In this episode of the podcast we are covering all the Disney news and updates including the delayed opening of Disneyland, Splash Mountain refurbishment and the NBA teams moving in to Walt Disney World. Carrie and I also share our latest “how we’re coping” during the lockdown and what we’re most excited about when we return to the magic!
Show Notes and References:
Cruising Concierge – is it worth it? I have reviewed it all on THIS blog post.
Disneyland in California is where it all began, it’s the only park that Walt Disney opened and dedicated himself. It was a challenging opening with many issues on that day, but it has remained a constant site of magic in Anaheim since 1955.
It is difficult not to compare Disneyland to Walt Disney World during my visits, and I always worried that it would be distracting. The size difference is very noticable, but it doesn’t take long to realize that Disneyland has some amazing things that make it SO very different from Walt Disney World.
Below are 8 reasons you should visit Disneyland!
1. Walk In Walt’s Footsteps
Walt Disney World (WDW) has the Keys to the Kingdom tour that I have done many times but the “Walk in Walt’s Footsteps tour” had something that WDW didn’t – Walt himself. Throughout the tour there were many stops along the way where we stood in the park and listened through our earpieces to Walt’s own voice talking about the very place that we were standing in. As we listened to his dedication speech, there were quite a few misty eyes in the group and I found myself covered in goose bumps as we walked in his footsteps. The tour was an additional cost to the park admission, but worth every penny.
Throughout the park you can FEEL the history of Walt, you can see his influence. Once of my favorite spots to visit is the Main Street Opera House where you can visit Walt’s Griffith Park bench where he dreamt up Disneyland.
2. Cars Land
While I know this is technically in California Adventure – I still consider it all part of Disneyland. In my opinion, Cars Land is one of the BEST themed lands in Walt Disney World or Disneyland. Walking up Route 66 and approaching the Cadillac Range mountains while passing Flo’s Café – it doesn’t get any better! You honestly feel like you’re right in the middle of the movie – the animated movie. How is that possible? I don’t know, but they make it happen. Radiator Springs Racers is the big feature attraction here and it does not disappoint. It’s such an immersive experience; I don’t think they could have possibly made it any better!
3. The Haunted Mansion
The Haunted Mansion in Disneyland is a different layout and building than you see at Walt Disney World. Without the overhangs, you get to watch as you walk toward the Mansion and enter through the front door. While much of the attraction is similar – it does reside in New Orleans Square in Disneyland and Liberty Square at Walt Disney World.
It looks like a big mansion
The other fun fact about this Mansion is that it gets transformed for Halloween for Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas – it was ghoulishly fun to see the additions of these characters in to the already wonderful mansion. The Hatbox Ghost who originally made a short appearance in the mansion in 1969 has materialized again and is one of the 999 happy haunts that live there. Remember though…there is room for 1,000 and they’re always looking for volunteers!
4. Attractions I Miss
I can’t talk about Disneyland without covering the fact the Mr Toad still lives at Disneyland. One of my absolute favorite attractions when I was a kid was replaced by Winnie the Pooh at Walt Disney World, but it’s still at Disneyland! It’s so much fun to experience some of the old dark attractions that are long gone from Walt Disney World. Between Toad and Snow White’s Scary Adventures – I can spend my whole morning in Fantasyland enjoying them again and again.
Fantasmic was a similar show to WDW, but with some very different elements. The first noticeable difference was that due to the size of Disneyland, I felt much closer to the show than I do at WDW since we usually sit near the back of the theatre for an easy exit. When you’re sitting that close to the show, it’s larger than life and feels incredibly immersive. You have a much different perspective when you can clearly see all of the elements of the show. At Disneyland they had Peter Pan – a giant pirate ship with Peter, Wendy, Captain Hook, Smee and all the others fighting on top of the masts. I have to say – I was impressed with what they were able to do with such a small space!
6. The Food
The dining experiences at Disneyland are delicious. From restaraunts to snacks – there is something for everyone and THEN some! The Blue Bayou (inside the Pirates of the Caribbean) and Carthay Circle Restaurant in California Adventure were incredible experiences. From Mint Juleps and Beignets at Cafe Orleans to the BEST character breakfast at the Plaza Inn – you will never be lost looking for a good table service spot.
Now if quick service and snacking are more your speed – there are plenty of things to keep you going! Corn Dogs at the Corn Dog Castle, Mac & Cheese at the Cozy Cone Motel, Churros everywhere and popcorn? Yes – sweet treats, salty snacks and dole whip of course. If you want to grab and go with some BBQ – Bengal Barbecue was one of my favourites. A vegetable or beef skewer hit the spot perfectly. The variety of options was impressive, you would never go hungry.
7. The Grand Californian
In fairness, I have only stayed at the Grand California and Paradise Pier – but the Grand Californian is my favourite. The hotel is not onloy gorgeous but it has it’s own enterance to the California Adventure park, that’s how CLOSE you are to the parks. When you stay at the Grand Californian you are right in the middle of Downtown Disney and Disneyland park is just a short walk away. It makes it very easy to take a break mid day and go back to the resort to unwind and relax. The Disneyland hotel hosts Trader Sam’s Tiki Enchanted Tiki Bar and it’s close by, I highly recommend stopping by for a drink here!
8. The Relaxed Vibe
It’s difficult to explain the feeling – but there doesn’t seem to be the ‘frenzy’ of planning that there is at Walt Disney World. We have guessed that it’s due to the fact that so many of the visitors at Disneyland are locals – but we never felt pressure or rushed to get things done. The characters wander around (most without cast members) – the Max Pass you arrange that day, you can get dining reservations without being up at 6am 6 months in advance. Imagine that? A “go with the flow” experience! Honestly – as much as I love Walt Disney World, I absolutely adore the relaxed way I can spend my days at Disneyland. I’m not a planner by nature – so this suits me just fine. I love to get up in the morning and decide what to do – without having it all planned in advance. THAT is a big plus for me.
An honorable mention…. Oswald
Before there was Mickey – there was Oswald. Oswald made his debut in 1927 as one of Walt’s first animated stars and he signed a contract with a distributor who brokered a deal with Universal. During contract negotiations the following year, Walt discovered that he no longer owned the rights to Oswald. It was on that train ride home that a devastated Walt Disney first drew Mickey Mouse. In 2006 Disney regained the rights to Oswald and he used to appear at Disneyland! The fact that this lucky rabbit came before Mickey felt like such a big piece of Disney history – I was thrilled to meet him and have my picture taken. I’m hopeful that he will return for photo ops soon.
Meeting Oswald in Disneyland
Have you been to Disneyland?? Do you agree with my thoughts? Leave me a comment and let me know.
Cruising is a totally different kind of vacation, but a Disney Cruise? It’s like nothing else! There is the perfect mixture of relaxation and activities, suitable for everyone in your party. If you have kids (or don’t) – you won’t be disappointed. On this podcast Carrie and I are sharing our top 10 reasons we love to cruise with Disney.
Someone asked me today “how can you be excited about another trip to Walt Disney World, isn’t it the same as it was the last time you were there?”. They were implying that I had already ‘been there, done that’. Yes – I was there 2 months ago, and multiple times last year – but no, it never gets boring.
The next question I hear is “haven’t you seen it all?” – and the simple answer is NO! Walt Disney World is always changing so there is something ‘new’ to see or do every time I visit.
Here’s why I’m excited about my next trip!
I have stayed in all of the Walt Disney World Resort properties. It took me a while to get to stay at the Yacht Club (I don’t know why I kept missing that one!) but I finally did it! With each trip there is always something new to check out at a resort, so I like to mix it up! There are so many different room types too – sometimes it’s nice to splurge on a more “resort based” vacation where you hang out and enjoy the resort more than the parks. Splurging on a Cabin at Copper Creek would give you the whole “home away from home” feel to relax and enjoy, and you’re not far from the pool!
Night Time Shows
I’m always so excited as I love the night-time entertainment! The big concern is how to decide between Rivers of Light, Epcot Forever, Star Wars fireworks & Fantasmic at Hollywood Stuidos and Happily Ever After and the Magic Kingdom? I think I need more nights…
Pixie Dust Fan’s Tee Public Store
There is ALWAYS something new to eat – and this trip is no exception! I could seriously eat the new desserts all week for every meal, but I do want to try at least 1 new restaurant on each trip. It’s hard to decide sometimes because there are some great options. Each trip brings a new dilemma of deciding between our tried and true favourites, or something new.
Shopping & New Merchandise
Yes – shopping is a bit part of my trip. Wandering through the stores and seeing the new, unique and custom merchandise? It’s so much fun. I love to visit Disney Springs for just a regular “shopping day” but then I also have to hit all the stores in the parks. Resort shops? You don’t want to miss those because sometimes they have different things too! You can find a lot of the merchandise online at ShopDisney.com but it’s not quite the same as when you can touch it.
Walt once said ‘Disneyland will never be completed. It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world.’ I’m so glad this vision is carried on at Walt Disney World, I continue to be amazed and inspired each time I step on the Disney property and revitalize my own imagination.
I travel to Walt Disney World a few times per year, I am a Disney fanatic who would go every week if I could. I have a couple of ‘non Disney’ friends who are now fans of visiting Walt Disney World once they realized how great it was for adults without kids. Convincing them that a Disney Cruise without kids was a good idea was a whole other story! They had visions of being ‘trapped at sea’ with hundreds of kids surrounding them screaming and crying. I had to call upon my cruising experience to tell them the benefits of cruising Disney without kids.
