Friday, December 21, 2012

Dreaming of a Disney Christmas

Christmas and Disney - two of my absolute favorite topics brought together in one post.  I am so excited to be talking about how we dream of a Disney Christmas.  I would love to spend Christmas in Walt Disney World, but since I know that isn't necessarily an option with my husband's job, I have found many ways to bring a little Disney into our home each Christmas.

Our centerpiece of a Disney Christmas for us is our Disney tree.  We have a Christmas tree solely decorated with Disney lights, ornaments and a Minnie Mouse tree topper.  But that isn't what makes it special.  What makes it special are the ornaments we have collected over the years to commemorate magical moments during our Disney vacations with each of our children.

Ornaments are my favorite souvenirs because they bring back such wonderful memories, and we reminisce as a family as we place each one on the tree.  Our very first of these is the Chip and Dale ornament we purchased for Joey on his first trip.  We took him to our first character meal at Cape May Cafe, and the interactions he had with Chip and Dale are by far my favorite of all my Disney memories.  Every time Joey puts that ornament on our tree, I remember his smile and laugh as he played peek a boo with his two favorite chipmunks when he was just 14 months old.  It's funny because he was too little to remember but he knows the story and now refers to Chip and Dale as his best buds.  On our last trip, he even asked them if he remembered him from when he had breakfast with them when he was a baby and pinched their noses.  It was a very special moment!

Throughout the season from Thanksgiving until New Year's, we are constantly playing our Disney's Magical Fireplace DVD.  We do not have a real fireplace, but this is an excellent substitute, and even better, it never needs to be cleaned out.  We listen to the carols and the kids keep their eyes out for any Disney fun that may occur in the fire from Maleficent turning the flames green to Mickey ears fireworks exploding above or even favorite characters popping in and out of the screen.  The kids always try to be the first person to spot any changes on the screen.  It reminds me much of our Disney vacations because you never know what little detail you may find as you stroll through the parks.  Maybe this magical fireplace is even good practice for spotting Hidden Mickeys!

Christmas Eve day is one of my favorite days of the Christmas season.  The kids and I spend the entire day making our cookies for Santa, building gingerbread houses and Hayley traditionally makes a significant number of homemade cards for Santa, Mrs. Santa, the elves and the reindeer.  Our cookies for Santa are always Mickey Mouse snowmen.  My mom found this cookie cutter at Walgreens for less than $2, and it quickly became the immediate choice for our cookies for Santa.  Even better, our Mickey snowman cookies are served on our Mickey and Minnie "Cookies for Santa" plate and mug, which we happened to purchase last trip and surprised the kids on our Trim-A-Tree day with it.  Even our Elf on the Shelf, Max, loved it!

So though spending Christmas in Walt Disney World is just a dream for us, we have certainly brought Disney to our Christmas traditions.  I look forward to someday seeing snow on Main Street and attending Mickey's Very Merry Christmas party, but for now, our dreams of a Disney Christmas are coming true in our family traditions and Christmas celebrations right here at home.

From my family to yours, we hope that you enjoy every moment this season 
with the people you love.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Disney's Polynesian Resort ~ Our Favorite Deluxe Resort

Until our last trip to Walt Disney World, my favorite Disney resort was Port Orleans Riverside.  But due to a little Disney magic and a hotel upgrade, I was finally able to experience Disney's Polynesian Resort during our last trip.  I had always said I would never pay to upgrade to a deluxe resort and though I had no experience to base this opinion on, I believed upgrading to a deluxe had no value.  Boy was I wrong!  This doesn't mean I will never stay at a value or moderate resort, but I finally see why so many people say that upgrading is worth it.

