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Opening Magic Kingdom

Opening Magic Kingdom

Monday, June 30, 2014

Changed Park Hours Impacted Our Plans

Last week, Walt Disney World released park hours for the remainder of 2014 along with changing park hours for July 2014.  The change in park hours impacted our plans, especially for our day at Disney's Animal Kingdom.  So, it was back to the drawing board. . .

Originally, we had planned to visit Disney's Animal Kingdom on a day with morning Extra Magic Hours--when the park opens an hour early for on-site resort guests.  Our plan was to ride Kilimanjaro Safari first thing, when the weather was a bit cooler which means more animals out and about, then go to breakfast at Tusker House with a 8:45 am Advanced Dining Reservations.  The rest of the day was full of FastPass+ selections for Festival of the Lion King, Expedition Everest, and Kali River Rapids.

With the change in the park hours, our 8:45 am ADR for Tusker House was still doable, but it meant adjusting the rest of our FastPass + selections and getting to Kilimanjaro Safari later in the day.

I called Walt Disney World Dining with our current Tusker House confirmation number in hand and adjusted our ADR to 9:20 am.  The park would open at 9:00, we would walk to Kilimanjaro, ride the 19 minute ride, and have to make it to the restaurant no later than 9:35 am to not miss our reservation and be charged $10 per person no-show fee.  I slept on the plans and decided it was cutting the time too close.

I called Walt Disney World Dining again in the morning and changed the reservation to 9:45 am.  We will most likely arrive sooner and it will make it tight to get to our 10:50 FastPass+ for Festival of the Lion King, but I think we can make it work.

Looking forward to a great breakfast with characters at Tusker House and a great day at Disney's Animal Kingdom!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Summer 2014 Vacation--Tickets and Paperwork Have Arrived!

Tickets and paperwork for our upcoming Summer Vacation have arrived! 

The Walt Disney World packet contained our luggage ID tags, but not Magical Express luggage tags because we aren’t using Magical Express to get to our resort.  The packet also contained vouchers for arcade points. Miniature golf, DisneyQuest admissions—even though we have those added tour tickets with the Water Parks and More Fun option.  My favorite part of the packets is the discount card in the very back.  This little card is going to save me 10% on a purchase of $75 or more at the World of Disney Store at Downtown Disney!

Our cruise booklet also arrived for our 7 night sailing on the Disney Fantasy.  The entire booklet is customized with our names, our flight information (including fees for our airline), and our port adventures and travel plans for after the cruise.  The husband’s favorite part was the cover that said “Gold” and my favorite was the personalized letter that said, “Dear Jody, Welcome back!”  Disney Cruise Line knows how to do it right!

We also have our Universal park tickets AND Express Pass vouchers.

Still waiting on our MagicBands but a marvelous email was in the inbox yesterday from Disney Destinations indicating that the bands have been shipped.

The boy wakes up each morning and tells us how many days until our trip.  He wants to know when it is the “perfect” time to pack.  My response was anytime is the perfect time to pack, but we settled on 10 days prior to our trip would be a great time for him to pack his rolling backpack.  It will include toys (he already found his Disney Planes characters), a book to read, at least one stuff character (my money is on Stitch), snacks, and his video game.

Next for the husband is sorting and packing his Disney trading pins and lanyards!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

What I "Get" Out of a Vacation

The boy was promised a new video game specifically for our trip (the game is at our house and will be presented to him the morning we leave) and the husband has ordered a new book (courtesy of a Barnes and Nobel gift card from Adventures by Disney), again, specifically to read during our upcoming vacation.  The husband pointed this out—the boy has a new game and he will have a new book—so, what will I have?

I gave a glib and flippant answer about watching people, flight times, schedules, etc. 

But the question and the answer got me thinking. . . I don’t escape or “exit” with a game or book while on vacation.  The vacation itself is an escape for me.

