Jan 28

Schedule Your Day

I have to share something a client sent me.  She has planned out her days and put all the information onto a card that looks like a bookmarker.  She is going to print them on cardstock and laminate them and then put them on a ring to carry in her purse.  She found this idea on a blog but can’t remember where.  I thought it was an excellent idea and wanted to pass it along!  Is this a great idea or what!?

 

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Jan 24

Disneyland and the Neverland 5K

I just love having guest bloggers here on Mousecation.  If you ever want to write for me, please let me know.  I am so excited about this guest blogger!  This is Lois and she runs!  Oh how I wish I had the discipline to actually do this.  I would love to run in a marathon at Disney!  How fun would that be?

 

IMG_1339RunDisney.  What is it?  It is a mix of two worlds, the running and fitness world, and the Disney world.  What could be better for a runner?  Not a whole lot.

This was my first runDisney race.  While they are known for the longer races, the half marathons (the Donald, the Princess, the Wine and Dine, the Tinkerbell , and the Disneyland half, plus the Tower of Terror 10 miler and of course the Mickey or even the Goofy Challenge, a half marathon on Saturday, plus a full on Sunday), they do smaller races, usually a 5k with each of the bigger races.  I headed out to my first experience at Disneyland for the Neverland 5K, which is part of the Tinkerbell half marathon weekend.  I love running and I love Disney, so I needed to combine the two.

The expo was on Friday and Saturday, which is a great way to check out the latest and greatest running gear as well as get your bib and the necessities for the race.  I was a little disappointed to find that almost all of the gear focused on the bigger and longer half marathon, and not on the 5K.  I was able to find  one trading pin that had the Neverland 5K logo on it, but nothing else.  I would have gladly bought a shirt that said something about the 5K, but didn’t find one available.  I did manage to buy a very cute running skirt though.  The best part of the expo was the chance to meet Jeff Galloway, who is the official running trainer of the runDisney series.  If you aren’t familiar with him, he teaches the run/walk method, whichIMG_1344 emphasizes taking walking breaks throughout your run.  (It’s how I ran my first half marathon.)  He was so nice and truly believes in what he is teaching.  I was thrilled at the chance to meet him.

The 5K started at 5:45 am, which meant leaving the hotel room around 4:45 to walk over to the park.  Entering Disneyland transformed me.  The music was pumping and there were lots of people in costume.  I don’t know that I’ve ever seen more green at one race, outside of a St. Patrick’s Day run.  With the music pumping, I danced my way down Main Street, and a cast member even joined me at one point. 

The announcers came on, and started trying to get us jazzed up for the race (the music would have been more efficient).  I took some pictures and just decided to have fun with my 5,000 new friends.  Because the 5K took place entirely inside Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure, the running path was narrow.  This meant that the hope for a personal record flew down the wire with Tinkerbell, so it was just time for fun and to enjoy the sights of Disneyland in the dark and before it opened.  The run started in front IMG_1353of Sleeping Beauty castle and wound around to It’s a Small world.  We came out of the back somewhere around Toon Town, but it could have been Fantasyland (it was dark and I had never been to Disneyland before).  I stopped  at every character spot for pictures (not what I would do in a regular race).  I posed with Goofy and Pluto, Captain Hook and Mr. Snee, DJ (from Cars), Mater and Lightning McQueen, and Pirate Mickey and Minnie Mouse at mile 3.  Every time I passed a cast member (and there were lots of them), I put up my hand for high fives, sometimes even telling them that I needed a hand.  It’s a great place to have fun.  I loved running on the service roads through Disney and getting a little glimpse of what happens backstage, including the train storage building and some floats. 

As we crossed over to DCA, it was even more magical, as we didn’t really do much of the surface roads.  We ran through a Bugs’ Life and into Radiator Springs.  We then ran onto Paradise Pier, which was awesome.  The sky was getting lighter and the energy just seemed to surge at that point.  It was finally wide enough to get some good running in, but I was having too much fun at this point to even care.  As I finished the race, I had a big smile on my face, put my hands in the air and just let out a big whoop.  The announcers noticed my enthusiastic finish and even mentioned it.  “That one is very excited to finish and she is letting us know she is Powered by Pixie Dust” (which is what my shirt said).  As I crossed the finish line, I was handed my finisher medallion, as well as a Peter Pan bag in which to put my goody box.  This was by far my slowest 5K I have ever done, finishing at about 55 minutes (my normal pace is 30 minutes for a 5K), but it was a fun race.  I wish they would have had Tinkerbell somewhere for photos, as it was part of the Tinkerbell weekend.

