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our disney world trip – part 1 of 2

hello, friends!

i hope all of you had wonderful holidays, starts to the new year, and hey look – valentine’s day!  time is flying.  and sadly, it’s obviously flying too fast for me to do regular blog updates!  it’s funny, for christmas this year, the big kids’ big gift was a trip to disney world.  it was a surprise revealed on christmas morning, and we left a week later on january 2nd.  for weeks since we’ve been back i’ve been thinking to myself, “man…i really need to find a way to record all of the things i learned during this trip to disney world, so when we go back i can remember them. how can i do that?”  and then i thought, “self — you have a BLOG!  remember?!?!”  so here i am.  hopefully some of these things can help you, too!

first, i want to start with this photo.  this here photo was taken circa 1988 on my ONE day spent at disney world, ever, in my whole life.

disney 88

we drove down, visited the park for one whole day, and then drove back.  there were no books read, no disney planners used, no meal plans, no nothing.  my, how times have changed.  so much to decide now!  so overwhelming!  i decided to call a disney planner my friend betsey had used, named susan, to demystify this most magical place.  she was invaluable, and after i got her to decode the disney lingo she had rolling off her tongue, we got along famously.  her email is susan_thomason@hotmail.com should you want to use her too.  i will add that her services are available at no cost to you — but she was able to price out different options, make our meal reservations, hotel reservations, fast passes, save money on package deals she is privy to and basically answer any question you have about disney.

another resource to know about, if you’re heading to disney world, is dixie delights.  amanda knows everything there is to know about disney, and has great insight from visiting so many times.  her blog also has easy to navigate sections for all things mickey, and i pored over all of the tips and recommendations before going!!

so here’s how the scene was set…

TIMING:

we left on january 2nd, and returned january 6th (APS, our school system, had no school jan 4-5).  park days were jan. 3 / 4 / 5.  we did magic kingdom for two days (jan 3 & 5) and hollywood studios (jan 4 — primarily for the star wars feature, since rush is obsessed).  we chose this time because on the crowd meter, january 4 and 5 were supposed to be some of the lowest of the year…  in actuality, it rained on jan. 3 so the crowds were lower.  we didn’t know how good we had it!  jan. 4 / 5 — especially jan. 5 — were PACKED.

LODGING:

we opted to stay at the contemporary resort on disney resort grounds.

contemporary-resort-00-full

we liked that it was on the monorail, you had an option to walk to the resort (which we did one morning and it was lovely) or take the boat.  we also were going to do an early breakfast at chef mickey’s, and hey – it’s in the hotel so how easy is that?!  i thought the contemporary was fine.  not the nicest hotel, but not the worst.  you are obviously paying for convenience, which it is definitely that.  i think when we go back, we will stay at the grand floridian.  it’s nicer, a little calmer atmosphere, i felt like there were more places to lounge (more on that later — and the all-important mizner’s lounge in particular), and hey – if you’re shelling out the big bucks to go to disney, you might as well shell out a bit more and make it a nicer vacay for the adults too.

MEAL PLAN:

we did the disney meal plan where you get 1 quick service meal, 1 sit down and 1 snack a day.  oh, and refillable mugs but we really didn’t use those.  i think this plan was fine, and we were able to get most of the character meals we wanted using this plan (even with the 2 sit down credits at cinderella’s castle).  we ended up with a TON of snack credits left over, and on dixie delight’s recommendation, stopped by the confectionery on main street our last day and brought home a bunch of yummy treats.  but all in all — i think this was a good meal option, and we only had to pay out of pocket for 1-2 meals.  we brought breakfast items and ate them in the room while we were getting ready.  i brought things like: granola with almond milk (they had a fridge in the room which i knew, so i loaded it up), yogurt, bananas, cereal bars, granola bars.  rbb and i hit the coffee shop in the lobby (latte = snack credit!) and we were off.  you can also use your refillable mugs for coffee in the quick service restaurant that is in your hotel, but i wasn’t sure if they were BPA free and coffee is really hot ya know. ;) #greenpeopleprobs

STROLLER OR NO STROLLER:

we brought one.  just a maclaren umbrella stroller, but i was soooo glad we did.  rinne is 4, and i felt like she really needed it because there was SO much walking.  rush is 6 and he was fine with all of the walking.  DEFINITELY tie a bright / noticeable ribbon on your stroller’s handle though…  you will not even believe how many strollers fill up these stroller areas!!!  and, don’t panic if you come out of a ride and your stroller is gone.  we thought on day 1 that someone stole ours, lol.  no — an employee had just moved it to a designated stroller area.  i kept all kinds of snacks (“healthier” ones, since i knew they would be eating so much junk: squeeze apple sauces, dried fruit strips, granola bars, etc.) in the basket underneath as well as ponchos for each day.

WEATHER:

we knew it was going to rain our first park day…  the forecast varied between 80/90/100% chance of rain.  awesome.  we brought cheap dollar store ponchos and wore them, but they were so flimsy, my hood kept blowing off, the kids were tripping all over theirs and they got all kinds of holes in them.  my advice is this:  if you KNOW it’s going to be cats and dogs at all while you’re there, just bring your good raincoat.  you’ll be glad you did.  the ponchos are great to have in case of a pop-up shower though!