I enjoy skimming the Sky Mall catalog and airline magazine while on the plane—both things I would not normally read or look at.  I look at the airport layouts in the back pages of the airline magazine and find out about new flight destinations and services.  On the ship, I’ll read the Personal Navigators and other cruise information.  And, at the resort, I’ll read the information presented at check-in.

My mind is in “on” mode while traveling; navigating now and planning what’s next.  (The husband would assert that my mind is in “on” mode all the time, including when I am sleeping.)

One of my favorite movies is “Gosford Park” and one of my favorite lines from the movie is about the difference between a good servant and a great servant is the ability to anticipate; knowing what people will need before they know they need it.  I continue to develop the gift of anticipation.  My role, especially when traveling, is to be able to anticipate what will happen next and what my family will need.  Not worry about what will happen, but know what will happen—which allows for planning and preparation.  This is something I do in every day life, for example, the day a soccer tournament took us out of town.  I had checked the weather forecast and planned accordingly by packing umbrellas, towels, and a complete soccer uniform including cleats, socks, shin guards, jersey, shorts, even undies for the boy.  This all came in handy as the team got soaked during their second game and still had another game to play.  Other folks went to Wal-Mart to gather gear, but not us.  This anticipation, this planning, saved us time and money.  And, since anticipating is something I try to do every day, it is fun for me to try it out in different settings when on vacation. 

You know how Sheldon from Big Bang Theory picks out the best spot, his spot, on the couch.  Well, I try to find the “best” during our vacation.  The “best” or most efficient FastPass+ strategy, or best time for ADR’s, or best way to meet characters on the ship.  The mental challenge and planning/preparation opportunities I appreciate and I know my family appreciates what I do. (And, it's Disney so almost everything is efficient!)

So, while the husband is enjoying his book and the boy is enjoying his game, I am enjoying the strategizing for the next move and how to make whatever it is smooth (meaning not frustrating) and efficient.

You might be reading and thinking that I don’t enjoy my vacation.  Well, I do enjoy my vacation, very much!  I especially enjoy when all is flowing—there’s such a sense of wonder and accomplishment during those times.  And, if you see me on Toy Story Mania, for example, it is all pure enjoyment; pure fun!  

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

More Items Checked Off The "To Do" List!

As our Summer 2014 Vacation draws near, more items have been checked off the “to do” list.  What a great feeling!

Tuxedos—check!  The husband and the boy will both have tuxedos waiting for them, including shoes and socks, in our stateroom when we board the Disney Fantasy.  This makes packing so much easier!

Universal tickets—check!  Previously, we had purchased the Express Pass portion of our tickets, but had yet to purchase the park tickets themselves.  We now have 3 one-day park to park tickets coming our way via Undercover Tourist.  The total price was $14 less than using Universal’s site and the tickets are being mailed to us.

Photo services—check!  Disney’s Memory Maker was added to our reservation at the time we booked our trip and we just pre-ordered Universal’s Photo Connect—click here to read more.  One of our on board perks from our travel agent is a photo package—planning on using it towards the Photo CD at Shutters on the Disney Fantasy.  Get ready for photos!

Lawn service—check!  Secured someone to take care of our lawn while on vacation.  And, made sure our pet sitter knew about the lawn service and vice versa. 

Now we can sit back, relax, and wait for our MagicBands to arrive! 

Monday, June 23, 2014

Universal Orlando Offers Photo Connect--Who Knew?

We are counting down the days until our 12th trip to Walt Disney World, our 6th Disney Cruise, and our 2nd trip to Universal Orlando.  Even with all of our experiences, there are still some things still have yet to learn.

It wasn’t until our 2nd or 3rd trip to Walt Disney World that we fell in love with Disney’s Photopass service.  Since then, we have pre-ordered and pre-paid for the Photopass CD prior to multiple trips and last summer, did the same for Photopass+ (click here to read more) which has now morphed into Memory Maker, which we already have added to our My Disney Experience account—click here to read more about Memory Maker.

