Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Days in the Parkcast "Pursued the Magic" this week!

Days In The Park button
I am so excited to let you know that I was a guest on the Days in the Park podcast - Days in the Parkcast!  They invited me to talk with them about Pursuing the Magic, the Magical Blogorail and, of course, my love of Disney.  I had so much fun with Chad and Mark! I want to send a big thank you to both of them for inviting me to be on the show!

You can listen in and find out what we talked about over at

Trick or Treating at Disney's Polynesian Resort

This article was originally written for my Making Magical Memories column for the WDW Daily News Newsletter.  It was published January 24th in Newsletter #215.

For our most recent trip, we spent Halloween in Walt Disney World.  Prior to leaving, I had searched high and low for information about where we could go trick or treating.  It certainly wasn’t a priority, but with a 6, 5 and 3 year old, this was something they had been asking about.  I discovered many of the resorts had “Candy Stops” in the shops, eateries and pools.  I was happy to find a flyer at Disney’s Polynesian Resort when we checked in that listed all the spots where we could go trick or treating.   At the Polynesian, this included 9 stops.

My kids were very excited to show off their costumes throughout the Polynesian!  Cast members, as well as guests, were not shy about telling them how great they looked and making a big deal about their Toy Story themed costumes.  My children are normally shy, but in this atmosphere, they gave big smiles and hugs to just about everyone.  Even better, out at the pool area, they were playing Halloween themed music and had hosted a Halloween themed pool party that afternoon.

Emily had worn her Jessie wig and hat almost everyday for weeks before leaving for Disney.
In Disney, she didn't wear them even once.

We did not bring our own trick or treat bags, but that was not a problem.  At our first stop in BouTiki, the cast member gave my children Disney themed treat bags.  Since it was their first stop, she gave them each at least three handfuls of candy “to get them started,” as she said.  Let’s just say that made my kids’ night without even having to stop anywhere else!  We made stops at all 9 candy spots, and the kids have more than enough candy to last them until the next Halloween!

Monday, January 30, 2012

In Pursuit of Pirates #6 ~ A Disneyland Paris Perspective of the Pirates of the Caribbean Attraction

I cannot believe we are in the final episode of In Pursuit of Pirates!  I have had so much fun reading everyone's posts on pirate inspired photography tips, scrapbook layouts, a recipe and a Disneyland perspective.  Today, I am so excited to welcome Amanda from Manda's Disney Blog to share her perspective on the Disneyland Paris version of my favorite Disney attraction ~ Pirates of the Caribbean!
Pirates of the Caribbean has always been one of my most favourite attractions at Disneyland Paris! I still remember the first time I went on it with my sister and my dad - I had no idea what to expect so let's just say that the drops were extra surprising! I was lucky enough to ride the Magic Kingdom version in Florida last October ... it was so cool to see the infamous Captain Jack Sparrow in this version as Disneyland Paris still hasn't had this addition. Whilst seeing Captain Jack was pretty exciting, I'm proud to say that my homepark has remained untouched by the Pirates of the Caribbean Movie franchise ... in fact it's the last version of the ride true to it's original roots ... and I kinda like it that way :)

Sunday, January 29, 2012

We Pursued & We Found the Magic This Week

We ended this past week with yet another Cars 2 birthday celebration, which explains why this recap was postponed until today!  I'll be sharing this week a few birthday finds I found to fit the Cars 2 theme, which I had shared a few months ago, as well as a few more Star Wars and Cars 2 LEGO sets that we have built.

We kicked off the week with Part #5 of the In Pursuit of Pirates series with Chad from Days in the Park.  He shared an overview of the Disneyland version of the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction.  I had no idea it was so different from the Walt Disney World version!

On Tuesday, I shared my children's new favorite Disney soundtrack.  This one is the Magic Kingdom Event Party Music, which includes music from Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party, as well as Disney's Pirate and Princess Party. 

On Wednesday, I joined in the Disney Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop hosted by Deb at Focused on the Magic.  This week's theme was "Wildlife," and I shared a photo I was able to capture (by pure luck) of a giraffe along Kilimanjaro Safari.  I highly recommend checking out all the entries this week - they were amazing!