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The next step of the race weekend was the kids’ run for my daughters who are 6 & 8.  They too were powered by Pixie Dust.  The 6 year old was slated for the 200 meter dash, and the 8 year old was to do 400 m.  I had anticipated the kids’ race finishing by 9:15, but because of some logistical problems (like putting a photo background 5 feet from the finish line, so the finish line became a huge bottleneck with parents taking pictures and it took a long time to clear the field for the next race), we didn’t finish the kids’ race until after 10 am.  There were also some problems with pick-up of the kids, since parents had a claim tag to match their bib numbers, but if a parent didn’t race, it was tough to pick up the kids.  I enjoyed the 5K, but I did not like the kids’ race.  If I were to do it again, my kids will do the 5K with me, and not the separate kids’ race.  I think they would have more fun running through the parks before it opens than running through a parking lot, plus it will allow us to get to the park in time for rope drop.

A little bit about me – my name is Lois.  I am a stay-at home Mom to 2 girls, ages 6 & 8. I love to exercise and love Disney. You can find me over at Running to Disney on Facebook, come check it out. This was my first trip to Disneyland. I live outside of Denver, in Thornton, CO and enjoy hiking, camping and reading when not running or thinking about Disney. 

Jan 23

Faith. Trust. Pixie Dust. Eating at Disney with Food Allergies

It is my pleasure, once again, to welcome a guest blogger to Mousecation!  This time it is a dear friend of mine.  Thank you Kathie for sharing your experience of dining with allergies at Disney.  I had the opportunity to witness the chefs coming to the tables a couple times when we dined together.

Faith. Trust. Pixie Dust. We love the Disney Fairy movies. We love Disney. However, traveling and dining out with a child who has multiple food allergies can be an overwhelming event. Such an event requires faith, trust, and diligence. Our faith is in God, to bless our travels/dining and keep us safe. We must also be able to trust those who are preparing the food. Finally, the diligence of traveling and dining out with a food allergy child falls on us, the parents, and maybe the child if he/she is old enough. Planning ahead is essential. Disney makes this so easy. When you make a reservation, you can indicate that someone in the party has food allergies. Your reservation is then flagged so the staff can be prepared for you when you arrive. As always, you should reiterate the allergy situation when you arrive.

During our recent trip to Disney, each time we arrived for our reservations, we mentioned the allergies and were treated most professionally. The server confirmed the allergies with us at the table. Then, the chef came to our table to talk with us and our daughter. The chef’s focus was to find out what our IMG_0905daughter WANTED to eat so it could be made safely for her. The highlight of our daughter’s dining pleasure at Disney was dessert. We ALWAYS forgo desserts because of the allergies. While at Disney, though, our daughter was able to have dessert. In fact, the chef at the Beirgarten (in Germany at Epcot) assembled an assorted dessert plate specifically for our daughter. When he presented it to her at our table, the look on her face was priceless. She truly felt special, like a princess.

We were also able to dine safely at quick service locations. At these locations, we indicated our daughter’s allergies prior to ordering. We were patiently guided through the menu as we made our choices. We did not speak with any of the chefs at the quick service locations, however, I am sure that they would have taken the time to speak with us if we had asked. And don’t forget about Downtown Disney. We were met with the same care and concern there as we were in the kingdoms.

Our recent experience at Disney taught us that all you have to do is ask and communicate. If you have a concern, express it. The staff at Disney sincerely wants you to enjoy your visit and will do whatever they can to make sure you do. Because of this, we were able to spend more time enjoying the faith, trust, and pixie dust magic of Disney and less time scrutinizing menus and ingredients.

Hi. I’m Kathie, a wife and mother. I am blessed by the saving grace of my Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. My husband and I are enjoying the benefits and pleasures of homeschooling our two daughters. Our older daughter is a sweet, rule-seeking, lovable 10 year old. She has taken us down the path of living with seasonal and food allergies. Our younger daughter is an energetic, bubbly, party-waiting-to-happen 7 year old. She has taken us down the path of living with allergies to stinging insects (ants, wasps, etc). We learn something new every day with these two sweet girls. When I am not serving my husband or teaching my girls, I enjoy snapping photos, reading books, and hanging out with friends and family. I am daily learning how to follow the path God planned for me.

 

Jan 18

Where To Dine While Visiting The Disney Parks

I am so excited to welcome another guest blogger!  This is Kathryn, owner of Kathryn’s Kloset.  If you get a chance head over to her blog and see what she has to say.  I want to thank Kathryn for blogging for me and I hope you enjoy her review of Tusker House as much as I did.  Thanks Kathryn!

