Tuesday, December 9, 2014

My Disney-Inspired Baby Shower

At the beginning of November my mother threw me a beautiful baby shower in preparation of my first child. Despite the relentless rain, it was a wonderful day that brought tears to my eyes. What was the theme of the party? Disney, of course!
Tom and I decided upon a Magic Kingdom theme for our son's nursery so my mom ran with the idea for the shower. She would only tell me the date and time of the shower and nothing else, as she didn't think it was a great idea to surprise a pregnant woman (for this, I am eternally grateful) but she wanted to keep everything else a surprise.

Here are some details from my picture perfect shower:

Invitations
We found the invitations on Etsy from a wonderful seller, SomethingPrintable. We provided her with the details of my shower and she entered the information into the design. She then emailed us the high resolution image, which we printed from Office Max. It came out amazing!

For a mere $12, I thought that this was incredibly reasonable and fun. I highly recommend SomethingPrintable for shower invitations.


Favors
We had two favors for my shower. My mother-in-law knew exactly what I've been craving throughout my pregnancy and got custom-made Rice Krispy treats from local baker and friend, Sweet Ness by Vanessa. Vanessa made these awesome-looking and DELICIOUS treats, which I ate for days after the shower. If you're in the New York City area, check out Vanessa's Facebook page.

My mom also picked up these packages of popcorn from Baby Love Diaper Cakes. They were adorable and everyone seemed to like the idea.


Centerpieces 
As cool as the popcorn wrappers from Baby Love Diaper Cakes were, their centerpieces were even more wonderful. My mom worked closely with Nancy, the company owner, who created these fun and functional pieces. While these looked amazing, we were truly even more amazed by what came out of them when we took them apart!

There were three different designs, which included:
- Onesies (really nice ones, not cheap ones!)
- Infant diapers
- Washcloths
- Blankets


We do not ever have to purchase infant diapers thanks to these centerpieces, and for that, I'm eternally grateful. Visit Nancy's website to see all of her unique designs. 

Dessert 
As you know edible items are my favorite. My sister-in-law Samantha surprised me with this gorgeous cake, by Sweet Cucina in Staten Island.

The cake was breathtaking and everyone clamored to take a photo of it. Not only did it look great, it also tasted great! Inside it was a vanilla cake with cookies and cream filling.

Visit Dani from Sweet Cucina on Instagram and Facebook

In addition to the great cake, my Aunt Elena made her famous sugar cookies. She doesn't sell them, but she should! My only regret was that the cookies were all gone before I could put some aside to take home!


Overall
I had an absolutely amazing time at my shower and I am so grateful for my wonderful family and friends. I loved all of the choices my mom, mother-in-law and sister-in-law made. My son is so lucky and I can't wait to show him all these photos one day. I just would like to point out that all of these items were paid for and since my family handled this all, they did not know I was a Disney blogger or that I'd be reviewing these items.

I'll leave you with a few photo of my Disney-inspired gifts. Leave me a comment if you have any questions about the items mentioned above.




 




Thursday, December 4, 2014

How to Turn Disney Pins into Art for Your Home



Pin trading has never really been my thing. While there are entire stores and kiosks devoted to the activity at Disney Parks, I never really was one to partake. That doesn't mean that I didn't collect any pins throughout the years. However, I never really made any purchases with the intent of trading. Instead I collected pins that were meaningful to me.

While cleaning out closets in my house for the imminent arrival of Baby Mo, I came across a bag of lanyards and books of pins. It sort of broke my heart. They certainly weren't going into the garbage, but it made no sense for them to sit in the back of the closet. 

Fast forward a couple of weeks - my husband and I went to Michael's to buy some frames for the nursery. That's when we came across this shadow box. For under $20 we picked it up and brought it home. My husband insisted that it would be perfect for our pins but I was skeptical.

I was incredibly pleased with the outcome! I was able to include my cast member nametags, our honeymoon pin, anniversary pin, Disneyland first visit pin and other meaningful pins. We were able to include pins from the special tours we've done throughout the years, including Keys to the Kingdom and Walking in Walt's Footsteps. We even were able to include a lanyard from our D23 Magic and Merriment special event and a lei from our Valentine's Day stay at Disney's Polynesian Resort.

We didn't include every pin we own; rather we used the shadow box to truly display the pins that had a special meaning to us. I had a ton of Cast Member pins from the Disney College Program. I even had a guest "thank you" pin from a very special couple. This elderly couple (Richard and Rachel) came through Space Mountain at least once a week and would give their "You are Very Special to Us" pins to Cast Members who went above and beyond to make their trip special. It honestly meant so much to me at at the time and I truly am so happy to see it hanging rather than rotting away in my closet.