On Friday, I joined in the Flashback Friday Blog Hop hosted by Deb at Focused on the Magic.  I shared a few mementos from our first trip to Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort in 1990.

We have a lot of fun things in store coming up, including tomorrow's final episode of In Pursuit of Pirates.  I am excited to share with you a Disneyland Paris perspective on the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction from Amanda of Manda's Disney Blog.  Also, I was a guest of Chad and Mark of Days in the Parkcast.  That episode should be released soon - I will keep you posted when it is up and ready for you to listen to!

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

Friday, January 27, 2012

Disney Photo Flashback Friday ~ Back to the 90s at Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort

Focused on the MagicToday I am joining in the fun of Flashback Friday over at Focused on the Magic.  One of my faovrite things to do in between trip is look back over all our past Disney vacations and reminisce.  Luckily for me, my mom loved to take pictures, so even at my most awkward teen moments, my mom has them captured in photos!  I decided to keep with the Pirates of the Caribbean theme I have going on this month by sharing some things from our first stay at Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort.  My favorite village island of the resort is Jamaica. I didn't even realize until now, that Jamaica was the first one we stayed in!

My brother and I on our family's first stay at
Disney Caribbean Beach Resort

One of the napkins from 1990

My mom collects everything when we are in a Disney.  I believe she may have a park map, napkin and anything else she can get her hands on from every trip and every place we visited.  When I was younger I thought it was crazy that she would be collecting all these things.  But now, I love it!  It is so great looking back at how things have changed over the years!

At the time of our first visit, Old Port Royale looked much different.  When you walked into what is now the food court area, there was a lounge called Captain's Hideaway.  The recipe you see here was my dad's favorite beverage of the trip and the cast member was nice enough to share the recipe with him.

I love that Disney shares recipes with guests!  It is a great
way to bring a little Disney magic home with you!

This was the menu at Captain's Hideaway

Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort is one of my family's favorites and has been for a long time.  It is also letting me have some nice, warm thoughts of the Caribbean during this very cold and icy day we are having!

Make sure you head over to Focused on the Magic and reminisce with everyone else who participated this week in Flashback Friday!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Disney Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop ~ Wildlife

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. This week's theme is "Wildlife," and in Disney's Animal Kingdom, there are plenty of opportunities to capture some great shots, especially on my favorite attraction Kilimanjaro Safaris!

The giraffes at Kilimanjaro Safaris are my favorite animals
to photograph.

Make sure you head over to Focused on the Magic to see everyone's amazing Disney wildlife photos!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Bringing Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party Music Home

Front Cover
This article was written for my WDW Daily News column Making Magical Memories.  It was published in Newsletter #213 on January 10, 2012.

Everyday there is Disney music playing in our house and in our car, whether it is a Disney Parks CD, a Disney movie soundtrack or a Disney radio station.  For most songs, my children can tell you which movie it is from and who is singing it.  They also know the lyrics and sing them even when there is no music playing.  I especially love when we are listening to a soundtrack and a score comes on that my children act out.  Their favorite is from Tangled when Flynn and Maximus are trying to get the satchel from each other.  But I didn’t realize how well my children knew these Disney songs until we were in Walt Disney World.

Back cover & playlist
After about out third day of touring the parks, the kids had gone to bed early.  I was in my parents’ room talking with my mom.  She says, “Do you know that every song the kids heard today, they told me which song it was, which movie it was from and even what was happening in the movie when that song is playing?”  I have to admit  . . . I was a proud mom!  This led me to make a purchase that has become my children’s favorite souvenir from this trip.

Knowing how much my children love the music from Disney movies, I just had to add some theme park music to our collection.  I made three CD purchases, but my children’s favorite is the Magic Kingdom Event Party Music.  I happen to find this at the cart outside of the Haunted Mansion.  It includes music from Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween party, including Hallowishes, the Boo to You Parade and the Villain’s Mix and Mingle.  It also includes music from the Disney’s Pirate and Princess Party, including the Enchanted Adventures Parade.  We had been to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, so I took a chance that this would be a hit with the kids.  Needless to say, I had no idea what I was getting myself into!

