Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party 2013

Each year Walt Disney World is transformed overnight into the ultimate Halloween experience one can see. Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween party takes place on select nights from 7:00 PM to midnight, September 10 to November 1, 2013.

mickeys not so scary halloween party image

In typical Disney style the transformation is magical, it’s more than a few decorations; over 20 truckloads of Halloween regalia is set up to create a magical setting for memories to be made. People leave the park at night and return in the morning to find the entire 30,080 acres has become something different and oh-so beautiful!

Mickeys not so scary halloween party

As we stepped off of the boat at the entrance we actually gasped as we gazed upon the amazing decorations, how could one resist this photo op?

mickeys not so scary halloween family

As you can see my husband was into the mood with Sydney, their “Scary” factor was higher than that at Magic Kingdom.

mickeys not so scary entrance

We arrived in time to catch a good ‘ol fashioned marching band playing down Main Street USA, if you get this chance sit and enjoy, they’re brilliant!

mickeys not so scary halloween main street

We enjoyed the day at Magic Kingdom but we happily headed back to the hotel to get changed into our costumes, the party started at 7pm and we wanted to be ready! Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party entrance is not included in your day pass, it is a separate ticket to purchase but it is one add-on I’d highly recommend. Our Canadian children who attended #HalloweenHaunt were really happy to be dressing in a Halloween costume sans a snowsuit…at home that just never happens.

mickeys-not-so-scary-halloween-party-myorganizedchaos

Image Courtesy of www.myorganizedchaos.net

Mickey’s Not-S0-Scary Halloween Party

When you enter Magic Kingdom for Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween you’re immediately surrounded by fog, lights, decorations and even eerie sounds. The mood is set, the kind Disney folks hand you a bag when you enter so you can also Trick or Treat while partying!

mickeys not so scary halloween dancing main st

Entertainment

The park is filled with sights and sound to entertain but there are also extra special things for everyone to enjoy! We were strolling through Tomorrow Land when we came across a surprise! Sulley and his friends from Monsters Inc. were holding a dance party! The joy on our little Chelsea’s face was palpable and my heart jumped as I watched her overcome her shyness and get into the groove.

party

Even the reserved Miss Sydney got into the dancing spirit once she saw that it was cool by Sulley’s standards! During the Halloween Party there are 2 of these dance parties happening every night so mark it down on your itinerary.

Image Courtesy of www.MyOrganizedChaos.net

Image Courtesy of www.MyOrganizedChaos.net

Disney Villains Dance Mix and Mingle! 
Some of your favorite baddies from Disney films rock you with this thrilling opening number in front of a ghostly Cinderella Castle. When the number is over, the villains veer into the crowds for meet and greets.

Frontierland 
Venture into Frontierland where you might even meet a barbershop quartet of dead cowboys who sing songs in the style of the Dapper Dans. They like “axing” Guests questions and answering with puns as part of their “dead pan” humor.

Mickey’s “Boo-to-You” Halloween Parade 

paradeDuring the party there are 2 Boo-To-You parades you simply must see. It’s a treat to the eyes, with floats, characters music and more!

Happy Halowishes

Image courtesy of www.MyOrganizedChaos.net

Image courtesy of www.MyOrganizedChaos.net

Get ready to be impressed by Walt Disney World’s Happy Halowishes, a special fireworks party to commemorate the haunting season! With music from past spooky Disney films, a fast-paced light show and fireworks to set you on edge this is a MUST SEE!

mickey no so scary halloween fireworks castle

Trick Or Treating

Throughout Magic Kingdom there are locations where you can offer up your bag to receive some treats. When I say you receive treats, I mean HANDFULLS of high-quality treats (Disney didn’t scrimp on this one). Again the children were thrilled as they watched their bags fill quickly. These treat locations are marked on the party maps which you can find throughout the park. If you don’t have a map, just watch out for cast members carrying the tell-tale Halloween Mickey sign.

trick or treat

If you happen to get caught up in all of the Halloween magic and forget to find the treat stations, don’t worry there’s one on the way out and the cast members are generous!

Mickeys not so scary halloween trick or treatMeeting Disney Characters

Another nice thing about Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween party is the lessened size of crowds. This means the lineups to meet Disney characters is much smaller than they normally would be. At different locations in Magic Kingdom you can find your favourite characters waiting to meet you, sign an autography and even get a picture or 2. If you’ve forgotten your camera, no worries check out the PhotoPass feature, Disney will snap photos of your family for you to enjoy later.

buzz

If there was one character I was going to get a photograph with, it had to be BUZZ! To Infinity and Beyond!

soberjulie with buzz

Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween party was a total hit with our family and friends. We all agree it far exceed our expectations and is truly something one must experience to believe. If you’d like to learn more about the party, head over to the Disney website which is stocked with info.

Disclosure: Our stay was provide in exchange for sharing our experience and truthful opinions.

Hollywood Studios Attractions We Love

Hollywood StudiosHollywood Studios is one of my favourite places on Earth. It feels funny saying that, frankly I’d much rather be raving about my time in Fiji or hanging with the locals in some exotic location but it is what it is. I adore Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World.

