Wednesday, December 29, 2010

My Top 5 Posts of 2010

It is hard to believe that 2010 is just about over.  2011 has a lot of promise for my family, especially since we are already in the process of planning our next WDW vacation for December 2011.  I started my blog simply to share the lessons I learned traveling to Walt Disney World with three small children.  I thought I would share with you my five most viewed posts of the year.  Two of the articles I list below are actually from my home blog.  I am not sure how I confused which blog to post them on, but I guess that is the occupational hazard of a stay at home mom who tries to accomplish things while talking to, teaching and playing with her three children ~ multi-tasking at its best!  Enjoy!

#5 Character Dining at Walt Disney World: I wrote this article for my column Making Magical Memories over at WDW Daily News back in November 2009, but just posted it this November on my blog.  Bringing kids to character meals can help save time from standing in lines to meet them in the parks.

#4 Disney Magic and Holiday Magic All in One: I shared how I brought the Magic of Disney and the Magic of Christmas together to create wonderful memories for our family

#3 Princess Storybook Dining ~ Akershus Royal Banquet Hall: This is one of the posts I put on my home blog, still not sure how that happened!  It is a review of our experience at our very first princess meal, as well as a photo montage of Emily & Hayley with their favorite princesses.

#2 My Disney Inspirations: Where my love of visiting Disney Parks all started!

#1 Disney Junior Encyclopedia of Animated Characters - A Review: Make sure you read the comments on this one.  One reader used this as an autograph book and it created some very memorable moments with the characters while in WDW!

Thank you to all of you who have been reading my posts all along and welcome to all my new followers!  With an upcoming trip to WDW, my blog will follow me through all the things I use to create a memorable Disney vacation for my family!  Only 339 more days until WDW!

Here's to a Happy and Healthy New Year!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Vacation Planning is in the Air!

My Countdown Chart**
As we turn the corner to the new year, my family and I are beginning our plans for our next trip to WDW.  As you may have read from my previous posts, we all travel together.  When I say all, I mean my parents, my brother, sister-in-law, two nephews, my husband, my three children and myself.  We will be a Grand Gathering of 11 this time around.  There will be many firsts for this trip:

1. We will be traveling during December.  We have never been during the holidays because before being a stay at home mom, I was a teacher.  There was just no way I could take time off from work to make a trip south at this time of year.

2. We will be celebrating Emily's 4th birthday while in WDW.  We have never celebrated anyone's birthday in all the trips we have made to WDW.  She has already requested to eat with the princesses, so our tentative plan is breakfast with the princesses either at Cinderella's Royal Table in the castle or Princess Storybook Dining at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall in the Norway Pavilion.  Then dinner will be with the Fab 5 at Chef Mickey's.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Christmas 2005
It is hard to believe that 2010 is just about over.  It seems this year has gone by much faster than any in the past.  We have had a lot of changes in our family this year, with the biggest change being my oldest, Joey, starting kindergarten.  He has transitioned so well, I am really looking forward to what 2011 brings! 

I'd like to say thank you to all of you who follow my blog, read my ramblings and hop aboard the Magical Blogorail each month.  I have really enjoyed connecting with other Disney fans out there and sharing my magical memories. 

My family wishes you and your loved ones a very Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Music to My Ears ~ Disney Music That Is!

My three kids are definitely Disney fans through and through (much to my relief!).  I've written articles already about things we do at home between trips to Walt Disney World to keep Disney magic alive, but listening to Disney music is something we do everyday.  Right now, my kids are in the family room listening, dancing and singing to our favorite Disney CD collection.  It is called Disney's Greatest.  We have all three volumes and I will admit they are our most used CDs in the house, followed closely by The Princess and the Frog Soundtrack.  Not only do we listen to them a lot at home, but whenever we go out and about, we grab a volume and bring it in the car.  The three discs contain songs from classics such as Bambi and Snow White to Toy Story and The Lion King.  We've listened to these so many times that all three of my children can sing just about every song.  It's funny because they knew some of the songs long before they even saw the movies they were a part of.  I must admit that I also love listening to these songs, but that probably didn't need to be said!