Upon our return home, I played our new CD.  Immediately, the kids started dancing and cheering.  They loved it!  Actually, they may love it a little too much, because now, we listen to it in the car, at home and pretty much we take it everywhere we go.  Even this holiday season when I would play some Christmas music, they would change the CD to the Halloween music.  While decorating our gingerbread houses and making cookies for Santa, they were singing along with the Ghost Host!  I can say at this point, my kids can sing almost the entire Hallowishes and Boo to You Parade music from beginning to end whether the CD is playing or not.  Even better, every time we listen to it, they start talking about being at Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and always end the conversation with, “When are we going back to Mickey’s Halloween Party?”  I love that they have come to love Disney as much as I have and look forward to our return trips!

What Disney music reminds you of your Disney vacations and gets you thinking about your next trip to a Disney park?

Monday, January 23, 2012

In Pursuit of Pirates #5 ~ We Wants the Redhead! Disneyland's Pirates of the Caribbean with Chad of Days in the Park

In Pursuit of Pirates continues today with Part #5.  So far we have shared pirate inspired memories, photo tips, scrapbook layouts and recipes. Today, Chad from Days In The Park shares his perspective on the Disneyland version of my favorite attraction - Pirates of the Caribbean.  I have never been to Disneyland, so I am quite excited to see the similarities and differences between the two attractions.  

Disneyland's Pirates of the Caribbean has always had a special place for me in my Days spent at The Park.  Historically, Pirates is one of the attractions that, although not a Disneyland Original (meaning it was not present at its inception in 1955), it is the original in terms of the different Pirates attractions at the different Parks around the world, and it is considered an iconic attraction within Disneyland.  When people talk about Disneyland, they often talk about Pirates of the Caribbean; it's that well known.

Pirates of the Caribbean opened in Disneyland in 1967, just three months after Walt Disney passed away.  It's especially significant, especially among those of us who claim Disneyland our "home", because it's the last attraction inside The Park that Walt Disney himself had a hand in creating.  It just makes it that much more special to us.  And I've always been fascinated by the fact that it was originally intended to be a "walk through" attraction, like a wax museum.  One can't help but wonder given what we know now (the fact it takes a full 15 minutes for a boat to float through!) just how long it would have taken to walk the attraction! 

The 30th Anniversary Plaque (1967 - 1997) proclaiming Disneyland's Pirates of the Caribbean "the original"

Disneyland's Pirates of the Caribbean is located in New Orleans Square, which is one of my favorite areas inside The Park, and the Pirates attraction fits in there perfectly with its exterior which is an exceptionally well-done homage to the antebellum south, and particularly the area of New Orleans, Louisiana nearing the mid-point of the 19th Century. 

The Pirates of the Caribbean attraction entrance with a little "Disneyland Dream Suite" on top

In Disneyland's Pirates, guests are treated to a boat ride (leaving from the infamous Laffite's Landing) through the bayous of New Orleans, and into the caverns where Pirates and "dead men tell no tales".  There's no shortage of skeletons, treasure, pirate booty (we just like saying that!), ships, wenches, wives chasing their husbands around with rolling pins, or guns and canons as you float along taking it all in.

I would have enjoyed (given that "Pursuing the Magic" is a Walt Disney World blog) to have been able to compare the two attractions and how they are different and similar, but unfortunately I remember next to nothing about the Disney World version so it would be impossible to do.  Also, I figure a play-by-play of the Disneyland attraction probably isn't nearly as interesting as it sounds so I've opted to give just a brief look at some of my favorite parts of the attraction for those who might be looking to go on it one day themselves.

