Thursday, October 27, 2011

I'll Be Pursuing the Magic on Location Soon!

October 1986
I just wanted to let everyone know that next week I will actually be out "Pursuing the Magic" at Walt Disney World.  I will be doing "extensive" research on my family's favorite attractions, continuing our Disney traditions and taste testing all that the Disney eateries and Food and Wine Festival Booths have to offer.  We'll be enjoying Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party for the first time decked out in our Toy Story costumes and so much more.  We have plenty of firsts to look forward too, including a diaper bag free vacation (this is a milestone for us!) and new thrill rides Joey and Hayley are tall enough to ride finally.  This means I will have a lot to share when I return!  Even better, we are checking into our hotel 25 years and one day from the day we checked in for our very first trip to Walt Disney World.  That's right - this is our family's 25th Anniversary of our very first trip back in 1986.  You can find all the details of that trip over at DISTherapy for the 40 Days to 40 Years series, a countdown to Walt Disney World's 40th Anniversary.

I also have VERY exciting news, but I can't reveal all the details just yet.  Let's just say that some Disney magic has already come our way, just when we needed it most, and we haven't even landed in Orlando yet.

March 2010
While I am away, I hope that you find some Disney magic in each of your days.  You know you can always come here and find ways to pursue Disney magic while you are home and waiting for the arrival of your next Disney vacation by checking out my Disney Magic at Home ideas.

If you are looking to read about some favorite magical moments of mine, feel free to check out my tab Our Magical Moments.  Each one of these are some of my favorite memories of our trips to Disney.

I cannot wait to get to Walt Disney World and hope that you all have a great week! I look forward to sharing with you everything we get to see and do when I return!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Wishes around the Web Part 4 ~ A Disneyland Perspective with "Remember . . . Dreams Come True" from Chad at Days in the Park


Today I am excited to welcome Chad from Days in the Park for the 4th and final part of our Wishes around the Web series.  Each month Chad or Sarah from Magical Days with the Mouse will be bringing their Disneyland perspective to our series.  I have never visited Disneyland, but these two bloggers continue each day to inspire me to make the trek across country to experience it for myself.  Without further ado, here is a little Disneyland magic for you.



First, I wanted to say a huge "Thank You" to Beth for allowing me to take over space on her blog.  She's always been one of my favorites and I've been reading her for over a year now, and it's a huge honor for me to have been asked to participate in her "Wishes" segment.

Unfortunately, as some of you may know if you read me on my own blog, I'm a "Lander" and not a "Worlder" (my own terms and nothing derogatory is meant by it), so I have absolutely no familiarity with "Wishes" whatsoever.  It might lead you to wonder why on earth Beth asked me to participate; it sure did me!  But when I asked her about it, she encouraged me to go ahead and participate and write about something we had at Disneyland we had which might be similar.  Well, we might not have "Wishes", it's true, but it seemed entirely prudent to write about the fireworks show that we do have, and it's one that is near and dear to my heart, and something I truly love: "Remember... Dreams Come True".  And, since it does in fact share some of the music from "Wishes" in Orlando's Magic Kingdom, or so I have heard, it seems like the perfect tie-in!

"Remember..." made its debut at Disneyland during the 50th Anniversary Celebration at Disneyland and opened on May 5, 2005.  One of the coolest things about the show, even from the first time I heard it, was that it's narrated by Dame Julie Andrews.  Come on!  How cool is that?!  A Disneyland fireworks extravaganza narrated by Mary Poppins herself?  Even from the beginning I knew that "Remember..." was going to be something special.  I can remember being in The Park with my parents and little boys (I only had two at the time) and seeing it for the first time and how it just melted my heart.

For those who might be unfamiliar, since "Remember..." was created for Disneyland's 50th Anniversary, it does much what you might expect it to, and goes through 'movements' celebrating the various areas, and iconic Disneyland attractions, all around The Resort.  It begins with Julie Andrews narrating about Disneyland and importance of wishes and dreams (against the backdrop of the music from "Wishes") and moves into several Disney characters quoting about their own wishes.  That might in fact be my favorite part of the show, but there are so many to choose from!  But hearing Ariel calling out, "I wish... oh, I wish I could be part of that world!" always pulls at my heartstrings.  It's just absolutely beautiful.

"Remember..." then moves into the homage segements and moves all around Disneyland (beginning with Main Street USA and Walt's Dedication Speech) with the pyrotechnics set to music and famous quotes from all of my favorite attractions.  Some of my favorites include clips from Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room in Adventureland, "Grim Grinning Ghosts" from The Haunted Mansion in New Orleans Square, "Ev'rybody Has A Laughing Place" from Splash Mountain in Critter Country, and Captain Rex yelling out, "R2, Lightspeed to Endor!" from the original Star Tours attraction in Tomorrowland.

The nearly 20-minute show then ends with a conclusion from Julie Andrews talking about how Disneyland has grown to be "the happiest place on earth", again against the backdrop of music from "Wishes", while Tinkerbell makes one final flight from the Matterhorn Bobsleds to Sleeping Beauty Castle and the firework's finale. 