I was first introduced to Hollywood Studios two years ago and had been expecting to feel as I do at most amusement parks. Little did I know that I’d be pulled into the old Hollywood magic within minutes.

Disney has really hit the ball out of the park with this park, the retro feel combined with today’s technology hits the mark with me and my family each time we visit.

This year once again we planned our trip with a CAA Magical Planner. I cannot recommend this enough, she really took our dreams and made them come true. Honestly, it was amazing how she was able to take our list of wishes and organize it all into a well planned out holiday at Walt Disney World. Every detail was taken care of, right down to planning the schedule around Hollywood Studios so we avoided the busiest places and had rest areas available.

Star Tours

Hollywood Studios Star Tours

Photo: www.wdwnews.com

Please don’t tell anyone but I have a new favourite ride at Walt Disney World!! Star Tours was AMAZING.

Living in a house with a Star Wars loving husband I have to admit it was hilarious to see the excitement on his face as we approached this attraction. Sydney and my husband were chattering away about the new Star Wars feature when their attention was caught by something which was apparently “AWESOME”…..and a photo op took place immediately!

Hollywood Studios Star Tours Photo

Star Tours took us on a ride in Starspeeder 1000 (which meant nothing to me but had hubby all jazzed up) with C3Po as our pilot. As we strapped into the simulator R2D2 appeared on screen to inform us that there is a spy onboard whom the enemy is determined to capture. On the same screen an image of the “spy” appeared and it was our daughter!!! Who knew?

The ride reached past my doubts and pulled me into the realm of childhood appreciation. Using brilliant 3d technology, sound and gentle movements I felt like I was genuinely streaking through space avoiding the enemy chasing us. This ride is now my favourite and I wish I could go on it again!!

Hollywood Studios Tower of Terror

Photo: www.wdwnews.com

Twilight Zone Tower of Terror

If you’re looking for a thrill ride, Tower of Terror is for you! I was unable to go on this ride because of my physical condition but my husband and daughter were seen to be running across the park to get their Fast-Passes for this one.

The story is that Hollywood stars loved to go to the beautiful Hollywood Hotel to rest and relax. But rest and relaxation were the last thing that 5 unlucky souls found one fateful Halloween in 1939.

On that night these 5 people were riding down the Hotel’s maintenance service elevator when a violent storm struck the building… and they were never seen again. Black scorch marks still scar The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror facade where lightning left its autograph.

The ride itself takes you on that freight elevator, past the eerie boiler room in the hotel basement could be down, then up, or maybe down again, or up and up—every experience is different and randomly selected by the Tower itself. There’s no way of knowing which direction you’ll go on the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.

My husband and daughter agree, this is their favourite thrill ride of all time!

Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular

This was our first time seeing Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular and I wasn’t sure it would appeal to our littlest princess who normally prefers more “girlie” attractions. Boy was I wrong!

We were seated in a covered viewing area for this 30 minute show that had us on the edge of our seats. It was an interactive experience; at the beginning a Casting Director came out and asked for volunteers. You know I was sitting on my hands sighing with relief as he chose people who helped as extras during the show.

Hollywood Studios Indiana Jones

The show opened with a live scene which could have come directly from an Indiana Jones film. Indy was jumping fires, whipping snakes and running from a huge rolling boulder right before our eyes. After making it to safety and retrieving the golden idol a director appeared and explained in detail how each of the stunts was performed.

Hollywood Studios Indiana Jones Scene

I won’t ruin it for you at this point by telling all but there were more intense scenes, explosions, motorcycles, airplanes and more. This is one attraction that is packed with energy and information.

Pixar Pals Countdown to Fun Parade

When planning our day at Hollywood Studios our CAA Magical Planner recommended we make time to watch the Pixar Pals Countdown to Fun Parade. I was hesitant, after all what could be different with this parade but in the end I’m glad we did make the time to see it.

We were close to the front gates watching Sydney (8) play some games with Disney staff when parade time rolled around. This ended up being the right spot at the right time because the Disney staff person chose us as their VIP family and we were placed in a prime location to view the parade!

The parade opened with one of our favourite characters, Mr Incredible!

Hollywood Studios Parade

The parade was wonderful, lively and full of characters our family has enjoyed over the years.

Hollywood Studios Parade 2

Hollywood Studios Parade 3

It was wonderful to see Sully in the parade but I must admit I was getting more amusement from the skywriter above!

Hollywood Studios Parade 4

I have so many beautiful shots of the parade but I’ll leave you with the ones above and just say that you won’t be disappointed!

Sci-Fi Dine In Theatre

This was one restaurant which hadn’t made my list until our CAA Magical Planner suggested it. I had no interest in sitting in a car watching old movies on a big screen while struggling to see my food. Once again I was proven wrong!

hollywood studios sci fi

Photo: www.wdwnews.com

After a day of excitement at Hollywood Studios I was shocked to find the lovely dim, quite atmosphere that greeted us. Something had come over our rowdy children, they somehow knew to hush and take it all in. I’m not joking, my husband and I looked at each other in disbelief as our bodies began to relax while being led to our car/table.