  • I absolutely love the artwork which adorns the inside of the queue of the Pirates of the Caribbean, like the "Captain Charles Gibbs" above.  Don't ask why I didn't include a picture of the Jack Sparrow; that would have just been too easy.  But there's tons to look at on the inside; when you're eyes adjust to the dark, that is.
  • I've always loved how Disneyland's Pirates, once you leave the dock (Laffite's Landing), takes you directly past the Blue Bayou Restaurant.  I've always enjoyed floating by watching the people enjoying their fine meals, and it's always been a pleasure to sit on the other side and dine while watching Pirates patrons float by.  Something we've always enjoyed doing!
  • Who doesn't enjoy drops in the dark?  And Pirates of the Caribbean has two of them.  Even though it's not even remotely frightening anymore, I nevertheless scream like a little child each and every time.  No comment on whether people give me dirty looks or not when I do...
  • The song "Yo Ho (A Pirates Life For Me)"; need I say any more?
  • The infamous Disneyland "Pirates Fog".  I have no idea whether this is duplicated at any other Park, but at Disneyland, at one point during the attraction you travel through a patch of fog which has both Davey Jones and Blackbeard projected on it, warning you to turn back or "never leave this cursed place".  After Disneyland's Pirates of the Caribbean was refurbished after the success of the films (and Jack Sparrow was added to the attraction) Davey Jones and said fog were added as well.  With the release of "On Stranger Tides" last year, Blackbeard supplanted Davey Jones as a means of creating interest in the film shortly before its release.  We were surprised, pleasantly, to see that when we rode yesterday, they've both been kept now!  So, it's just a little bit of something that I thought was pretty cool and worth keeping a "weather eye out for".
  • Captain Barbossa on the deck of the "Wicked Wench" calling me a "blooming cockroach" over and over again.  Oh, and I also love how, if the boat times it just right, when the canons fire it will literally blow my cap right off of my head into the bottom of the boat.  It's happened on more than one occasion.  Seriously.
  • Carlos, the mayor of Puerto Dorado, constantly being dunked into the well while his wife looks on and yells at him not to be a "cheek in".  Never gets old.
  • Probably my favorite scene in any attraction, I love the auction scene and truly enjoy watching the pirate auctioneer selling off the town's women as brides.  Does that make me a bad person?  Of course, I have a particular affinity for the redhead, and love yelling out "We wants the redhead" at random times as I'm strolling through The Park, which can make things a bit testy when there's an actual redhead strolling by.  Hasn't stopped me yet, though...
Pirates of the Caribbean is just one of those attractions that never gets old for me.  At one point in time, my friend Mark and I (my co-creator at Days in the Park) had ridden the attraction on ~30 consecutive trips into Disneyland.  It was just something we had to do each and every time we went.  We never grew tired of it; the streak was broken due to the attraction breaking down at an inopportune time.  But since then we still ride it on a very regular basis, and enjoy it each and every time like we're riding it for the first!  We whoop, holler, yell, sing, laugh, mimick, and sometimes get soaked as we fly (okay, crawl) through those tunnels and I simply never tire of it.  I've always loved Pirates, and assume that I probably always will.

If you get a chance to come to Disneyland, and have never ridden the fantastic, iconic attraction before, the pirates are waiting for you.  And if you've ridden it at a Park other than Disneyland, the same applies.  It's a historic landmark in Disney history, and as "the original" Pirates attraction, it's worthy of a second, third, and even a hundredth look as well.

It just never gets old.  Drink up, me hearties, yo ho...

The parrot that never shuts up.  And we wouldn't have it any other way...
Thank you so much, Chad for sharing the Disneyland version of Pirates of the Caribbean!  I look forward to the day I make my way out west to experience it myself!

Days In The Park buttonIf you haven't visited Chad (and Mark) over at Days In The Park, I highly recommend that you do.  His love of Disneyland shines through every post, and if there is anyone who can get my out to Disneyland, it is Chad!  You can follow Days In The Park on Twitter at @DaysInThePark and like them on Facebook on the Days In The Park page.

Next Monday, Amanda from Manda's Disney Blog will be sharing Part #6, our final episode of the series, with a Disneyland Paris perspective on Pirates of the Caribbean.

Here are the posts included in the entire series:

Saturday, January 21, 2012

We Pursued & We Found the Magic This Week

We had another great week here at Pursuing the Magic with crafts, recipes, scrapbook tips and more.  If you missed any of our posts, here is what we shared this week:

Sunday I shared the link to my craft project over at The Disney Moms.  I will be featured over there the 14th of every month with a Disney-inspired craft you can do with your child.  This month I shared a Beauty and the Beast Inspired Book Satchel.