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Hello, Mousecation readers!  I am so excited to be a guest here and tell you about a wonderful place to dine while you are enjoying the Disney Parks.  So here we gooooooo….. While I have my favorite restaurants for different meals, I would love to introduce you to my very favorite place for Breakfast.  I cannot say enough good words about Tusker House, which is located inside the Animal Kingdom in Africa. The Tusker House is only one of the two, table service restaurants located in Animal Kingdom. Tusker House is a popular restaurant because it offers a character breakfast and lunch. This is a great way for the children to meet characters such as Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, and Goofy. Appropriately, breakfast is titled Donald’s Safari Breakfast.

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In Harambe Village, Tusker House is somewhat of an open-air market and has all the finishes and touches of being in a village in Africa. The restaurant is buffet style and the buffet is set up in the open-air market. The dining area is furnished with rustic tables and has the traditional African carvings on the chairs. When you are comfortable at your table, you will be amazed at everything there is to look at.  Upon being greeted by your server, you are brought this amazing Jungle Juice.  It is truly addicting. Jungle Juice is a mixture of guava, orange and passion fruit juices. I can easily have four or five glasses during breakfast.

The buffet is located in the main marketplace with plenty of stations to get just what you love for breakfast and then some.  There are plenty of freshly baked pastries, like bagels, cream cheese danishes, doughnuts, and many other sweet choices. There are also scrambled eggs, omelets, frittatas, quiche, biscuits and gravy, fresh fruit, cereals, Mickey waffles, bacon, sausages, hash browns, a carving station, yogurt bar, and many other items.  When you getting your food in the main marketplace be sure and take a minute to look at all the décor and look up at the ceiling. You will see plethora of different colored cloths that will just amaze you.

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It is highly recommended to make a reservation to eat at Tusker House. We usually make our reservation for 8:00 am so that we can get into Animal Kingdom with virtually no waiting. Keep in mind that you must have a park ticket to enter the gates and dine at Tusker House.  Reservations can be made online but must be guaranteed with a credit card. I highly recommend reservations, without them, the wait times can be extreme especially in high season. The prices for an adult buffet are $29.99 and a child is $19.99. The price does vary depending upon what time of year you go. Our last trip was a week before Thanksgiving so these prices are reflective of that. 

During breakfast, there is a parade around the restaurant that is lead by Mickey and they even give out instruments for the children to walk in the parade with Mickey.  My children always have the best time participating in the parade.  

I could just go on and on about the Tusker House and maybe I will have another chance to dish about it again here on Mousecation.  Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to tell you about Tusker House and I hope that you are able to try it on your next trip to Disney.

Cheers! 

Kathryn

Kathryn Costa blogs at Kathryn’s Kloset and is a lover of all things Disney. She is currently a stay-at-home mom and is working on her Master’s Degree in Health Care Administration.

Jan 16

Traveling to Disneyland with a Pre-teen

It is my priviledge to welcome Brenda this morning!  She explains, what those of us with younger children, get to look forward to as our children grow up.  Thank you Brenda for guest blogging here.  When you finish reading here go over to her blog “Disney Girl”  and check it out too.

 

Hi everyone! I am SUPER excited to be guest blogging here at Mousecation. My name is Brenda or in the blogging world “Disney Girl”. In September 2011 I started blogging and have been hooked ever since. My blog is a place for me to share my love of Disney, crafting, and the happenings of my everyday life. I am married to a wonderful guy and mom to one sweet daughter who keeps us on our toes at all times. At the moment we are experiencing her first year of middle school. (YIKES!) That being said I thought that I would share with you how traveling with a pre-teen is different from traveling with a little one. Hayley one at Disneyland aSo many blogs address what is like to travel with a toddler or small children. I am here to tell you that it just gets better with age. I thought that the most magical moment was the first trip I took her on when she was just barely a year old. Every trip since then has topped the one prior. I have went from “Where did I park the stroller?” to just running with my daughter leading the way from ride to ride. Yes, I must admit I do miss the storage convenience that a stroller offers but a locker offers the same (and is always where I left it).

We are so lucky to be able to visit Disneyland several times a year. I have learned as my daughter has grown that at some point the park visit changes. I hate change so I have really just had to roll with it. When she was very young I was the one holding her up next to the Character for the photograph. All of us moms have these pictures. You know, the ones with us in them because our little one won’t go without us. Then as she got a bit older, she got braver (either that or she visited the park so many times she felt like the Characters were her family) and went up to them by herself. Now at almost 12 years of age she is very selective of which Characters she will spend her time in the park waiting in line to see. I know her thinking……..that time could be used waiting in line to ride Splash Mountain or Indiana Jones.