Hopefully I've managed to do a good job of describing the fireworks show and what it's all about to anyone who may not have had the blessing to see it before.  Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures of "Remember...", but that's in fact by choice!  And there's a reason for that.  It might not make sense to anyone else, and others might not "get it" necessarily, but here it is.  And I hedge what I'm about to say with this: there is no doubt that the fireworks portion of the show is beautiful and awesome and cool to look at.  But to me, the beauty of "Remember..." has always been in the music of the show.  As of now, it stands alone as the only fireworks show from any of the Disney Parks that I have committed to memory.  I actually have two copies of it, on two different CDs from Disneyland, and I listen to it several times a week in my home.  I was listening to it for inspiration as I started this article, in point of fact.  It's just that gorgeous!  It's just an absolutely beautiful piece of Disneyana to me, and I truly love it.  It wouldn't be entirely out of the realm of possibility to stand next to me during the show, and see me with my eyes closed, mumbling the words to myself as the show moved along.  There are just so many memories of Disneyland wrapped around this show... it definitely gives one pause and makes me think about just how much history I'm a part of every time I step into the gates.  I couldn't be more thankful that "Remember..." has been a mainstay at Disneyland since it debuted, and that I get to hear it each and every Sunday night when I go out for several months out of the year.  I know it will probably leave completely at some point in the future, and I know how sad I'll be when it does.

Now that I've painted myself a complete sap(!), I hope that you've enjoyed reading my "Wishes" article.  I did the best I could, and I hope that one day I get to see "Wishes" for myself inside the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World.  Maybe the truth is that wishes really a dream that your heart makes, whether you're in Orlando watching "Wishes", or Anaheim watching "Remember... Dreams Come True".  Two parts of the same coin?  Come on out and see "Remember..." for yourself, and you decide.

Days In The Park button
Thank you so much, Chad for sharing your Disneyland perspective! 

If you have not checked out Days in the Park yet, I highly recommend that you do.  Mark and Chad's love of Disney shines through every post and picture they share.  You can also find them on Facebook and Twitter.


Make sure you checkout the rest of the Wishes Around the Web series:

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Virtual Food & Wine Festival ~ Brazil


Welcome to the Virtual Food & Wine Festival!  After you see what the kids and I have shared, make sure you visit all the other blogs who have joined in.  Do you have a favorite international dish?  Feel free to add your link below and join in the culinary fun!

One thing I love to do is cook with my kids.  The recipe I am sharing today, the four of us created together.  These sweet treats are called "Brigadeiros" and originated in Brazil.  The first time I made these was in the sixth grade for a report I was doing on South America.  Brigadeiros are coated in chocolate sprinkles.  You will notice in the photos below, my children opted to make them a little more seasonal.  If you know my kids, you will probably guess who made which ones.  Just in case, the pink "princess" ones were created by Emily.  The ones with Halloween sprinkles were created by Joey, and the fall ones were created by Hayley.  Also, note the arrangement of them on the plate - that was done by the kids too!

Ingredients:

  • 1 - 14.5oz. can of sweetened condensed milk (1 1/3c/)
  • 1/4c. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1T. butter or margarine
  • 6 to 8 T. chocolate flavored sprinkles
  • Small foil or paper decorator cups


In a 2-quart saucepan, combine condensed milk, cocoa powder and butter. Cook and stir constantly over medium-low heat 7 to 8 minutes* or until candy forms a ball around the spoon and pulls away from the sides of the pan.  Cool to room temperature.

With buttered hands, shape cocoa mixture into 1-inch balls; gently roll each in chocolate sprinkles.  Place in individual decorator cups.  Cover and chill before serving.  Refrigerate remaining candies.  Makes 25.

*Though the recipe says 7 to 8 minutes, it usually takes me about 15 minutes to reach the stage that the candy forms a ball around the spoon.

The kids' creations

If you plan to attend Epcot's Food and Wine Festival this year, you will not find any Brigadeiros at the Brazil Marketplace, but they do have a few things on the menu that I can't wait to try:
  • Brazil’s National Dish - Feijoada (a black bean and pork stew)
  • Seared Mahi Mahi  with Steamed Rice, Hearts of Palm and Coconut-Lime Sauce
  • LeBlon Frozen Caipirinha cocktail

The recipe I used in this post was from The Avon International Cookbook, published in 1983.

Check out all the great recipes from around the world and feel free to link in with your own recipe for the Virtual Food and Wine Festival!

We Pursued & We Found the Magic This Week

As we are just one week away from our Walt Disney World vacation, we have been quite busy getting ready.  Hopefully, I will find some time to catch up a little bit in my 100 Things to Do in Disney series!  With all the kids sick, I have been focused on getting everyone better before we leave.  The last thing I want is three sick kids in Disney.

Here's what we have been doing this week:

Wishes Around the Web continued last week with Mary of Capturing Magical Memories with her tips for preserving your Wishes photos and memories.  Tomorrow, make sure you check in here for Part 4 with Chad of Days in the Park.  He will be sharing the details of Disneyland's nighttime spectacular.

