Sunday, May 29, 2011

We Pursued and We Found the Magic This Week

Though my blog hasn't been as busy with articles as it usually is, it was a very busy week here at home! 

The most exciting thing this week is that we have booked our flights for our return trip from Walt Disney World.  Southwest Airlines has extended their booking window to January 6th.  The best part is I was able to use all free flights for our return trip and only $82 per person for our flight down.  This is a great savings for us!

For Wordless Wednesday (though it wasn't wordless, I couldn't help myself), in honor of getting our flights, I shared a photo of my three children at Manchester Airport looking out over snowy runways waiting to see if our plane was actually going to take off for our March 2010 trip to Walt Disney World.

Friday, you could find me over at Growing Up Disney.  I am part of the Minnie Moms over there, and this past week we each shared our Advanced Planning Tips.  Check to see what I do throughout the year to plan our trips to Disney.

While I was visiting the Touring Plans site to find the link to an article, I saw right on the homepage of their website, a comment I sent to them about how much I love their Crowd Calendar.  I'm "Elizabeth in NH."  That made my day!

We are getting ready to go to my aunt and uncle's for a Memorial Day gathering.  I have packed up all the ingredients for some delicious Konk Coolers, which are from Castaway Cay.  I found the recipe over at Cooking with Mickey.  I've also made a batch of 'Ohana Honey Lime Dressing to bring along.

How did you find Disney Magic this week?  I would love to hear about it!

Disney Pin Codes

This past week I received a pin code from Disney Destinations off a room only reservation. A pin code is usually a fifteen digit number that gives you an exclusive discount off a Disney room reservation or vacation package.  Pin codes are specific to the person it is sent to, so you cannot share it with someone else, though you can normally book two or three rooms using the code.  We now have an additional $200 savings over our original AAA discount!  Add that to the money we saved on our flights, and we are well under budget for this trip and have not even left the house yet!  Even better, I was able to book my parents' room with this discount too!

By the way, there seems to be no specific way to get the pin codes, but over at Touring Plans, Tom Bricker wrote a great blog post called Outsmarting the Pin Code Monkeys, which has a lot of suggestions on how (though no one really knows exactly) you can potentially increase your chances of getting a pin code.  Of course, who knows exactly how to secure a pin code, but all the suggestions are worth testing out if it gives you a chance at saving some money.

Even more exciting, as you may know I am a HUGE fan of Touring Plan's Crowd Calendar.  When I was just on their site looking for the link to that blog post, my comment is listed right on the front page under "From Our Subscribers."  I'm the one listed as Elizabeth from NH.  This day is off to a great start!

Happy Memorial Day, everyone!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Minnie Moms Contribution at Growing Up Disney

I contribute monthly to Amy's Minnie Moms over at Growing Up Disney.  This month we are asked to share our advanced planning tips when getting ready for a Disney vacation.  Because all of us had so much to say on the topic, you can find five different posts over the week.  Here's the link to mine, Advanced Planning Tips - Beth, but make sure you check out all the valuable tips from Janine, Heather, Corby and, of course, Amy.  If you missed any of our previous topics, you can find them all on Amy's Minnie Moms page.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Wordless Wednesday ~ At the Gate and Waiting

The night before we left for our 2010 trip to Walt Disney World, New Hampshire had a major snowstorm.  Here my kids were waiting to see if we would actually be able to take off on time.  They were watching the snowplows clear the runways.  Luckily, we had no delays.  Since we boooked all out flights this week for our fall trip, I was thinking of all us just sitting and waiting to see if we would make it to Walt Disney World.  This year we will be going in October, so I am fairly certain, though it isn't impossible, that we will not be facing any snowstorms on our departure day!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Southwest Airlines Now Booking through January 6th

In my post yesterday, I mentioned that Southwest Airlines would be extending their booking window on May 26th.  Apparently, that was wrong because they have extended the booking window today, May 24th, and you can now book through January 6th.  I just booked all five of our return flights using my Rapid Rewards credits.  That means it only cost us $482 for 5 round trip flights to Orlando!  I am very excited!  This mean we are already $1,000 under budget before even leaving the house.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Southwest to Release Next Round of Flights to Book

On May 26th, Southwest will be releasing the next round of flights available to book. I am very excited since we have already purchased our flights to Orlando for our trip to Walt Disney World, now we can purchase our return flights.  Hopefully, I can use my five rewards tickets for all five flights I need to book. Fingers crossed!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

We Pursued and We Found the Magic

It has been another busy week at home.

On Monday, my kids and I made Hoop Dee Doo Cornbread for dinner.  This is one of my favorite recipes for many reasons, but mostly because it is a great activity the kids and I can do together!

On Tuesday I continued my series In Flight Fun for the Kids~Disney Princess Magnetic Dolls

On Wednesday, I shared my favorite Disney shopping spots.