1. The Staterooms
These staterooms are larger than most I have seen on other cruise lines, but they also have a sense of elegance about them. The split bathroom in most staterooms give you the ability for 2 people to get ready for dinner at the same time – something that is very valuable when you’re sharing a room! We have had 4 adults in a stateroom for a few of our cruises and been VERY thankful for having that split bathroom when we were getting ready. The Deluxe Family Stateroom was a TON of room for 4 of us.
The dining experiences on a Disney Cruise are spectacular. Going to a different dining room each night and having servers that stay with you for the duration of your cruise is awesome. I told them on the first night what a picky eater I am and I got terrific recommendations catered to me each night that followed. The servers did tell us that if we didn’t finish our bottle of wine at dinner that they would bring it the next night, but somehow that was never necessary. The specialty dining in Palo or Remy is a full indulgence not to be missed! Just look at some of the sweet treats from our Palo brunch!
3. The Adult Only Pool
This pool is an oasis at sea! With a hot tub and bar near by, this was by far my favorite place to be during the day. It’s quiet, inviting and relaxing. The crew is fantastic at replenishing my drink whenever I need it. I sit by the pool reading on my iPad – with my biggest exertion being to get up and get in to the pool when I need to cool down. There are no kids, no loud sounds – just peace.
There’s a pool part to swim, or just this lounge area to sit and relax in the water.
4. The Spa
Senses is the ultimate relaxation! From Spa treatments to salon services – there is plenty to choose from for an afternoon of pampering! I haven’t had the opportunity yet to get the pampering – but I did try acupuncture on the ship after I pulled a muscle, they had me feeling great in no time. Next time I’m checking out the spa in more detail!
5. The Bars and Lounges
There are so many adult only bars at night to explore that I missed the 687 pub on a ship I had sailed on 3 times! My favorites on the Disney Dream are Skyline and Pink. Skyline has a huge ‘window’ that changes every 15 minutes showing you the skyline of a different city, it really is spectacular.
Here we are in the Skyline Lounge on the Pixie Dust Fan Cruise
Pink is themed to look like the inside of a champagne bottle with bubbles everywhere. Keep watch in some of the bubbles during your stay – you may just see a pink elephant appear!
When you see the elephants, maybe you’ve had too much to drink!
There are comedy clubs, sports bars and dance clubs – something for everyone!
For some extra fun for adults, they often have mixology classes or champagne tasting in the afternoon. These were a great value and a lot of fun. We discovered Rosa Regale at one of these events and often have it at Walt Disney World when we visit.
Some Rosa Regale on the verandah at night is so relaxing!
6. Castaway Cay Castaway Cay (Disney’s private island in the Bahamas) is home to Serenity Bay, the adult’s only part of the island. It is the most relaxing and beautiful beach I have ever been to. The sand is soft, there are plenty of umbrellas for shade and the water is clear. Need a drink? They have cast members walking the beach to take your order. Feel like snorkeling or bike riding? They have that too… there are plenty of activities if that’s what you enjoy!
Castaway Cay has a little shopping too!
We like to make the most of our day when visiting Castaway Cay and rent a private cabana on Serenity Bay, it’s our little piece of paradise. We have our own hammock and inner tubes, a fridge with cold water and pop, and a button to call our cabana host if we need anything. It really is the ultimate day of bliss.
Whether you travel with children or not, Disney Cruise Line has something for everyone. With all of the kids activities and clubs on board, parents can indulge in some of these adult activities while the children having a ball in their own clubs with the new friends they’ve met.
Once I had shared the highlights with my friends, the question was ‘when do we go?’ We decided that the ONLY way we could do our first cruise together was in style, so we splurged on concierge. If you’re ever looking for luxury – this is it! Make sure you check out my review of the concierge experience and stateroom!
Have you done an adult only Disney cruise? Would you recommend it?
Carrie and I chat with our friend Curtis about his recent visit to Disney Springs, his journey to calling Orlando “home” and what we’re most looking forward to when the Disney and Universal parks open. Halloween Horror Night? Not for me!
Carrie and I thought it would be a great idea to share with everyone what our favorite snacks are at Epcot, especially in World Showcase. There is so much variety, so many things to choose from but we thought we had a good handle on it and had covered a LOT of them personally. We virtually walked around the countries and talked about what we would snack on!
Whether it’s your first Disney vacation or your hundredth, you should use a travel agent who specializes in Disney vacations. This topic is debated frequently in many Facebook Groups, but I often see some big misconceptions given for reasons against it. I decided it was time to correct some of that misinformation.
A good Disney Travel Agent never charges planning fees. Your Disney vacation will cost the SAME as if you booked it directly with Disney yourself. Instead of costing you money, they will tell you where you might be able to save some money or what ‘upgrades’ would be worth it.
2. You lose control of your vacation
Nothing could be FURTHER from the truth. You can control as much or as little as you like! You can book all of your own fastpasses, dining, Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique reservations and special events if that’s what you want to do. The beauty is that if you don’t want to book those things – you have an agent who will do it for you free of charge. Yes – they will get up at 6am or 7am to do this for you, but if you are an early bird – you can do it all yourself if you prefer.
Donald Duck Dream Along With Mickey
3. You don’t need one
Honestly, I need one…. and I’ve been visiting for over 40 years! I don’t need one to do my fastpasses or dining (my sister does all that stuff!), but staying doing the legwork for changes to a vacation is priceless. If there is a promotion, event, or website glitch that requires a call to Disney – the agent calls for you. You don’t have to sit on hold for hours and HOURS when the room promotion comes out, or when you have to change dates because of a hurricane coming or a pandemic closing the parks – an agent does that for you.
4. All of the information is online anyway
Sure, and you still can do your own research when you’re using a travel agent, but they’ll help you decipher the truth from the ‘click bait’ online. We all have friends who have advice or read something somewhere, but how do you know what’s really going on? Use an agent to bounce around ideas with your specific goals and family in mind. Good agents draw on the tribal knowledge within their team and their own frequent experience to provide specific information tailored to your needs. Why would you not want that extra resource at your disposal if it doesn’t cost you anything?
5. They’re all the same
No, they aren’t all the same. There are so many variables when choosing an agency to work with, and you need to make sure that they know what they’re doing! Agencies with Disney’s EarMarked status indicates their level of experience and knowledge with Disney products. It is important to find an agency with that status, but also an agency built by people who truly love what they do. I recommend Pure Magic Vacations always.
Do you use a travel agent to book your Disney vacation?
Attractions We Will Never Ride Again At Walt Disney World
We love Walt Disney World (no surprise) but yet there are some attractions that we will NEVER ride again! Carrie and I review our lists and we agree on some, but not all. What could possibly keep us from enjoying all the Disney magic? Well… we have some very good reasons for avoiding these attractions at all costs!
A creative way to feel like you’re in Walt Disney World – playing virtual hide and seek! It’s a fun conversation as we try to find each other in the World. It’s harder than you would imagine to ask Yes/No questions to narrow it down.
And for the record – this may have been the most challenging podcast to edit! At the 9:50 minute mark Carrie makes reference to how I’d have to edit and how hard it will be…and she was right.
If you had to list the 6 US Disney Parks in order of your most to least favourite, could you?It’s a difficult exercise when you love them all!
Carrie and explore how we would rank the parks in order and how our lists have changed and evolved over time. We consider park closures, construction, nostalgia and people watching – they are ALL factors in our decisions.
Show Notes and References:
Adam The Woo YouTube that inspired the topic found here
Behind The Scenes of Disney’s Broadway Musical Newsies
What is it like to star in the hit Broadway musical Newsies? I’m talking to Aisha de Haas and Capathia Jenkins who both played Medda Larkin!
Aisha and Capathia sat down with me to talk about all things theatre, Newsies, being best friends on the road and what it’s like to work for the mouse. These two lovely ladies were funny, heartfelt and inspiring.
I am not a “foodie” who follows cooking shows. I have a hard enough time not stuffing my face while sitting on my couch, so why would I watch an hour long show that akes everything look so delicious? If you ask me, that’s a temptation that I can’t handle!
The first time my family suggested that we visit Chef Art Smith’s restaurant at Disney Springs, I had no idea who he was. Of course they knew who he was because two of them are addicted to cooking shows and are the type of people who get excited about a new kitchen appliance. I was worried that it would be some ‘fancy food’ – but they assured me that it was famous for fried chicken.
We arrived at Chef Art Smith’s Homecoming for our reservation. I really liked the way the interior was laid out; it was very inviting and open. The details and theming were impressive, you really felt like you were in someone’s home in the south with the screened in front porch.
Everyone was enjoying themselves and the atmosphere when my sister took out her phone and started snapping pictures of some man. I couldn’t figure out what she was doing, until this man came to the table and I realized that this was THE Chef Art Smith. He was a lovely man who chatted with us and posed for pictures. Let’s just say a few people at our table were very excited to get to meet him!
My nephew and sister were over the moon to meet him!
I have been back to Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin at Disney Springs many times since that first visit. When friends join us at Walt Disney World it is usually one of the places we take them to. There is a great variety of drinks on the menu
I’m generally a beer drinker – so that’s my drink of choice
But once – we thought we were smart and tried the moonshine tasting. Let’s just say – WOW! It burned… a lot of it burned going down, but I can now say I’ve tried all sorts of moonshine, and I can safely say I don’t like it.