100 Things to Do in Disney continues this week with:


With the weather cooling off here, we have made one of my favorite Disney recipes ~ Hoop Dee Doo Cornbread.  Not only is this delicious and bring a little Disney to our kitchen, but my kids can almost make this themselves.  It is so easy!



You probably can tell, I love to talk about my kids and their special moments in Disney.  I was very excited to share one of my favorite Disney memories from Joey's first trip over at Disney Blue Fairy Shares.  I believe that you can bring your child to Disney at any age and this special memory proves just that.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

100 Things to Do in Disney #39 & #40 ~ A View of the Haunted Mansion from the Liberty Square Riverboat

Focused on the Magic

Today in my countdown series, 100 Things to Do in Disney, I am sharing two of my favorite Magic Kingdom Attractions for the Disney Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop hosted by Deb at Focused on the Magic ~ The Liberty Square Riverboat and the Haunted Mansion.


#40 ~ Liberty Square Riverboat ~ In all my photos, I have none of the actual boat, but here are some shots I took while ON the boat.



#39 ~ The Haunted Mansion (as seen from Liberty Square Riverboat)



Make sure you head over to Focused on the Magic to see all the great Disney Wordless Wednesday photos today!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

100 Things to Do in Disney #41 ~ Fantasmic, where good always triumphs over evil

This photo has nothing to do with Fantasmic, but
it is from the 2010 trip and one of the few I have with
all of them in one shot!
Today in our countdown to Disney series, 100 Things to Do in Disney, I am sharing one of my favorite nighttime shows in Walt Disney World ~ Fantasmic! in Disney's Hollywood Studios.  This show is so unique that the first time I experienced it, I was just amazed beginning to end.

The premise of the show is that you are watching Mickey make his way through several dreams, which turn to nightmares. As always, good prevails over evil in this show that combines fireworks, lasers, water and, of course, music.  During our 2008 trip, we did not bring the children.  They were just 3, 2 and 10 months, and after a complete freak out by my son at Mickey's Philharmagic (who knew, right?) there was no way I was going to attempt Fantasmic!  He probably wouldn't have slept for a week after that.  But we did go in 2010 when they were 5, 3.5 and 2.  My parents had also never been to Fantasmic, so the 7 of us made our way to The Hollywood Hills Amphitheater, which is located on Sunset Boulevard.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Wishes around the Web ~ Part 3 with Mary of Capturing Magical Memories



Today I am excited to welcome Mary from Capturing Magical Memories for Part 3 of Wishes around the Web series. Mary will be sharing her scrapbook tips and layouts to help you preserve your Wishes photos and memories.  


First I have to thank Beth for hosting Wishes around the Web and inviting me to participate.  I absolutely LOVE wishes but I have to confess I have no pictures of the actual fireworks.  Deb's post last week left me in awe.  If only I could take photos like hers.  Here is to hoping that someday I can.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

We Pursued & We Found the Magic This Week

Two weeks from today I will be in Walt Disney World, and I just can't wait!  We have our costumes for Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party, we've started packing and I have updated my itinerary for the trip.  Also, I bought all the 2012 editions of our favorite Disney Guidebooks ~ The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World and Birnbaum's 2012 Official Guide to Walt Disney World (regular and for kids).

This week the Wishes around the Web series continued with Deb from Focused on the Magic.  She shared her best tips for capturing amazing photos of the Magic Kingdom's Wishes fireworks spectacular.  Make sure you check in tomorrow when Mary from Capturing Magical Memories shares her scrapbook layouts and tips for preserving your Wishes memories and photos.

We shared our next episode of Little Chef Disney Creations over at Cooking with Mickey.  This month we created Lightning McQueen's High Octane Smoothie.

On Friday, I discussed the Disney things that everyone loves, but I do not.  Thrill rides really are not my thing!

Saturday, we made some Snow White's Sweet Apple Crisp (the June episode of our Little Chef Disney Creations) with the apples from our recent apple picking trip.  It was the perfect treat for a cold, crisp New Hampshire day!

This week you will see my countdown series, 100 Things to Do in Disney, continue.  I have a lot of catching up to do!

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

Friday, October 14, 2011

I Love Disney, But the Thrill Rides ... Not So Much

The Magic Carpets are more my type of attraction!
When I think Disney, honestly, nothing comes to mind that I can say I don't like.  When I shared this with Chad at Days in the Park, he pointed out exactly what I don't like - roller coasters!  How did I forget about that?  Maybe it was a mental block and thinking of only good things when thinking Disney.  But that is definitely it.  People love thrill rides, which is obvious because of the length of lines to experience them, but they are definitely on my dislike list.