The food was delicious, the movies brought my husband and I back to our childhood and the girls were surprised when the waiter brought over special desserts to celebrate their December birthdays at the request of our CAA Magical Planner.

  Hollywood Studios Dine In theater copy

 There are far too many attractions at Hollywood Studios to list them all but I’d love to hear which ones you have enjoyed.

 

Top Attractions at Animal Kingdom

Walking into Animal Kingdom is amazing, we were instantly brought into another world with a Tree of Life waiting for us smack in the middle of the action. As people milled about I was struck by the lush greenery and signs of nature everywhere. This is a refreshing sight for a country girl like myself.

Our CAA Magical Planner had given us a list of attractions to visit at Animal Kingdom. Very wisely she didn’t plan our journey through Animal Kingdom by times, she listed the attractions we wanted to see in the most logical order in case we got side-tracked instead.

This made it very simple for us, each attraction was listed by location in the park and historical crowd information. Once again our CAA Magical Planner proved invaluable to us as we avoided confusion in locating rides or time wasted criss-crossing the park to get to attractions. We simply followed her list and each attraction led to the next.

The Tree of Life

Anyone who enters Animal Kingdom is greeted by the sight of this man-made tree; it’s a sculpted 14-story (145-foot tall) and 50-foot wide tree.

Tree of Life Animal Kingdom

There are paths which meander around the Tree of Life, they’re known as the Discovery Island Trail. As we walked along the path we were exported to a magical spot where we found hidden animals in the foliage, carved into the branches of the tree and information on each animal.

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The girls loved the challenge of spotting animals and learning new information about each one. I probably should say this but we did find a Hidden Mickey!!

Killimanjaro Safaris Expedition

This is a very cool attraction, we waited in a large line up but honestly it was so worth the wait! We were led onto a safari bus that had open sides and was much like the vehicles we see on televisions in African safaris. If you have any physical issues, be aware the ride is quite bumpy but it’s slow moving and the sights are incredible.

Animal Kingdom Safari

We were taken around the animal reserve and got to see elephants, lions, antelope, flamingo, black rhinos and more. The driver was fabulous, he instructed us where to look and managed to know when to stop and wait…..just as I was about to be impatient he’d yell “there” and an animal would come out of the brush.

 Animal Kingdom

Elephant at Animal Kingdom

Tigers at Animal Kingdom

Our girls adored this ride and we’ll be back for sure, if you’re going make sure you have your camera ready!

Kali River Rapids

Kali River Rapids Animal Kingdom

Photo: wdwnews.com

Unfortunately I was unable to do this ride because of back/neck issues but my family LOVED it! Kali River Rapids is a river rafting ride that exhilarated them from beginning to end. The raft is curricular and holds 12 people.

My husband and 2 daughters were taken 90 feet up into the jungle, with sights of beautiful waterfalls and foliage surrounding them. Then they hit rough water, the entire landscape changed to one of a dangerous nature.

The story goes that some illegal loggers had fled the area, leaving debris along the riverbanks. There were fires blazing along the landscape and frightening wildlife waiting for you to fall out of the raft.

The kids were terrified, but they managed to escape by plummeting down a 30-foot waterfall to safety. Their faces as they ran towards me were hilarious, to say they were jazzed is the understatement of the year!

 

Expedition Everest

Disney Animal Kingdom Expedition Everest

Photo: wdwnews.com

This was one roller coaster my husband and eldest daughter were looking forward to! While waiting in line my two adventurers were heard to be yelling Yeti, Yeti, Yeti!!!

The ride had them climb aboard a railway car that took them high up a mountain with some twists and turns where the view was spectacular. Just as they were getting comfy looking around they were plunged into darkness that took their breath away. Suddenly they were in the light again only to find the track their railway car is on has been twisted and it’s a dead end!

Howls greeted their ears and then……well I can’t tell you everything can I? Suffice it to say it was an experience of gut-wrenching drops, turns and yes maybe even a Yeti!

Finding Nemo the Musical

Finding Nemo

Photo: wdwnews.com

Oh my goodness this show is spectacular! Please, if you’re going to Animal Kingdom mark this as a must see.

Located in Dinoland USA this is a 30 minute Broadway-style show that will have you and your family fully absorbed throughout the entire production. Disney really hit it out of the park with this, I was instantly brought back to the underwater world of Nemo and once again falling in love with my favourite character of all time: Dory,

The theatre darkens and the stage comes alive with colours I didn’t imagine anywhere but underwater. Disney’s innovation with props, lighting, sounds and special effect overwhelmed my senses and I was enchanted. The puppets became life like, as they swayed in authentic fish like movements. The voices were straight out of the film and the songs peaked my memories. Oh yes I fell in love again.

Animal Kingdom is an amazing experience for all ages, surrounded by exotic animals, vegetation and information we had an enlightening day which we couldn’t elsewhere.