What I do like though is the starters. We have tried a few including the Jasper Board (An array of Southern goodness perfect for sharing with the table. Smoked fish dip, pimento cheese, char-grilled smoked sausage, bread and butter pickles, candied pecans, and buttermilk crackers)
I’m missing the crackers in this pic
And a bunch of puppies (House-made hushpuppies served with pimento cheese and red jalapeño jelly)
These were surprisingly yummy!
But my absolute favourite starter is the Church Lady Deviled Eggs
At one point I thought of placing an order all to myself and skipping my main course – they were THAT good
The problem with the starters is that they are so good, you run the risk of not leaving enough room for the main course!
Yes, Art Smith is famous for the fried chicken, and with good reason. That chicken is so moist and tender you could mash it up with a spoon if you wanted. The skin is perfectly seasoned and yummy that I can’t NOT get the chicken when I go. The big debate is what sides you order WITH the chicken.
I usually get the fried chicken and doughnuts, because – well… where else do you get doughnuts WITH your dinner?
But there are so many great side items to choose from… you could just order 3 sides?
Mac & Cheese, Biscuits and Mashed Potatoes
If you are a Mac and Cheese lover, honestly – you don’t want to miss this. It’s SO incredibly cheesy – sometimes we’ll just order one as a side for the table we all share because we just need a couple of bites.
We can’t NOT get an order of Mac and Cheese
Once the main course is over, I can honestly never think about dessert. I have taken my leftovers more times than I care to share – but I will say the chicken is great the next morning for breakfast in the room or a late night snack!
BUT – if you do have room, my friend have split the famous Hummingbird Cake
The famous pineapple-banana cake with cream cheese frosting
Have you eaten here? Did you make it to dessert or did you have to take your leftovers with you?
I’d love to hear from you how your meal was! There are some great places to eat at Disney Springs it’s so hard to choose!
Visiting Disney With A Child On The Autism Spectrum
How can you experience the magic and not the meltdown when you visit Disney with a child on the autism spectrum? Jenn is sharing her tips for how she plans her vacation to acommodate both of her children, one of which has autism.
On this episode we’re chatting with Gary about how much he loves Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and what has kept him going back for 22 visits – and counting!
The blog that Gary wrote about Disney’s Fort Wilderness was titled “Disney Camping – Paradise Found”, and that is what he describes in this episode. From the peace and quiet to the dog parade, we cover everything you need to know about this home away from home.
It’s no secret I’m a pretty big Disney fan (obviously!) – but there are times when I see the company doing things that just melt my heart even more than before. Disney’s response during Covid-19 has been one of those times.
Here are some of the ways that Disney has given me reason to smile.
SHOP FROM OUR TEE PUBLIC STORE!
Pixie Dust Fan’s Tee Public Store
They donated ponchos to hospitals
Hospitals were making requests for additional protective garments and Disney donated 150,000 rain ponchos as well as more than 100,000 N95 masks.
The “top” dogs cut their salaries
Yes, in order to reduce the expenses for the company, Disney executives have taken a pay cut. Disney’s executive chairman Bob Iger is forgoing his full salary while the new CEO Bob Chapek is reducing his salary by 50%. Other executives are taking pay cuts too:
Vice president salaries will be reduced by 20%
Senior vice president salaries by 25%
Executive vice president salaries by 30%
I don’t know about you, but I don’t see that happening at a lot of other companies.
They addressed Cast Member concerns immediately
Disney announced the closures of Disneyland and Walt Disney World “in an abundance of caution”, that’s when I knew things were seriousl with the virus. Do you know what else they did when they announced the closures? They communicated at the same time that they would pay their cast members during that time. This was out of the gate – right in the releases. It set an example, a tone that hopefully other large companies would follow, even if only to save face. Disney took a stand showing compassion for their cast members – even at what I am sure is a great expense.
One of the many updates Disney posted on their websites
Disney Donated All Of The Excess Food
All of the food that was on hand for the parks and resorts that would not be used was donated to help the communities.
In Orlando the food was donated to Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida, enough for over 18,000 meals!
In California the food was donated to the Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County and Disneyland Paris donated to local and national associations in France.
Fun right? Who doesn’t want to learn to draw Mickey? This was a fan favorite at the D23 Expo a couple of years ago and now it’s all online to entertain us all while we’re at home during the ‘social distancing’ exercise to stop the spread of the Corona virus.
If you don’t want to draw Mickey there are a whole ton of other characters you can learn to draw!
Sally from Tim Burton’s ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’
Celebrate Spring With Daisy Duck
Aladdin’s Pal, Genie
Buzz Lightyear from ‘Toy Story’
‘Frozen’ Voice Actor Josh Gad Tests His Skills at Drawing Olaf
If you want a little peek – check out the Winnie The Pooh One!
Imagineering in a Box
According to the Disney parks Blog:
“Imagineering in a Box is a series of interactive lessons in theme park design and engineering, designed to give a behind-the-scenes peek into Imagineering’s development process. It combines 32 videos of actual Imagineers, real-world case studies, and lots of interactive activities to give you the opportunity to dream and design your very own theme park experience!
With so many families at home together right now, we thought this would be an especially useful time to share this program with you. It’s available to all and completely free.”
I will warn you – when you watch the “Welcome to Imagineering In A Box” video – if you’re a Disney fan it’s all the feels and yes, my eyes were a little misty!
They released Frozen 2 on Disney+ 3 months early
Given that most of us are at home flipping channels AND the kids are out of school while most schools are closed for a very extended March break, it was a welcome surprise that Frozen 2 would be available on Disney+. We are all looking for stuff to keep us entertained, Carrie and I talked about what we were doing on the podcast, but I am sure there are a whole whack of parents who were happy this was released early…. and then after it played for the 12th time – maybe they weren’t so happy!
They were generous with changes and refunds.
Disney was VERY accomodating with changes, refunds and fees during this time. They extended the due dates for final payments, waived all change fees and offered some very generous credits to re-book for cancelled Disney Cruise Line sailings. On select sailings the credit for a future cruise was 150% of what they paid for the cancelled one.
Disney does what it does best… gives us hope and positivity!
I don’t know about you, but I always have a smile on my face when I see Mickey’s posts on Instagram!
Google has street views from inside the Disney Parks in Orlando and California and they are awesome!
These views allow you to see the park as you would if you were standing in it. It helps people who are planning their trips get a real look at how the parks are laid out and show first time visitors how BIG they are.
For those of us that need a Disney ‘fix’ while we’re at home, you can literally walk around online using the Google Street view of some of your favourite places!
There is something so relaxing about putting a puzzle together. It takes focus, patience and a little creativity. It forces you to look at things differently and clear your head of other distractions. Time can pass without notice when you sit down to concentrate on a puzzle, that’s why it is such a popular family activity. For families it brings you together to one common goal, forcing you to help each other find the pieces needed to move forward. Some of the best family conversations can be had over a great puzzle.
Now you throw in to the mix a great Disney puzzle and it makes the activity even more magical! There is a Disney puzzle suitable for any occasion – and all skill levels!
My sister is a huge puzzle fan and I inevitably end up buying her one or two for Christmas. She love the princess ones, but honestly I can’t go wrong with any of them. Although I will admit that she can get frustrated when there are TOO many pieces all the same color! Yes, I have heard that complaint from her 😉
Some of Becky’s Favourites
Let’s take a look at some of the Disney puzzles for all ages:
Mickey Mouse and Friends Jumbo Knob Wooden Puzzle
Everyone has to start somewhere! This cute little wooden puzzle is recommended for children 18 months to 3 years. Puzzles at this age encourage fine motor skills development and color recognition. Brought to you by Melissa and Doug, a couple with 6 kids of their own – they have a toy for EVERY stage of development!
If Frozen 2 is more your style
Disney Frozen 2 25Piece Foam Puzzle
This foam puzzle is perfect for kids ages 4 and up with 25 soft pieces that are easy for the kids to hold.
When it’s time to graduate to 100 pieces, this Princess puzzle is perfect
Disney Princess 100pc Jigsaw Puzzle
For ages 6 and up this 100 piece puzzle features some of our favourite Disney princesses!
Now somewhere between the children’s puzzles and the more advanced puzzles – there are a few 500 piece puzzles, but not many!
With the similar colours this puzzle could be harder than it looks!
The really funny and intricate puzzles are all over 1,000 pieces. Not suitable for young kids, these puzzles could be a few evenings of quality family time while you figure out these!
Disney Villainous Maleficent 1000 Piece Jigsaw Puzzle
But when you’re ready for the challenge – the ULTIMATE Disney Challenge and you are graduating from the 1,000 piece puzzle – there are two puzzles I found that would be EPIC – but would require too much room in my house to assemble!
One of the largest Mickey puzzles in the world at 40,320 pieces!
At 40,320 pieces, this would be a challenge for anyone! But at $599 on Amazon, I won’t be buying it anytime soon!
And then there is this one, I think it’s awesome – but again… too big for my house and too expensive for me to buy:
I do love the thought of pulling together all of these classic memorable Disney moments in to one giant puzzle – but 40,320 pieces is so overwhelming! With my luck I would lose 1 or 2 pieces and discover it at the end!
Do you do puzzles at home? What’s the largest one you’ve done?
Carrie and Pixie Dust Fan chat about how they’re staying entertained and keeping positive while practicing social distancing during Covid 19. What talk about what movies we’re watching and how we are coping while we work from home for our unmagical jobs!
