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Backs of Shirts Just as Important as Fronts!

Backs of Shirts Just as Important as Fronts!

Opening Magic Kingdom

Opening Magic Kingdom

Friday, June 10, 2016

Checking In--What's It Like 15 Days Before Trip #14 to the Walt Disney World Resort

We are 15 days out from trip #14 to the Walt Disney World Resort.  The boy asked last night if I was packing his bag.  My reply—“No.  You’ll need to do that before you leave for camp.”  I think his question was more about how close are we to our trip and what needed to be done rather than whose job it was going to be to pack his bag.

Taking the "feelings" reading—it’s a combination of excitement, anticipation, and relaxation.  Maybe assuredness is more accurate. 

All is done except for putting needed items into suitcases.  I’ve got the matching shirt sets ready and a packing plan/list.

Our lengthy upcoming stay has allowed us to combine busy park days with more restful days, or as like to call it, “lazy Disney.”  Due to Fastpass+ and the ability to select return times for attractions prior to a trip and without physically being in the park, we have days in our trip itinerary that include water park visits or Disney Springs or just hanging at the resort followed by evenings at theme parks where we can still reserve a spot for and experience high demand attractions.  Nothing like walking into a park later in the day knowing that what you want to do is waiting for you! (Yeah, Disney, you can use that line!)

The battle of wills has already surfaced.  For me, a trip is about the experiences, including dining and photos.  I must admit that some photos are a quest—two being  fireworks photos and since water parks are on our itinerary, a wave photo in Typhoon Lagoon.  The boy is balking at the fireworks photo.  “We do that every year.  Do we have to do it again?”  Yes!  And, it has been since 2014, two years mind you, that we have had either of those photos taken.  The 13 year old eyes roll.  Yes, I know where he learned that.  I’m not above bribing to get what I want.  I know what he likes and I know his budget.  Negotiations and deals can be had!

Fireworks photo--July 2014

Wave photo at Typhoon Lagoon--as the wave was coming. . .you can see it in the background.

And as the wave hit!  So love Photopass Photographers!
The more weighty concerns are on the home front rather than the trip itself.  When we get to this point prior to our vacation, I have to re-think grocery shopping.  Just this morning, my thoughts wandered to strategizing about when to purchase lunch meat to make the sandwiches needed for the trip to Orlando.  Do we have enough milk to get us through?  When does the milk expire?  To top it off, the boy will be at Scout camp the week prior to us leaving so the grocery equation gets a bit more complicated.

Haircuts, orthodontist visits, and maybe a pedicure are also on the list in the coming days. 

Excitement.  Yeah, definitely, excitement!

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Grateful For Our Disney Vacation Adventures!

Let's all be Wilderness Explorers!
This post is coming from a place of gratitude.  We are very fortunate to have had so many Disney vacation adventures in a short amount of time.

Let's recap the last year:

July 2015--We took a trip out west for a grand summer vacation that included stays at two Disneyland Resort Hotels and a week-end at Legoland.  We learned so much on this trip!  A highlight was the Walk in Walt's Footsteps Tour at Disneyland's Magic Kingdom.  Click here to read more.
Legoland--we stayed at the Legoland Hotel

Disneyland's Magic Kingdom--celebrating 60 years

Inside Walt Disney's Apartment on Main Street, U.S.A in Disneyland.
Disney's California Adventure!
December 2015--Disney Cruise #7.  Our second sailing on the Disney Fantasy and our second New Year's Eve cruise.  Highlights include the boy getting himself on stage during the magic show in the Walt Disney Theater, multiple Star Wars movie viewings, and New Year's Day on Castaway Cay.  I got out my water shoes the other day and they still hand sand on them from Castaway Cay--a slice of paradise!
Fun in the Port Terminal prior to boarding.

Castaway Club Reception--Meeting the ship's Captain

The husband DID ride the AquaDuck with me!
New Year's Eve.  Hats provided by Disney Cruise Line.