 

Epcot Must See Attractions

If you’re heading to Epcot you really should do your best to take the Monorail there. The Monorail is a complimentary transit system. Originally conceived as a public transport for the future, the Walt Disney World Monorail System has three separate beams that travel throughout Walt Disney World Resort and allow you to see everything from above.

Epcot Family Photo

Space Ship Earth

You can’t miss Space Ship Earth as you enter Epcot, it’s an impressive dome that seems to draw you in. This is a slow-moving ride that I was able to join in on. This is a very interesting inter-active ride that takes you through the ages from the beginning of time into the future.

Throughout the ride you are asked a series of multiple choice questions which add up to a prediction of what my life will be like in the future. This certainly encouraged me to think more GREEN.

CAA Exclusive Story Time

If you book your Disney Vacation with CAA you are entitled to some extra benefits. The Exclusive Story Time is one that is a truly wonderful experience. Set in the Innovations West Building nobody even realizes this intimate experience is available.

The day of the Story Time we had no idea who would be reading and so we were really excited. There was an usher who treated each child like royalty as he led them into what felt like a secret inner sanctum. After a few moments he announced Snow White into the room!

Epcot CAA Story Time

Oh it was so sweet, the kids were super excited to see Snow White and she greeted each little person individually. She read a wonderful story which of course I cannot remember because I was too busy snapping photos then Snow White led the children around the room in a parade.

As you can see from the photos it was an intimate experience where the kids really got to spend some time with Snow White.

Epcot CAA Story Time Snow White

Then the children lined up and took turns getting Snow White’s autograph and we took photos. It was an amazing experience that I’m sure our Chelsea will never forget. Just one more reason why I’d suggest folks book their Disney vacations with a CAA Magical Planner.

Soarin

Soarin is located in The Land Pavilion and is my FAVORITE ride at Walt Disney World! This is one that didn’t hurt me at all, it was smooth as silk and had me laughing out loud. It’s a multi-sensory attraction which simulates a smooth hang-gliding tour of California.

We were lifted 40 feet into the air and swooped and swayed into believing we were actually hang-gliding. To top off  the amazing views, Disney even provided us with the spray of water on our faces, the scents of the oranges growing below and wind blowing through our hair. It’s simply AMAZING!

Mission Space

From our previous visit 2 years ago this was my husband and daughters favourite ride. They were dying to go and once again they weren’t disappointed by this simulated flight mission to Mars.

As you are going onto the ride there are 4 seats in each pod. You are assigned a title for the mission and have unique tasks you have to complete.  This ride has you rocketing around the moon, experiencing a brief period of simulated hyper sleep and landing on Mars before returning to Earth.

For this ride Disney advises that people with back or neck problems may find their issues aggravated by the ride so I wasn’t able to partake but I did enjoy seeing the excitement on their faces as they disembarked. Poor little Chesea was frightened out of her mind, nobody is allowed to say the “SM” word around her……if your child is frightened of the dark perhaps it’s best for them to bypass this ride.

Akershus Royal Banquet Hall

Once again our CAA Magical Planner astounded me when she told me she had managed to get us a seating at this character meal! Generally speaking this is a favourite for visitors to Walt Disney World and it’s recommended to book 180 days before your trip.

Not only did our CAA Magical Planner manage to get us seats, she secured it for the day we had the girls makeovers. What a treat it was to be in the Medieval themed castle with a princess and a pirate!

We were greeted by Belle and had the opportunity to get a photo with her.

Akershus Belle

The food was incredible and the event well planned out . We began with an appetizer buffet and the princesses began coming to tables just as we were finishing. Part way through we were served our dinner (seriously delicious) and the princesses timed their visits so as not to interrupt our eating.

Akershus ArielAkershus Princess

Once we finished eating the princesses led the children around the restaurant in a parade. Even our doubtful pirate joined in!!

I’d recommend Akershus to everyone going to Epcot, the food quality is much higher than most character meals.

Rose & Crowne Pub & Dining Room

My parents would be impressed with this British pub! It’s located in the United Kingdom Pavilion and hits the mark with authenticity. The decor and food are typical British and yes I can attest to that after being raised by two Brits!Epcot Rose and Crown

Although I bypassed the pints my husband enjoyed one and I joined in the sing along, belting out the lyrics that surrounded my childhood. We really enjoyed the Rose and Crown, after all the character meals it’s refreshing to find quality British food in a relaxed, welcoming environment.

United Kingdom Pavilion

As a child I had the pleasure of visiting my parents families in England every few years. The United Kingdom Pavilion has really brought me back to those trips. With the authentic phone boxes, the Bobbies, cobblestones under my feet, fantastic pubs and the maze for the kids, my Mum and Dad would feel at home here.

Epcot UK PavillionEpcot UK Pavillion CottageEpcot UK Pavillion Square

This is my favourite pavilion for sure, it could be because I feel at home here but Disney goes above and beyond when it comes to details. At each pavilion over Christmas there is a reenactment of a cultural tale, we found Father Christmas telling the tale of Scrooge in the UK.