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Anxious Child in Disney

Hayley Ringing the Dinner Bell

Making Magical Memories Column
Newsletter #142
Published August 17, 2010
My son is only 5 years old and was in preschool during our last trip. He is our “thinker” of the three kids and because of that, he is also our worrier. I swear he can ask a thousand “what if” questions a day. He can get himself worked up over the simplest things. As a result, prior to our last trip to Walt Disney World, we began preparing him for what it would be like on our vacation. Though he hit a stage of being very frightened of everyday things, we felt his familiarity with Disney characters would help him through our time in the theme parks. Well, we were wrong. During the entire 8 night stay, he did not once have his picture taken with a character. He avoided any rides he couldn’t see what was on the inside. Even at Hoop Dee Doo, he was asked if he wanted to ring the dinner bell, which he responded by hanging his head and closing his eyes. Luckily, my three year old was there to step in! So here are a few things I learned on this vacation while traveling with an anxious child:

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Disney Magic and Holiday Magic All in One ~ The Perfect Combination

Hallmark Cars Ornament
I am very excited to write about holidays Disney-style.  As a self proclaimed Disney fanatic and Christmas fanatic, what could be better than combining Disney magic with Christmas magic?  As I made my way around my house photographing every Disney Christmas item I had, I became very excited to share all my treasures.  I actually took so many photos that I even mentioned to Natalie over at Meet the Magic that I may be able to just do a photo blog this month!  But as I was typing up my post (this is the revised one!), I realized that it wasn't very personal.  What is exciting about reading an inventory list of Disney Christmas items I owned?  So as I looked through the pictures, I decided to focus on one way we truly bring Disney magic to our home at Christmas time.

Hallmark's Little Mermaid Ornament
My parents have given me an ornament every Christmas since I was born.  It is an amazing tradition that I have continued with my own children.  The yearly ornaments represent something that has happened during the year or something special to us.  For example, this year Emily celebrated her 3rd birthday with a Princess Tiana themed party, so we bought her the Hallmark Princess Tiana Ornament, Hayley had a Little Mermaid themed party, so we purchased the Hallmark Little Mermaid Ornament (see left) and finally, since Joey is a year round Cars fanatic, we purchased him the Hallmark Cars Ornament (see left, notice the Piston Cup tree topper and the tree is actually made of Lightyear tires).  I find Hallmark always has a great selection of Disney ornaments, which is nice since we cannot make it to the parks every year.  Hallmark even has Mickey's Christmas Carol Collection, which began last year with Mickey as Bob Cratchit (see photo below).  It has been hinted that Santa just may deliver to me the second in the series ~ Scrooge McDuck as Ebenezer Scrooge.

Hallmark Mickey's Christmas Carol Collection
1st in series Mickey as Bob Cratchit
This tradition has actually carried over into our WDW vacations.  Every trip we purchase ornamaments that represent something we loved or tried on that particular vacation.  This could represent a character we met, a favorite ride or even an ornament that represents the year of someone's first visit.  We actually have collected so many Disney ornaments over the years that I have one Christmas tree completely dedicated to just Disney ornaments and another tree dedicated to all others.  As we decorate the Disney tree, we reminisce about our trips as we put each ornament on the tree.  Below is one we purchased for Joey's first trip.  He was just 14 months on his first trip to WDW and we took him to our very first character meal at Cape May Cafe. Chip and Dale played with him for most of our meal and he just loved them, so we purchased him a Chip and Dale ornament.

I find it an amazing way to keep our magical moments alive through the holiday season - maybe I should keep my Disney tree up year round?!?!  :-)

I think I could write 100s of posts dedicated to just Disney ornaments we have collected and each one's special meaning, but I will leave it at this. 

What is a Disney tradition you have that brings together Disney magic and Christmas/Holiday magic?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Disney Mom's Lesson: Quality not Quantity

Over the last 24 years and 12 trips to Walt Disney World, my touring has evolved drastically. Before kids, I would drag my husband through the parks from sunup to sundown. We would be exhausted on returning home. We saw everything – every attraction, show, parade and sampled the food and drinks in all World Showcase Pavilions (not all in one day, of course). Even on my son’s first trip when he was 14 months and then again on his second and my daughters’ first trip, we went all day long with just short afternoon breaks for the kids to nap and use the pool. But something changed before our 2010 trip.