Before I begin, here is a disclaimer for this post: I actually am a rational, common sense, down to earth person.  But present me with the thought of experiencing Tower of Terror, Rock N Roller Coaster, Mission: Space and any other thrill ride you can think of and I become completely irrational.  These attractions to me equal plunging to my death in an elevator, a runaway train that can run off its tracks, a roller coaster that hits 60 mph in just a short time that I could easily be catapulted from my "limo."  No question, each of these thoughts, while sitting here at home, is completely ridiculous.  But stand me in front of one of these attractions in Walt Disney World and these thoughts become completely rational and I am literally paralyzed with fear at the thought of experiencing any one of them. 


I haven't experienced any of the Disney thrill rides, except for one.  It all happened one fateful afternoon at Disney's Hollywood Studios.  Pierre asked me if I wanted to go on Rock N Roller Coaster.  Now normally, this wouldn't be such a terrible thing, except that he asked right in front of the kids.  I do not want my kids to fear thrill rides like I do, so I have never said anything in front of them to make them think they are something to be feared.  Clearly, I did not want to, nor did I plan to experience Rock N Roller Coaster.  But my daughter asked me if I was scared of it. To which of course, I responded I am not scared but I am not sure it would be my favorite ride. Then, my son pipes in asking, “How will you know if you don’t try it?” Seriously? This is the moment he actually listens to me and uses my words against me? With my three kids staring at me and waiting for an answer, I hesitantly tell my husband I will ride it with him. All I really remember is my heart starting to beat out of my chest and I am fairly certain I was sweating before even entering the building.  Let's just say, I had my eyes closed for a large portion of the ride and I am pretty sure, I didn't breathe the entire time either!


People generally exit this attraction with smiles ear to ear and excited.  I am not one of those people!  After reluctantly agreeing to experience this attraction, I can honestly say that, though I do not regret testing this out once, I will not be going on Rock N Roller Coaster again.  My heart was beating out of my chest for much longer than I assume anyone's should and I didn't stop shaking for a good twenty to thirty minutes after the experience. But as a mom, I had to do what I had to do for my kids. I would never want my kids to fear something simply because I do.


So there it is, Rock N Roller is definitely one of the most popular attractions in Disney's Hollywood Studios, but I definitely am not a big fan!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Little Chef Disney Creations ~ Lightning McQueen's High Octane Smoothie

Today, you can find the kids and I over at Cooking with Mickey sharing our next installment of Little Chef Disney Creations, a series focused on Disney-inspired recipes created by and with the kids. To see this month's recipe, head over to



Wishes around the Web ~ Part 2 with Deb of Focused on the Magic


Today I am so excited to welcome Deb from Focused on the Magic for Part 2 of the Wishes around the Web series.  Last week for Part 1, I shared a personal family memory of my favorite nighttime spectacular, Wishes.  This week, Deb will be sharing her photography tips for taking amazing photos of the fireworks.


Thanks so much Beth for inviting me here today to share a few tips and tricks for taking pictures of Wishes.

Wishes in one of the most exciting fireworks shows at Disney World, the other being Illuminations at Epcot. Capturing photos of Wishes and sharing them over and over when I get home is a family tradition of ours. It’s a bit of a challenge to take pictures of Wishes but with a little planning and practice you’ll be comfortable capturing great memories.


  • You’ll need a camera with the ability to manually set the controls such as F-stop and ISO and Shutter Speed. 
  • Fresh batteries. Memory enough to take 100 shots. Later you want to try out an ND filter but for now leave it home.
  • A stable surface such as a tripod, gorilla pod or the Disney Quadpod (trash can) which are conveniently located every 20 feet in the parks. I’m touting tripods but I really don’t like them. For years I wouldn’t bring one to the parks. Mine was just too cumbersome to carry on rides and if I stored it in a locker I didn’t enjoy going back for it before Wishes started. I would shoot handheld (with pretty good results) or place a small beanbag on a Disney Quadpod. My favorite Disney Quadpod is located in front of Casey’s Corner. You’ll need to get there early to claim it as it’s become quite popular over time. The Velbron UltraMax IF tripod changed my mind about tripods. Whereas my other tripods were heavy and big, the UltraMax is incredibly compact (14”) extends to 60”, weighs about 2lbs and it can hold 5lbs which does push the limit on my camera with a lens. Oh and it was reasonably priced too! I believe it’s been discontinued but I’m sure there’s a current model that’s far superior.
  • A shutter release (cable or remote) or self-timer on the camera. I use a basic cable release. Nothing fancy with a short cable. You can do without it but why not have the extra stability for long exposures?
  • A small flashlight on a lanyard that’s easy to turn on with one hand. Your other hand may be holding your camera, tripod or shutter release. Bright but compact as you don’t want to disturb guests during the show.
  • A large dose of patience and pixie dust. 

Next you’ll need a good location. You might want to scope this out earlier in the day. My favorite is on Main Street, USA. I like to be far enough back that I have a clear view of the front of the castle and a large expanse of sky framed by Main Street. Another great spot is the train station platform before they put up the Christmas tree, when the flagpole is removed.