We have plenty of less meaningful pins left to trade when we head to Disney Parks.

Have you used a shadow box to display your pins? I'd love to see your photos! Share with rosanne . mottola @ gmail.com. 





Monday, December 1, 2014

A Very Disney Holiday Party

Welcome to those of you joining me from Rolling with the Magic and those of you just hopping aboard. I am the third stop on our Magical Blogorail.



I love the Christmas season. Each and every year my family goes over the top with Christmas decorating. It's something that my Dad has always enjoyed and apparently the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. 

Just a small preview of what we do each year at my parents' home!

Between my parents (DVC members) and my husband and I (Disney fanatics) we tend to go over the top when it comes to Disney Christmas decorating. It shouldn't be any surprise to anyone who knows us!

As if we needed any additional excuses, hosting a holiday party is a great reason to go above and beyond with Christmas decorations. If you're having a Disney-themed party, I suggest picking a narrow topic (for example, Walt Disney World or Disney movies) and sticking with it. Once you have that in mind, go to town! There are SO many Disney-inspired Christmas items available.

Now, please let me contradict myself. As you can see we're over the top with our decorating, but that doesn't mean you have to be when decorating for a Disney party. Your Disney touches can be subtle, and if they are, it can be even more beautiful! Here are some of my favorite Disney items that can be on display in your home and add the perfect touches:

1) Ornament Holder Tree 
I absolutely love my Disney ornament holder tree. The truth is, after 30 years of Disney vacations, we've accumulated quite a few Disney ornaments. Some of them are extremely special to us and we feel that these ornaments get lost on our big tree. Therefore, we love displaying our special ornaments on this tree holder for all to enjoy. I do not believe this particular holder is for sale anymore (there are a few on ebay) but you can truly get any ornament tree for your Disney ornaments. 

2) Disney Christmas Village
Though it's not quite the amazing Christmas village display at Disney's Yacht Club Resort, we have our own little Christmas village and several pieces are an ode to Disney. A few years ago Disney had their own village set with pieces inspired by Main Street USA. Unfortunately they have been discontinued. However, you're not out of luck. Department 56 makes incredible Disney themed village pieces that would add a special magical touch for your Disney village. 

Want to spruce up your display? Simply purchase "snow" for the top of a regular folding table and use a red or green plastic table cloth underneath, as you can see in the photo below. We also stitched on a special ribbon to make the table even more fancy. The best part about the table cloth? It hides all the wires underneath from the lighted village pieces. 



3) Jim Shore Disney Christmas Collection
There is truly nothing I enjoy more than Jim Shore Disney collectibles. In fact, I commented on a friend's Facebook post last week that I think I pay Jim Shore's mortgage. Regardless, his items are absolutely beautiful, simple yet ornate, and perfect for showing off your love of Disney at Christmastime. 

While these figures aren't cheap, they also won't make you break the bank. We add one or two to our collection each year and we've accumulated quite a few over the years. Check out the Jim Shore Disney Christmas Collection on Jim's website



I hope you enjoyed viewing some of my favorite Disney Christmas decorations. Have a very Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy new year! 

Thank you for joining me today. Your next stop on the Magical Blogorail Loop is For the Love of Disney.


Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail should you happen to have to make a stop along the way and want to reboard:

1st Stop ~ A Disney Mom's Thoughts - Mickey Mouse Christmas
2nd Stop ~ Rolling with the Magic - A Muppet Christmas Carol Movie Night
3rd Stop ~ The Disney Point - Disney Holiday Party Decorations (You are here!)
Final Stop ~ For the Love of Disney - Disney's Prep & Landing Themed Christmas Party

Monday, November 3, 2014

Space Mountain Fun Facts

Welcome to those of you joining me from Magical Mouse Schoolhouse and those of you just hopping aboard. I am the fourth stop on our Magical Blogorail.

I'll never forget the first day of my Disney College Program. We didn't know our assignments yet - all I knew at that point was that I was going to be working on an attraction. So when a Cast Member was signing me in and I saw it said "Tomorrowland" next to my name, I was both thrilled and nervous. "Please let it be Space Mountain" and "please don't let it be the Tomorrowland Speedway" were competing thoughts in my head. Luckily, I got my wish. I'd be working on one of my all time favorite attractions - Space Mountain!