ATTIRE:

my motto was “don’t be a {style} hero.”  i had visions of me wearing these super cute, stylish outfits because i knew we were going to be taking a bunch of pictures, but… this is a case of 100% function, 0% fashion.  i can’t think of any other instance where i would say that.  i went in full athleisure gear, with maybe ONE element of my outfit being somewhat “normal clothes.”  for instance, leggings instead of workout pants with a comfy shirt i would wear to barre class with a sporty patagonia jacket.  or a long chambray tunic to wear on top of workout pants.  but i wore tennis shoes every day — it’s a MUST.  you are walking miles here, people!  layers are important too.  it was always chilly in the morning, then would turn sunny in the afternoon…plus you’re walking so you get warm.  as for the kids, i’m that mom that never lets her kids wear character clothes.  i just loathe them. but, in the “box o’ disney” that appeared from santa because he *knew* the kids were going, i put oodles of star wars tees for rush and minnie / ariel / minions (JUST figured out they are by universal studios, lol!) items for rinne in.  one item in each box was from the hanna andersson pajamas with disney line — darth vader for rush, and ariel for rinne.  gotta be practical, you know :)

ARRIVAL:

we packed the car the night before, and left atlanta bright and early at 6:00 a.m. to beat holiday traffic.  we didn’t hit any!  we pulled into disney around 3:00, checked in and the kids put their bathing suits on right away.  we knew that this would be our only time for them to swim, and even though it was a little chilly, they didn’t care a lick.  rbb and i got poolside cocktails and had fun watching them go down the slide again…and again…and again.  we got changed for dinner and hit the hotel’s roasted marshmallow activity, which lasted all of 2 seconds…

marshmellowswe then hopped on the monorail to go to dinner.  we knew we had to get a quick service meal that night, so we went to the polynesian for their captain cook’s restaurant. i got a salad and it was fine.  not the best, not the worst.  before dinner, we saw the lighting of the torch ceremony and after dinner, we got dole whips — YUM.  i got the float and it was amazing!!!  we went back and crashed to get ready for our big park day the next day…

DAY 1 — MAGIC KINGDOM:

so… it rained nearly the entire day.  boo.  i’m glad it was our first day though, because we did not let it dampen our spirits!  we arrived ready to roll and immediately grabbed our maps and times guides.  and might i add again, i had NO IDEA that minions were NOT disney characters.  oops.

IMG_4201

monorailIMG_4203

susan said to head straight for splash mountain and big thunder mountain railroad — so we did.  no lines!  and i was soooo naive about the lines.  they were never all that bad this day, because of the rain…but OMG the sunny days?  insanity — 75-100 mins for the popular ones.  WHAT!  we did happen upon a pop-up sighting with chip and dale…

chipdale

afterwards, we did some fast pass rides and then hit cinderella’s castle for our big PRINCESS LUNCH.  and it did not disappoint!  first you meet cinderella…

cinderella

then during lunch four princesses (snow white, aurora, ariel and jasmine) come out, one by one, and come around to every single table where they speak to your children and sign books (we got our books from dixie delights, natch).  rinne loved it, and so did rush — he got a sword right when we got there, and rinne got a wishing star.  it was cute — and the food was GOOD!  every meal on the meal plan comes with dessert, which at first i was like woah.  but then once i got used to it, i was like YEAH.  it’s good stuff!

ariel 1

jasmine

after all of the princesses, we got more fast passes and trudged through the rain.  we hung out at the park until about 3:00, then took a quick monorail ride back to the hotel because i thought the kids would need to recharge before hitting the park again for more fun and dinner.  um, no.  they didn’t sleep a wink!  i dozed off but they never did.  excellent.  so we just went right back, had dinner at the pinnochio village haus (had to find somewhere that was covered!  a lot of the quick service places have outdoor seating — and btw it was freezing by this point too), and hit more rides.  omg, we hit them ALL and the waits were never more than 10 minutes.  for anything!  i think rush and rbb rode space mountain 3 times in a row.  meanwhile, rinne and i met ariel (again – the mermaid version this time) — bless her little rain jacket loving heart…

ariel 2

…and rode the teacups, magic carpet ride, barnstormer, ariel’s ride (where i had major de je vu because i remembered standing in line there when it was still 10,000 leagues under the sea!) and all of it.  it was awesome!  we left right before the park closed and even had time to meet tinkerbell and mickey on the way out.  even though we were wet and cold, it was so worth it.  here are the kids bouncing with the mouse himself…

mickey

then it was off to bed so we could hit hollywood studios right when they opened the next morning.

guys, this post is so long and you know i’m out of practice blogging!  i’ll return with DAY 2 (hollywood studios) and DAY 3 (magic kingdom again).

great to pop in to say hello :)

xoxo

black friday tag sale!

hello friends!

i trust you all had a good thanksgiving…we had a good and very thankful one.  and now, it’s nice that the rest of the world will catch up with me, in having Christmas officially on the brain!!  sort of feel like i’ve been drinking from red starbucks cups and feeling jolly for months now :)  christmas card season is in full swing and it’s always so fun.  i LOVE the hustle and bustle of the holiday season and helping you all get your cards ready to go out and greet the world!

but first — BLACK FRIDAY.  and its new indie companion, SMALL BUSINESS SATURDAY.  i’ve never done any promotion for either, and i think it’s high time i get in on the fun.  so, today and all of tomorrow (until 11:59 p.m. on 11/28/2015), enjoy 40% off on our gold foil cheers tags!!!  use code CHEERS upon check out in the etsy shop (all gold foil tags located here).  you may not have met our new lady, light pink

light pink gift

i did a small run of these a while back, and loved them so much i hoarded them for myself mostly!  but now, they are available to the masses.  so go forth and give sweet, girlie gifts.

also new, a multi-colored pack of 20 tags!  there are 4 each of our 5 colors — turquoise, white, green, red and light pink.  perfect for year round gift giving!  we’ve had many requests for a multi-pack and here it is.

gold foil multipackoh!  i should add that all orders $50 and over will receive a free spool of coordinating ribbon (i’ll pick something cute to go with what you purchased).  i’m headed back into my black hole until mid-december when the holiday rush dies down…  happy Christmas & mailbox season until then!!

xoxo