So, when planning our time at Universal Orlando, I wondered if they, too, had a similar service as Disney’s Photopass.  And, indeed they do!  Enter, Universal’s Photo Connect.

This service allows guests to pre-purchase the package that is right for them, or purchase once they get to the parks.  The packages vary by length—number of days—and include ride photos and photos taken by Universal photographers.  Click here to read about how ride photos make great souvenirs. 

Finding information about this service is NOT easy and there is nothing about it on Universal’s website.  Here’s a link to a great article that explains everything you would ever want to know—click here.  I have gone back to this site repeatedly trying to figure our exactly what would happen and what to expect.

We purchased the one-day digital package for $39.95.  Given that prints of ride photos start at $17 and go up from there, paying $40 for digital access to all of our ride photos is a bargain!  Of course, the one-day package is only available on-line and for pre-order.  Click here for the pre-order page.

Once we made the purchase, I received an email with very clear directions.  I print out the email, which has a barcode, take the print out to any Universal Photographer, present the barcode, get my first picture taken and receive instructions on where to get my Photo Connect card.  After that, my Photo Connect Card will be scanned and all photos will go into my Photo Connect account automatically.

After we get home, I log into my Photo Connect account, edit and download all of our photos.  There’s even a scanner for Smartphones to access the digital photos.  There are also opportunities to customize merchandise with your photos on the Photo Connect site.

Here‘s a list of participating attractions:
Universal Studios Florida:
Islands of Adventure:
In addition, permanent photo ops (not on the ride, but in or near the ride building) are available at:
There may also be more photo opportunities with the opening of Diagon Alley and the addition of the Hogwarts Express.

It’s an exciting time to visit Universal Orlando!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Garden Grocer.com Order Placed--The Husband Gets His Mountain Dew!

The husband’s sister came to town the other day and was surprised to hear that her “little” brother still insisted on Mountain Dew, that Mountain Dew cannot be found anywhere in the Disney bubble, and that we get Mountain Dew delivered to our resort!  She asked how and I got to explain about Garden Grocer.com.

Garden Grocer.com is an on-line grocery service that delivers items directly to your Walt Disney World Resort (other destinations are available as well.)  We just placed our order yesterday for our upcoming trip.

I logged into the site using an email and password as a returning customer.  First time customers can create an account with an email and password.  I loaded items into my cart and then proceeded to check-out.  Prices are higher than I would typically pay, but not outrageous.  There is a $14 delivery fee for orders $40 to $200.  Orders over $200 have a $2 deliver fee.  There is also an option for a gratuity or tip.  Customers can pay with PayPal, a credit card, or call and pay for the order via phone.

We ordered apple juice boxes, small cereal box assortment, sunscreen—lotion and spray, fruit bars, and of course, for the husband, Mountain Dew!  Our total came to $60 with delivery, tax, and gratuity.

At check-out, I got to select my Disney Resort which then had the address and the phone number of the resort automatically appear in the fields.  I then got to select a delivery time which are in two hour increments.  I selected the date of our resort arrival and a delivery time of 8:00 am to 10:00 am.  Since we are coming to our resort after disembarking from the ship, we will be at our resort that morning.

This is our third time using Garden Grocer and I am still impressed with the ease of transaction and level of customer service.  A confirmation email was sent immediately after placing the order and a follow-up phone call came next.  The sweet voice informed me that we did not have to be present for the grocery delivery, that it would be stored at Bell Services at our Disney Resort and refrigerated if necessary.  She also said that we would receive a text message confirming the delivery to the resort.

Hints and Tips to make using Garden Grocer even easier:
  • Once you create an account, log in anytime to add items to your “favorites” or to your cart.  Then, once you are ready to place your order, it will take less time.
  • You can edit your cart, so go ahead and add items to your cart while browsing and then remove later.  It is easier and faster than trying to find the item again if you decide you want it.
  • Place your order several days prior to your arrival date.  Delivery slots are limited and do run out.  Discounts are sometimes available for orders made a month or longer before arrival dates.
  • There is a “sale” section, so be sure to check it out for bargains and deals that you might want/need. 
  • If your Garden Grocer delivery is at your resort, but your room isn’t ready, just let Bell Services continue to hold the items until your room is ready.  Bell Services can also deliver your order right to your resort room, but you must be in your room to receive the order.
We can check another item off our “to do” list in preparation for our upcoming trip! 