On this episode we explore the RunDisney events with Jamie – a frequent participant. Jamie explains how the events work, how you get some of those cool medals AND she tells you the strategy for meeting some of the characters during the race.
Ali Diane is a singer/songwriter from Seattle who had some big dreams come true with Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings on Disney+
On this episode we explore when her love for Disney started, how she became a cast member and met her friend and how that ALL led up to her singing on Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings! She offers a behind the scenes look at the production of the show and what it meant to her to be ‘working for Disney’.
I don’t know about you, but Facebook a part of my every day routine. I love that I can sign in and see tidbits from people’s lives and connect with those that I don’t get to see often enough. I have made some wonderful friends on Facebook from the Disney community, and it’s always fun to follow along on their vacations, getting ideas of things I might like to try the next time I visit. I keep up to date on news and little gossip, but I always remember to take each piece of information with a grain of salt unless it comes from an official Disney source.
Disney groups on Facebook used to be a real source of entertainment for me. I was always amazed by how perfect strangers can get so angry with each other over silly stuff, it was like the online version of the Real Housewives series. I have to admit that I used to read these posts, but I rarely commented. I would get out my popcorn, sit back and enjoy the show until an admin deleted the thread, but I just can’t do that anymore.
While there are a LOT of Dinsey groups on Facebook, there are a few that are managed by some real characters (pun intended!) that really bother me. I’m not sure if it’s just my love of Disney that finds them offensive or the manner in which the Admins conduct themselves that disturbs me. It’s expected that any really frequent visitor will have a few negative reviews or experiences in the parks. We won’t like everything, but we can and should share those opinions in a manner that is useful and constructive to the community who are planning their vacation.
There are a couple of groups that drove me crazy that I had to remove myself from. The first is one that is run by a local who sells merchandise with Disney copyright images, I often wonder why Disney hasn’t shut it down. While the admin doesn’t work for Disney, he represents the ‘ultimate fan’ to some people online. He has posted about restaurants that give him tummy issues (only he isn’t so delicate with his words). He’s made videos ranting about guests suggesting that the majority of them don’t shower and has called them idiots and morons. His representation of what is wrong with the parks is inflammatory and creates hostility in those that follow him. He has many social media posts that are bullying, racist and downright unkind, not the kind of ‘Disney fan’ you would want to follow.
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The second group that makes me cringe is one that is actually sponsored by a BUSINESS that rents out Disney Vacation Club points. I bring up the sponsorship because it’s fascinating to me that a business would want to be associated with this group. The admins are mean – and take great pride in BEING mean to others. They have entire threads in the group meant for shaming guests! They encourage pictures of guests doing things that they deem ‘not right’ in the parks and then they each take turns shaming them. For example – they will post a picture of someone sleeping in a resort lobby and call it ‘hobo napping’. What they don’t know is if this person is ill, or if they have some kind of disorder, or if they are unbelievably tired because they were up all night with a sick child. They don’t know the circumstances, but feel like making fun of them is the right thing to do. I think it’s horrible and for that reason, I would NEVER support the business that sponsors them and will go out of my way to make sure others don’t either. Can you imagine finding YOUR picture online because someone caught you nodding off at Disney?
There are people who are researching their first trip to Walt Disney World in these Facebook groups. It’s sad because they’re reading these rants and reviews, and their expectations of their vacation are being tarnished by them.
I think it’s important for people to have a safe place to ask their questions and share their love of Disney! You can’t be in an environment where you may get a public shaming for asking a question. That’s the real reason I decided to create a Pixie Dust Fans group on Facebook. It’s a place where everyone is nice – and welcoming! We talk about the Disney stuff that makes us happy – after all, isn’t that what Disney is all about?? Stop by and see us, you’ll be glad you did!
What’s your biggest pet peeve about Facebook groups?
It has always been important to me that I call it Walt Disney World. It became a pet peeve of mine when I would see blogs and social media posts referring to it as ‘Disney World’ – I always want to comment” don’t forget WALT”! When I saw some top Disney executives call it ‘Disney World’ I started to doubt myself, is it really supposed to be Walt? Who could I ask to clear this up for me? The best person I knew to talk about the history of Walt would be Jeff Barnes!
Jeff Barnes is is the best-selling author of The Wisdom of Walt: Leadership Lessons from the Happiest Place on Earth and Beyond the Wisdom of Walt: Life Lessons from the Most Magical Place on Earth. Known as Dr. Disneyland, he teaches the only accredited college course on the History of Disneyland. I think this makes him more than qualified to talk about this subject!
It was a blast talking to Jeff and hearing the stories and history of Walt and Roy – and their journey to Walt Disney World
The Copper Creek Cabins at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge are not the ‘cabin’ that I would be used to – there is no camping here, it’s not even glamping. These cabins are luxury.
These two-bedroom waterfront cabins feature a full kitchen, private porch and a hot tub with views of Bay Lake.
The bedrooms are spacious and if you look closely, there is a little reading bench next to the window! Lots of USB charges and outlets in the night stands next to the bed. That makes a huge difference when you need to charge your phone at night for the next day at the parks!
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Lots of space at the vanity but I’m not sure I would use the soaker tub if I had a hot tub?
While at Walt Disney World you often think about being at the parks from morning to night, I really like to enjoy my resort. I think I could totally carve out some time to relax and enjoy this cabin. It’s so peaceful and away from the hussle and bussle of the parks, but close enough to the Magic Kingdom that you’re never far from the excitement.
Imagine some great family time hanging out in this living room? The fireplace is a nice touch. The cabins sleep up to 8 adults, and the living space is big enough to acommodate the whole party.
If you wanted to order some groceries for your stay – you could totally be cooking full family meals in the fully equipped kitchen!
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There’s even plenty of space for you all to sit down and enjoy your meal. Although we would probably use it for games and stuff…. maybe some take out from Geyser Point. If you haven’t been to Geyser Point – you need to check it out and it’s so conveniently close to the cabins!
Of course the real relaxation comes in the porch, this is where I’d love to sit and just be quiet….
Alright – not at the picnic table, but in the plunge pool!
There is a fence around the pool so if you have little ones, you don’t need to worry.
Disney’s Wilderness Lodge is a terrific option for families who want to be near the Magic Kingdom, but not on the monorail line. A quick boat ride from the dock will have you at the Magic Kingdom in no time.
The theming is on point and the views from around the property are breathtaking. Head down to the beach and you can see the fireworks and electrical water pageant at night.
If you don’t want to splurge on the cabin but still need a little more space? The 1 bedrooms are great too! I have a full walkthrough video of the 1 bedroom below.
Have you stayed at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge? What did you love about it? Let us know in the comments below!
Disney bucket lists – we all have one! On this episode of the podcast Dustin Fuhs and I talk about our bucket list items and what’s important to each of us. We may have gone off topic a few times, but it was a lot of fun so I left it all in! You have to let me know if you have some of the same bucket list items!
Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa is one of the most iconic resorts on Disney property. There are SO many great reasons to stay at this resort, in fact – I did a blog on the Top 5 Reasons to stay here. Aside from the regular resort rooms though, in a separate building is the Disney Vacation Club rooms, the Villas as they’re called. What is a Deluxe Villa Studio? I’ve got all the answers below on what I love about these rooms!
5 Reasons I Love The Deluxe Studio Villa At Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort
1 They have a little kitchenette
You can’t cook in it – and that’s fine by me. I don’t like to cook at home, so I wouldn’t do it on vacation. What I do like is the coffee maker, toaster and sink… feels like a spot to have our snacks or a cup of tea. While all rooms now have the mini fridge – this kitchenette has a microwave. Perfect for heating up some leftovers I brought home from dinner for a late night snack!
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2 They have a Dumbo bed
Seriously – a Dumbo bed!! Now this is meant for kids, but this fold down bed (trundle bed) is incredible. Look inside! Who doesn’t want to sleep in a bed that has Dumbo inside??
3 They have 2 showers
When you travel with a family, getting ready can be a bit tricky! Sometimes I travel with 3 or 4 women in a room, all trying to get ready at the same time! It’s a scheduling nightmare in some rooms, but in the Deluxe Studios at Disney’s Grand Floridian – you get 2 showers! There is a gorgeous stand up shower as well as a bathtub/shower combo! 2 people can get ready at the same time – cutting the time in the morning to get out the door in half!
I love the tiles in the shower!
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4 It’s at the Grand Floridian!
Ok, maybe that’s a bit of a cheat but c’mon! The Grand Floridian is one of the most gorgeous resorts on property. It’s on the Monorail line, has some great food options AND it has some terrific theming! In the specific building that the villas are in there is incredible references to Mary Poppins from the Penguin Fountain when you enter to the finishing touches on the elevator.
Can you see it?
If you want to know why you should stay at the Grand Floridian you can read my top 5 reasons here. The other thing that makes this resort so unique is having Afternoon Tea. It is one of the best experiences and a lovely way to spend an afternoon… check out the post to see what Afternoon Tea is all about!
5 There is “relaxing space”
I love the fact that there is a couch with coffee tables and another round table in these rooms. We spend time in the room when I’m working and I need to upload content, download pics etc – so it makes a big difference to us that there’s a place for me to work and a place for my travel party to sit! No sitting on the bed, there is an actual comfy couch! There is also a balcony – this makes for a great place to unwind after a day in the parks!
I have a full walk through video tour below of the Deluxe Studio! Have you stayed in one of these rooms?