Monday, we continued our In Pursuit of Pirates series with Mary from Capturing Magical Memories and MC Digital Designs.  She shared her tips and tricks for preserving your Disney pirate memories and photos with some amazing scrapbook layouts.

Tuesday, I shared the link to our Little Chef Disney Creations over at Cooking with Mickey.  The second Monday of every month, we share a Disney-inspired recipe that you can create with your child.  This month we created Lotso's Stuffed Strawberries.  It is a quick and easy to make sweet treat.

Wednesday, we joined in the fun of the Disney Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop hosted by Deb at Focused on the Magic.  We shared some photos of the pool area of Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort.

Thursday, we continued our In Pursuit of Pirates series with Kristen of Cooking with Mickey.  She shared her pirate inspired recipe called Stranded with Captain Jack Sparrow.

Coming Up Next Week:

  • Monday, Chad from Days in the Park will be continuing our In Pursuit of Pirates series with a Disneyland perspective on my favorite attraction.
  • Also, Monday, if you are subscribed to the WDW Daily News Newsletter, you will see my most recent article for my column Making Magical Memories.  This week I am sharing all the details of Trick or Treating at Disney's Polynesian Resort.
  • I am not sure when it will be published, but I recently had a great time chatting with Mark and Chad of Days in the Parkcast as part of their next episode.  I will keep you posted when it is ready for you to listen to.  

A Disney Moms ThoughtsI know I had said last week I would start my review of our Halloween  trip to Walt Disney World.  But my friend Beth over at A Disney Mom's Thoughts has been sharing some great Halloween posts, so I figured I will wait.  If you are looking for some Halloween tips and tricks, head over to A Disney Mom's Thoughts to check out all her thoughts on costumes, the Boo to You Parade and more!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

In Pursuit of Pirates Part #4 ~ Why Is The Rum Gone? A Pirate Inspired Recipe from Kristen of Cooking with Mickey

We have shared a lot of Pirate inspired posts since the beginning of the month from memories of experiencing Pirates of the Caribbean for the first time to photo tips for taking amazing photos of the interior of the attraction to amazing scrapbook layouts to preserve your Disney pirate themed memories and photos.  For part 4, I am excited to welcome Kristen from Cooking with Mickey and her pirate inspired recipe.

Why is the rum all gone? Because we've taken it for making a drink suitable for a scalawag or salty wench. Fans of the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction, or movie, know that rum is important. It's the drink of pirates! Since we are in pursuit of pirates, we've got what they're looking for - RUM.

So grab your sword, compass and rum... and let's get started with my recipe for Stranded with Captain Jack Sparrow.

Stranded with Capt. Jack Sparrow
2 oz coconut rum
1 oz spiced rum
Fresh lime juice
  1. In a cocktail shaker mix coconut and spiced rum.
  2. Use the lime to wet the top of the glass and dip into margarita salt; kosher salt will also work.
  3. Pour into a lowball glass over ice.
  4. Add a squeeze of fresh lime juice and serve

So drink up me hearties, yo ho!

If you haven't visited Kristen over at Cooking with Mickey, I highly recommend that you do.  She shares a lot of Disney dining reviews and Disney recipes.  You can follow her on Twitter at @CookingwMickey and on Facebook at Cooking with Mickey.

On Monday, January 23rd, Chad from Days in the Park will be sharing his thoughts on the Disneyland version of the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction!

Here are the posts included in the entire series:

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Disney Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop ~ Water, Water Everywhere!

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.  For this week's theme, I am sharing one of my favorite shots of my children's favorite pools.  It is the kiddie pool area at Disney Caribbean Beach Resort.  This is a great play area for little ones!  I also included a shot of the main pool area.  With the freezing temps here in New Hampshire, I wish I were at the Caribbean right now!

Kiddie Pool area at
Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort

Monday, January 16, 2012

Little Chef Disney Creations ~ Lotso's Stuffed Strawberries

Today, you can find the kids and I over at Cooking with Mickey for our monthly column Little Chef Disney creations.  Every month we share a Disney-inspired recipe for kids.  This month we were inspired by Lotso, the Toy Story 3 villain.  To see this month's recipe, head over to:

If you have missed any of our previous recipes, you can find them HERE.

