Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Year in Review ~ Happy New Year!

It seems like the year 2011 has passed by faster than any year I can recall.  Though according to my dad, the older I get, the faster the years will go by.  I can't imagine a year passing faster than this one, but only time will tell!

It has been a great year for Pursuing the Magic and wanted to share with you my top five posts of the year:

#5 Disney Pirate League of the 80s 
This picture was taken of my family back in 1986 for our very first trip to Walt Disney World when I was just a teen.

#4 100 Things to Do in Disney #88 ~ A New (to us) Signature Dining Experience
Though we never made it to LeCellier this past trip as planned, we love the Canadian Cheddar Cheese Soup.  This recipe is one of our favorite Disney recipes to create at home.  By the way, in January, you will find out why we didn't make it to LeCellier and what amazing experience we had instead!

#3 Cars Week Day #1 ~ A Cars Room Makeover
My Cars Week was a huge success!  I guess Joey isn't the only Cars fanatic out there!

#2 Hallmark Keepsake Ornament Premiere
We love collecting Disney ornaments and look forward to the Christmas in July weekend every year at Hallmark.  We picked up several of our favorite Disney characters who looked great on our Christmas tree this year!

#1 Cars Week Day #3 ~ Cars 2 3D Kindergarten Graduation Party
We were quite excited to celebrate Joey's graduation from Kindergarten this year.  Of course, he requested a Cars 2 theme, which he also had for his December birthday!

Over the year a lot of fun things have also happened ~
  • I invited some special guest writers to join in the fun of "Wishes Around the Web."  I invited several of my blogging friends to share their perspectives on the nighttime spectacular Wishes in the Magic Kingdom.  I am looking forward to starting a new series in January ~ In Pursuit of Pirates.
  • Before our prior trip, I started a series of posts called "100 Things to Do in Disney."  Now that we have returned from our trip, I will be completing that series.
  • Every week (well, almost every week), I participate in Focused on the Magic's Disney Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop.  It is a great week to show special moments I've experienced on our trips.  But my most favorite WW post of the year is "Joy."  Not only was it great fun choosing my photo, but it was very uplifting to go through all the amazing posts everyone else shared for the theme.  

Well, I hope that you are enjoying what I am sharing here on Pursuing the Magic.  I look forward to the new year and sharing my trip report with you!

I hope you and your loved ones have a happy and healthy New Year!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Disney Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop ~ My Potential Disney Calendar Cover


Focused on the MagicToday, I am joining in on the fun of the Disney Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop, hosted by Deb at Focused on the Magic.  This week's theme is to choose a photo you would use as the cover of your 2012 calendar.  As I looked through my photos, there were so many I wanted to choose, but I realized I started looking at specific ones that all had something in common - they were taken at night.  There is something about being in the Magic Kingdom after dark that just makes it all that more magical.  So with that said, here is the photo I would choose for a cover of a 2012 calendar:




Make sure you head over to Focused on the Magic to see what everyone else chose as their calendar cover!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A Trip to Disney with the Kids ~ To Surprise or Not to Surprise?


This article was originally written for my Making Magical Memories column for WDW Daily News Newsletter back in June.  

I have really been enjoying the Disney Parks commercials that feature personal home videos, especially those that show a parent revealing to their children they are going to Walt Disney World.  Their reactions are priceless and I often wonder if I could ever pull off a surprise trip to Disney.  As much as I would love to show up at the airport and reveal our destination to the kids there, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that this would be very difficult for our family for many reasons.

1. This is probably my most important consideration: My son.  Joey is definitely growing out of his stage of being afraid of just about everything and also improving when it comes to changes in schedule and transitions from one thing to another.  For now though, a surprise trip to Walt Disney World may be a little much for him without me prepping him for the things we will be seeing and doing.  He is easily overwhelmed by his surroundings if it is loud or if there are a lot of things surrounding him that he is unfamiliar with.

2. I don’t think I could contain myself.  How could I not talk about Disney 24/7 from the day we book our hotel stay until the day we arrive?  This would be extremely difficult for me!


3. Since we travel as a large group, and are three separate families, there are a lot of phone conversations to organize all the details of the trip.  I would like to say we could have these conversations without my children hearing them, but I swear the phone is like a magnet for my kids.  It doesn’t matter where they are in the house or the yard, the second the phone rings or I pick it up to dial a number, they are suddenly by my side.

4. I love that my children give their input for our dining reservations, our hotel choice and our itinerary.  I think I may feel guilty not letting them be a part of the planning process.

But on the other hand, there are so many reasons that I would just love to surprise my children!