Space Mountain is truly a classic roller coaster. It was the first totally enclosed coaster and it's the oldest operating roller coaster in Florida. Because of this, many generations have called Space Mountain their first coaster and have fond memories of the attraction. Yet very few are able to get an insiders look at at the attraction that I had. Therefore, I'm very glad to be able to share some fun, somewhat mind-blowing facts about "the mountain."


About Walt Disney World's Space Mountain

  • You must be 44 inches tall to ride. If you must know, telling "shorties" they weren't tall enough was most definitely the worst part of my job.
  • Space Mountain will celebrate its 40th anniversary this January. The attraction opened on January 15, 1975.
  • When you enter the queue and walk downstairs, you are literally crossing UNDER the Walt Disney World Railroad. And Space Mountain Cast Members must cross the railroad tracks to enter the building. 
  • There are two tracks that are mirror images of one another. Most guests swear that they went on a different ride when they go on the track to the left (Track A or the Alpha Track) or to the right (Track B or the Omega Track). They are sort of correct. The tracks are exactly the same except one makes left turns and one makes right turns. They are literal mirror images of one another. Track A at the very end is ten feet longer to cross over Track B, but that is the only difference.
  • Max speed is (believe it or not) 27 miles per hour. When scared guests approached me outside the attraction, I'd tell them, "Would you get scared in a convertible going 27mph?" They'd laugh - and then I'd say that's how fast this ride goes. While the dark makes it considerably more frightening, it still isn't going very fast! If you ever have the opportunity to ride with the lights on, you'll see its not very scary at all! 
  • If Space Mountain is broken down, take a ride on the TTA PeopleMover. When Space Mountain is down, the lights automatically turn on for the Cast Members to reset the ride. When you go through the Mountain on the PeopleMover, you'll get a great view of the track with the lights on.
  • Cast Members walk the entire track every single night for lost and found. If you have a severe fear of heights, Space Mountain is probably not the ride for you to work on. We found the usual items each night (cameras, hats, ears, glasses) as well as things you'd never believe, including false teeth, hairpieces, shoes, etc. All items are tagged and brought to Guest Relations right after park closing.
  • Each rocket ship must have at least five guests. When you see the cast members running around looking for a party of one or two, there's a reason for it. If the cars don't have enough weight or if they run with less than five guests, the control tower must put a delay on the next rocket ship so it doesn't catch up to the one in front of it.
These are just some of the fun facts I learned while working at Space Mountain. If you have any questions, feel free to ask me in the comments section and I will answer them to the best of my ability. (It HAS been ten years since my College Program!) I hope you enjoyed this fun trivia!

Thank you for joining me today. Your next stop on the Magical Blogorail Loop is Adventure in the Great Wide Somewhere.




Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail should you happen to have to make a stop along the way and want to reboard:

1st Stop ~ Frontierland Station - Splash Mountain
2nd Stop ~ A Disney Mom's Thoughts - TTA PeopleMover
3rd Stop ~ Magical Mouse Schoolhouse - The Haunted Mansion 
4th Stop ~ The Disney Point - Space Mountain (You are here!)
Final Stop ~ Adventure in the Great Wide Somewhere - The Disney Magic

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Three Things Thursday - Ch-cha-changes

Busy time at work is finally over, and I've been thinking a lot about this blog, what I enjoy writing about and what I think you, my readers, enjoy reading about.

So with that in mind, let me share three things this morning: 

1) I'm pregnant! That's right - I'm due right  around the new year. If you follow me on my social media channels, you probably already know this exciting news; however, I never made a formal statement on this blog. We are over the moon excited to welcome our first child - a son - to our family in just a couple of months. We've also had a blast preparing his "Magic Kingdom" themed nursery.



2) We've been enjoying NYC, our home, more than ever. I have had the privilege to be born, to grow up and to currently reside in the greatest city in the world. I'm not sure why I'm just taking the time to now appreciate this amazing place, but we have been taking advantage of special opportunities, seeing shows and enjoying amazing meals. These are just some things I would love to share with you.



3) The Disney Point evolves. With numbers one and two in mind, I have decided that I would like to expand the focus of The Disney Point. I am most certainly not moving away from Disney - I will continue to write about what's on my mind and Disney is pretty much on my mind 90% of each day. But I'd also like to share my thoughts about motherhood, life, my journey living with ulcerative colitis and non-Disney adventures.


I hope that you will continue reading. If I talk to myself for a while, that will be OK too. I ask for your patience as we change the look around here as we prepare for this new focus. 