The Polynesian is a place we visit every trip.  'Ohana's, one of the resort's sit down dining options, is a family favorite when it comes to dining, and well, the Tambu Lounge is my favorite lounge on Disney property (my vacation isn't complete without at least one or two Malibu Macaws!).  I have always loved visiting, but never took the time to explore the resort beyond the Great Ceremonial House.  But in 2011, the moment we exited the Great Ceremonial House and headed toward our room, something happened.  I heard the Walt Disney World Railroad train whistle.  There is just something about that sound that pulls me in.  The path we were walking along took us toward the beach.  As we rounded a bend, there it was in the distance . . . Cinderella's Castle.  Of course, seeing the Grand Floridian and the Contemporary, as well as the Magic Kingdom ferries isn't such a bad sight either!  I immediately knew, without even seeing my room, I was going to love the Polynesian . . . and I did!
View of Cinderella's Castle from Disney's Polynesian Resort
This is the view from our balcony -
we could see the fireworks through the
palm trees, as well as sometimes get a
glimpse of the Electrical Water
As a family of five, we are now limited to where we can actually stay, since many Disney resort rooms accommodate just four people.  We have always stayed at a moderate and one of the children would sleep in my parents' room.  This is not ideal when you are on a "family" vacation.  Besides, once it is lights out for one person, it is lights out for all.  But at the rooms in the Polynesian, we could all be in one room.  Even better, since we had a balcony, we could put all the kids to bed (one in each bed and one on the day bed), and Pierre and I could sit out on the balcony and enjoy the sounds from the Magic Kingdom, as well as (with a slightly obstructed view) be able to see Wishes and at that time Hallowishes.  Of course, the view of the resort grounds with the torches lit was quite nice too!

The biggest draw for us was the ease of transportation.  With three little ones, being able to walk to the Ticket and Transportation Center or hop on the monorail at the Great Ceremonial House was a huge benefit to us.  Getting to the Magic Kingdom and Epcot were very quick trips.  Even better, we had plenty of dining options along the monorail loop, which was a lot more convenient than trying to take a bus or a boat to a park and then a bus or a boat to the resort where we wanted to dine.  It saved us a lot of travel time.

In the end, anytime I can get a good discount for the Polynesian, I will be taking advantage of it.  It does cost a lot more than the moderates, but for us, the extra benefits outweigh the extra cost.  The food options, the views, the ease of transportation to the Magic Kingdom (our primary park with the kids) and the room size make Disney's Polynesian Resort my new favorite Disney resort!

Which Disney Deluxe Resort is your favorite?

The #HoliDazeGiftAway ~ Enter to Win a Sandzini Creator Set

The HoliDaze Gift Away continues with another fun product called Sandzini!  If you haven't seen all the great products being given away, please head over to The Dragyn's Lair and start entering!  There is a diverse selection of products available, and new giveaways are announced each day.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Operation United Hearts ~ Fundraiser and Giveaway

With the events that we have seen lately and been affected by, this particular holiday I want to hug my children a little bit tighter, show more appreciation for my family and those who love me and reach out more to those in need.  I am joining in Operation United Heart Fundraiser and Giveaway to do just that, help a family in need.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Celebrating a Child's Birthday in Walt Disney World ~ According to an Eight Year Old

My inspiration for this post came from the fact that today is Joey's eighth birthday, and I tend to go overboard with the kids' birthdays.  It is hard to believe eight years have passed so quickly, and we could not have been blessed with a kinder, happier little guy.  I guess I probably can't say "little" anymore!

When I asked Joey where he would celebrate his birthday if we were in Walt Disney World, without hesitation, he said Chef Mickey's.  Chef Mickey's would probably be tops on the character meal list for my children.  The character interaction, the food and being able to watch the monorail pass by every once in a while just can't be beat in the eyes of an eight year old, or so I thought!

This was Joey's first trip to Chef Mickey's in 2008.
When I asked Joey why he chose Chef Mickey's, he started talking about our dining experience at Chef Mickey's on our last trip.  Joey just happens to love the Fab 5 (who doesn't, right?).  So on our last trip, he brought all his Disney racers of characters he would see at our meal - Mickey, Donald, Goofy and Pluto (sorry, there is no Minnie racer, but we hope they create one soon).  As each character approached our table, Joey showed them the corresponding racer.  Each character took the time to play with the racers with Joey.  It was very special and a nice way to get a little more interaction with each character.

Joey at Chef Mickey's in 2011
Before Pluto made it to our table, I mentioned to Joey that we should go get some food. He just wanted to wait for Pluto, but walked with me anyways.  When we got to the buffet area, I noticed he was crying.  I could not imagine what could be wrong. He told me he was worried that he was going to miss Pluto and wouldn't be able to show him his racer.  As I began to tell Joey we would be back in plenty of time, one of the cast members behind the buffet started talking to Joey.  She told him that she was very good friends with Pluto and if he visited the table before we got back, to tell her and she would talk to Pluto.  Joey's spirits were immediately lifted, though he did fill his plate in a very speedy manner (this is VERY unlike Joey since he is a kid who is never in a rush to do anything).  Of course, he made it back to the table in plenty of time, and he and Pluto shared a very special moment playing with the Pluto racer.