Set up shot before Wishes starts

This is where the lens you choose comes into play. I’ve shot Wishes with a Nikkor 18-200 set at 18mm and 35mm from Casey’s on Main Street with good results. I find my Nikon 50mm to be too tight until halfway down Main Street. The Sigma 30mm lens is my favorite leaving plenty of room to crop later if need be. Most kit lenses or primes will do the job.

Before it gets dark, set your camera to Manual mode. Set your ISO to 100. This will be one of those settings that you’ll have to practice with as I have used 200 with very good results. Set your Shutter Speed to 2 seconds. Set your Aperture to f8. Turn off noise reduction on your camera. Turn off image stabilization (if you’re using a tripod) on your camera. If you are using a point and shoot set it to Night Portrait or Fireworks mode or manual mode.

Now that you’re all set up, it’s time to take some steps toward damage control. Kids just love to lean on and play with tripod legs. In legal terms it’s called “an attractive nuisance”. Your tripod is also a huge tripping hazard. I’ve used glow stick bracelets on my tripod legs to bring attention to them. Unfortunately that only attracted children to play with the bracelets. Some people use caution tape (crime scene tape) around the legs. A stroller parked in front might help…assuming the child in it isn’t rocking back and forth. Probably the best thing you can do is station a family member on each leg of the tripod to ward off trippers.

Once you’ve squared your tripod away and setup your settings, attach your shutter release. Take a few practice shots of the castle checking to see that the horizon is straight, the castle is in focus and you have plenty of sky above the castle for the fireworks. I don’t know what it is that I do in WDW but my horizons are frequently off;) I can’t blame it on forced perspective either, it’s me. Once your practice shots of the castle are perfected turn off your camera and relax.

This is where your patience comes in. As show time gets closer the crowds fill in and heads will appear in your viewfinder. Do the best you can to readjust your tripod. It’s almost impossible to know what the crowds will do until the fireworks start and even then people move into view. I seem to attract the kid with the Mickey ear hat sitting on his parents’ shoulders and the lady holding the camera up in the air in front of me. Sometimes you have to move more than a little. Take more test shots each time you move until Wishes starts.


When Wishes starts I try to time pressing the shutter release to the Phfssst noise of the rocket launch. If you’re back on Main Street you won’t hear it but up by Casey’s you should. If you release too early you’ll get the first burst of light or miss the explosion. This is where personal tastes come in. I don’t like to see long trails in fireworks but rather short trails and streaks. As you shoot take a look at your LCD screen and adjust if necessary. If the screen shows your pic to be too dark switch to f5.6 or less. If it’s too bright try f/10 or f/11. Using your little lanyard flashlight.


Pass the pixie dust you’re almost finished! As the show comes to an end many guest turn to leave…without looking! Yup, you guessed it - right into your camera and tripod. On one occasion I had Peter in a wheelchair (he had torn his meniscus in AK that day) my camera on a tripod and guests streaming.. more like storming toward me. I couldn’t turn the wheelchair or pick up the tripod fast enough. If this should happen to you go with the flow. Keep your camera on the tripod, close up the legs on the tripod, grab your bag and kids and head for the nearest shop doorway. The shops are perfect places to pack up your gear and gather your thoughts.


Shooting Wishes and creating memorable pictures with your camera can be very rewarding. I hope you found these tips and tricks helpful. I’m not an expert, just a mom who enjoys taking pictures and passing forward whatever I’ve learned over the years. I hope you’ll give it a try and I wish you all great success with your photography.

If you have any questions about this article or photography in general please feel free to email me.
Debs at focusedonthemagic@gmail.com
Happy Snapping!



Focused on the Magic

Thank you so much, Deb, for sharing all these great tips! I can't wait to see how I do on our next trip!  Deb has a lot of amazing photos on her site Focused on the Magic.  I highly recommend you head over there and see all she has to offer.  You can find her on Twitter at @debsdistwit and also on Facebook at Focused on the Magic.




Next Monday, have your favorite photos of Wishes ready because Mary from Capturing Magical Memories will be here sharing her scrapbook layouts and tips for preserving your Wishes photos and memories!


Make sure you checkout the rest of the Wishes Around the Web series:

Sunday, October 9, 2011

We Pursued & We Found the Magic This Week

Can you believe I am just 3 weeks away from Walt Disney World?  Time is going by so quickly that I know it will be here before I know it!  We are finalizing our costumes for Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party, we have hung up our countdown to Disney chart and I brought up our luggage from the basement to start packing!

If you missed anything this week, here is a quick recap of my posts:

We kicked off last week with a Virtual Tea Party to celebrate Rapunzel's official induction as a Disney Princess. Several of us came together to share some Princess crafts and treats. We created Princess Candy Pops for the celebration.

Monday, I kicked off a new series - Wishes around the Web.  I shared a personal family memory of a time we experienced Wishes.  Throughout the month, I have some guests who will be sharing their Wishes photography tips, Wishes scrapbook layouts and more.  I am so excited about this series!

We went to the October Keepsake Ornament Premiere at Hallmark.  There were several new Disney ornaments released this weekend.