I hope you join me on my exciting new journey! Have a magical day!

Three Things Thursday

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Celebrating a Milestone Birthday at Walt Disney World

Welcome to the first stop aboard Magical Blogorail Red. Enjoy the ride as we share our experiences celebrating special events at Disney Destinations. 


When planning a magical Disney vacation, why not plan it around a birthday? That's exactly what I did last year for my husband's 30th birthday. In fact, I surprised him with a trip completely!

He opened this up with 18 hours left to go!
As a Cast Member, we are taught to wish everyone a happy birthday that walks by us with a birthday pin. (You can get your pin at any guest relations location) You don't truly understand how overwhelming that can be until the moment you are the guest with the birthday! I included a note on every single reservation about my husband's birthday. They wished him a happy birthday from the moment we stepped off the Magical Express until the moment we left.

When making your reservations, you can add a note in the "celebrating" section. Do this for your hotel reservations and your dining reservations. The wait staff is certainly well versed in celebrating magical birthdays.

In addition, a pin tips off characters as well. They may spend some extra time with you as well, catering to you for your special day.

Our most magical experience of this particular trip was when we were just catching some air conditioning and a bottle of water at Pizzafari in Disney's Animal Kingdom. We were traveling with my cousins, one of which celebrated her birthday the day before my husband. A custodial cast member pulled them with a little girl into the center of the restaurant and made everyone sing happy birthday to them.

Disney Cast Members truly go above and beyond!

Have you celebrated a birthday at Disney Parks? How was your experience? Sound off in the comments section below!



Thank you for joining me today. Your next stop on the Magical Blogorail Loop is Frontierland Station.


Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail should you happen to have to make a stop along the way and want to reboard:

1st Stop ~ The Disney Point - Milestone Birthdays (You are here!)
2nd Stop ~ Frontierland Station - Grad Nite
3rd Stop ~ A Disney Mom's Thoughts - Celebrating a Pregnancy
4th Stop ~ Magical Mouse Schoolhouse - Anniversary
Final Stop ~ Mommy To All Girls - Honeymoon

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Saying YES to DAS

As a former Cast Member, I've said it a million times: if you need special assistance at Disney Parks, don't be afraid to ask for it. Go to Guest Relations, explain your symptoms or needs and enjoy your vacation. Disney will explain how they can help.


Do you know what they say about doctors? They make the worst patients. I guess the same can be said for Cast Members - or former Cast Members in my case.

I've said it before on this blog and I'll gladly say it again: I live with a pretty severe case of ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease. I was diagnosed in 2006. My symptoms include frequent diarrhea, regular pain, blood loss, weakness, etc. I take more pills than you can imagine and I go for regular infusion treatments. I do not talk about this a lot, but I'm getting better at that. As you can imagine, the symptoms aren't fun to talk about and are incredibly embarrassing.

Like most inflammatory diseases, I have flare ups which exacerbate my symptoms. However when I'm in what I consider "remission" I still have symptoms. I'm still having bowel movements at least six times per day and I deal with severe urgency even when I'm well. Worse than the physical conditions are the psychological ones. Fear of not getting to a bathroom in time is a daily battle.

This past March during my trip to Disneyland I was in what I consider a state of remission. It was a somewhat stressful trip in that I did not know the locations of the restrooms like the back of my hand, like I do at Walt Disney World. In addition, I did not know how far I was from the front of an attraction or the length of new rides. I was both physically and emotionally struggling.

Several times throughout the trip I left a line to use the bathroom. Most of the time my husband would wait in line for me and let other guests pass him while he waited for me. Other times, I had a difficult time getting back in line because the Disneyland lines are significantly more narrow. There was a lot of guilt associated with this pattern and I truly worked myself into a panic several times.

On our last day at the Disneyland Hotel, we were sitting by the pool and I turned to my husband and said, "I think it's about time that I come to terms with my limitations. I think it's time for me to consider DAS." DAS is Disney Parks Disability Access Service. I am, by no means, looking to skirt lines or ask for special treatment. I would simply like to use my time waiting in line sitting near a restroom.

My husband simply looked at me and said, "I've been waiting for you to come to that conclusion. I'm glad you've decided to help yourself."

He's right. The next time I go to a Disney Park, I'm going to help myself have an enjoyable time, free of panic. I'm going to ask the knowledgeable Disney Cast Members how I can take advantage of the services available.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Best Way to End a Disney Vacation


Welcome to those of you joining me from Magical Mouse Schoolhouse and those of you just hopping aboard. I am the second stop on our Magical Blogorail.