Epcot UK Pavillion Father Christmas

Canada Pavilion

As Canadians visiting how could we not go and check out the Canada Pavilion to see what folks think of our culture. We were greeted by a celtic band, Off Kilter who were hilarious as they performed in their kilts. These guys are a must see, they get everyone moving and grooving.

 

Epcot Canada

It was a kick to see the different Canadian items they were selling, from beaver hats to maple syrup to Goofy Mountie shirts….we were amused.

Epcot Canada hats

IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth

As the day came to an end we were tired and there was some bickering going on. Many of us parents would give in at this point, opting to call it a night and return to a cozy hotel room. My husband just isn’t this parent; instead he found us a great spot to watch IllumiNations.

To say the spectacular fireworks show took our breaths away isn’t praise enough. Epcot has officially become my favourite park for fireworks. This is a journey across the world and history, with scenes appearing on top of the water it’s simply beautiful and a MUST see.

Magic Kingdom Must See Attractions

We are HERE at Magic Kingdom theme park at Walt Disney World where it truly is MAGICAL!

magic kingdom

After much anticipation we arrived and stared in wonder as we approached the front gate. It’s a very impressive sight! With the Castle looming in behind the crowds a train can be heard approaching the area. Above the gates we were waiting to enter is a railway where the Disney Train rolls to a stop. Out jumps a cast of characters who gaily sing “Good morning. Good morning. It’s great to stay up late. Good morning. Good morning to you, and you and you and you.”

It’s well worth being an early riser to catch the opening show!

magic kingdom christmas tree

Just before we went through the gates into Magic Kingdom we stopped in at Guest Services and rented a wheelchair for the day. Our CAA Magical Planner made this easy for us by providing us with a specialized map identifying the rental location and the entrances at each ride for people with wheelchairs. It costs $12 a day and I certainly couldn’t spend time here without it.

Making our way down Main Street USA we could feel the palpable energy of excitement. Our senses were alive with sounds of happy people, smells of delicious foods and the colours of the characters, balloons and sights to see.

Magic Kingdom Christmas Main Street

Magic Kingdom Christmas Main St USA

Knowing it would be a SUPER busy time of year our CAA Magical Planner took time to plan our route for us to ensure we got to enjoy the attractions we listed.

Bibbity Bobbity Boo

For any little girl or boy this makeover is a dream come true! Our newly 7 year old daughter was in awe as we entered the castle and found the salon. We were treated like royalty as we checked in, Chelsea was given special attention with curtseys and the title “Princess” being used often.

We chose the Coach Package which includes choice of hairstyling, shimmering makeup, princess sash, face gem and princess cinch bag—$54.95 plus tax. Chelsea had 3 choices of hairstyles to choose from and she went with the Fairytale Princess to no surprise.

The salon itself is just adorable, fully kitted out in typical magical style!

The Pirate League

There was NO way Sydney was going to have a Princess makeover but when she heard she could get a Pirate makeover we couldn’t hold her back. At The Pirates League Sydney got to select her pirate style (I may have tried to encourage a bit of pink). The she went ahead and got her makeover which I give her credit for…she was patient. Next came the League’s training, this is given by some very seasoned pirates.

Magic Kingdom Pirate League makeover

Once this was done Sydney became someone else, she got her new name and insisted we refer to her as this the entire day! Our new Sydney has learned some swashbuckling moves, taken the official Pirate League Oath and walked in the pirate parade!

Celebrate A Dream Come True Parade

Parade times are worthy of paying attention to, we followed our plan and made it to the spot where people in wheelchairs have a viewing area in time for the action. The characters really did come alive as they dazzled us all, singing and dancing down the street.

Space Mountain

Space Mountain is a classic ride in Tomorrow Land that my husband loves! He and the girls had a blast as they boarded one of 2 rocket-shaped, 3-seater vehicles and shot off to space and sped around the universe.

Once they got off the ride they went onto a moving runway that took them past scenes of life in the future and got to see themselves on TV monitors as they went.

It’s common to see Chip & Dale right outside of this ride.

Fantasy Land

We’ve been very excited to see Fantasy Land….and we weren’t disappointed! Specifically we loved Under The Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid. Beast’s castle looms above Fantasyland, where you’re immersed in the stories. We couldn’t secure a seating at Be Our Guest Restaurant, apparently this is booked for almost all of 2013 but we did enjoy the rest of this new expansion.

Magic Kingdom Fantasy Land

Magic Kingdom Fantasy Land Belle Castle

 Magic Kingdom Fantasy Land

Fantasy Land

 magic kingdom ariel

Haunted Mansion

I am a serious lover of all things scary and the Haunted Mansion had me at Hello! We walked into the ride through a graveyard where tombstones howled at us and crypts played music as the instruments chiseled on them were touched.