1. Assuming they would react (and we know how kids are, it could go either way depending on the day), it would be a very magical moment to see their faces light up when we told them we were on our way to Walt Disney World.

2. Trying to contain myself from talking to them about the trip, just may elevate my level excitement (if that is at all possible) about going to Walt Disney World.

3. Maybe without all the prepping for the trip and just showing up, Joey wouldn’t have time to worry about the things that he can’t control.

Our next trip is already out of the bag, but I am going to put some serious consideration into making our following trip a surprise! How about you?  Do you like to surprise your children with trips to Disney or do you prefer to have them be a part of the planning process?

Monday, December 26, 2011

We Pursued & We Found the Magic This Week

What another amazing holiday and so much to be thankful for!  We hope that you and your family enjoyed the holidays this year!

Besides all the wonderful holiday happenings, a few fun posts were up on Pursuing the Magic last week.

Tuesday, I shared a story from our November Walt Disney World trip.  Let's just say, I had an "interesting" start to the vacation and someone, who I have no idea who they are, saved my vacation!  You can read all about it in my post Disney Magic Our First Day in Walt Disney World, an article I wrote for my Making Magical Memories Column for WDW Daily News.

On Wednesday, I joined in the fun of Focused on the Magic's Disney Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop.  The theme this month was "Joy."  A great theme to say the least!

On Friday, I shared my 2012 Disney Resolution.  Do you have a Disney resolution set for next year?

If you want to see our Disney "Cookies for Santa" plate and a fun Disney cookie decorating kit I found at Walgreens, head over to the Pursuing the Magic Facebook page.

I hope that you and your families had a great holiday season.  I am looking forward to more great Disney adventures in 2012!

Friday, December 23, 2011

My Disney Resolution ~ A runDisney Event

I tend to make unrealistic goals for myself.  Unrealistic in the sense that I attempt to accomplish way too much at one time and also have no plan to accomplish them, which has proven over and over a recipe for failure.  For 2012, I have one resolution that is set, and I have my plan in place.  I want to train for a runDisney event.  

Before this week, my goal was to train the entire year to run the January 2013 WDW Half Marathon.  If Disney can't motivate me to get into shape - nothing can!  But with the newest announcement by runDisney, I think I may have to change my resolution from train for a Disney race to run a Disney race.  I am considering running in The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler.  I think this would absolutely be a great first race!  Then, I would see where I would stand for the 2013 WDW Marathon Weekend.  I also find it interesting that just when I really set my mind to this goal, runDisney announces this brand new race.  Coincidence or sign?  I am going with this being a sign that for once in my life (since having kids) it is time to do something for myself, someone who has been forgotten over the last seven years.  (Disclaimer: That, of course, is not a complaint, I love my kids and would sacrifice anything for them!)

Imagine running at night and possibly "bumping into" villains around the course.  This leads me to imagine just what it would be like to run through the theme parks, something I have never done!  After the race, there is even a private party.  I can feel my baby weight (I know, I am way past the days of it actually being called baby weight!) dropping off as we speak.  The idea of training for and participating in something so amazing is my motivation and I can't wait!

My Disney Resolution:
On September 29, 2012, I will be ready and running in The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler.  (By the way, if you are thinking of registering for this race, registration opens on February 14, 2012.)

How about you?  When is your next Disney race?  Will it be your first?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

"Joy" ~ Disney Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop

Focused on the Magic

Today I am joining in the fun of the Disney Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop, hosted by Deb at Focused on the Magic (Thanks, Deb!).  The theme was a great one this week ~ "Joy."  Since I couldn't narrow down to just one, I have a few favorites that I think show just how much joy we had on our last trip to Walt Disney World.


Joy of a Princess & Her Grammie



Joy of Granting Wishes


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Disney Magic Our First Day in Walt Disney World

Our view from the beach at
Disney's Polynesian Resort
This article was written for my column, Making Magical Memories, in the WDW Daily News Newsletter #209, which was published on December 6, 2011. 

One of the things most of us talk about when returning from Walt Disney World are the magical moments we might experience with the characters, a favorite dining spot or a special cast member.  This trip I experienced some Disney magic from someone, and I have no idea who they are.  So, I am writing this in hopes that the person who made my vacation is reading and that they know how thankful I am.

After leaving New Hampshire the day after the very odd October snowstorm, we were relieved to arrive in Orlando without any glitches.  We made our way to Disney’s Polynesian Resort, checked in, made our way to our room and then I headed down to the beach with the kids and my mom. I will go into more details about our experiences at Disney’s Polynesian Resort in another article, but for now, let’s just say that being able to see Cinderella’s Castle from our resort, as well as hear the train’s whistle was something so magical in itself.  