When I was a kid, my family would stay at the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa for a week each year. One of my favorite traditions is riding the resort monorail with my little brother as my parents checked into the resort. In fact, when I was a child, my brother would say that when he grew up he wanted to be a monorail driver.

It's a classic kid story - give them the most amazing theme park in the world, with every type of attraction imaginable, and the kids want to ride the monorail. We memorized the spiels, stood clear of the closing doors, and took in all the sights and views.

My husband and I on the monorail during our honeymoon

That was the beginning of our yearly trip. But I think it is just as fitting as the ending of a trip. I usually enjoy spending my last day at the Magic Kingdom. I go and visit my family's stone, which is right outside of the resort monorail loop. After saying goodbye to Mickey Mouse, I'm not ever quite ready to say goodbye to the resort.

The Ragone stone - Two decades old
From approximately 100 feet in the air, the Walt Disney World monorail system gives you the best overview of the over forty square miles of the resort. In fact, you can cover about fifteen miles of the resort via the monorail system. There's something magical about viewing Walt's creation from up above.

From the Magic Kingdom station to around Epcot, there's plenty to see. Have more time to spare? Hop off the local resort monorail and visit Disney's Polynesian Resort, Disney's Contemporary Resort and Disney's Grand Floridian Resort and Spa. There's plenty to see and do at these resorts.

The best part about the monorail and the resorts? This activity won't cost you a penny. You can reminisce about your trip, discuss "favorites" of each day and get some great photos  - all in the comfort of air conditioning.

I love the monorail. It's truly a highway in the sky and a Disney trip would never be complete without it!

photo credit: SpreadTheMagic via photopin cc
The perfect activity when the sun sets on your Disney vacation

Thank you for joining me today. Your next stop on the Magical Blogorail Loop is Frontierland Station.

Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail should you happen to have to make a stop along the way and want to reboard:

1st Stop ~ Magical Mouse School House – Park Hopping
2nd Stop ~ The Disney Point – Riding the Monorail
3rd Stop ~ Frontierland Station – Character Breakfasts
4th Stop ~ A Disney Mom’s Thoughts – Shopping & Taking Photos
Final Stop ~ Superheroes and Teacups – Strolling Down Main Street, USA

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

My Dream for Disney: Live Bus Updates

Have you ever come across a cool technological advancement or a luxury that you wish Disney would incorporate? Disney is always pushing the technology button, moving to more automated systems to (in theory) make our lives easier and make our vacations stress-free. In Walt Disney World, they've debuted FastPass+ and My Disney Experience for this reason.

I was thinking about this the other day during my morning commute to New York City. In fact, my morning commute is usually the time I find myself daydreaming about Disney the most. (Probably because that's the one place I'd always rather be!)

A screen shot from Bus NYC. The red
symbols are buses on the route.
Over the past few years, the New York City MTA (Metropolitan Transit Authority) have debuted a number of smart phone apps that have made my life substantially better. One such app is called "Bus NYC." On this app, I am able to save my morning bus stop and my favorite routes. I then can view the timetable of when the buses are supposed to arrive. While this is helpful, anyone in New York City knows that traffic can throw a massive wrench in those plans.

Instead of relying on timetables, I can view the GPS location of the buses on that particular route. Therefore, I don't leave my house in the morning before I can see my bus on approach. In fact, I've timed it out perfectly. On a rainy day, or a cold snowy morning, I don't leave my house a minute before I have to.

How can this be applied to Disney? Imagine the possibilities!

Imagine you're staying at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge and you have dinner reservations at the Hollywood Brown Derby in Disney's Hollywood Studios. Your little one just woke up from a much-needed nap and is dragging a bit. You are rushing to get ready and you check your app. You see the next Hollywood Studios bus about fifteen minutes away, so you can take your time to get ready before running to the bus stop.


Or imagine this: You're at the bus stop waiting for the Magic Kingdom bus at Port Orleans French Quarter when your little one tells you that you the he has to use the bathroom. "It's an emergency!" he proclaims. You check your app and see that you have a least five minutes before the bus will arrive so you carry him into the lobby bathroom to take care of business.

So Disney Imagineers, if somehow, someday, you read this, please come up with a system like this for Walt Disney World! Guests would be eternally grateful!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

A Disney Dream Date Inspired by Pixar's Up


Welcome to those of you joining me from Magical Mouse Schoolhouse and those of you just hopping aboard. I am the third stop on our Magical Blogorail.