In Pursuit of Pirates Part #3 ~ Getting Pirates on those Pages with Mary of Capturing Magical Memories

Last week for part 2 of our series In Pursuit of Pirates, Deb from Focused on the Magic shared her tips for taking photos of the interior of the attraction Pirates of the Caribbean, as well as some fun pirate themed photo ops.  Today for part 3, I am excited to welcome Mary from Capturing Magical Memories and MCDigital Designs.  She is sharing her tips for preserving your pirate themed photos and memories.

Thanks again to Beth for inviting me back to talk scrapbooking. Pirates is such a fun theme to put into your albums.  And with the Pirates of the Caribbean ride & gift shop, Jack Sparrow's Pirates Tutorial, and the Pirates League there are plenty of chances for photo ops.  With that said I still came up short on the photos and graciously Beth has given me some of her family photos to play with.

My first page is the one capturing the essence of Beth's post In Pursuit of Pirates ~ Part 1 Where My Disney Obsession Truly Began.  When I read her post I knew I wanted to capture the essence of being a pirate and her research of history.  So I brought it together with a simple treasure map photo frame and compass.  I also used my favorite quote from the 'A Pirates Life for Me' song.  It's my favorite because it talks about how the pirates are seen as both good and bad.

Scrapbooking tips: Take a photo of the ride sign.  You never know when it will come in handy. And song lyrics are great additions to a page because music always brings back the feelings of a memory.

The second page is more on the fun side as it highlights Beth's children playing around.  I loved the shots of the kids in the gift store and now I have it on my to-do list to take some of these fun shots next year.

Scrapbooking tips: Journaling does not have to be long and wordy.  Fun captions on photos are just as good!

If you are interested, for these pages I used the Pirates Kit from MC Digital Designs which I created specifically for Disney's Pirate themed pages. Also, the font used today was Papyrus which can be found on fontspace.com.

I hope these pages and tips inspire you to go out there and capture your memories!

Thank you so much, Mary for sharing these great tips and layouts!  I love the idea of using music lyrics, something I had never thought of before!

If you haven't visited Mary's blog Capturing Magical Memories or her Etsy shop MC Digital Designs, I highly recommend that you do.  She is very creative and her ideas inspire me to get going on my own scrapbooks!  You can also find Mary on Twitter at @MaryD73 and on Facebook at Capturing Magical Memories.

On Thursday, Kristen from Cooking with Mickey will be sharing her Pirates of the Caribbean inspired recipe!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Disney Moms ~ A Beauty & the Beast Inspired Book Satchel

My first post is up over at The Disney Moms.  I shared a fun craft idea that you can create with your children.  You will find me over there on the 14th of every month.  While you are there, don't forget to enter the Dooney & Bourke giveaway!

This month's craft is a 

Saturday, January 14, 2012

We Pursued & We Found the Magic This Week

We have had a great week here at home and on Pursuing the Magic.  With the kids back to school and settled into their daily routine, we have been able to get the house back in order from the holidays.  Every new toy has found a new spot and everyone has learned how to play each of the new games they were given.  My goal this past week was to get organized so that I would have more time to blog, and it worked!

I have had a lot to share this week:

Monday, if you receive the WDW Daily News Newsletter, you will have seen my recent article for my column Making Magical Memories about my children's love of the Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party music.  Don't worry, if you haven't signed up yet, I will post my article here on Pursuing the Magic next week.

Also, Monday was Part 2 of my series In Pursuit of Pirates.  Deb from Focused on the Magic shared her best tips for photographing inside the attraction Pirates of the Caribbean, as well as share some fun photo ops outside of the attraction.  This series will continue Monday with Mary of Capturing Magical Memories as she shares tips for preserving your Pirates of the Caribbean photos and memories.

On Tuesday, I shared details of the new Cars 2 LEGO sets that have been released this month.  I also included a link to the new Star Wars LEGO sets being released at the end of the month.  Joey has laready started his Christmas list for next year with these kits!