The super creepy ride attendants herded bunches of us into a room “the portrait chamber” where the walls slid shut behind us and there was NO way out!! As an eerie voice generously pointed out there were no windows or doors but if we looked up we saw someone hanging above us…..it was creepy as all get out! I won’t say much more because I want it to be a surprise but if you dig being scared, this is a fab choice for you.

Pirates of The Caribbean

Of course we had to hit Pirates of The Caribbean, how could we not when Sydney cut such a dashing figure in her Pirate gear?

This ride has you on a boat that takes you up and down waterfalls, through a town where Jack Sparrow is hiding and the kids love looking for him. This is one for pirate lovers, they’re sure to fall in love with the life of a pirate!

We are really enjoying ourselves, watch here for more info on attractions and the shows we see!

 

Our Disney Vacation – Thankful We Have Travel Insurance!

The countdown is on my friends!! It’s only 4 days until we leave to spend our family Christmas at Walt Disney World.
Walt Disney Christmas
4 Days!!!

As you can imagine we are planning and preparing. Once again this is where our amazing CAA Magical Planner has saved us tons of effort, she’s prepared a detailed itinerary for us for every day of our trip. Believe me when I say this saves time; among other things she’s studied which parks will be the least crowded based upon historical numbers and has taken the burden off of us.

Last night at the dinner table the discussion turned to our trip, the kids wanted to know the low down on our plans. As we chatted about what we will see and do our 8 year old daughter, Sydney was becoming agitated.

Sydney isn’t one to share her emotions so we waited until she was ready to ask the question that was bothering her, pushing this child to open up just doesn’t ever work.

“What if we get sick when we’re there, like what if I break my leg? Will I have to live there forever?”

Oh the mind of a child, who could imagine that hers would go there right in the middle of discussing the most magical place on earth?

Her concern was real, she was genuinely worried that one of us would get sick and we’d have no way to get home. My heart broke for my little worrry-wart and I was glad I actually had a solution for her worry this time. So often in the past Sydney’s worries are ones that I can’t relieve, random life things that we all suffer through….but this once I had an answer that would set her at ease.

I told Sydney about the CAA Travel Insurance we have. I assured her that we are covered if any of us did need medical attention. After listening intently as I did my best to explain the details on an 8 year old’s level Syd simply nodded her head and asked if she could get a pirate makeover while we were at Magic Kingdom. Just like that her worry was gone.

That’s how CAA Travel Insurance works, it takes the worries off us while we’re vacationing. In the past I didn’t purchase this coverage but after hearing about people being stuck in their vacation cities with medical bills piling up the purchase price seemed worth it.

I really want to urge everyone to use travel insurance, the CAA coverage is a solid package at a reasonable price. They have choices for people who are travelling one time or for those folks who travel multiple times a year.

Wouldn’t it be horrible to be one of those people you hear about whose lives are forever changed because they got sick or had an accident while on holiday because they didn’t have travel insurance?

House Sitter Checklist When Leaving Home For A Vacation

We are heading out for our Magical Christmas at Walt Disney World in just 6 days!! Much like anyone who is within a week of leaving home for a vacation I’m preparing as quickly as possible.

I’m really looking forward to spending time with my family at the most magical place on Earth but don’t want to end up half way there and remembering I’ve forgotten to inform our house sitter of something. In order to make sure I haven’t slipped up I’m creating a house sitter checklist which I’ll share with you all.

1. Make an Information Kit

Providing our house sitter with all the information she may need will save her time and energy should a situation arise. This is all information which we have on hand so it’s simple to put together, it includes:

  • Contact information – I prefer to have updates while away so she’ll have our cell numbers, email addresses and of course Facebook messaging.
  • Emergency contact information – My parents live nearby so they are the emergency contact for our house sitter. I’ll provide her with their phone number and ensure they can be reached at all times. Make sure you know your Emergency contact person’s schedule so that you can provide alternate contact info if necessary. We have discussed emergency situations with my parents and they are comfortable making snap decisions for us if necessary.
  • Communicate About Visitors – This is a big one for me, I totally trust our house sitter but believe it’s important to discuss who I would or wouldn’t want in my home. There’s nothing like coming home to a rip roaring party to turn a trip into a downer.

2. Inform People We’re Leaving

Over the years of using house sitters we’ve found it best to notify people when we will not be around. Making them aware that someone is living here while we’re away will keep them in the loop.

  • Neighbours – Letting our neighbours, friends and family know that we have a house sitter moving into your home will ensure that nobody phones the police when they see someone going in and out this close to Christmas.

3. Prepping Our Home

  • Stashing The Goods – Frankly this isn’t a big deal for us but my advice to those who have breakables which are valuable to them is to stash them away. We never know when accidents will happen so by putting things away you can be sure they’ll be in good condition when you return.
  • Cleaning the House & Yard – Our house sitter is amazing and I want her to want to come back. By leaving her a clean house chances are she’ll feel comfortable. This includes making sure the snowblower is primed to be used in the event of a snowfall and any other outdoor chores are done.