And, the husband is pleased to know he will still have access to Mountain Dew while we travel to Walt Disney World.  Just ask him how many people ask him about where he got his soda while he drinks it in the morning and while waiting for the parks to open. 

Saturday, June 21, 2014

How Do You Find The Time. . .?

A question I get asked weekly if not more often is “How do you find the time. . .?”  End this question with “for couponing”, “blogging”, “working”, “teaching coupon classes”, etc.  I think the question really is about making everything work—and not going crazy!

I was talking about this question with the husband the other day because I had been asked it again.  I gave a vague answer and then probed only to find out that the person asking commuted 90 minutes to and from work every day.  An “ah ha” moment followed when they realized that they were dedicating the same about of time driving that I use for writing and other “paperwork” each morning. 

Just to give some context, in addition to being a mom and a wife, I work full time—50+ hours a week in a position I love on most days and like on the rest.  I teach coupon classes once a week, sometimes twice.  I’m also serve on three community boards and volunteer for each of them.  This is in addition to being involved with the boy’s activities, household chores, maintaining a blog and two Facebook pages, and spending time relaxing and having fun.  I will also confess that I enjoy the 7-9 hours of sleep I get each night with my best sleeping hours being 9 pm to 5 am.  The boy hits the sack around 8:30 and I am not far behind!  The morning hours are very productive for me—no alarm clock needed, even on the weekends!

So, how do I do it?  How do I “find” the time?  Well, it isn’t about finding time as everyone has the same amount of time in a day, it is about using or spending time in ways that have been determined a priority.  Also. . .
  • The husband and I are on the same team when it comes to parenting and household chores.  We made it very clear early in our relationship that we would not have stereotypical gender roles around the house.  We both do laundry, he cooks dinner on most days while I do the grocery shopping, he makes the beds, I iron, I load the dishwasher and he unloads.  There is an equitable distribution of household responsibilities based on time, skill, and availability.  If I have more time in the evening, I make the boy’s lunch for the next day and if he has more time, he does it.  I am more likely to be seen with a hammer in my hand, but he handles the lawn mowing and snow removal.  And, we renegotiate if things aren’t working smoothly, schedules change either temporarily or for long stretches of time, or if another priority is decided—such as 6 weeks of rehearsals for an upcoming show.
  • Routines!  Routines are huge time savers and sanity savers.  We have morning routines for work and school, after school routines that involve homework and trombone practice, and bedtime routines.  These routines seldom vary and can be sped up or slowed down depending on the amount of time available.  And, we keep the same routines year-round, including bedtime.  (I just read an on-line news article about the importance of keeping the same bedtime for kiddos during the summer—and I agree!)
  • Systems—that get used most of the time.  (The husband is the biggest culprit for not using systems.)  By systems I mean ways of handling things, such as car keys, cell phones, coats, backpacks, purses, etc.  There’s a basket hanging on a doorknob near the garage door for keys and sunglasses as one example of a system.  Mail goes in a certain spot, as does the boy’s instrument.  The systems are supposed to save time when gathering items—I say “supposed” to because sometimes they don’t!  Again, the husband could tell you more about when the systems break down.  When systems are in place, to gather shoes for example, it also means less clutter, less nagging, less time gathering items, and more harmony!
  • Tools—We live in an age where there are time saving tools all over the place.  And, we have invested in some of those tools.  One is the DVR.  We enjoy watching television but with a DVR we can record the shows we want and watch them at our leisure by-passing commercials.  A 30 minute show then takes about 18 minutes to watch.
  • Multi-tasking—You don’t want to know how many “windows” are open on the computer as I type or that my cell phone is next to the computer “working” on something else.  With focus, I am able to accomplish multiple tasks simultaneously, but only for short periods of time.  My favorite mulit-task is walking our dog with the husband in the evening—exercise, fresh air, and connecting at the end of the day.  Sometimes the boy joins us.