Carl and Ellie Fredricksen had grand ideas about their future. They had dreams of adventure, of flying around the world to exotic locations together. Though their ideas were larger than life, their love was ultimately made of the little moments. I have found that in my own life, the little moments are what means the most.

Therefore, when I think of my Disney dream date based off of a Disney movie, Up's picnic scene immediately comes to mind. Carl and Ellie are saving for their future adventures, but they still find time for romantic dates, like their picnic date at the park.


Finding a Place for Your Picnic
Think about a quiet place outdoors where you can hold a picnic. I live in New York City and believe it or not, several places come to mind right away. It can be a park or beach that is nearby. Pick a nice spring or summer day for your outing. Not everything needs to be planned far in advance; remember, adventure is out there! On a sunny day, you may want to find a place with shade to sit during your meal.

Food for Thought
What a picnic without munchies? I'm not sure I want to find out! When planning food for a picnic, remember to keep it simple. Prepare cool foods, like finger sandwiches or fruit salads, to share. Bring chips or nuts along for munching while staring at the clouds. As for the perfect Up-inspired drink - how about grape soda? You can drink the version made today by Fanta and present your love with this adorable pin from Etsy.

From the MyHoard Etsy Shop. Purchase here.
Picnic Gear
You don't need to break the bank to prepare for your picnic. For as low as $25, you can get this simple, easy to carry roll up quilt from Oriental Trading. In addition, Etsy has vintage wooden picnic baskets for under $40.

I would love to go on a simple picnic date like this! In no time, I'd be falling in love all over again like Carl and Ellie. At the end of the day, you'll have your date saying, "Thanks for the adventure."

Thank you for joining me today. Your next stop on the Magical Blogorail Loop is Frontierland Station.

Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail should you happen to have to make a stop along the way and want to reboard:

1st Stop ~ A Disney Mom's Thoughts - The Princess and the Frog
2nd Stop ~ Magical Mouse School House - Lady and the Tramp
3rd Stop ~ The Disney Point - Up (You are here!)
4th Stop ~ Frontierland Station - The Little Mermaid
Final Stop ~ Two Moms and A Mouse - Cinderella


Thursday, July 3, 2014

4th of July at the Magic Kingdom Flag Retreat






Welcome to those of you joining me from Magical Mouse Schoolhouse and those of you just hopping aboard. I am the fourth stop on our Magical Blogorail.


It's easy to get lost in the hustle and bustle of the Magic Kingdom. Often, even if you start your day at the crack of dawn, time escapes you and before you know it, it's time for the fireworks and the Main Street Electrical Parade.

However, as we are celebrating Fourth of July, I urge all Magic Kingdom guests to stop what they are doing at 4:45 and walk to the front of the park. Why? So you will have the opportunity to witness the most important part of a Magic Kingdom day. No, not fireworks, but the Magic Kingdom Flag Retreat Ceremony.

Every single day at 5pm, rain or shine, Main Street USA Cast Members, march out in unison, accompanied by the marching band, Dapper Dans and members of Disney security team. They take take down the American flag in a very careful and precise way.


photo credit: Edward Beavers via photopin cc
It's a time of day that the entrance of Main Street isn't crowded at all. Some folks are leaving and very few are coming in for a park hop. But Disney treats this ceremony with the utmost respect.

For me, the best part of the ceremony is the fact that they choose a United States veteran every single day to participate in the ceremony. This veteran salutes the flag as it is retreating, and after the security team folds it respectfully the veteran is presented with the flag.

photo credit: Scott Smith (SRisonS) via photopin cc
This is by no means a flashy ceremony. There's no characters running around and little fan fare. However, I think that this simplicity is what makes it beautiful, touching and perfect.

So when you are celebrating the 4th of July, or any Disney day for that matter, take a break from the hustle and bustle and go watch the Flag Retreat Ceremony. You won't be disappointed!

Thank you for joining me today. Your next stop on the Magical Blogorail Loop is My Pixie Dust Diary.

1st Stop ~ Frontierland Station - The Voices of Liberty
2nd Stop ~ A Disney Mom’s Thoughts - Dressing for July 4th
3rd Stop ~ Magical Mouse Schoolhouse - American Adventure
4th Stop ~ The Disney Point - Magic Kingdom Flag Retreat Ceremony (You are here!)
Final Stop ~ My Pixie Dust Diary - Fireworks Viewing

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Review and Giveaway: 102 Ways to Save Money for and at Walt Disney World

This review for 102 Ways to Save Money For and At Walt Disney World by Lou Mongello is part of a Magical Blogorail sponsored campaign. Copies of the book were received free of charge for a review. Opinions are those of the reviewer and do not represent those of the author.  Your opinion may vary.