100 Things to Do in Disney Continues



Other Places You Could Find Me This Week



Disney released some new discounts this week for fall and winter travel. You can see all the details HERE. These discounts are for room reservations only.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Hallmark Ornament Premiere ~ Round 2

Back in July, I shared with you the ornaments we purchased at the Christmas in July Ornament Premiere at our local Hallmark Store.  Well this weekend they are releasing another set of ornaments and thought I would share with you the new Disney ones you will see on shelves starting tomorrow.

Jiminy Cricket
Photo from Hallmark.com

Pongo Saves the Day
Photo from Hallmark.com

Mickey & Toodles in Space
Photo from Hallmark.com

Friday, October 7, 2011

100 Things to Do in Disney #42 & #43 ~ Cars, Cars & More Cars Part 2

Today I am sharing #42 and #43 in our countdown series, 100 Things to Do in Disney, as part of Disney Flashback Friday hosted by Sarah of Magical Days with the Mouse.  This is a flashback to 1st experiences on Test Track in Epcot's Future World and the Tomorrowland Speedway in the Magic Kingdom.



#43 Test Track in Epcot's Future World
Pierre and I both enjoy Test Track and look forward to it each trip.  Joey has already experienced Test Track and Hayley is looking forward to trying it for the first time this trip, since she is finally tall enough.  My favorite memory from Test Track is from our 2008 trip. Joey was 3.5.  He rode with my dad and Pierre.  When he exited the ride, my dad asked him if he liked it, to which Joey replied, "Yes."  Then, my dad asked, "Do you want to go on it again?"  Joey said, "NO!"  Luckily, he is excited to try it again this fall.  I took this picture of him as he was exiting the building saying, "Fast car, fast car!" Notice the Lightning McQueen shirt, socks and shoes.  He was (and still is) obsessed with cars.





#42 Tomorrowland Speedway
This is by far Joey's favorite attraction.  His first race around the track was in 2008 at the age of three, which was also Pierre's very first ride too.  I believe that trip we experienced the Tomorrowland Speedway no less than 10 times.  In 2010, it again was his favorite, but this was also the year that Hayley and I took our very first trip around the track.   I know this fall we will be taking many laps around this track, and even Emily has said she is going to "drive a racecar" this fall.

2008
Joey & Pierre's 1st Lap, October 2008

2010
Joey & Pierre, March 2010

Thursday, October 6, 2011

100 Things to Do in Disney #44 ~ Cars, Cars & More Cars Part 1

Joey, March 2010
Today in our countdown series, 100 Things to Do in Disney, we are sharing #44 ~ Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show.  We have never seen this show.  On our last trip the morning show had been canceled and the afternoon show was during naptime.  Since I didn't believe this would be a good napping spot, we ended up skipping it all together.  This trip we are all looking forward to it, but no one more than Joey.

Joey has been in love with any kind of car since her first saw the Disney-Pixar movie Cars.  He has every diecast car there is from the movie, as well as a Cars room, Cars clothes and any other Cars item you can imagine.  Now that Lightning McQueen has been added to Lights, Motors, Action! and makes an appearance, I know that we cannot miss this one.  I am not so sure how impressed the girls will be, but there is no doubt that Joey will love it!

For more information on this attraction in Disney's Hollywood Studios, head over to the Disney Parks website: Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show.

What do you think of this stunt show?

Fall & Winter Disney Discounts for Walt Disney World Room Reservations


Walt Disney World Fall Offer
Save up to 30% of resort stay!

Book 10/5-11/19/11
Travel 10/30-11/18 and 11/26-12/23

Save 15% at All Star Movies and Port Orleans French Quarter
Save 20% off at select Value Resorts and Moderates

Travel 10/30-11/21 and 11/26-12/23

Save 25% at Animal Kingdom Lodge and Polynesian
Save 30% at select Deluxe Resorts and Deluxe Villa Resorts


Walt Disney World Winter Offer
Save up to 35% off resort stay!

Book 10/5-12/2/11
Travel 1/2-2/20/12

Save 20% at All Star Movies
Save 25% at select Value Resorts and Port Orleans French Quarter
Save 30% at select Moderate Resorts, Animal Kingdom Lodge and Polynesian
Save 35% at select Deluxe Resort and Deluxe Villa Resorts


To get your free vacation quote today, contact Magical Journeys, the official travel agency of Pursuing the Magic and see if any of these dates work for your next Walt Disney World Vacation.  Make sure you let them know the I sent you!

Disney in the Fall with the Minnie Moms

Today you can find me over at Growing Up Disney sharing my thoughts on Fall in Disney along with the Minnie Moms.  Head over to see which fall events I am looking forward to the most for our upcoming trip to Disney.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

100 Things to Do in Disney #45, #46 & #47 ~ Celebrating America for Wordless Wednesday

Focused on the Magic

Today I am sharing #45, #46 and #47 in our countdown series, 100 Things to Do in Disney.  I am also sharing this as part of Focused on the Magic's Disney Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop.