I decided this would be the perfect backdrop to get some pictures of the kids on our first day of vacation.  We played in the sand, sat in the swing and really just enjoyed our surroundings.  Once the kids started saying they were hungry, we made our way to Captain Cook’s, grabbed something to eat and headed back to our room.  I wanted to take some pictures of our room, but could not find my camera.  I gave this no thought, since I am someone who rarely loses track of anything.  I unpacked our suitcases, put away our groceries and again looked for my camera.  It wasn’t there.  I started to panic.  How can I lose my camera on our very first day of vacation?

This is the last photo I had taken with my camera
before losing it!
I walked back to the beach where we had been playing, no camera.  I made my way over to Captain Cook’s, no camera.  I was in almost full panic mode at this point.  I went directly to Guest Services.  They had me fill out a form that had details of my missing camera.  The cast member I spoke with also gave me the phone number for lost and found.  He recommended I call the next morning, which was the morning of our breakfast at Chef Mickey’s.  How can I not have a camera for Chef Mickey’s?  

The next morning I called Lost and Found, which unfortunately did not open until 8:00.  So, we went to Chef Mickey’s camera-less, and honestly, I was so upset with myself for having lost my camera.  As soon as we finished breakfast, we returned to the hotel.  I called Lost and Found again, after saying several prayers that they had my camera.  Much to my relief, they did!!!  The woman I spoke to said that someone had found it on the swing on the beach.  I have never felt such relief!  They delivered my camera to the room within 15 minutes, and we made our way to the Magic Kingdom.  

So if you are the person who found my camera, I cannot tell you how grateful I am to you for turning it in to Guest Services.  I know there are worse problems in the world than not having my camera, but our Disney photos from past trips are my favorite souvenirs and something I enjoy looking at as often as possible!  


You can sign up for the weekly WDW Daily News Newsletter HERE

Sunday, December 18, 2011

We Pursued & We Found the Magic This Week

With just a week left until Christmas, I can say I for once am ready for the holiday.  Just two weeks ago, I felt so far behind, but luckily, have caught up and my to do list is quite short!  How is your holiday to do list coming along?

Here is what you could find at Pursuing the Magic this week, in case you missed anything:

Monday, the kids and I were featured over at Cooking with Mickey for our monthly column, Little Chef Disney Creations.  This month we created Mike Wazowski Pinwheels.

Wednesday, I joined in the fun of Focused on the Magic's Disney Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop.  It isn't really the season for it, but I shared a photo of all of us on our way to Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party all decked out in our Toy Story costumes.  I'll be sharing details of our experience in January.

On Friday, our Magical Fireplace DVD arrived.  Let's just say, we love it, and it is the perfect addition to our Disney DVD collection.

Saturday, I posted a link to the times for the Disney Parks Christmas Day Parade.

As you know, we are always searching for those magical Disney moments.  My friend Beth over at A Disney Mom's Thoughts had a great moment with her son.  Check out her post "Hey! I'm Aladdin, You're Abu" for a special Disney moment that happened at their home.  It's very sweet!

How have you found Disney magic this week?  I would love to hear about it!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Disney Parks Christmas Day Parade Air Times

Do you make watching the Disney parks Christmas Day Parade part of your Christmas day festivities?  I will admit we usually have it on, but my kids are so involved in their new toys from Santa, and Pierre and I are so focused on putting together those toys, that we usually really do not focus on the parade.  I am very excited that we finally have a DVR, so I will definitely be DVRing (is that a word?) the parade to watch at our leisure!

Were you in Walt Disney World for the taping of the parade?  I would love to hear what that was like!

Anyways, if you haven't seen the schedule yet for the times the parade is airing in your area, you can find them at the official Disney site.

Disney's Magical Fireplace

It has finally arrived - our Magical Fireplace DVD.  I saw this in a Disney Movie Rewards e-mail and knew it was something we just had to have.  Since we do not have a fireplace, but we do have a 57" TV, it actually looks quite nice.  If you haven't seen this DVD before, it is a virtual fireplace.  Throughout the 58 minute movie, Disney characters, fireworks and Mickey Ears randomly pop up.  From Mickey and Minnie to Cinderella's Pumpkin Coach to the the cast of Up and plenty of others in between, it seems the entire span of Disney and Disney-Pixar movies is represented.

At the DVD menu, you have the option of listening with special effects or music.  The special effects version will give you all the same character appearances as the music version, but instead of Christmas carols, you can hear the crackling of the fire.  If you choose the option of listening with music, it has a wonderful selection of Christmas carols, some even sung by our favorite characters!