4. Preparing The Dog

Our house sitter knows Miss Coco quite well, we’ve taken the time to establish this relationship. We have left her vet’s information, stocked up on food and I’m leaving a list of the finer points of caring for her such as the importance of crating Coco when leaving the house.

5. Services

Our house sitter needs to know everything about our home’s usual services in order to keep everything sailing along.

  • Garbage Collection – We have noted garbage & recycling day for our house sitter and left garbage bags and blue bins in a noticeable location.
  • Internet access – We have wifi and have met with our house sitter to go over the passwords and ensured that she can indeed hook up her computer and phone.
  • Home deliveries – Being a blogger I do get delivers. For the time we’re away I’ve suspended deliveries so that our house sitter won’t have to deal with this.

6. The House Sitter’s Needs

House sitters are people too and they will need the facilities to live their own lives in your home as well as enough information to settle into your home and neighbourhood quickly and easily.

  • Spare keys – We are leaving one set of keys with our house sitter but another will be left with my parents. Hey our sitter is only human and if she’s like me she could end up losing a set.
  • Kitchen space – It’s important that I clean out our fridge as much as possible so our sitter has the room she may need. This also gives me a chance to get rid of the hundreds of bottles of salad dressings we manage to collect.
  • Clean linen – We are making sure we leave an abundance of clean bed linen and towels for our house sitter.

7. Utilities

While all the utilities are paid for and running in our house, our sitter needs to know everything about maintaining these critical elements.

  • Gas and electric – We have left instructions for the safe use of your electricity and gas services. We did take the time to show her where the fuse box is, how to replace a fuse if necessary and in case of a major issue my Dad will help.
  • Heating  – We learned this one the hard way one summer in the past when a house sitter cranked the air conditioning for a week and left us with a HUGE bill. This time when we did the walk through we showed the sitter how to adjust the temperatures and agreed that she keeps her home at approximately the same temperature we do so there won’t be any surprises.
  • Laundry appliances – I’ve written instructions for our house sitter on how to use our washing machine and dryer, we have a new fangled space aged set so I hardly know what every option does!

Well that looks like I’ve covered everything, the beauty of having someone house sit more than once is that she already knows so much of this I’m sure she’ll be fine.

Now I really must go, I have to pack!!!

Surprising Our Daughters With a Trip To Walt Disney World for Christmas

Big News…….insert drumroll here……..

We Are Going To Walt Disney World for Christmas!!!

Yes friends it’s true, the dream we’ve had for years is actually happening. With both of our daughters born in December and Christmas planning December has always been an overwhelming month for my husband and I. Combine this stress with the freezing cold temperatures and inevitable snow here in suburbia and I’m sure you can see why we’d love to spend 10 days with the Magical Mouse!

Let me tell you planning a trip to the most magical place on Earth is a daunting affair. There are endless choices to be made, experiences to be had but I was left shaking my head…how could I possibly plan our trip and make these choices ?

CAA Makes Walt Disney World Planning Simple

After becoming quite exasperated I went to the CAA Store and begged the Magical Vacation Planner to come to my rescue. The Magical Vacation Planner, Amber, waved her fairy godmother wand and took all of my worries away with her calm demeanor and seriously amazing knowledge of Walt Disney World.

We began with the fundamentals, she asked for our desired dates, preferred room types, budget, wish list of activities, and ages and in depth description of the people traveling.

I knew there were definitely challenges with this trip. With my disabilities we did request staying at a resort on Walt Disney World but I wasn’t certain Amber could make this happen within our budget. We were also booking within the 180 days recommended to secure reservations for restaurants and attractions so we doubted that we would be enjoying the locations we would have wanted.

Amber told me that she would work on getting some figures together for me and she would be in touch very soon. I felt somewhat relieved but still wasn’t convinced that we’d be able to achieve this dream of ours and I expected to wait a few days to hear back from her.

Within an hour Amber had contacted me, she had a quote which fell smack dab within our budget!!! I was flabbergasted, she had outlined our vacation to include:

  •  direct flights for all four of us
  • 10 day stay at Port Orleans Riverside (a moderate Walt Disney World resort)
  • 10 day dining plan
  • park hopper tickets for 6 days
  • 6 day park passes
  • 3 day rental car (we wanted to do Christmas Shopping)
  • a Pirate League makeover
  • a Bibbity Bobbity Boo makeover
  • CAA Story Telling with a Princess
  • all of the character meals we requested except for one
  • medical insurance
  • trip cancellation insurance

WOW – This Magical Vacation Planner is GOOD

There is NO way I could have arranged all of this! Amber really made it look easy but I know it’s not. At this point all she required of me was our passport numbers, a credit card to secure the vacation and a smile.

This all happened at the end of a work day and Amber and I have worked together to stream line the trip since. Of course we have changed our minds here and there about dinners and Amber has been so accommodating, even to the point of coming into work early to make a booking she felt we HAD to have before it was gone.

The thing is it’s not just Amber who provides this level of service, it’s all CAA Magical Vacation Planners. When we went to WDW in 2010 I used this service and received the same customer service. CAA goes out of their way to ensure that the holidays booked are truly wonderful experiences.