Have you ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes on a cruise ship? I always do! On this episode of the podcast I’m chatting with my friend Matt who used to work on some pretty big cruise lines. He’s filling us in on his thoughts on the Disney Cruise he just took against the backdrop of his experience as an engineer on other lines. Some funny stories AND he reveals what the number one guest question was that he answered all the time!
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The seasonal parties at Disney are incredibly popular – but what happens at these parties? We’re covering all the details of Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. Here’s all the details you need to know!
Disney’s Riviera Resort at Walt Disney World is the newest Disney Vacation Club Resort and it has everything you could want and more!
Each resort at Walt Disney World Resort has it’s pros and cons, but it all depends on what is important to YOU for your vacation.
I’ve come up with 5 reasons to love Disney’s Riviera Resort
1 Skyliner Access
Disney’s new mode of transportation is not only efficient – it’s fun too!! I am in awe of the Disney Skyliner and how quickly it can move you from point A to point B. With it’s own Skyliner station you can get to Hollywood Studios and Epcot with ease. Want to mix things up and dine at a different resort?
Granted I only stayed in the 1 bedroom villa, but there are some new options at this resort including a studio that sleeps 2! It’s nice if you’re doing a solo trip to have the option of a smaller studio.
The 1 bedroom was gorgeous though. All the amenities we needed plus som bright windows, a balcony with a view and as many USB stations as I could use!! The big soaker tub, the shower and the beds were so comfy! Check out the full room tour here:
3 Character Dining
At the top of Disney’s Riviera Resort you have the Breakfast a la Art with Mickey and Friends character dining experience. Let me tell you – it was so much fun!
The food was delicious – and so well themed. The ‘art’ theme was all throughout the meal. Look at how the pastries came out
Check out our art supplies!
The characters all has specific back stories and fabulous outfits.
Minnie is a poet, Mickey is a painter, Donald is a sculptor and Daisy is a dancer!
4 The Views
The rooftop terrace is something to see – we got a chance to go out and explore after breakfast and those views are breathtaking!!
Wouldn’t you love to relax here one night?
Being able to see the Tower of terror off in the distance, and look down on Caribbean Beach – see the Swan and Dolphin? You won’t find views like this anywhere else!
Dinner at Topolino’s and staying till fireworks time – you’ll see Hollywood Studios AND Epcot from up here!
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5 The Art – So Much WALT
The art work at Disney’s Riviera resort is right up my alley. I love all of the classics that are represented
Gorgeous painting of the castle.
What struck me the most aside from the classic Disney paintings was the amount of pictures of Walt Disney and his family. These pictures are so unique and show him on vacation, smiling, dreaming. This is the man that created it all – and it’s wonderful to see his presence in this new resort.
What do you think? Will this be on your list to stay at Disney’s Riviera Resort?
Disney’s Magical Express is a complimentary transportation to and from Orlando International Airport (MCO) for guests staying at a select Walt Disney World Resort hotels. I’ve got a full post on What IS Disney’s Magical Express, but here you’re going to learn:
How do you use Disney’s Magical Express?
Here’s step by step what you need to know to enjoy this fantastic COMPLIMENTARY service!
Make your reservation
If you’ve booked your Walt Disney World resort package with a good Disney Travel Agent, they will make the reservation for you. If you booked yourself, you would need to submit the request for transportation with Disney direct or online here.
When you request Disney’s Magical Express you need to provide:
Resort Reservation Number
Number of Guests (they must be on the reservation to use the Magical Express)
Mailing address for the luggage tags
Recieve your luggage tags
Your luggage tags will arrive in advance of your trip if you have provided enough time for them to send them – usually 2 or 3 weeks is sufficient but the more time the better!
The luggage tags will have all of the information that Disney needs to retrieve your luggage from the carousel and deliver it to your ROOM at your Walt Disney World Resort IF you put the tags on your luggage before you check them at your departure airport. This service of luggage delivery is NOT available if your flight lands between 10PM and 5AM.
Some things to keep in mind if you choose to have Disney bring your luggage:
Your luggage may not arrive until 3 hours after you do
Keep medications and important documents with you
If you plan activities for as soon as you arrive at the resort – make sure you have the necessary things with you (like your bathing suit!)
If you have your Magic Band already – keep it with you and don’t pack it in your luggage
If you did NOT get your luggage tags in advance, not to worry! You can still have Disney pick up your luggage for you – just head to the Magical Express Service location and give the representative your claim tickets from the airline!
You can also choose to NOT put the tags on and pick your luggage up yourself and take it to the motorcoach with you. If you decide that you are going to retrieve your own luggage – do NOT put the tags on.
Get on the plane in your home town – you’re going to WALT DISNEY WORLD!
Make sure you’re prepared for ALL of the things that go with flying… here’s a list of some simple (but often forgot) things you should plan for
Arrival at Orlando International Airport
When you land (YAY!) it’s so exciting, you just can’t WAIT to get to Walt Disney World. Now – you need to find the Magical Express!
Orlando Airport (MCO) is probably one of the best signed airports I’ve been to, they have signs everywhere.
Jump on the first ‘ride’ of the trip – the train from your arrival gate to the main terminal
Upon arrival in the main terminal, follow the signs
Either pick up your bags at the carousels here
Keep following the signs to the Ground Transportation Area in Terminal B on level 1
When you get off the plane, enter the US Immigration Checkpoint
After you get your luggage – proceed to the Customs Checkpoint
After completing the customs and immigrations process, decide if you’re taking your luggage with you or if you want Disney to transfer it. If you would like Disney to transfer it, put it BACK on the carousel.
NOW YOU get to experience the first ‘ride’ of the trip – the train from your arrival gate to the main terminal
Upon arrival in the main terminal, follow the signs to the Ground Transportation Area in Terminal B on level 1
Arrive at the Magical Express Counter in Terminal B Level 1
As you pass all of the car rental companies etc – you’ll see the Magical Express counter. Here is where you will present either your Magic Bands OR your resort reservation confirmation. Don’t worry if you don’t have your Magic Bands in advance, Disney can only ship to some countries. If they can’t be shipped – they will be waiting at your resort for you.
When you check in with your Magic Bands or Resort confirmation, the cast member will validate the members of your party are all there and then direct you to a ‘lane’ – the bus line for your resort. Resorts in the same area share buses, so there could be 3 or 4 stops on the bus route, but it’s generally pretty quick. People on the bus don’t dilly-dally because they are anxious to start their vacation!
Get on that bus!
When your bus arrives the cast member will direct you to the bus in the bay. Here’s where the driver will load your luggage in to the base of the bus if you’ve brought it with you. If you didn’t bring it – it will be coming separately and NOT on this bus. Take your seat on the bus – remember that the first couple of rows are reserved for guests with mobility issues and they will be marked as such.
Each seat is comfy and you get a great view of the overhead TVs that will show you some fun things you need to know before you start your vacation. It’s the perfect way to get you excited for what’s to come!
Individual lighting and vents are above the seat for comfort and there is a restroom at the back of almost all of the buses.
No car seats required, the little ones can sit on their own seat or your lap.
Sit back, enjoy the show on the TV – you’ll be at the resort in no time!
The driver will call out the name of the resorts as they pull in – make sure you’re getting off at YOUR resort! Gratuities are appreciated by these drivers.
Now you’ve arrived – go check in and start your vacation!! Remember if you didn’t bring your luggage it will arrive up to 3 hours later.
Have FUN! UNTIL…….
IT’S time to go home
The wonderful people at Disney’s Magical Express will drop by your resort room the day before you are set to check out and hang the ‘eviction’ notice on your door.
Inside the envelope will be all of the information you need for a smooth ride to the airport.
HOLD ON TO THIS PAPER – this is your confirmation and “ticket” to get on the bus.
Make note of the pick up time – and be there EXTRA early!
Disney does NOT want to be responsible for people missing flights, so they keep a very tight schedule. If the bus says it’s leaving at 7:50 – its leaving at 7:50. Don’t be late.
The morning of departure
Arrive EARLY to the bus stop at your resort with your luggage. It will be transported with you on the bus to Orlando International Airport
Have your paperwork with you – make sure you have that letter they left you the night before! It confirms your seats and time on Disney’s Magical Express
When the bus arrives, the driver will load your luggage and you can take a seat on what is now known as “Disney’s Tragical Express“. You know – it’s tragic ’cause the vacation is over right??
Sit back in your seat and watch the cartoons… they try to cheer you up and make you laugh!
Upon arrival at the airport the driver will unload your luggage and be appreciative of any gratuities.
Take your luggaage, wave goodbye to the Mickey bus and find your check in counter for your airline.
*For select resorts and guests, there is a Resort Airline Check In service available so that you can check in for your flight at your resort. If you plan to use this service, make sure you allow plenty of time for it before your scheduled departure.
Enjoy Orlando International Airport
Even though the vacation is over, there is still plenty of shopping and fun things to see in the airport! On your train ride back to the terminal, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer will thank you for coming. It’s funny, I’m always happy to hear is voice on the train when I arrive and when I leave… it’s like the two bookends of the trip!
Save money because you don’t need to rent a car, Uber or taxi to and from the airport to your resort.
Of course if you want luxury travel to/from the airport I would recommend a Minnie Van! But…they’re not free 🙂
Car Seats – Transportation is provided via motor coach and child safety seats are not recommended.Children can sit on their own seat, or on the lap of an adult.This saves you bringing and or renting a car seat!