All three of these can be found in one place - The American Adventure Pavilion in Epcot's World Showcase, and all three are at the top of my list of favorite things to experience every trip to Walt Disney World.

#47 The American Adventure Show (no flash photography in here, so here is one of my favorite photos of the exterior of the pavilion)



#46 The Fife & Drum Corps




#45 Voices of Liberty ~ I do not know how I have no photos of this amazing group of performers.  I have a feeling I am so consumed by the beauty of their voices that it doesn't hit me to take a photo.  Needless to say, I make sure I watch them perform at least once each trip.

Make sure you check out all the great entries at the Disney Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop hosted by Deb at Focused on the Magic!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Wishes around the Web Part 1 ~ A Special Family Memory of Wishes

Today kicks off something new on Pursuing the Magic.  Each month I will be presenting a new theme and have invited some Disney bloggers to join in on the fun. I decided to kick off this project with one of my favorite things in Magic Kingdom ~ Wishes.  Today, I will share my thoughts on this nighttime spectacular.  Next week, Deb at Focused on the Magic will be sharing her favorite photo tips for photographing Wishes.  The following week, Mary at Capturing Magical Memories will be sharing a scrapbook layout to showcase your favorite Wishes photos.  Kristen, from Cooking with Mickey, will then share a favorite recipe to fit the theme.  During some months, Sarah, from Magical Days with the Mouse, and Chad, from Days in the Park, will be bringing a little Disneyland to the series.

Walt Disney World never ceases to bring out the emotions in me.  There are many things around the parks that bring a lump to my throat as I try to hold back happy tears, but the one thing that makes me cry every trip is Wishes.  This nighttime spectacular combines music, fireworks, a narration by Jimminy Cricket and a magical flyover by Tinker Bell in such a way that I can't help but get a tad bit teary-eyed.  I absolutely love it!

Joey at Libetry Inn,
March 2010
My favorite memory of Wishes actually happened on our last vacation to Walt Disney World.  Joey was just 5 at the time and hit a stage of being afraid of everything just weeks before leaving for the trip.  We were in the Magic Kingdom and absolutely lost track of time.  We knew the fireworks would be starting soon and needed to get Joey out of Magic Kingdom, since we knew he was very afraid of them.  In my panic, I lead the family through Fantasyland to the train station in Toon Town.  Well, I forgot, the train was closed!  So here we were  . . . trapped.  There was no way we were going to make our way through the crowds of Main Street moments before the fireworks.  My husband and I braced ourselves for what we expected to the meltdown of all meltdowns.  I will note here that I was so thankful to the Hayley and Emily, just 3.5 and 2 at the time for being so well behaved at this moment.  We had walked past several attractions they wanted to ride, which of course we said no.  Luckily, they just went with it and didn't complain.

So here we were trapped behind the castle when it began.  Music and fireworks were all around us.  Pierre watched the girls while I told Joey to cover his ears.  At this point, it was the only advice I had.  I was feeling very guilty that I had put Joey in this position.  Fortunately, the girls were loving it! It only took about 30 seconds before Joey uncovered his ears and was smiling ear to ear.  We made our way to the carousel and watched as the fireworks exploded in front of us, behind us and really just all around.  Being that it was so late and the park was closing after Wishes, we had Fantasyland all to ourselves, other than a few cast members.  Every time one of the fireworks exploded the kids would spin around to see where it was.  They started laughing and giggling.  Of course, you can probably guess that I was teary-eyed.  In that moment, it was if we were the only ones in Magic Kingdom and the happiest family you can imagine.  To this day, it is one of my favorite family memories.


Focused on the Magic


You can see I have no photos of Wishes in my post.  That is because on Monday, Deb from Focused on the Magic will be here sharing her best photos tips for capturing the fireworks.  I can't wait!  With my children a little older, I have a feeling I will be able to really work on my camera skills this trip.






Make sure you checkout the rest of the Wishes Around the Web series:

Sunday, October 2, 2011

We Pursued & We Found the Magic This Week

We are just four weeks away from our Walt Disney World vacation. I can't believe it! I have a lot to do between now and then.  We have had a lot happening here on Pursuing the Magic this week! Enjoy!

Of course the big event of this week was Walt Disney World celebrating 40 years!  I celebrated here at home by sharing a photo timeline of my trips to Disney.

I was also sad to see the 40 Days to 40 Years series come to an end.  I am so grateful to Donna at DISTherapy for asking me to co-host this series.  Thank you, Donna!  I think you are an amazing person and I am so blessed to have gotten to know you better through this series (and Irene!!).  This week I shared two posts:



For the Disney Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop, hosted by Deb at Focused on the Magic, I shared some favorite photos of my girls at their very first princess dinner.


A Virtual Tea Party for Rapunzel ~ Princess Party Pops

Welcome to the Virtual Tea Party for Rapunzel!
I am sharing just one of six activities for the virtual tea party.  
You can see the rest of the participants & their amazing princess projects 
at the end of this post.