I am honored to have the opportunity today to review "102 Ways to Save Money For and At Walt Disney World" by Lou Mongello. On a personal note, I first "discovered" Lou Mongello back in the day when I used to download Walt Disney World ride audio from Napster. I had no idea a Disney fan community actually existed until I purchased Lou's awesome Walt Disney World trivia books one trip in Virgin Megastore at Downtown Disney. Since then, I've been a loyal listener of WDW Radio, a podcast that Lou has been the host and producer of since early 2005. I remember this time well, because I had just finished my fall 2004 Walt Disney World College Program, and I was hungry for any and all WDW info!


About "102 Ways to Save Money For and At Walt Disney World"

First of all, as a former cast member, I had to chuckle when I saw the title of the book. While most informational books have 101 ways, I immediately knew the reason why picked 102. Any cast member will tell you, when an attraction breaks down we say it's "101." When it is back up and running, it's "102." I was only a few pages in and I already LOVED the book!

Lou Mongello
Beside that little bit of Disney-geekdom, 102 Ways is a terrific way to prepare for a Walt Disney World vacation. As most people know (Disney fan or not) Walt Disney World can be extraordinarily expensive and the price tag can seem insurmountable. I have found that even with a Disney Vacation Club membership that is paid off, I have a difficult time coming up with money for even just the flight and park tickets. However, by following Lou's simple but genius tips, you can save money for your trip and even during your trip.


What I liked most about the book is that it's broken down into easy-to-comprehend and read sections. Need resort tips? They are all together. Already paid off your trip but need some free things to keep you occupied? There's a section for that. Lou's tips are foolproof and all legitimate. You don't have to worry about getting scammed on fake tickets on 192! 

Noteworthy "Ways" to Save
As a Disney fan, there were some ways that I learned along the way. Others, however, were so creative and on the point that I wanted to mention them to you here:

  • As you probably know, I like to eat. As a loyal listener of WDW Radio, I am confident that Lou would tell you that he likes to eat too. But sometimes after a big breakfast and walking around in the lovely Florida heat and humidity, I am not in the mood for a massive lunch. One of Lou's best tips: You can save nearly $8 per meal by skipping the sides! I'm sure you're aware of the combo platters in the quick service restaurant. Just because it's packaged that way for your ease doesn't mean that you need to buy it that way. I really never thought of that, and that's what makes it such a great tip!
  • Did you know that if you book a vacation package with Disney you can order free, personalized maps? I did. I've ordered them pretty much on every trip I've been on because they are really beautiful. One of Lou's tips was to have the characters autograph the maps instead of spending money on a book. I just love this tip because it must make such a great keepsake and decorative piece at the end of your vacation.
  • Free water. I know I've mentioned it before on this blog, but it's worth mentioning again. Do not dehydrate yourself because bottled water is expensive. Any quick service restaurant will give you a cup of ice water if you request it, for free.
How Can You Save on a Walt Disney World Vacation?
1. Open up your wallet.
2. Purchase Lou Mongello's "102 Ways to Save Money For and At Walt Disney World."
3. Read it, and follow his advice.

Unsure about the book? I highly recommend you take a listen to the WDW Radio show podcast or participate in one of Lou's monthly meets. I know you'll be a dedicated as I am, especially after you save a boatload of money on your next vacation!


Disney expert and podcasting pioneer, Lou Mongello, shares 102 ways you can have the most magical Disney vacation without breaking the bank in this comprehensive, detailed, 197-page guide.  102 Ways to Save Money For and At Walt Disney World guide is a MUST HAVE for any family planning toward a Disney vacation.

Purchase the Book Here 

 

Enter to Win a Copy of Your Own + a Walt Disney World Audio Tour from Lou Mongello

If you would like a copy of Lou Mongello's 102 Ways to Save Money at Walt Disney World please enter to win our giveaway below.  Please click here if the entry widget is not shown below.


Thursday, June 5, 2014

Disney's Magical Express


Welcome to the first stop aboard Magical Blogorail Red. Enjoy the ride as we discuss different types of Disney transportation.

There was a discussion the other day on the Magical Blogorail Facebook page on what we deem the official start of a Walt Disney World vacation. Is it when you first go through the turnstiles? When you arrive at your resort hotel? When you see Cinderella Castle for the first time.