After sharing his memories of the character interactions he had that day, he told me how nice it was of Pluto's friend to say she would talk to Pluto if we had missed him.  Then he said, that is why I like Chef Mickey's because everyone is so nice.  So in the end, it wasn't just the characters or the food or the monorail sightings, it was this particular cast member who saw one sad little boy, lifted his spirits and now her kindness and how it made Joey feel are part of the reason he loves Chef Mickey's and would choose to celebrate his birthday there.

So, a very happy birthday to my Joey,
 absolutely one of the kindest, sweetest kids I know (even though I "may" be a little bias!)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Tiggerific Tuesday Trivia ~ Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin Ride Vehicle

Tiggerific+Tuesday+Trivia Tiggerific Tuesday Trivia: Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln It is Tuesday, and that means it is time for Tiggerific Tuesday Trivia!  This blog hop is hosted by Magical Mouse Schoolhouse, Disney Babies Blog, Heidi's Head and My Dreams of Disney.  I used my Walt Disney World Fun Facts App to come up with this week's tidbit of Disney information from Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom.

The name of the ride vehicles in Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin are XP-37 Space Cruisers.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

We Pursued and Found the Magic This Week with the #HoliDazeGiftAway, Tiggerific Tuesday Trivia and an Almost Wordless Wednesday Tribute to Walt Disney

It certainly has been a while since I have one of my weekly reviews!  It has been 12 weeks since I broke my elbow and luckily I am at about 75% use again.  I still have a ways to go, but I am getting there.  My thoughts on physical therapy . . . I cannot wait for it to be done!  It is not fun.  For those of you who know about my nephew, Dustin, the day before Thanksgiving we were given the official word that he is in remission.  There is no greater gift our family could have received this holiday season.  He still has two years of treatment to go, but he is off to a good start.  I am so thankful to all of you who have sent me messages, said prayers and sprinkled pixie dust and just kept us in your thoughts.  Our family is very blessed to have so many amazing people in our lives to help us through this difficult time.

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Disney Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop ~ Happy Birthday, Walt Disney!

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, though today will be a little less wordless than usual!  When my parents first took my brother and I to Walt Disney World, they said it was "for the kids."  They also said that trip, back in 1986, would be a once in a lifetime trip.  Well, as you can probably see, we have made several more trips since then.  But for our trips now, my parents are the grandparents!  I think our family, as do many others, represent just what Walt Disney wanted for his theme parks - a place where the outside world is left behind and families are having fun together.  Our original trips were just the four of us - my parents, my brother and I.  Now our trips are up to 12 of us each trip, depending on who can work a trip into the schedule all at the same time.  So, thank you, Walt Disney, for creating this amazing place where three generations of our family can spend quality family time together!  Happy Birthday!

Tiggerific Tuesday Trivia ~ Something Special about The Jungle Book

Tiggerific+Tuesday+Trivia Tiggerific Tuesday Trivia: Disneyland Holiday Wishes I am too late to link up with the Tiggerific Tuesday Trivia Blog Hop, but I definitely wanted to be sure to get my post in!  I love being able to check out some great Disney trivia, as well as look up some fun facts to share with everyone!  As always, I use the Walt Disney World Fun Facts App to randomly choose a fact to share.  In honor of Walt Disney's birthday this week, I chose a fact about Walt Disney.

The last animated movie Walt ever put his personal touch on was The Jungle Book (1967).

Monday, December 3, 2012

Holiday Gift-Away ~ Nanoblock USA Pink Pig Kit

Pink Pig by Nanoblocks USA
As part of the HoliDaze Gift-Away (if you haven't checked out the daily additions of new items you can enter to win, head over to The Dragyn's Lair), I have teamed up with The Dragyn's Lair to giveaway a Nanoblocks kit.  This unique building system uses smaller blocks in order to create more detail in your construction.  Because of the size of the building blocks, Nanoblocks are recommended for builders ages 8 and older.  For a more thorough review, head over to The Dragyn's Lair and see how Dana created a Nanoblock violin.