Along the way, I have also stopped worrying about the stack of papers on the counter—they will be dealt with in time—and other small things.  Each of us has different priorities of how we want to use our time.  My only advice is to spend your time as carefully as you spend your money—it is just as valuable if not more so.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

A Little Bit of Disney Came to US!

A little bit of Disney came to us in the form of a puppet builder from The JIM HENSON Company & Puppet Heap NYC named David Valentine.

As part of a summer theater program, David invited children and adults to two different puppet workshops at a local events center.

The boy spent the morning enthralled with the puppets and made them come to life. 

David shared a secret. . . he said that most of the Muppets’ eyes are a bit cross-eyed.  I had never noticed that before, but sure enough, they are!

What a great opportunity!  And, we will never be able to watch the Muppets or visit their namesake attraction at Disney’s Hollywood Studios without thinking about this hands-on experience.

David actually built the puppet, Constantine, (the evil Kermit the Frog) in the latest Muppet movie Muppets Most Wanted.

Oh, and the husband’s favorite puppet—Yelmo—a yellow Elmo-like character.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

How A "Couponer" Prepares For A Disney Vacation (Or Any Vacation For That Matter)

Last summer, after our multi-day Walt Disney World trip, I wrote a post about how a “couponer” does Disney—click here to read more.  But as our summer 2014 adventure approaches, I thought I would confess/tell/share how a “couponer” prepares for a Disney vacation.

Let me begin with the fact that I know taking a family vacation to the most magical place on earth is a potential budget busting affair.  Flights, resort stay, park tickets, and dining can all add up and that isn’t even taking into consideration souvenirs or other magical experiences.  A husband of a friend was surprised to hear about how much we spend on a multi-week vacation that includes adventures on land and sea.  He was under the impression that since we save so much in other parts of our life that we would save on vacations, too.  Well, Disney hasn’t give us a trip, but we have saved by purchasing and reserving in advance, using a travel agent that can snag discounts and perks for us, and not adding extra days or privileges to our park tickets that we would not use which means we aren’t paying “full price” for our vacation.

Let me also add that our multiple trips gives us some advantages such as not having to go out and buy stuff like a misting water fan or umbrellas or ponchos or a park bag.  These items, among others, are things we already have on hand and I make sure to keep tabs on them when we return from a trip so that they are easily accessible for the next trip.  Having these items saves us money before AND during the trip.

Another caveat is that we do not, I repeat, do not, go out and buy a bunch of new clothes for a vacation.  If something new is purchased, such as a new dress for me for formal night, it is purchased well in advance, is most certainly on sale, and the purchase comes out of our regular budget.  But sometimes, other items are needed. . .