On Thursday, I shared a Star Wars themed picture of Joey and Emily.  If you are a Star Wars fan, I also recommended that you check out Jedi Mouseketeer, to keep up to date on all the events to kick off Star Wars Weekend at Disney's Hollywood Studios and the opening of Star Tours: The Adventure Continues, as well as a lot of great Star Wars information!

Also, on Thursday, I wish I had a Mickey's Premium Ice Cream bar to help my little Emily who had quite an injury, though is just fine now.

On Saturday, I had my yearly yard sale.  All the money I make at the yard sale goes directly to our Disney fund.  It just so happened that this was one of Meet the Magic's Strategies for Paying for Disney tips this week.  If you haven't checked out Natalie's extensive collection of money saving strategies, you should. 

How did you find Disney Magic this week?  I would love to hear about it!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Meet the Magic's Strategies for Paying for Disney ~ Garage Sales

Did you know that Natalie at Meet the Magic has a series of articles dedicated solely to ways to save money for trips to Disney?  Well, today I am getting ready for my garage sale, which was the strategy Natalie discussed yesterday.  My mom and I team up for our garage sales.  I always find it interesting that I actually have a collection of things to sell every year!  Over the last three years, I have made anywhere from $300 to $500.  For a family of 5 in Walt Disney World at a moderate resort, that is 2, 3 or 4 nights in our hotel (depending on the discount for the time of year we are visiting) or 3 to 4 character meals.  If you are looking for ways to save money for your next trip to Disney, make sure you head over to Natalie's Strategies for Paying for Disney.  She has an extensive collection of everyday, as well as unique, ways to pinch a few pennies.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

My Favorite Disney Shopping Spots in Walt Disney World

My favorite shirt from
Villians in Vogue
At home, I must admit, I am not a shopper.  I wear my clothes until they cannot make it through another day.  I use household items until they fall apart.  But in Walt Disney World, it is completely different.  Since I am a self-proclaimed roller coaster chicken, I spend a lot of time waiting, while my family enjoys the thrill rides.  It gives me an opportunity to spend a lot of time in a lot of shops.  If it were up to my kids, they would say their favorite places to shop are World of Disney or Once Upon a Toy, but for me, my favorites tend to be the smaller themed shops, which carry more unique items than the larger shops.

One of my most favorite stores is in Disney's Hollywood Studios.  When you stroll on down Sunset Boulevard, you will find Villains in Vogue.  I love this shop, because the merchandise is very unique from many of the others stores.  I personally love the princesses, but the villains are some of my favorite characters, especially Maleficent and the Wicked Queen.  On our last trip, I found the merchandise to have a significant amount of Nightmare Before Christmas items and less of the other villains. I hope this isn't going to be the trend, because being able to find drinkware, clothing, and games with the Queen of Hearts, Captain Hook, Cruella DeVil and all the other villains made this shop very unique.

I could spend a large portion of my Disney vacation browsing through the stores in World Showcase.  But there are two shops I just love visiting, though in both these shops, I go in alone.  My husband gets to watch the kids outside to make sure nothing is touched that shouldn't be.  The first is Volskunst in the Germany Pavilion.  The clocks on display are just beautiful, and I love taking the time to appreciate all the details.  They also have an amazing selection of authentic German beer steins.  The second shop I enjoy is La Bottega Italiana at the Italy Pavilion.  Though there are many items in here, my favorites are the Venetian masks.  They are absolutely beautiful.  What I especially appreciate about both these shops is that the items are hand crafted.  I must admit I haven't made purchases in either of these shops, but they are places I must visit on any trip to Epcot.

Joey's Ornament from his 1st
trip to Walt Disney World
Another of my favorite stores is at Downtown Disney. As you may recall from a previous post, I love Christmas and many of my Christmas decorations are Disney themed, including a Disney Christmas tree. Every trip I must spend some time at Disney's Days of Christmas. I purchase an ornament for each of my children to represent something they loved on that trip or something they experienced for the first time. The selection of ornaments is amazing, and you can find just about any character you could think of. I will admit I visit this shop several times over the course of our vacation - I can't stay away!

There are so many places to shop in Walt Disney World that every guidebook I own has a section dedicated to just shopping.  Of course, this is why we set a strict budget for souvenirs before leaving home - it could be very easy to get carried away! 

Where is your favorite place to shop in Walt Disney World? 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

In Flight Fun for the Kids ~ Magnetic Dolls

The four sets, front (top row) and back (bottom row)

In Flight Fun for the Kids is my new series of articles about items I find that can occupy my children's time on a flight that are easy to manage and keep organized.  Last week, I shared Disney magnetic drawing pads I found at a local department store.  This week I am sharing Disney Magnetic Dolls.