My kids LOVE this and have asked to watch it already this morning.  Hayley even said that now that we have a "fireplace" we can hang our stockings in front of it.  I think this will be a great backdrop for our Christmas day festivities.

For more information, you can check out the official website at Disney's Magical Fireplace.  Do you have this bit of Disney Magic for your Christmas celebrations this season?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Disney Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop ~ Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party

Focused on the Magic

Today I am joining in the fun of the Disney Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop hosted by Debs at Focused on the Magic.  As you may or may not know, I am not really one for dressing up at Halloween, but how could I not for Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party?  So here we are:



Don't forget to check out all the great Disney Wordless Wednesday posts over at Focused on the Magic!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Little Chefs Disney Creations ~ Mike Wazowski Pinwheels

You can find the kids and I over at Cooking with Mickey today.  We have shared a Disney-inspired recipe from  Disney-Pixar's Monsters, Inc. for the next episode of Little Chefs Disney Creations, a series dedicated to recipes the whole family can create together.

To see this month's recipe, head over to

Sunday, December 11, 2011

We Pursued & We Found the Magic This Week

This past week we celebrated my littlest one's fourth birthday.  It is hard to believe she can be four already!  As you could probably tell, I took a short break from blogging but only due to the amount of things I had to get done around here. But I am back on track.  You will see just a few posts a week until the holidays are over and then I will be posting in depth reviews of our recent Walt Disney World trip.

Last Saturday, I shared a postcard we received in the mail from Walt Disney World.  Emily was very impressed by this!  To see what she had to say about it, you will have to read the comments section in my post A Disney Surprise in the Mail.  Very cute!

Friday, December 9, 2011

A Disney Experience I Must Experience (one of these days!)

There are a few things on my Disney to do list that I have never experienced in Walt Disney World.  Some of those things I have skipped because I don't have a strong desire to test them out, some are due to my fear of thrill rides and some are just due to time constraints of trying to get as much in as we can with three little ones.  But there is one thing I have made several attempts to experience in Walt Disney World, and it just hasn't worked out.  I will add that the lack of experience is not due to lack of effort!  It is due to lack of perfect weather conditions.  


Since I do not have any pictures
of Characters in Flight, I
thought I would share a picture
of my kids in Downtown Disney! :-)
It all started back in 2010 just before our March trip to Walt Disney World.  I happened to catch a You Tube video of someone's experience on Characters in Flight found over at Downtown Disney's West Side.  As soon as I saw this video, I knew I had to experience it.  The view looked just amazing, and I began to imagine all the amazing photos I would have the opportunity to take.  Well, if you have read any of my reviews of that trip, you may remember that the entire week was freezing cold with high winds.  Needless to say, the attraction was closed due to high winds all three of the times I made my way to Downtown Disney.  The first day I attempted to ride it was a little breezy, but certainly nothing I thought would have closed the ride.  Of course, being only 5'8" I could not tell the wind conditions at the height of 300', so I trusted that it wasn't safe and vowed to return on another day to try my luck again.


The second time we were in Downtown Disney there was no surprise that is was closed.  I didn't even have to walk over to read the sign to know it was too windy.  On our very last day of that trip, I made my way back to Downtown Disney just to make my final attempt at experiencing it.  Well, since today's topic is something we have never experienced, I am sure you can tell how that worked out.  You guessed it, it was closed due to high winds again.  I was very disappointed, but I knew we would be returning to Walt Disney World  again within a year or two, and I would make another attempt to experience it.


Unfortunately, this past trip, with the three kids getting sick, it just was not in the cards for me to experience Characters in Flight.  The two times we made our way to Downtown Disney, I just couldn't leave my kids with my parents so I could take flight.  I felt too guilty just thinking about leaving them with three sniffly, sneezing little ones who really just all wanted to go back to the resort, nevermind actually leaving them!  


So though I still have not experienced Characters in Flight, it tops my list of things I can't wait to experience someday!  

What is one Disney attraction that you have yet to experience but really want to?






Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A Minnie Mouse Birthday Celebration for Emily

I say this every year on each and every one of my children's birthdays - where did the time go?  It seems like I was just bringing them home from the hospital?  But it is true!  Time is passing much too quickly.  We spent this weekend celebrating my littlest one's fourth birthday.  She just loves Minnie Mouse, and this weekend was all about Minnie Mouse.

I make all of my children's cakes, and this time around was no exception.  The only thing I did differently was rather than create cake decorations out of fondant or frosting, I used my Cricut machine and created them from paper.    This made my life much easier because I could finish the task quicker than I would trying to create things with fondant, since my skills are lacking in that department.  What you see above was actually Emily's idea of what her cake should look like.  She told me she wanted a picture of Minnie and lots of bows like on "Minnie's Bow-tique" on Disney Junior.  Once she gave me that idea, I took out my two Mickey Cricut cartridges, which both include Minnie Mouse images, and was excited to find a cute Minnie face and a bow shape.