Wednesday, of course, I joined in the Disney Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop hosted by Deb at Focused on the Magic.  The theme was "Characters Great and Small," and like always there were so many great entries.

Friday, I hopped aboard Magical Blogorail Blue and shared my favorite World Showcase Pavilion in Epcot.  Rarely do we have a loop that there are overlaps in topics, but this time around, there is a clear favorite amongst the members of the blue line!

Today, you can find me over at The Disney Moms.  I will be contributing over there on the 14th of each month a craft that you can do with your children.  This month, with the release of Beauty and the Beast in 3D, I shared a Belle inspired project - Belle's Book Satchel.

To make it easier for you to find me on Facebook, Twitter and You Tube, I have added links in the left side bar.  Now that I will starting my trip report (yes, I know, very late!), you will see me sharing a lot more in the upcoming weeks through all those media outlets.

Well, I have very exciting news!  Last night I had a great chat with Chad and Mark of Days in the Park, which will be part of an upcoming episode of their podcast Days in the Parkcast.    I'll keep you posted when it is published, but in the meantime, make sure you check out their previous episodes.

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

Friday, January 13, 2012

My Favorite World Showcase Pavilion in Epcot

My favorite World Showcase Pavilion is, and always has been, Germany.  There is so much here that I love - from the shopping to the food to the atmosphere.  It has always been my favorite, but a new addition to the pavilion, well new to us, has made it even better!

As you may know from my previous post, Favorite Disney Shopping Spots, one of my favorite shops on Walt Disney World property is Volskunst in the Germany Pavilion.  I could spend a lot of time in here taking in the intricate details of the beer steins and cuckoo clocks.  I have yet to purchase one of the clocks, but I hope to one day.  Of course, these days my time spent enjoying the details lasts as long as my husband can keep the kids at bay outside of the shop!

Here we are at Biergarten,
October 2008
Biergarten is the table service restaurant in the Germany Pavilion, and our family loves it!  The atmosphere is festive as it is an Oktoberfest celebration everyday.  The buffet has plenty of options for everyone, even the kids.  The tables seat 10 or more, which is perfect for us since we usually travel as three families.  It is one of the few dining spots we are sure to be able to sit together as a family.  There are many dishes I enjoy along their buffet, but the Bavarian Cheesecake is one of my favorite Disney desserts.  I have found the recipe online, but I think it may be dangerous to my diet to actually know I can make it anytime I want!  The Oompah band is great entertainment and though I have never hopped up and danced, plenty of people have and there is plenty of room to show off your moves!  It is really a great dinner with a show.

The newest thing we discovered on our latest trip is the addition of Karamell Kuche.  They have a lot of amazing looking treats, including one of my personal favorites - fresh caramel popcorn.  I could have purchased a bag of this everyday of the vacation.  Even better, the way the shop is set up, you can watch them work to create some of the delicious sweets they sell.  The day we were there, a woman was hand making chocolate covered strawberries.  It was fun to watch the process that goes into each and every one of these!

One of the houses in the train display decorated
for the Flower and Garden Festival, March 2010
Finally, our trip to the Germany Pavilion would not be complete without a stop to watch the amazing trains on display next to the pavilion.  I think Joey could spend a significant amount of time here.  There are so many details that go into this village, including decorations for the different seasonal events that happen around the park.  If you haven't taken the time to appreciate this display, I highly recommend that you do!

What's your favorite part of the Germany Pavilion?  

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Disney Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop ~ Characters Great and Small

Focused on the Magic

Today 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 Characters Great and Small and you might be able to guess just who my three favorite "characters" are, well at least, in Walt Disney World, they certainly show their character throughout the parks!  Even better, I get to have all three of them with me all week and I do not even have to stand in line to get my picture with them!

Emily dressed at Princess Tiana for our lunch at Cinderella's
Royal Table and we were excited to see this photo on our
PhotoPass CD!
One of Deb's tips this week for taking photos of Pirates of the Caribbean
is to have a little fun in the gift shop.  Joey and Hayley were
having a great time playing with the ball and chain!