We have four sets of these magnetic dolls: Beauty and the Beast, Tinker Bell, Cinderella and The Little Mermaid.  Each set comes in a tin with the Princess or Tinker Bell on the front and their Princes on the back (Fawn is on the back of Tinker Bell's).  The clothing and accessories are magnetic and stay in place in the tin.  Each doll comes with several outfits.  Included with the clothing are several of the key characters and elements in the stories.  For example, the Beauty and the Beast set has three outfits for Belle, Mrs. Potts, Chip, Lumiere, Cogsworth and several items from the Be Our Guest sequence during the movie, including the twirling napkins.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

We Pursued and We Found the Magic

It has been quite the week with Pursuing the Magic.  I have some interesting developments under way that I can't say just yet, but I will admit they are exciting, and I can't wait to tell you about them!  Also, with Blogger being down for a day and a half, I lost a lot of the comments people have left for me.  Hopefully, they will be restored at some point, but if not, know that I did read them all and appreciate everyone taking the time to share their thoughts on my posts.  I also want to say welcome to all my new followers! 

With that said, here is what has happened this week:

On Monday, my second installment of Little Chef Disney Creations was posted over at Cooking with Mickey.  This month I shared our recipe for Baloo's Bare Necessities Fruit Salad.

On Tuesday, I started a new series of posts called In Flight Fun for the Kids.  Each week I will share with you items I pack in my children's carry ons for the flight to Disney.  My children have each flown many times, so I have learned there are a lot of great items to occupy their time.  I kicked the series of with Magnetic Drawing Pads

Saturday, May 14, 2011

A Future Imagineer?

It is rare that I get moments of time in the morning with just one of my children.  They are early risers, and we all usually have breakfast together.  But this morning was a little different.  Since both girls slept in (and are still sleeping now), Joey and I had breakfast just the two of us.  We talked about lots of different things, but at one point in the conversation, he began talking about what he wants to be when he grows up.  The first two things he mentioned are the two that come up pretty often ~ a Marine and a Police Officer, just like my dad.  But as I was telling him those were very brave choices, and he would get to help keep people safe, he said there is one more thing.  When I asked what it was he said, "I am going to work for Disney and teach them how to build rides in just one day."  Well, I look forward to that!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

In Flight Fun for the Kids ~ Magnetic Drawing Pads

One of the things I spend a lot of time planning before any trip to Walt Disney World is what I am going to pack for the flight to occupy my children.  At home they are pretty active, so finding things to occupy three hours of time just sitting can be a little difficult.  I don't even need to be actively planning my next trip to pick things up I know they would like.  Joey, Hayley and Emily each have their own Disney backpacks they are responsible for on the plane.  I fill them with snacks, and the things they can play with during the flight.  This article is the first in my series In Flight Fun for the Kids, in which I will share with you some of the travel items I have found to be particularly great for keeping the kids busy while on the plane.  Not only that, but I have found many things that are easy for me to manage and keep organized.

I am most excited about my most recent purchase.  My children, especially Hayley, love to draw.  On one of my first trips with the children I thought it would be a great idea to have lots of crayons, notebooks and coloring books.  Well, I was wrong.  I spent much of the three hour flight catching crayons rolling off the tray or looking under the seats to find ones I didn't catch in time.  I have found that there is a much better solution! 

At home, one of the most used toys in our house is the Fisher-Price Doodle-Pro.  It is a large magnetic drawing pad that has the magnetic pen attach and is easily erased.  Because this is too large to carry onto a plane, I have found some travel size ones.  Our local Wal-Mart has the small Kid Tough Doodlers by Fisher Price, which I just about purchased the other day until I found Phidal Learn to Draw Books - Toy Story, Disney Fairies, and Disney Princess versions.  Not only do these come with the travel size magnetic drawing pad, each comes with a book that teaches you how to draw different items.  The books are probably a little too difficult for my children at this point, but the Disney themed drawing pads are perfect for a flight to Disney. 

There is just one drawback to these. I didn't realize until I came home, and of course, opened them, that the book and drawing pad are connected.  Together it is too large for any of my children's backpacks.  My plan is to figure out how to remove the drawing pad from the book.  Then it will slip easily into their back packs, and Hayley can draw until her heart's content without me spending time searching under the seats for missing crayons!

There are many options out there for these magnetic drawing pads.  But if you have a small child who loves to draw this could be a great option for some in flight fun!

Next week, I will continue this series with Disney Magnetic Doll sets. 

Also, if you missed it, I have shared my favorite tips for getting through airport security, stress free, with the kids in my article T.S.A. or S.T.R.E.S.S.