The way we approach the attractions also changed as she grew. I went from using the parent pass and leaving her in the stroller to waiting for the day when she was “Indiana Jones height”. I thought that day would never come. But it did all too soon. My daughter on the other hand could not wait until she was tall enough to drive Autopia by herself. That was a BIG day in our history of Disneyland memories. Our days in the park went from my pushing her stroller to her being old enough to walk the park on her own. Back in her early days of walking the park we would do each land at a time to save on walking. Now we hit all the big attractions first and go back and do each land in full when we have had our fill of the big attractions. These days I can barely keep up with her riding all those big attractions. On our last park visit my daughter rode the Matterhorn four times in a row. My 40 year plus old equilibrium could only handle two times in a row! September 2012 DISNEYLAND HALLOWEEN TRIP 010As my daughter gets older I am learning to add something new (oh no — change) to each Park visit. You see it isn’t like it was when she was little and needed to grow and meet height requirements or be brave and meet a Character on her own. On our last visit we went during Halloween time. We participated in Mickey’s Halloween party and also did the Happiest Haunts tour. Both of which my pre-teen loved. As she gets older she is more involved in the planning process which just makes the trip that much more special. At the moment we are planning a park visit for next month. I can’t wait to see what new thing we do or what ride is now my daughters favorite. I hope that you all are enjoying making magical memories with your kids. Thanks again to Mousecation for having me here today!!

Jan 14

Cruise Requirements – Passports or Not?

I have been asked this several times so I thought I would help clear it up.  Disney does not require passports.  HOWEVER, they do require a valid driver’s license and birth certificate (original or certified copy).  If it is for children, just a birth certificate will work UNLESS the child is 16 or aboveTHEN you must have a driver’s license or a State Issued ID which you can get from the driver’s license office.  HOWEVER HOWEVER HOWEVER – BIG NOTE HERE:  IF you are on your cruise and you MUST fly out to get home for some reason you WILL NOT be able to leave because you are in another country!  SO YOU WOULD HAVE TO FINISH SAILING then head home.  So they do push passports for that reason.

NOTE:  This is for sailings out of the US only!  Passport Card will not allow you to fly home either.

Jan 14

Some Money Saving Suggestions For Your Next Disney Trip

It is my pleasure to welcome Michelle again.  She is guest blogging for me today on tips for saving money for a Disney trip.  I get this question a lot and she has some creative ways to save.  I have done one of them for our last trip.  You will be amazed at how fast the money adds up.  Thanks again Michelle!         

 

     I don’t know about you, but unfortunately, we are not a family that can afford to take a Disney vacation every year – nothing against those of you who can and/or do.  For most, a Disney vacation is a big expense and is something that is planned and saved for for several months or more.  I’m forever trying to come up with more ways to save money to put towards our Disney vacation – sometimes I’m successful at saving and sometimes things just happen.  So I thought I’d share with you a few of the things we do to save a little extra money for our Disney vacation!

DSC01395     We start our savings by first making a Disney FUNds Jar!!  In the past we’ve used a Disney souvenir popcorn bucket, a milk or juice jug, a baby wipes tub or a jar of any kind – and decorate it with wrapping or scrapbook paper, stickers, ribbons or anything fun!  All change gets emptied into it at the end of each day, I’ll even add any dollar bills that I’ve got at the end of the week.  All money made or saved for vacation is then placed into the jar as well. 

 

 

     To make some extra money for our Disney trip, I do something I love to do – craft!!!  I started  making vacation (or any occasion) countdown boards and selling them at area craft shows and to my Disney loving friends. 286903_4733953075529_1493536860_o (1)   It’s  something fun to do with my spare time and the money I make on each board (after the cost of supplies) then goes in the jar!

     In the spring and summer months I love to have garage/yard sales!  It’s a great way to make some extra money and get rid of all the things we no longer need, use or want.  I always have one right before the start of school to unload all the clothes my son has outgrown or doesn’t like since the last school year.  Another thing I do with my son’s items is take them to a children’s resale shop.  These resale shops also take toys, books, videos, baby items such as stroller’s, and ride on toys – just about anything they have a need for.  Sometimes they don’t pay the best, but if you can’t sell the stuff in a garage sale, at least you’ll make more on the stuff than just giving it away!  All money made peddling our junk goes straight to the jar!

     I’ve tried, without much success, the whole extreme couponing thing.  Honestly, I have the time to do it but found that the coupons are mostly for items that we don’t need or use and I don’t have room to stockpile a lot of things for future use, so it was really a waste of my time.  However, when I do use coupons, I total up what I saved by using them and put that amount of money in to the FUNds jar!!  Every little bit helps!