The Cricut cartridges I used to create the cake decorations
Since this was going to be a small family party, I baked a 9-inch, two-layer cake.  I edged the top and bottom with pink fondant flowers.  The rest I created with my Cricut (by the way, I can't wait because I know Santa is bringing me the Cricut Cake machine!!).

For the Minnie Face
Materials:
Mickey Font Cricut Cartridge**
Black Cardstock
White Cardstock
Skin-colored Cardstock
Pink Cardstock

  1. Cut the Minnie face shape using the black cardstock at 6" using the "minnie" key
  2. Cut the face layer from the skin colored cardstock using the "charm" function key, then the "minnie" key
  3. Cut the eyes from the white cardstock using the "silhouette" function key, then the "minnie" key
  4. Cut the tongue from the pink cardstock using the "end caps" function key, then the "minnie" key
  5. Cut the bow from the pink cardstock using the "end caps shadow" key, then the "minnie" key
  6. Glue the layers together in the order that you cut them
  7. Using plastic cake dowels (I used Wilton), I placed Elmer's glue spots onto the top of each dowel, then pressed them on the back of the Minnie.  I didn't want the paper to touch the frosting because it would give it a grease spot.  By using the dowels, I could push the Minnie down to the cake without actually touching the cake.
  8. Place the Minnie face about an inch from the front border of the cake.  This will give you room to place the candles across the top of the cake.


For the Bows
Materials:
Mickey and Friends Cricut Cartridge
Various Colors of Cardstock

  1. Cut the bow shape at 1-1/4 inch (height) in various colors using the "icon" function key, then the "minnie4" key (do this for each color bow you want)
  2. Using plastic cake dowels (I used Wilton), I placed Elmer's glue spots onto the top of each dowel, then pressed one on the back of each bow.  
  3. Press dowel into the side of the cake going around the perimeter.  I only added bows to the front, but it would be very simple to create enough to go around the entire cake.

Emily helped place all the bows on the cake.  When it was done, she claimed that the cake was the most beautiful cake she had ever seen.  It was the perfect cake for her Minnie Mouse party, especially considering most of her presents were from the new Minnie Bow-tique toys collection!

Disney Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop ~ Cinderella's Castle for the Holidays

Focused on the Magic

Today I am joining in the fun of the Disney Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop hosted by Debs at Focused on the Magic.  The theme this week is the holidays in the parks or at home.  On our recent trip we celebrated Halloween in the parks at the beginning of the week, and at the end, we were able to see all the Christmas decorations.



Don't forget to check out all the great Disney Wordless Wednesday posts over at Focused on the Magic!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

A Disney Surprise in the Mail

The kids were quite excited when I picked up our mail yesterday.  We had a nice card from our Disney friends.  I don't remember getting one of these after any of our previous Walt Disney World vacations.



 Have you received one of these postcards in the mail?

Friday, December 2, 2011

Our 1st Attraction for Our 25th Anniversary Walt Disney World Vacation

I can't believe I have not started posting about our recent trip!  Things have just been so busy since getting home, but I promise to be back on track very soon!  For those of you who are new to Pursuing the Magic or those who do not know, our recent trip was the 25th Anniversary Trip for my family.  We checked in this year 25 years and one day from our very first day at Walt Disney World.  Amazing how fast time has gone!  If you want to read about our very first trip, I shared some of the details of our 1986 trip over at DISTherapy for the 40 Years to 40 Days project, in which many Disney fans came together to share 40 years of Walt Disney World memories.

You may already know my family's very first attraction back in 1986 was the Mad Tea Party.  Just by chance, the kids' first request this trip . . . the Mad Tea Party!  As soon as we strolled down Main Street and took in all the fall decorations, we made our way to Fantasyland, hopped into a tea cup and spun away!

Here are my parents, who celebrated their 42nd wedding anniversary, while we
were in Walt Disney World


Hayley by far is our biggest fan of the teacups!


Though Joey likes the Mad Tea Party, I am pretty certain all he was thinking was "When
do I get to go on the Tomorrowland Speedway?"




Emily the Tea Party Queen herself (well, at home anyways) was NOT a fan of the teacups!

So in the coming weeks, I will be sharing all the details of our amazing trip!  My husband has already been asking when we are going back!  Considering he has just recently been converted to a Disney fan, this is tremendous news!!!