For me, the official start of my Walt Disney World vacation is the moment I step foot on Disney's Magical Express. I am a terrible flyer, so I only start relaxing when I'm off the plane. Disney's Magical Express makes flying into Orlando International Airport so incredibly easy, it helps ease any stress.


What's Disney's Magical Express? It's a free airport transportation and luggage service for Walt Disney World Resort guests. It allows you to bypass luggage pickup and head directly to your resort.

How does it work? When you make your resort reservation, provide the Cast Member (or through the website) with your flight information. Don't know your flight information? You can add it later. Just remember, your luggage tags will be sent approximately three weeks before your vacation. Can't get your tags in time? It's still not a problem. You can pick up your own luggage and take it with you.

Arrival at the Airport. When you arrive at your home airport, make sure each piece of checked luggage has a Magical Express luggage tag before checking them with your airline. This will be the last time you'll see your luggage until you are in your resort room later. Do not pack anything that you may need on the bus. I always pack my medication and a bathing suit in my carry on.

Arrival at Orlando International. You've made it! Now simply proceed to Disney’s Magical Express Welcome Center, located on Side B, Level 1. You will need only your voucher OR your Magic Band to check in. An air conditioned motor coach (with restroom on board) awaits you. You'll line up according to resort. Remember, you do not need to get your luggage! (Exception: If your flight arrives before 5:00 AM or after 10:00 PM get your luggage and bring it to the bus.)

On the bus. Welcome to your motor coach! Remember, there may be multiple stops, but you can expect a 30-40 ride. During this ride, you will be entertained with a video. Looking for a photo when you enter the Walt Disney World gates? Sit toward the front on the right side of the bus. Sit back and relax!

Waiting for your luggage. Your luggage will arrive in approximately three hours. You do not need to be in your room to receive your luggage. Go about your magical vacation and have a great time!

Departing Walt Disney World Resort. All good things must come to an end. The night before you check out, there will be a letter and vouchers delivered to your room which will list the pick-up time and place. It will be approximately three hours before your flight.

Certain airlines participate in Resort Airline Check-In, which allows you to check in for your flight and check your luggage right from your resort. You must arrive with your travel documentation (the TSA will screen you) at least three hours before your flight. Here are the participating airlines:
  • Alaska Airlines
  • American Airlines
  • AirTran Airways
  • Delta Air Lines
  • JetBlue Airways
  • Southwest Airlines
  • United Airlines
  • US Airways


Have any questions about Disney's Magical Express? Write to me in the comments section below. Also, feel free to share your opinion of this service.

Thank you for joining me today. Your next stop on the Magical Blogorail Loop is Magical Mouse Schoolhouse.

Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail should you happen to have to make a stop along the way and want to reboard:

1st Stop ~ The Disney Point (You are here!)
2nd Stop ~ Magical Mouse Schoolhouse
3rd Stop ~ A Disney Mom's Thoughts
4th Stop ~ My Dreams of Disney
Final Stop ~ Home is Where the Mouse Is

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Magic Kingdom Flag Retreat

It's easy to get lost in the hustle and bustle of the Magic Kingdom. Often, even if you start your day at the crack of dawn, time escapes you and before you know it, it's time for the fireworks and the Main Street Electrical Parade.

However, as we are approaching the Fourth of July, I urge all Magic Kingdom guests to stop what they are doing at 4:45 and walk to the front of the park. Why? So you will have the opportunity to witness the most important part of a Magic Kingdom day that virtually nobody knows about - the Magic Kingdom Flag Retreat Ceremony.

Every single day at 5pm, rain or shine, Main Street USA Cast Members, march out in unison, accompanied by the marching band, Dapper Dans and members of Disney security team. They take take down the American flag in a very careful and precise way.


photo credit: Edward Beavers via photopin cc
It's a time of day that the entrance of Main Street isn't crowded at all. Some folks are leaving and very few are coming in for a park hop. But Disney treats this ceremony with the utmost respect.

For me, the best part of the ceremony is the fact that they choose a United States veteran every single day to participate in the ceremony. This veteran salutes the flag as it is retreating, and after the security team folds it respectfully the veteran is presented with the flag.

photo credit: Scott Smith (SRisonS) via photopin cc
This is by no means a flashy ceremony. There's no characters running around and little fan fare. However, I think that this simplicity is what makes it beautiful, touching and perfect.

Next month, take a break from the hustle and bustle and go watch the Flag Retreat Ceremony. You won't be disappointed!