New Year's Day on Castaway Cay!
February 2016--A Big Birthday trip to Walt Disney World.  I cannot think of a better way to celebrate a birthday.  Fireworks, special treats, and many people wishing me a Happy Birthday.  Highlights from this trip include being chosen to open Magic Kingdom, the boy being picked for Lights, Motors, Action!, Ultimate Day of Thrills VIP Tour, Star Wars fireworks and character greetings at Hollywood Studios, and purchasing our first Annual Passes.
The boy on the big screen at Lights, Motors, Action!

Opening Magic Kingdom!

Chewbacca for the hug!

Birthday cupcake!

Birthday Cake!

Birthday ice cream!

Nothing beats a family hug in the Magic Kingdom!

The husband with our Annual Passes! 
Yes, we get to go often to the places that some people only dream of going.  Is it always easy? No.  Each day we make decisions based on our priorities--family vacations are the priority for us.  Every family has different priorities--no right or wrong--just different.  Something I appreciate is that the husband and I are on the same page when it comes to priorities for our family.  I can imagine that could emerge if that was not the case.

For anyone dreaming of a Disney vacation, know that Walt believed that dreams really can come true!

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Perks of Traveling With A Disney Rewards Visa--Two Character Meet and Greets at the Walt Disney World Resort!

With Disney Rewards Visa in hand, we took advantage of two character meet and greet locations at the Walt Disney World Resort.  One of the benefits of having a Disney Rewards Visa is access to character meet and greet locations exclusive to guests with a Disney Rewards Visa card.

EPCOT is the home of one of the Disney Rewards Visa private card member character meet and greets.  Located in Innoventions West, we easily found the location and enjoyed the short wait—1-2 families ahead of us.  We took advantage of this meet and greet twice during our vacation.  Card members are allowed one visit per day.  The hours are 1:00-7:00 pm daily.  Photos are taken and guests are given a card for free downloads of those photos.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios is the park with the Star Wars meet and greet location offered 11:00 am to 4:00 pm daily in the Star Wars Launch Bay.  Ask a Cast Member at the entrance for the best way to find this meet and greet location. 

We found the waits a bit longer at this location, but nothing extraordinary.  Again, photos were taken which could be downloaded for free.

Since we had Memory Maker, the photos taken at these locations were automatically linked to our Memory Maker so we did not need the card with the free download information.

Disney Rewards Visa does not guarantee certain characters and the characters can change at any time. 

Card Members just need to show their Disney Rewards Visa to the Cast Member handling the queue.  The name is written down, but no other information is gathered.

We felt the advantage of shorter wait times and plan to utilize this Card Member vacation perk again!

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Great Airport Parking Deals!

The boy took his first trip by airplane when he was three weeks old and has been flying ever since.  We've flown in and out of Orlando International over 30 times and are familiar with the various airports within a 4-hour radius from our home.  Each trip comes with unique details--flight times, how long it takes to get to the airport, planned arrival times--that require new decision making.

Some times, we drive the day/night before a flight and use a hotel for park-n-fly opportunities.  We've even driven the night before, stayed at a hotel, and then parked at the airport because parking was free--this is prevalent in small regional airports in Illinois.  We have made parking reservations prior to trips--the holiday season can fill up airport parking lots.

For our next trip, we are flying from Kansas City and our flight is later in the afternoon, so we will be driving the same day as our flight.  I needed to find parking that was reasonable--even economical.  The long-term spots at the airport started at $9 per day.

With a little bit of searching, I found that some hotels near the airport, offer parking for as little as $5 per day in addition to a free shuttle to/from the airport.  I snagged a reservation at a hotel less than a mile from the airport.  Caveats:  Had to pay in full.  There was a $5 service/tax charge.  Need to print the receipt and bring with to show the reservation.  Otherwise, it was VERY easy!  And, I know that I have a reserved spot to park our car.

Click here for the link.