There are perks for CAA members at Walt Disney World:

  • Exclusive pricing on tickets
  • Save up to 10%, 15%, 20% or 35% off the room portion on selected packages on selected dates (subject to availability)
  • 200 Disney Dollars included in packages of 7 nights or more at the Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotel
  • Storytelling experience with a character from a classic Disney animated feature
  • Special savings on meals, merchandise and entertainment options at participating locations throughout the Walt Disney World Resort
  • Preferred seating at parades and fireworks

Our CAA Magical Planner also got in on the fun of surprising our daughters with our trip. Amber came up with the idea to make a sign that says “We’re Going To Walt Disney World”, attach it to a Minnie Mouse balloon and hide in a box. Then we could remove the lid and shock the girls when the balloons popped out. She even went so far as to provide me with the sign, balloons and ribbon….now that’s going all out in my opinion! Of course I videotaped it….check it out!

I can’t thank CAA enough, they really made planning our Magical Christmas Vacation simple.

If you are even considering a trip to Disney please contact CAA to see what is possible, now is a great time because if you book for a 5 night/6day room stay for a family of 4 before February 18th you can save up to $600 US with the Play, Stay, Dine offer.

Watch for more posts on my Disney planning, I can’t wait to share everything with you all!

Disney Halloween Pumpkin Carving Templates

Beautiful Pumpkins are Easy Using Disney Halloween Pumpkin Carving Templates

disney pumpkin carving template

I’m no whiz when it comes to pumpkin carving but last year I realized that I can appear to be when I found the cutest pumpkin carving templates on the Disney website.

My daughters were delighted when I pulled up the website! We spend a considerable amount of time choosing our favorites and happily printed them off. How do you like my Cinderella pumpkin?

Using the Disney Halloween Pumpkin Carving Templates is simple!

There are two ways to transfer your design onto the pumpkin.

  • Copy it freehand onto a clean, dry pumpkin with a water-based marker (mistakes can be easily corrected with a paper towel) or
  • Tape your template to the pumpkin, then score the design into the skin by poking holes through the template with a nail or plastic poking tool (available in some pumpkin-carving kits).

Begin carving at the center of your design and working outward (this avoids putting pressure on areas already carved). Begin
with the innermost and smallest details. As each shape loosens up, gently push it out of the pumpkin with a finger or a dull pencil
point (a good job for young kids).
Tip: If you cut something you didn’t intend to, perform an ad hoc pumpkin surgery: Stick a toothpick through the flesh side of the piece
and fit it back into place.
Lastly, put your jack-o’-lantern in a place of honor (away from flammables), and remember to blow out all candles before you go to sleep.

Pumpkin Carving

disney pumpkin carving template spider

 

 

 

 

 

 

pumpkin-printables-disney

Photo Credit: Disney Family.com

This year I have chosen the Ariel Pumpkin Carving Template and wanted to offer it to all of my readers to download here by clicking on the blue button below.  My girls are currently choosing their templates while my husband is free-handing a super-scary jack ‘o lantern!

download

As we approach Halloween I’ll do my best to provide any last-minute tips I come across, heaven knows I need them!

Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post, all opinions are my own with permission from Disney for use of materials.

Halloween Costume Ideas from Walt Disney World

Halloween Costume IdeasWith Halloween fast approaching I’ve been scouring the internet for Halloween costume ideas.

There are so many options it quickly became confusing. Listen friends, as I approach 40 years old I’ve finally accepted the fact that I’m not a Mom who is creative and can work wonders with a sewing machine.I just don’t have the imagination nor the skills…..but I do have some skills which can help me figure out Halloween costume ideas that will WOW my girls.

One such skill is knowing where to shop! I saved myself hours simply by remembering my children’s love of all things Disney….ok so I happened upon this beautiful photo of Chelsea after a Bibbity Bobbity Boo makeover at Walt Disney World but I’m claiming the credit!

After visiting the online Disney Store I realized I still have time to surprise my girls, it was simple to find the location closet to me using the store locator.

Rapunzel Costume Collection

Chelsea would adore the Rapunzel Costume Collection. It’s all things girly which she loves and matches the doll she sleeps with at night.

She’ll let down her hair with the Rapunzel Costume Collection. Add the fun of light-up shoes, light-up wand, tiara and her famous long, long braid for a Tangled role to play all day!

 

Iron Man Deluxe Costume Disney

 

And while I’d love to buy Sydney something girly-girl there’s no way I could get her to wear it. She would much rather the Iron Man Deluxe Costume for Kids!

Become a real life Avenger dressed as Tony Stark’s superhero creation. With attention to detail even Stark would be proud of, this padded Iron Man Costume includes mask, gloves and boot covers, and has a metallic finish just like the real suit

Walt Disney World Cosmetology team has also released a video which is jammed with tips to help create  cute or scary Halloween looks this year, I’m happy to share this with you all!


Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post, all opinions are my own with permission from Disney for use of materials.