Wheelchairs – the motor coach will accommodate wheelchairs too!Just make sure you indicate that on your Magical Express reservation or let your Travel Agent know.
Service Animals – Service animals can join their owners on Disney Transportation motorcoaches
No need to worry about directions or even your luggage if you don’t want to!Your luggage can be picked up for you at the carousel and delivered later to your room if you use the luggage tags provided.
Select Disney Resort hotels offer airline check in before boarding the Magical Express.Full details are here
You’ve finally arrived in Orlando and you’re ready to start your vacation!What better way to start than with a bus ride with videos all about what you can expect on your vacation!This is when the excitement really kicks it up a notch!When you’re returning to the airport – there are some great cartoons you can watch!
On your next vacation to Walt Disney World will YOU use this service?
Avatar Flight of Passage was an attraction that I was determined I had to try. The reviews said that it was not good for those with motion sickness and it could be intense, but I had to experience it at least once. Since I had the opportunity to visit during a preview before the official opening, I went straight over to Flight of Passage and there was no wait. I stood for a second, took a deep breath and thought, “I guess I’m doing this!”
Here are my thoughts on the new Flight of Passage at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. It’s an overview of my experience with some information you should know before you go, but without too many spoilers!
The queue was impressive – but long
The outdoor portion of the queue for Flight of Passage is gorgeous. You’re walking slightly up hill and have a perfect view of the floating mountains. There will be some great pictures and selfies taken from this line!
Once you leave the outdoor area, you enter in to something that looks like a cave. You will be happier in here since there is air conditioning and shade from the Florida sun. As the cave transitions in to the building, you’re able to see paintings, a bioluminescent mining area and of course – a real Avatar. I had seen the Avatar on many different online videos, but I didn’t appreciate the size or details of it until I had seen it in person.
While I didn’t have a wait for Flight of Passage, it struck me as I was walking through this queue how long it took me to get to the end. It seemed like quite a long walk with the capacity to hold VERY long lines.
Nearing the end of the line, you enter the first of 2 pre-shows. The first room is where you are matched to your Avatar. It is primarily a video with some special effects, but the room felt a bit small to me. I was glad I was the last one in and had some space behind me. We were in there a few minutes when we moved on to the next briefing – the vehicle seating system is explained and you get your 3D glasses.
I don’t like feeling ‘trapped’ anywhere and this was my biggest fear for this vehicle. I am the person who sits at the end of the row in a movie theatre to avoid feeling like I can’t get out. Knowing that things would come and encapsulate on this attraction had me very nervous. I straddled the vehicle like a bicycle and leaned forward towards the support in front of me. I chose to leave a little bit of space between the support and myself and prepared myself for the various restraints that were coming. As the restraints were activated, I heard the man beside me gasp a little. The man had leaned so far forward that the restraint at his back was way too restrictive and a cast member had to come and adjust it. I was happy with the amount of space I had and didn’t feel closed in with the back restraint at all. Maybe it’s because I had my legs out in front of me as opposed to at the side, but I didn’t even feel the ones on my legs at all. I did notice that this might be quite restrictive and uncomfortable though for my Pooh-sized friends. There is a test vehicle outside of the attraction for you to try before waiting in line.
Once the ride started I was in awe. Disney has created an attraction where I really FELT like I was flying on the back of a Banshee. It wasn’t just the sights, sounds and smells, but when my Banshee took a break on a branch of a tree, I could FEEL it breathing underneath me. The scenery is breathtaking and colorful, it seemed so real! There is no comparison in my mind to Soarin or Star Tours – this attraction made me forget that I was sitting on an attraction vehicle with 3D goggles on. I was transported, and I flew on a Banshee.
The motion sickness
I feel sick on Star Tours and have never made it back on Mission Space since it opened; I was worried about Flight of Passage. I went first thing in the morning, took some motion sickness pills and didn’t eat anything before the ride. There were a few moments where the Banshee took some sharp turns and some drastic drops where I had to close my eyes. Closing my eyes for a second or two really helped, especially when were flying through some tight spaces. I do think the cool breeze on my face helped me avoid overheating that happens when I’m nauseous. I really didn’t feel sick at all, I suspect that might have had something to do with the pills I took.
The 4 things you need to know:
The queue has been designed to hold lines of up to 4 hours inside. The wait will be long.
There is a lot of walking for the queue as well as upon exiting. Be prepared for inclines and stairs, especially if you have trouble walking.
There are moments that those who are prone to motion sickness or claustrophobia will struggle, but they are short lived.
Love or hate Avatar the movie (I didn’t love it), this attraction is among the best on Disney property and you should experience it once. I know I will be back to try it again.
My only criticism, and it’s a big one Surprisingly, this attraction is not friendly to certain body types or guests with mobility issues. I would have thought that Disney would have invested in making sure that more people could experience it – not less. Take a look at this blog post so that you can review the seat restrictions before you go.
If you want to see a good video of the queue – check out this video from our friends at Pure Magic Vacations!
Have you experienced Flight of Passage? What did you think?
The #DisneyParksLIVE streams have been such a terrific addition to Disney’s social media presence. With all of the bloggers and vloggers who visit the parks and live stream (myself included), it only makes sense that Disney participate. This way Disney can present the full live stream of an event with a professional video that showcases it properly.
With all of the special events, it is exciting to follow the Disney Parks Blog to see what’s coming next on the live streams!
On December 31st, #DisneyParksLIVE will share with us the “Fantasy In The Sky Firworks” – LIVE from the Magic Kingdom!
Here are the top 4 things I love about #DisneyParksLive streams
1. Comfort of watching at home
I get to sit on my couch on a Sunday night and watch the Boo To You Parade instead of thinking about my dreaded work week ahead? Or how about when I can’t get to the parks for the 4th of July or New Years Eve? No problem – I can stream them in on my TV!
2. Social Interaction with other Disney fans
I get to tweet and chat with other Disney fans on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. It is always fun to connect with Disney fans from all over the world, and a few from Toronto too! Just use the hashtag #DisneyParksLIVE and you’ll find conversations on every platform!
3. When I can’t be in Disney, I don’t miss the big events
I have the chance to see some things live, as they happen! From theme park announcements to Expos, I don’t miss a thing.
4. I get to experience a little magic at home
I feel like I’m still experiencing some magic – even though I’m at home. If I can’t be there, at least I can escape for a few minutes and feel like I have a front row seat! Who doesn’t want a little magic from home?
Are you following #DisneyParksLive? What has been your favourite one? Let us know in the comments below!
It’s so much fun to visit Walt Disney World during the holidays – on episode 17 of the Pixie Dust Fan Podcast I talk about what the best things are about visiting during the holiday season.
I get asked this question all the time. It’s a bit uncomfortable – but I know that some of you are curious and are looking for your own ways to get to the magic more often!! Here I’m discussing my top 10 things I do to afford my Disney vacations.
My full trip report from December 2019 including my first experience with Star Wars Rise of the Resistance (no spoilers). Carrie and I are talking about it all from Epcot Forever and Tshirt shopping – it’s all here!
Thanksgiving At Walt Disney World – Travelling With 15 People During A Busy Time
Thanksgiving week is busy at Walt Disney World. On this episode Katie and I catch up about the trip she was planning the last time she was on the podcast. 15 family members on a Disney vacation during peak season? We cover where they ate, how they handled the crowds and how they made the most of their time!
Avatar Flight of Passage at Disney’s Animal Kingdom is arguably one of the BEST attractions at any of the parks. It’s thrilling, exciting, intense and immersive, it’s an attraction not to be missed. Unless of course you’re a certain body shape.
I remember visiting Universal Studios when the Harry Potter attractions first opened and being disappointed. They had made a fantastic new experience, but they couldn’t make it for everyone? It was brand new, they had so many options for design, yet they were limiting many people from experiencing it.
Flight of Passage test seat out front of the attraction
In order to experience Avatar Flight of Passage you need to ‘fit’ on the vehicle. I say “on” because it’s like a motorcycle where you straddle the seat. You lean forward on the chest bar and pull your feet forward.
Restraints are activated after you are in position – one comes across your back and two more behind your legs. The key is the ‘click’ on the restraints to ensure that it has you secure.
It may not necessarily be a size issue that prevents people from getting the ‘click’, sometimes it’s a body shape issue that prevents the restraints from locking. The size of your calves can prevent the leg restraints from locking, it’s not just your size around the middle. It’s not something you want to force or it would make for a very uncomfortable ride!
When the restraints are activated and locked
When the restraints are activated it really does hold you in place. Based on the attraction theatre and how you experience it, it makes sense that you need to be secure. If you want a full review of the attraction, click HERE
Did you have any issues with the seat?
With the enormous wait times for this attraction, I would suggest anyone who is worried to try the test seat. While it isn’t ideal, I wouldn’t want you to skip the attraction all together – it really is as good as everyone says.
If you want to read the full review of the attraction – you can read it here.
Did you try the test seat for Flight of Passage before you rode?
I am in LOVE with Baby Yoda from the Mandalorian series on Disney Plus.Seriously – it isn’t the ‘actual Yoda’, but a baby of the same species as Yoda.(For the record… I recognize it seems weird to say the ‘actual Yoda’ – like Yoda was real… but he is real to so many of us!)