Hayley loves her Rapunzel dress!
If you are a regular reader of my blog, you know that my girls are all about the princesses.  We have princess parties, a princess dress up area, princess clothes, a princess room and pretty much every princess toy and book that is imaginable.  It is funny though because even though my girls love the princesses, I have caught them on more than one occasion dressed up as princesses running around the yard playing soccer in their princess attire!  So when Jackie at Delightfully Disney proposed the idea of a virtual tea party for Rapunzel becoming a princess, we could not resist joining in.

Once I agreed to join in, the tough part began.  What would we contribute to the amazing things I new my co-writers would be sharing?  Which Princess would we choose?  It was such a difficult decision that we ended up going with a project that can be geared toward any princess.  You would just need to alter the colors to match your favorite.  We decided to create Princess Candy Pops.  I have made these on several occasions as favors for the girls' numerous princess parties.  I have included the photo of the packaging that comes with the Wilton Candy mold.  These are some impressive looking candy pops.  Unfortunately, my candy skills are not quite to that level yet, but I hope to one day be able to create such masterpieces!  Here is my simpler, easy to make with the kids version of the princess pops.  I have shared how to create solid colored pops, as well as the marbled pops.

This is the packaging that comes with
the Fairytale Candy Mold
Fairy Tale Princess Pops

Ingredients & Materials
Candy Melts - White
Candy Melts - Purple (or the color to match your favorite princess)
Wilton Fairytale Large Lollipop Mold
Lollipop Sticks 11 3/4 inch Lollipop Sticks

For Solid Colored Pops:

  1. Melt the candy melts according to the package instructions.  
  2. Place enough melted candy into each mold to almost, but not quite, fill each pop cavity.
  3. Gently tap the filled mold to get the air bubbles out
  4. Place a lollipop in the designated spot. Because these pops are large, I have the top of the lollopop stick as close to the top of the pop as possibly
  5. Gently spin the lollipop stick to coat it with candy
  6. Let set until they harden up. You will know when they are ready because they will easily lift out of the candy mold (Do not refrigerate these to hurry up the hardening stage- it can discolor them)

Here's our Princess Pops!
For Marbled Pops:

  1. Melt the two colors of candy melts in separate bowls
  2. Once melted, place 3 to 4 drops of the melted purple candy into the melted white candy
  3. Using a knife, gently run it through the candy in different directions to create the marbled look (though be careful not to stir it)
  4. Place enough melted candy into each pop mold to almost, but not quite, fill each pop cavity.
  5. Gently tap the filled mold to get the air bubbles out
  6. Place a lollipop stick in the designated spot. Because these pops are large, I have the top of the lollipop stick as close to the top of the pop as possibly
  7. Gently spin the lollipop stick to coat it with candy
  8. Let set until they harden up. You will know when they are ready because they will easily lift out of the candy mold (Do not refrigerate these to hurry up the hardening stage-it can discolor them)

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Happy 40th Anniversary Walt Disney World!

As we are just weeks away from our next trip to Walt Disney World, we have been reminiscing about our past trips.  It is amazing how vivid my memories are from my very first trip as a teen 25 years ago.  Every one of my trips had held special moments and I look forward to making more with my family in the years to come.

1986 
Ahh, the 80s and the awkward teen years!

100 Things to Do in Disney # 48 ~ Epcot's International Food & Wine Festival

Pierre & Emily after dinner at
Biergarten in World Showcase
Today in our countdown series, 100 Things to Do in Disney, I am sharing #48 ~ Epcot's International Food and Wine Festival.  We have visited Walt Disney World just one other time during the festival, but let's just say our kids, ages 3.5, 2 and 10 months at the time, we not so "cooperative" in Epcot.  We did not have the opportunity to take advantage of any of the delicious looking offerings.  This year we have a plan to take full advantage of all the offerings - my parents come to the rescue again!

We have decided that the Wednesday night of our vacation, my parents are going to watch the kids so that Pierre and I can make our way to Epcot  . . . .  alone!  If you are in World Showcase on November 2nd, we will be the 2 giddy parents who haven't been out on a date night in over a year.  That's right - a year!  So in order to take full advantage of this opportunity, we are making a drastic change to our advanced dining reservations (ADRs).  We are canceling out ADR for LeCellier.  Our thoughts being that LeCellier is there year round.  We can always have dinner there on another trip, but we do not know when we will be back in October to experience the Food and Wine Festival.  Even better, Epcot will be open until midnight the night we are there.

So since we haven't been before we have been checking out a lot of information on the Internet to make sure we are prepared and make sure we do not miss out on anything.  We also have started to make a mental list of all the things that we know we want to try.  Here is tops for me (though my list is extensive!):

Belgium:
Steamed Mussels with Roasted Garlic Cream
Belgium Waffle with Berry Compote

Hawaii:
Tuna Poke with Seaweed Salad
Kalua Pork Slider

I could keep going but these are the things that I know I absolutely have to try!

If you are looking for more information, here are some of the articles I have found that have been very informational:



Have you been to Epcot's Food and Wine Festival before?  What is your best tip for us or your favorite dish that you think we just HAVE to try?