There are lots of other little things you can do to add a bit more money to the savings like making it a rule to never spend coins – if something costs $1.25, pay with $2.00 instead and drop the 75 cents in the jar.  Afraid that the temptation of spending some of your funds from the jar?  Open a savings account at your bank for vacation purpose only, and deposit the money from the jar every so often.  Does your bank offer a Christmas Club savings plan?  If you have enough time before the trip, enroll and use it for vacation instead! Or maybe plan to put as little as $5.00 out of each paycheck into the FUNDs jar? Can you spare a little from your income tax return?  Maybe you can come up with some other ways to help your family save a bit for that dream vacation! You’ll be surprised by how fast it adds up!  Don’t worry, You may not save enough money to pay for the whole trip, but you can certainly save enough to help have a good time!!

 

A little bit about me: My name is Michelle and I eat, sleep and breathe Disney!! I am a stay at home mom of one very special boy! In my free time I love to scrapbook our past Disney vacations, plan our upcoming visits and also help friends plan their Disney adventures!!!

Jan 04

Why We Go To Walt Disney World with a Special Needs Child

      As a child, the best vacations I can remember were spent at a Disney Park.  We would make our annual pilgrimage from St. Louis to Orlando in the family station wagon, loaded down with everything but the kitchen sink, during the hottest part of the summer.  We would stay in some off the wall motel in Kissimmee, visit Xanadu – The Home of the Future, play some miniature golf, beg to go to Medieval Times and spend a few days in the parks. Despite the despicable heat and the waiting in extremely long lines, my love for (more like an obsession) all things Disney, began.

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     Fast forward to many years later – I’m pregnant with our son and we talk of all the things we will do with him, the places we will go and how we can’t wait to take him to Disney World and see his face light up the first time he meets Mickey.  But then our son is born and all our plans changed.  To make a very long story short, our son had breathing complications at 8 days old and had to be hospitalized.  At 11 days old they had to put in a tracheostomy tube to enable him to breathe – he still has the tube today.  Along with the breathing issues, he is non-verbal, is significantly delayed in all areas, has a moderate hearing loss, needs specially prepared meals, has autistic tendencies, and has mobility issues that often require him to use a wheelchair.  With all this, how would our little boy ever enjoy the magic of Disney?  Then in 2003, our son had a wish (to meet Mickey Mouse) fulfilled by a children’s wish granting organization – and then we knew!!!

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    Friends and Family often ask me why I love Disney so much and why it’s always our vacation destination (we’ve TRIED a few other destinations, but the experiences weren’t all that great).  In one word – Magic!!! Because of our son’s abilities and limitations, he is often unable to experience all the things a healthy child would, but at Disney World, he knows no bounds!  Disney Cast Members are very helpful and accommodating and often go out of their way to make things easier for him (and for us) so he will have the same experience as any other child.  With the help of a lot of planning (I love that part), a great touring plan, a Guest Assistance Card (noting his needs) and some pixie dust – we are able to see and do everything (and more) on our “Must Do” list, often multiple times!!!

     Vacationing at Walt Disney World is a no-brainer for us! Everything (with the exception of the TTA) is so accessible! When our son is having a bad day and a rough time with the crowds – it seems there’s always a Cast Member to move us to a less stressful place to wait!  Just miss the cut-off to wait for our favorite princess?  More often than not, they will still allow us to get into line!  An email address and phone number to speak with someone who can take specific dietary requests and follow through with all the preparations?  What an awesome idea and it saves us from having to drag a bunch of prepared foods into the park!  Want a few extra minutes with Mickey?  Yes, please!  Would he enjoy the show more from the front row?  Yes, he would!  Thank you!!  And I love how the characters and the character handlers are always so patient and don’t rush us and just seem to understand that he made need just a minute to get comfortable with a new situation and how some Photopass photographers go the extra mile to bring that smile to my sons face…… Also, our son has been lucky enough to have been the recipient of so many Magical Moments that I have been brought me to tears more times than I can count – and not just from the sight of Cinderella’s Castle!!  Often the gestures are just little things like a sticker or maybe a maybe a special pin, but to a parent of a special needs child, they’re huge!  The customer service is amazing and most Cast Members are friendly and compassionate people and want to give a little extra magic to a child (and family) that may need it, helping to make their visit everything they dreamed it would be and more!!  And this is why we continue to return as often as possible and because Walt Disney World is our Happiest Place On Earth!!!

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A little bit about me: My name is Michelle and I eat, sleep and breathe Disney!!  I am a stay at home mom of one very special boy!  In my free time I love to scrapbook our past Disney vacations, plan our upcoming visits and also help friends plan their Disney adventures!!!