We KNEW that this would be a shopping frenzy – who DOESN’T want something baby Yoda related? I had already planned to scour the shops at Walt Disney World next week for baby Yoda merch – but Amazon has come through with all sorts of fun merchandise. Being the total T-shirt addict that I am, I was so excited to see this selection. Now the question is – which one(s) will I buy for myself? Or put on my wish list?? They have a variety of colours and sizes – so many choices!!!
Take a peek at these! Click the pictures to shop the Amazon store. The store is a .com link – if you live in Canada, don’t worry – they will ship to Canada, but you need to use the .com link to shop.
Sometimes it’s really difficult being a Canadian Disney Fan. There are some special challenges for those of us that live outside of the United States. On this episode Carrie and I explore all of the things that make it hard for Canadian Disney fans like us.
10 Million people subscribed to Disney+ on November 12th – and of course I was one of them!
I was overwhelmed and couldn’t wait to share with you my first thoughts on the service. What I didn’t expect was what my nephew Andrew thought about the service and the new Star Wars show – Mandalorian.
It’s that time of year again, when you start the conversations of “what do you want for Christmas?”.
Personally, I dread these conversations every year.
It was different when we had little ones to spoil and there were so many different things you could buy them.There was always the one or two toys that were difficult to get – the “IT” toy of the year that required lining up at stores at midnight to get one of whatever the thing was!In my day it was a Cabbage Patch Kid, but more recently it has become special video games or consoles.Either way there was always the excitement of trying to get that ONE thing that was so special.
Now that the kids are grown and we’re buying for adults – it’s much more difficult because we don’t NEED anything.If we needed something, we would have bought it for ourselves.So that rules out stuff we need – what about stuff we would like??
For the Disney fan, there is always stuff we would LIKE but maybe don’t NEED?I had some fun searching online for some stuff that would be fun to have… but I probably wouldn’t buy for myself unless I had some extra money lying around! Click any of the pictures for the links to buy!
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Truth be told I don’t even really like wine all that much, but I think these are fun for when you’ve got company over?Just to show a little Disney side?
A girl can NEVER have enough tshirts… seriously!And this one ‘speaks’ to me of course! I have a lot of Disney T-shirts, but I try to refrain from buying them outside of the parks or else my collection will REALLY be out of hand. I try to limit my purchases to the parks and sometimes the Disney Store – but these shirts online are really tempting me!
Disney Dooney & Bourke
I have a thing about Dooney’s … and I have enough of them – well more than enough, but I love this Orange Bird one!I would never buy it because I have too many blue purses – but this one is so cute!
A Disney Kitchen Gone Wild!
I already have a full on Disney kitchen – but there are some other items I could ‘clutter’ my countertop with happily!
The Fruit Basket
I don’t buy fruits because well…they go bad in my house long before I would eat them, but this is just too cute!And affordable… if I had fruit I’d want it.But maybe it doesn’t look so good empty?
A Cake Pan
How fun would it be to bake a cake with Mickey baked in?If I could bake… or cook at all – this would be fun.
Mickey’s Lunch Box
Again… if I took my lunch to work on a regular basis – this would be something I would buy. At this point I have 4 or 5 different lunch bags and all the tupperwear I can handle – and I still don’t take it to work often enough to justify buying this.But if I WAS going to buy a new one – this would be it!
Millennium Falcon Waffle Maker
Here’s another one – how do you even make a waffle?But I might learn just to have a Millennium Falcon shaped waffle on a Saturday morning.I mean how cool is this?Maybe it’s like pancakes?Do they make the boxed stuff that you just add eggs?I need to investigate this – and now you know how useless I am in the kitchen!
Mickey Mouse Chocolate Fountain
It’s Mickey Mouse and chocolate – enough said?Do I need to really sell this one?I think the big danger for me here would be that I might never leave the house… I’d be eating chocolate covered everything.Well MAYBE that’s how I start eating more fruit??hmmmmm… there could be a case made here for this!
Disney Art and Collectibles
I may have quite a bit of Disney art already in my house. In fact, I think I have art upstairs that I haven’t even hung up yet – but I can’t help it… good art and collectibles just tug at my heart strings and I want them all. I have to practice restraint with some of them because they’re not like t-shirts, I can’t afford to buy that many!
Mickey’s Creative Journey
This is such a fantastic piece – Mickey through the years.. but notice each Mickey has a ‘hand’ in the next?I love it – and I am sure I could find a place to hang it in my house!
Winnie The Pooh Tree Climbers
Winnie the Pooh holds a special place in my heart for so many reasons.This one is so fantastic because it’s long and thin… would fit perfectly in so many places in my house that traditional stuff does not.
False Window Frame Mural
Wouldn’t you love to be able to stare out the window at home and see the castle?I would – if I thought I could put this decal up properly I would be buying it!
Peter Pan Wall Decal
And even though this is shown in a nursery – I would TOTALLY have it in my house!!I love this… but I do fear I wouldn’t get it stuck on properly?Have you ever done one of these?Was it easy?
RARE Disney Collectibles
Walt Disney loved trains, and if money wasn’t an issue – this would be a fantastic piece to have in my house.It’s quite the collectible with a limited edition of only 1,000 made and the details look incredible on it.Wouldn’t this be a great conversation point with visitors at your house?I guess only if they were Disney fans! This one is NOT available to be shipped to Canada. Sometimes it’s really hard being a Canadian Disney Fan!
It’s always fun to have some Disney touches in your accessories – and this Mickey Mouse sterling silver necklace is perfect!There’s also a Minnie version if you’d prefer to have a bow!
I am of course addicted to Alex and Ani as well, those bracelets are always a fun souvenir!Carrie and I talked about those on the podcast about souvenirs because they are the perfect way to remember your trip every day when you’re wearing them!
What about a watch for him?These Mickey Mouse watches are the perfect gift for the Disney guy in your life!
Our Own Droid
Admittedly, this one is WAY out there…. And I have NO idea what I would do with it, or even where I’d put it – but it’s cool.If I had a bigger house and lots of money… I would have my own voice activated R2D2!
A Trip Of Course?
When in doubt – gift cards that will help me GET to Walt Disney World, Disneyland or on a Disney Cruise is always welcome!
Disney fans aren’t REALLY that hard to buy for. We’re easy to please – something that reminds us of our happy place and all of the memories is all we need! Oh… and a little Faith, Trust and Pixie Dust? ……. I couldn’t resist!
While you’re buying gifts for your loved ones, consider donating to a local charity to pay it forward… everyone could use some extra Pixie Dust.
For more recommendations and to support Pixie Dust Fan – visit our Amazon Stores
Being an avid Disney Fanatic who has been visiting Walt Disney World since 1974, people are always asking me for help booking their vacations. I hear horror stories of people who booked their Disney trip by themselves or with a travel agent who doesn’t have much personal experience. There is so much to see and do at Walt Disney World that you can’t just show up and wing it. Here are the 5 rookie mistakes I see people make when planning a Walt Disney World vacation.
1. Buying only a 2 or 3 day park tickets
There are 4 theme parks to visit! Walt Disney world is roughly the size of Ottawa – there is no way you’re going to see it all in a couple of days. Trying to cram everything in to 2 or even 3 days makes for very long days and stressful times, especially with little ones. If you experience an attraction that you love, don’t you want the opportunity to do it again and not be stressing about the next thing on the itinerary?
2. Not buying a hopper pass
Yes… this is one that some disagree with – but I really believe that a hopper pass is worth it. For example – Fantasmic is only happening on Monday and Wednesday the week you’re there – guess what days will be busiest at Hollywood Studios? With the hopper pass you can enjoy another park during the day and then head over in time for the night time entertainment elsewhere. The flexibility of the hopper pass is extremely valuable in my opinion, and you won’t realize how much until you’re there.
3. Not staying on property
Yes, there are some fabulous Deluxe resorts on property, but if those aren’t in your budget you should explore the Value and Moderate resort categories. These resorts are on Disney property, they are well themed, convenient and affordable! That’s right – these resorts will give you all of the benefits of staying on property (including extra magic hours) but there is real savings in the transportation. Disney’s Magical Express will pick you up at the airport and take you to your resort and back again when the vacation is over. The transportation all over the property includes buses, monorails, boats and the Skyliner! It’s all included, there is no need to rent a car!
4. Missing fastpasses & dining reservations
If you’ve never been to Walt Disney World – how would you know what you want to see? Fastpasses can really help you make the most out of your days in the parks and avoid some of the lines at the more popular attractions. Dining reservations? If all your little one wants to do is meet the princesses – arrange to have a meal where they will come to your table to meet them! Having a travel agent who specializes in planning Disney vacations can help you with all of that. There are a lot of myths about using one, but I can guarantee you that the RIGHT agent can help you plan the BEST vacation.
5. They over plan!
I know, that kind of contradicts what I said in point 4, but there’s something to be said for just enjoying the moment. If you want to eat with the Princesses – then yes, you need a reservation. However, planning all of your attractions in a strict itinerary takes all of the fun out of being there. I’ve seen many families racing around the park to make sure they are ‘on schedule’ and it really takes away from all of the wonderful things they could experience if they took a moment to slow down!
A Walt Disney World vacation can be an amazing experience making memories you will treasure forever. Knowing how to get the most out of your vacation will give you time to enjoy the magic!
Have you made any of these mistakes? We’d love to hear what tips you have, comment below!