There were some new items that were needed/purchased for the upcoming trip.  Some did not cost us a thing and many of them I made money back when purchasing them!
  • The husband needed a new pair of black, closed toe, fisherman sandals.  These could be worn on the ship as well as at the parks and are perfect for cruise casual evenings.  I “bought” them from Amazon using Amazon gift cards I had earned through Swagbucks.  And, not only did I not pay a thing, I MADE money, as Ebates was offering 3% back on shoe purchases on Amazon.  ChaChing—money in my pocket—cash money!  (Click here to get started with Swagbucks and click here to start earning cash back every time you shop on line with Ebates.)
  • One of our planned meals for our upcoming trip is at T-Rex CafĂ©.  Again, we used Swagbucks to earn a $25 gift card AND will earn another $25 credit on our Landry Select Club account as it will be the anniversary of joining Landry Select Club.  Nothing like dining for FREE!
  • Also, the husband needed some rash guards.  Those, too, were FREE with Amazon gift cards and I earned cash back—click here to read the post about the FREE rash guards.
  • All three of us were in need of waterproof watches.  Enter Amazon and Swagbucks.  Again, paid zippo and earned 3% back when shopping on-line through Ebates.
  • This one is a need/want, depending on your perspective.  We promised the boy a new game for his Nintendo 3DS for the trip.  He selected a game and I added it to my cart on Amazon and waited until I had enough gift cards to cover the cost.  This item is on its way!  But, the boy won’t get it until the day of the trip.  
  • The boy had outgrown several of his swimsuits.  K-Mart had boys’ swimsuits 50% off ($6.49) and because I started my on-line shopping at Ebates, I earned 4% back on my purchase.
  • A big cash rebate from Ebates came when we booked our stay at the Hyatt at Orlando International.  I knew we needed a reservation for two nights and I also knew that we were members of Hyatt’s Gold Passport Program.  Then, I waited.  And to our luck, Hyatt offered a “double cash” back promo on Ebates and so I got 12% cash back for our stay!  And, points earned using our Hyatt frequent stayer program.
  • The boy also needed new tennis shoes.  He wanted Nikes (gulp)!  Thanks to MyCokeRewards, I snagged $50 in Nike gift cards for FREE and the boy has new black/red Nikes.
  • What’s in it for me?  Well, in addition to knowing that my fellas are well taken care of, I am looking forward to a treat of a pedicure prior to our trip.  No out-of-pocket costs though, as I was given a gift certificate during the holidays AND am getting a $30 check from an on line company that pays me!

There you have it.  A family prepared for a summer vacation without breaking the bank or busting the budget.  I am so grateful for Swagbucks and Ebates—both allowing me to keep our budget in check.

Click here to get started with Swagbucks.  And, if you sign-up now and earn 1,500 Swagbucks by July 14, you'll get an addition 500 Swagbucks Bonus!

Click here to get started with Ebates—remember to start at Ebates every time you shop on line AND be sure to select your sign-up bonus!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

New Monorail Operation Hours Announced During Updates

The Williams Men on a Disney Bus.
Walt Disney World announced changes in monorail schedules beginning June 22, 2014, and until further notice to allow for maintenance as the monorail moves more to automation.
The monorail operation schedule is below:
  • Magic Kingdom Resort beam - 8:30am to midnight
  • Magic Kingdom Express beam - 9:30am to 11:30pm
  • Epcot beam - 9am to 11pm
What does all of this mean?  Well, personally, it means that we are going to have to go to Plan B when it comes to getting to Ohana’s for an 8:00 am breakfast reservation.  The original plan, and one we have relied on multiple times, is to take the bus from our home resort—which this trip happens to be Port Orleans French Quarter—to the Magic Kingdom and then take the monorail to the Polynesian which is where Ohana’s is located.  We aren’t going to make it if the monorail doesn’t start running until 8:30 am!

So, we’ll have to make a different plan.  We can either take a boat launch from the Magic Kingdom to the Poly OR switch buses at the Magic Kingdom—locate the bus to Polynesian.  The weather will help determine our plan as the boats do not run when there are storms in the area.

The other thing is that guests staying at Deluxe Resorts on the monorail line, and who are paying mightily for that privilege, are not going to make it EPCOT prior to park opening.  I guess with the onset of FastPass+ reservations being made ahead of time, there is less of a need to rush to Soarin’ but I would be frustrated with this setup.  And, on the days Magic Kingdom opens early for Extra Magic Hours, monorail resort guests will have to take buses or boats to get to the park.

And, what about off site guests?  If they want to arrive at the Magic Kingdom at or prior to a 9:00 am opening, the Ferry is the only option.  Good thing there are two ferries transporting guests from the Ticket and Transportation Center to and from Magic Kingdom.

