only one just so I could have it as a souvenir.)

Secondly, we rode Splash Mountain during the Main Street Electrical parade which was really fun.  We got to see a bit of the parade, there was no wait for the ride, and they let us stay on and go for two in a row. Yeah, baby! I would absolutely use the first parade time to go to Belle’s or one of the mountains and then watch the second Main Street Electrical Parade.  Make sure the kiddos take a good afternoon break so they can stay up that late and really enjoy the parade. (Heck with the kids, what about Mom and Dad?)






A Quick Note About Blogging: Around Week 15 I got a Nexus tablet, and I thought it would be so fun to post from the parks as I go, so I’ve been trying out that method, but I’ve found it’s hard to take pictures  that don’t include my thumb. My new Canon takes much better shots, and my phone takes the killer panorama shots I’ve posted of the Flower and Garden Festival. I have so much I could post that I haven’t. I’m not sure I want to be that serious, though. (reinventing the wheel and all that)     

The biggest flaw with posting on the fly is not identifying weeks.  So here’s the scoop, and I’m not sure it’s worthwhile to go back and perfect it.  (remember my commitment to not be so serious?)  Between the 15th week and the 19th weeks I have gone to Disney, but my every week record is flawed.  Ugh! That drive! I love/hate it! I had a week of doctors, the ER, and a surgery scare that turned out to be a series of wrong diagnoses, resulting in a medicine that made me so weak and sick I couldn’t walk to the living room, much less drive 160 miles or so to Disney.