Ok, so I guess I have 4 favorite characters in Walt Disney World.  Pierre always has a great time with the characters and makes a lot of fun moments for the kids.  I'm lucky to have such a great guy, who is a great dad too!  I think even Anastasia and Drizella would agree!

Make sure you head over to the Disney Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop and share your favorite photos and enjoy all the ones everyone else has posted!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

New Cars 2 LEGO Sets Available

Photo from WalMart.com
This is the set Joey is most excited
to get his hands on!
Joey loves Cars, as you may already know from this blog!  I have certainly dedicated enough posts to all the Cars merchandise available out there.  For Joey's 7th birthday, he chose to have a Cars 2 theme (this is the 6th year in a row he has had a Cars themed birthday!).  For his gifts, being the nutty mom who even coordinates the gifts with the party theme, we gave him several of the Cars 2 LEGO sets that were available.  He spent his school vacation builing each of the sets and now has them set up in his Cars themed room.  It actually looks like he has a Cars 2 LEGO movie set going on up there!

Monday, January 9, 2012

In Pursuit of Pirates Part #2 ~ No Flash Photography Please! Dark Ride Photo Tips with Deb of Focused on the Magic

For Part #1 of In Pursuit of Pirates, I shared where my Disney obsession began ~ my first ride through of Magic Kingdom's Pirates of the Caribbean attraction.  This week "In Pursuit of the Pirates" continues with Deb from Focused on the Magic as she shares her photo tips for taking photos inside Disney's dark rides.

Thanks so much Beth for inviting me here today to share a few photography tips for capturing the ride, Pirates of The Caribbean (POTC). It’s been my favorite ride in The Magic Kingdom since my first trip in 1990. I love the ride experience but I also love the photography challenge it presents. I’ve learned a few things over the years through trial and error (mostly error ;) that I’d like to share with you today. For those of you who have developed your own way of taking pictures on this ride, you may not learn anything new about photography but you will learn a little more about my photography style.

What makes Pirates of the Caribbean such a challenge for me? POTC is considered one of the "dark" Disney rides. Not only because it's scary to young ones. The lighting is very low. So low at times, you can't see your hand in front of your face. That adds to the Disney magic but makes it a little tricky to take well exposed pictures. Combine the low lighting with a boat ride that is constantly moving forward and rocking side to side and you’ve got a photo challenge.

I would suggest that everyone practice at home for POTC using a camera that you can adjust the settings on. Become familiar with adjusting the f stop through your viewfinder. Try shooting in low light situations in Manual and Aperture Priority modes. I go to my darkroom in the basement to practice. In the parks you’ll find there aren’t always places to sit down to change lenses or make adjustments when you need them. Practice changing batteries, memory cards and taking your lens on and off while standing. Yes, the ground is always there but you really don’t want to take the chance of having your gear stepped on.

Now that you’ve practiced you should be prepared for the ride. POTC has a long fairly well lit queue that provides a good place to swap lenses, put in fresh batteries, change out memory cards and adjust your settings. Don’t wait till you are on the ride to make adjustments. Let people pass you if you need more time. Let the kids look for a Hidden Mickey while you get ready. POTC is only 8 ½ minutes long and you won’t want to miss a minute of capturing shots or experiencing the ride. Especially, experiencing the ride!

Top 5 tips:
  • You’ll need a fast prime lens set to f /1.8. I’ve used a Sigma 30mm f /1.4, Nikon 50mm f /1.2, f/1.4 and f/1.8 with the Sigma as my favorite.
  • Set your ISO to at least 1600 (3200 or higher if you can). Most of the time I use an ISO of 2000.
  • I suggest you shoot in RAW if you can and worry about noise and white balance in post processing. That being said I often shoot in JPG, as I don’t like to do post processing on a gigzillion vacation pictures.
  • I like to shoot in Manual. If you’re not comfortable in manual mode try Aperture Priority or AV. Keep watching your shutter speeds in the view finder. If your shutter speeds get faster change to f /2 or f /2.8. You want the greatest DOF you can get.
  • If you can turn your screen off on your camera, do it. Your fellow riders will appreciate it and you won’t be distracted by it. Of course, you all know. No-flash-photography!