Of course, guests have to sometimes be inconvenienced in order for updates to take place at the most magical place on earth.  It is just unfortunate that the upgrade to monorail system is happening during peak travel times.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Update For Summer Vacation 2014!

An update for our grand summer 2014 adventure that includes a day at Universal Studios, 7 nights on the Disney Fantasy, and a week at Walt Disney World. . .

Our travel agent emailed yesterday informing us that our cruise documents have arrived.  Yippee!  She is waiting for the Walt Disney World paperwork and then all will be delivered.  This means our time is getting closer!

Packed umbrellas, ponchos, park bags, door decorations, the misting spray bottle with fan, and autograph items and pens.  Taking a white pillow case with fabric markers and an 8 X 10 photo matte with a 4 X 6 opening along with sharpies.  Oh, the stuff you need (and or want) while on vacation!

The other day the boy asked when we should start packing.  I told him we had already started.  He was fine with that answer.  The other thing he wanted to know was when I was going to get him his new game for his 3DS---I had promised him a new game just before the trip.  Yep, that’s when he will get it. . . just before the trip.  The new game is in my Amazon cart.

Feels like packing for this trip is easier. . . at least right now.  Maybe having items separated into bags by the “legs” of the trip is helping.

Still have items on the “to do” list including our Garden Grocer order, the boy’s tuxedo, securing lawn care, and the park tickets for Universal—we just have the Express Pass so far.  The list is dwindling though!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Why We Make Family Vacations A Priority

Kids grow up fast!  And, that’s one reason why I’m glad that we have made family vacations a tradition. 

The husband has fond memories of annual treks to Minnesota and other travels. . . to California and Colorado for example.  I can recall two family vacations from childhood—Florida and Pennsylvania—but do remember my grandparents taking me to other nearby destinations for day trips.  When I got older, I traveled with student groups and friends.  The husband’s tradition of family vacations have seeped into our family, even though the destinations have changed.

Here are some reasons we have made family vacations a tradition; a priority:
  • Memories!  Wow—we have lots of them and they are shared.  The stories and photos last a long, long time.
  • Fun!  Family vacations are a great time to let loose and have some fun.  The family that plays together stays together.
  • You have to be “present.”  At home, it’s easy to get distracted with chores, duties, responsibilities, as well as escapes such as TV, computers, and phones.  On vacation, the mere fact that you are most likely removed from those distracters means that you can be “present” in the moment to listen, connect, and enjoy.
  • Seeing family members in a different light.  At home, I’m the problem solver, but on vacation it can be any one of us.  The husband has dealt with baggage handlers and hotel services and the boy has navigated queue lines and menus.
  • There is some learning, too.  Destinations require research and the whole family gets involved learning the ins and outs as well as helping with the planning.

Family vacations don’t have to break the bank and can happen during any time of the year, any season.  And, if your family can’t agree to a destination—compromise.  Now, go ahead, make some memories!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Swimming Pools and Water Parks--Overview for Summer 2016!

School's out and Summer's here so it is time to get into high gear enjoying all that Summer has to offer!  One way we beat the heat is to enjoy various swimming pools and water parks.

We've compiled quite a list of swimming pools and water parks and hope our information helps you to plan for your family!

Adventure Bay in Altoona—Adventureland’s water park.

Albia—Monroe County Aquatic Center:  The best bargain around!

Centerville Municipal Pool—bring your inflatable rafts to this Olympic sized pool!

Fun City’s Huck’s Harbor in Burlington—indoor and outdoor water fun!

Honey Creek’s Buccaneer Bay—indoor adventure.

Indianola Veteran’s Memorial Aquatic Center—great area for little kids!

Mount Pleasant Family Aquatic Center—a gem, but hard to find.  Follow our directions.

Oskaloosa's Edmundson Park Swimming Pool--great example of renovation!

The Beach Ottumwa—wave pool! (Price increase $6.00 admission.)

Sigourney Swimming Pool—padded bottom in a park setting!

Washington Steele Family Aquatic Center—love the chairs and the park!