If you missed any other episodes in this series, here they are:

Monday, May 9, 2011

This Month's Contribution to Cooking with Mickey ~ Baloo's Bare Necessities Fruit Salad

It's the second Monday of the month, which means I am being featured over at Cooking with Mickey today.  This is the second article in my series of posts Little Chef Disney Creations.  In this series, I am sharing Disney inspired recipes I create with my kids.  This month's inspiration comes from one of my children's favorite Disney movies, The Jungle Book.  Head over to Cooking with Mickey to see this month's creation:

Sunday, May 8, 2011

We Pursued and Found the Magic This Week's

It has been a busy, but very fun family weekend here.  We had a birthday celebration Friday, attended a wedding down on Goat Island in Newport, Rhode Island at sunset overlooking the ocean on Saturday and now Mother's Day.  I want to wish all of you moms a Happy Mother's Day!  I am thankful everyday for my children and feel very blessed that I am a mom to three happy and healthy kids

Because of all the family excitement this week, Pursuing the Magic has had fewer posts than normal.  Don't worry though, this week I am back on track!  I'll be starting my series of posts about items I put in my children's carry on packs for the flight to Disney.  You will see the first post in this series on Tuesday.

This past week I took another exciting step closer to our October Walt Disney World trip.  I made my ADRs (advanced dining reservations) on Tuesday.  The best part . . . I was able to get all my first choices at my ideal times.  I think that is a good sign of things to come.  You can see all my choices in my post Dining Reservations are Set!  For all of you who shared your reviews and dining advice thank you!  I am really looking forward to the new places we have chosen!

For Wordless Wednesday, I shared a photo from the American Adventure.  With all that is happening in the news, I wanted to take some time to remember those who lost their lives on September 11th.  You can see the photo in my post Wordless Wednesday ~ Land of the Free and Home of the Brave.

Also, I added another tab above to help organize my posts.  This particular tab is called Our Magical Moments.  You will find all my personal stories and Disney moments that I have shared so far on this blog.

Well, I hope you all had a wonderful weekend! 

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Dining Reservations are Set!

It's official - we have made our dining reservations and every single hopeful I had, made the list!  So, here they are:

  • Breakfast at Chef Mickey's (1st morning to kick off the vacation)
  • Dinner at Coral Reef
  • Lunch at Cinderella's Royal Table (I am most excited about this one!!!!)
  • Dinner at LeCellier
  • Dinner at 'Ohana
  • Dinner at Boma
  • Dinner Hoop Dee Doo (Our last night tradition)

I am happy to say that we are actually trying some new places this trip.  We did leave off some favorites, such as Cape May and Biergarten, but I look forward to trying some new places: Boma, Cinderella's Royal Table, Breakfast at Chef Mickey's (we've only done dinner here), and to retry Coral Reef (it has been 8 years since the last time we've eaten here). 

Thank you to everyone who gave me their reviews and advice on places to try!  Now my countdown to our vacation begins . . . only 180 days until Disney! :-)

Sunday, May 1, 2011

We Pursued and We Found the Magic

This week I took some time to add a few new posts, but also to organize the information I have on the site.  You may have noticed that I have added a few tabs above.  I've included links to my articles that match each of these topics.  I realized that this may be an easier way to find specific information you might be looking for.  You'll see a tab called Sites I Contribute to.  Here are all the articles I have written for other websites.  The Disney Vacation Tips tab includes all my posts on ways to plan and prepare for your Disney vacations, as well as lessons I learned with my little ones while in Disney.  The Disney Magic at Home tab includes all my posts describing ways we keep Disney magic alive here at home in between trips. 

On Monday, my Minnie Moms contribution was posted over at Growing Up Disney.  This is a two part series of the moms' perspectives on rides we have found to be surprisingly scary for little ones. 

For Wordless Wednesday, I shared one of my favorite photos from Flights of Wonder in Disney's Animal Kingdom ~ A Moment with Frasier Crane.  If you are not sure what Flights of Wonder is, feel free to check out my previous post Flights of Wonder at Disney's Animal Kingdom for more information.

On Thursday, I posted my advanced dining reservation "hopefuls."  With just a few days until I can make my ADRs, I wanted to share just where I hope to be eating during our October trip.  Let me know what you think of my choices!

On Friday, I posted a reminder about a few Disney classics heading to the vault.  Hopefully, you picked up your copies of Snow White, Pinocchio and Fantasia/Fantasia 2000 blu-rays and dvds.  Yesterday was the last day they were available in stores.

Can you believe it is already May?  This year is really flying by!  I decided at the end of each month to add to my recap the top three posts of the month. 

My Top Three Posts for April:
1. Wordless Wednesday ~ A Moment with Frasier Crane
2. Oldies but Goodies ~ Disney Book of the Month Club of the 70s
3. Goofy's Beach Club Character Breakfast at CapeMay Cafe

How did you find the magic this week?  I would love to hear about it!