The Fuel Rod is one of my ‘must have’ items when I visit Walt Disney World, so I was very concerned when news broke that they were going to start charging $3 for every swap! I know that I could use the one I bought on Amazon instead and charge it myself, but it is convenient! I have to charge my phone probably 3 times per day while I’m in the parks. Taking videos and pictures, doing live streams – it drains the battery. Having the ability to swap the Fuel Rod is better than carrying one of the bigger batteries that would hold 3 or 4 charges worth, the Fuel Rod is much lighter in my bag.
Disney had started putting signs on the Fuel Rod kiosks announcing the $3 fee for a swap after they had previously had unlimited ones. They updated the website to say the same:
From the Disney site when the charges were first being communicated
My friend Carolyn from Pure Magic was there on October 27th and snagged a pic for me of the stickers on the Fuel Rod stations
Stickers showing $3 Charge as of November 1st 2020
There was quite a backlash from the Internet about the charges and a lawsuit was even filed? Really? A lawsuit over the fact that you were promised unlimited swaps and now it’s $3? I think the world has gone mad… and I refuse to link to the ‘lawsuit’ articles because I personally think it’s ridiculous. Anyway…
As of November 1st – Disney has reconsidered and has taken the stickers OFF of the Fuel Rod locations and has released the following statement:
“A decision has been made to not implement the $3 portable charger swap fee until further notice. Guests can continue to swap their FuelRod portable chargers using FuelRod’s owned and operated kiosks at Walt Disney World Resort for no additional cost at this time.”
The Walt Disney World website now shows this again:
Back to normal
I am happy about the reversal in the decision – but can’t for the life of me figure out why they would change it? Did they not KNOW there would be people complaining? Did they get more complaints than they realized? We may never know… For now – I’ll put the Fuel Rods back in my travel bag and enjoy the unlimited swaps!
Visiting Walt Disney World With A Non-Disney Person – Top 5 Suggestions
Not everyone is excited about going to Walt Disney World for the family vacation. I know right? Hard to believe?
What do you do when you’re visiting Walt Disney World with someone who maybe isn’t as thrilled to be there? My friend Aydin and I share our top 5 suggestions of things to do that are a little ‘less Disney’.
The Fuel Rod is one of my ‘must have’ items when I visit Walt Disney World!
One of my biggest challenges at Walt Disney World has always been keeping my electronics charged. Taking videos and photos, posting on social media, my Iphone and camera would barely make it to lunch time.
There are places in the Walt Disney World parks that you can charge your devices. For example, over near the Tangled washrooms in the Magic Kingdom are some very cute little tree stumps with ports to charge your phone.
When I’m in the parks though, I prefer to be able to charge ‘on the go’ and not be stuck sitting in one place to top up my battery life.
The Fuel Rod is $30 USD and available at many locations throughout the Walt Disney World Parks and Resorts.
Inside of the Fuel Rod package you will find:
One fully charged portable battery
One 6” USB to micro-USB cable (for most Android devices)
One Apple 30-pin to USB cable (for iPhone and iPad generations 1-4)
One Apple Lightning to USB cable (for iPhone generations 5+)
Having that first one fully charged enables you to charge your phone immediately. When I purchased mine, it charged my iPhone fully from 15% battery. The convenience of the Fuel Rod vs the charges you buy on Amazon is the ability to swap it out in the machine for a fully charged one – at NO COST. There were some changes and updates to the program speculated in October 2019 – but Disney has reversed the decision to start charging for swaps.
As of November 2019 – there will now be a charge to swap your fuel rod. My friend Carolyn took this picture of the kiosk at Disney Springs.
The Fuel Rod Station at Disney Springs
They will now be charging $3 for every swap
At $3 per swap, I know that I won’t use the Fuel Rod the way that I used to. I liked that it was light weight and while only carried 1 full charge – it was perfect because I could swap it multiple times during the day. Now that there’s a charge, I will probably just carry the bigger battery I bought from Amazon that charges my phone multiple times. Then I can charge that fuel bank overnight in the resort.
It’s a shame that the change is coming – but clearly there is a business reason for it. I just wonder if the money made from the swaps will compensate for those that won’t buy new ones?
Have you purchased a Fuel Rod? Will you purchase one now that there is a charge for swaps?
Living close to Walt Disney World & Travelling with 15 people!
Chatting with the delightful Katie about what it’s like to live so close to Walt Disney World that you can drive there for the night! Also, what’s it like to plan a Disney trip for 15 people? Ya, we chat about it all!
Splitsville at Disney Springs is more than just a bowling alley, it’s a dining experience you don’t want to miss.
I was one of those people who rolled my eyes when others suggested I go to eat at Splitsville.I mean c’mon – it’s a bowling alley surrounded by restaurants of award winning chefs like Art Smith, Wolfgang Puck and Chef Morimoto. Why on EARTH would I take one of my meals at Disney Springs and go to the bowling alley if I wasn’t bowling? That made no sense to me.
Until the day my sister and I were at Disney Springs and found ourselves on the West Side just before lunch without a reservation anywhere.It was hot, we were hungry and we had just picked up cigars for my nephew at Sosa’s after a morning of shopping.We were all the way down at the end of the West Side and just wanted to sit, relax and have a beer.
Remembering everyone telling me that Splitsville was the place to be – I figured we would at least get a drink in there to cool off.Why not see if they could take us?
I had never even been inside of Splitsville before and I was immediately impressed with the size!The two floors hold 30 lanes of bowling and 5 bars, there’s even a small little gift shop with some cute souvenirs!
Lots of space and a great view!
We were taken upstairs to one of the bars and seated by the widow, what a view we had.The seating was comfortable and we were impressed at how bright and spacious it was.I know it was lunch time and it wasn’t busy, but even if it had been full – there was still lots of space between the tables.
The menu was HUGE, it was so surprising how many choices there was on this menu.We were both hungry and I started to think there were too many choices because I couldn’t decide!I have heard the Sushi is amazing and our server said he dines there for sushi on his days off!But I’m not a sushi gal, so I had to find something more suitable.
The menu had SO many choices for lunch!
We ordered drinks and perused the menu – I finally decided on the buffalo chicken sandwich and my sister had the sweet and spicy chicken.Yes – both chicken dishes, you might think a little boring.
While we were waiting for our meals I decided it was a good time to wander around and get some pics inside.I loved seeing the families playing together, enjoying their games while nibbling on the snacks at the end of their lanes.This would be a perfect spot for an afternoon outside of the parks to do something together as a family – they were having a LOT of laughs!
Our meals arrived at our table and they looked delicious, but so often that happens and looks are deceiving…
Ummmm NO.They were every bit as good as they looked and then some!
This was incredibly delicious!
My chicken sandwich was the right kind of spice, it was hot – but not burning my mouth so much that it wasn’t enjoyable.Can I say I love crinkle cut fries too?
I had a taste of my sisters chicken too, it was so flavourful.It was such a large serving but it was SO good that we couldn’t leave any of the chicken behind!
This chicken dish was amazing – even with the vegetables it might be on my list for next visit!
As we left we laughed about how we weren’t going to go in – and now it’s on our list of places we need to go back to.My sister now wants to try the sushi, and I just want another bite of that chicken sandwich!
Yes – we’ll be back at Splitsville in Disney Springs.Maybe next time we’ll actually try the bowling!Dining and bowling are booked separately, if you want to reserve your lanes call (407) 938-7467
We will be back – for SURE
Have you eaten at Splitsville yet? What did you have?
Disney Attractions I Miss & One That I’m Glad Is Gone!
With all of the changes going on at Walt Disney World these days it got me thinking about the attractions that I miss, the ones that really helped me fall in love with Disney all those years ago. Some of them bring back so many great memories but there is one attraction that I am so glad is gone. I can’t BELIEVE it was EVER in a Disney park.
The Disney Skyliner is a whole new way to get around at Walt Disney World! This state of the art system provides new transportation options for those visiting Epcot and Hollywood Studios from 4 Disney resorts. The gondola connects Pop Century, Art of Animation, Caribbean Beach and the NEW Disney Vacation Club property – Disney’s Riviera Resort to both Epcot and Hollywood Studios.
This map shows the routes and connections for the Skyliner!
There was a lot of talk before these were open because they weren’t going to have air conditioning. Each car has ventilation with a cross breeze that generates while the car is in motion. You can see the openings at the top of the cars that create the breeze to keep guests comfortable.
Of course with any Disney opening – there is special merchandise available to celebrate the ocassion!
This new option for transportation is giving us something special aside from getting from point A to point B, this gives us a view from ABOVE the Disney property. While you’re travelling along the routes you will have a new perspective, espcially over the water enroute to Art of Animation, coming in to International Gateway at Epcot and being above Caribbean Beach? These are all going to be very picture worthy shots!
The other cool thing about the gondolas is that they are equipped to handle ECVs and Wheelchairs without disrupting the flow of the cars. Much like the cars in Toy Story Midway Mania – the cars that are equipped for Wheelchairs and ECVs can be taken in and out of the rotation while guests board. This allows the guests to board safely without feeling rushed or holding up all of the other cars on the line.
Efficiency and fun – all rolled in to one. What could be better?
I have friends who are a bit afraid of heights that may opt for the bus, but I think I’ll be enjoying this new mode of transportation for years to come!
Top 3 things from a coast to coast Disney adventure!
Carrie and I are talking about the top 3 highlights from our coast to coast Disney adventure! Disneyland AND Walt Disney World in one epic trip, it was really hard to narrow down to 3 things each – but we did it!
Show Notes and References:
Blog on Gran Destino Tower including the link to the YouTube video is here