July 31, 2013--Disney Traditions (Our Special Ride)
One of the reasons I have such a strong love for Disney World is because of the sentimental value the memories of our family trips hold when my sister and I were kids. I have very high ranking memories of planning with my mother, loading up our car for the trip with my dad, walking down Main Street on our first day, etc. And, as I have written before, I love creating Disney traditions and have started new ones with my own girls.
On our most recent trip, Keegan and I ended up riding together on Toy Story Mania at Hollywood Studios. It just so happened that way, and we didn't plan it, but when the it was time to load, Regina and Ryan jumped in together, my sister and Giana together, leaving me and Keegan. This was a bit unusual for a variety for reasons: 1) many rides that we go on at Disney allow many people to sit in a row together (think Small World), 2) if we did go on a ride that sits 2 x 2, Keegan usually chooses Giana, and 3) many of the attractions are shows with theater style seating. So, to my surprise, Keegan and I were riding on Toy Story Mania shooting at all the arcade games. It was awesome, we had a blast and tried our best to beat Ryan and Regina's score! When we exited the attraction, we laughed and talked about how much fun we had (this ride is worth the hustle in the morning to get a fast pass). As we were walking through the park on to our next adventure, I whispered to Keegan, that Toy Story Mania is forever going to be our special ride, and we should always ride it together. There have been many mentions of this since we were at Disney, and both she and I are looking forward to another ride next year.
Although this tradition popped up spontaneously, I plan to start this with each of the girls and Ryan too. For Regina, she gets such a kick out of Dumbo and Small World, that might be our ride. Ryan and I both love Haunted Mansion, so maybe that will be our ride. And we'll see how things develop with Madeleine next summer!
February 19, 2013--Have You Read this Book Yet?
Attention all Disney fans--this is a must read! The book showcases an autistic boy's relationship with Disney World and Snow White's Scary Adventure in particular. A great read, very inspiring and heartfelt. It speaks to the transformative (and therapeutic) powers of Disney-for those of us Disney fans, you know what I'm talking about!
November 25, 2012--My Favorite Disney Blogs/Sites:
While planning our Disney trip this past summer, I fell in love with following some great Disney fan blogs. I got so many great ideas and money saving tips and am able to get my general Disney "Fix" from these great sites:
- The Disney Food Blog: www.disneyfoodblog.com A great place to find menus and reviews for every restaurant and eatery on Disney property. Great reviews and information about the Dining Plan as well.
- It's a Disney World After All: www.adisneyworldafterall.com Great site to get a brief synopsis and explanation about rumors organized by park, resort or general Disney news.
- All Ears.net: www.allears.net Fantastic site for general Disney news and vacation planning tips.
- Meet the Magic: www.meetthemagic.com Focus on planning and saving strategies for your mouse vacation.
- The Disney Moms: www.thedisneymoms.com All things Disney World with an emphasis on family from a Mom's perspective.
- Touring Plans: www.touringplans.com Hands down, my favorite place to go for Disney vacation information. The best part about this site/company are their "Touring Plans"-or step-by-step strategies for touring the parks aimed at maximizing your time. I am a self-described Disney World strategist, so I just love what their site has to offer. I even bought their 2012 touring book and actually learned something from it! Thought I knew all there was to know about making the most of my Disney experience until I found this company!
July 9, 2012--Disney Pins, The Start of a New Duggan Family Disney Vacation Tradition!
We recently returned from a fantastic trip to Disney and while there we decided to start a new tradition for our family. I have always thought the Disney pins are so cute, but since I (we) are not big knick-knack collectors, I have never bought any (we have also not gotten into the pin trading either). But, starting with this most recent vacation, everyone in the family is going to pick out a special pin that reminds them of the trip. It could be a pin of their favorite ride, or a new experience they had, or meeting their favorite character for the first time, etc. Then, we will add to our collection through the years watching it grow, and remembering the special memories we created! I am hoping to put the pins in a shadow box or frame and add to it each trip. I have not put the display together just yet, but here is the run-down of the pins everyone chose this time around:
Regina chose the "It's a Small World" pin because that was her most favorite ride. She loved everything about it: the boat, the song, watching the kids from different countries. Each day she would ask us if we could go back on "It's a Small World" even if we were at a different park!
Keegan chose the princess crown pin because she adored dressing in her princess (Little Mermaid) dress and having breakfast with the princesses. Every time she sees a fancy dress now, she claims that's what she is going to wear next time we are at Disney. Lord help me if I have to sit through another princess breakfast...!
Ryan chose the general WDW pin because he claims to love everything about Disney and our trip!
I chose the Nemo pin, because we stayed at the new Art of Animation Resort this time in the Nemo family suite. The hotel was AWESOME, the pool was fantastic, I loved everything about it. So for me, I will always remember Nemo from this trip. As the gift shop attendants told us everyday as we entered/existed the hotel, "Just keep swimming, just keep swimming..."!
And finally, we all chose the Mickey China pin for Madeleine. We talked a lot about Maddie on this trip and the girls can't wait to get her home and start telling her all about the fun we are going to have in Disney when she is with us for our next trip (probably summer 2014)!
June 8, 2012--Art of Animation, Here We Come!
Just a few more days of waiting (I think I can, I think I can, I think I can...) and we will be in Disney staying at the newly opened Art of Animation Resort! Can't wait to see this place, it sounds like Keegan and Regina's dream come true, sure hope we can pull them away from the resort and actually get them to the parks!
January 25, 2012--How to Afford Disney
In my lifetime, I have been to Disney probably about 15-20 times, I have lost official count. I have saving for Disney down to a science. Recently had a few conversations with my sister in law as she is planning her trip for Spring Break and decided to share with everyone a few of the secrets I have employed in saving for a trip to Disney World.
1. I have a separate online savings account dedicated solely to our vacations. My account is with ING, whom I would highly recommend. If fact, send me an email and I will send you a referral through my account--you will get $25, and I'll get $10!!!
2. Spare Change. We have a spare change jar in our house and any loose change we collect or find, goes into the jar. A few times a year, we will put the money into our vacation savings account so that it makes some interest for us! I have been saving loose change for Disney trips since I was a kid, so have to really thank my Mom for this tip. Now that Keegan and Regina are around, they get into the action too--if fact, they are great at spotting coins on the ground wherever we are. Their favorite place to spot errant money on the ground for our Disney bank--Auntie Meggie's laundry room!!!!
3. Yard Sale. Right before our trip, we usually host a yard sale to generate some last minute funds to add to our savings account. Good way to delete some of the clutter that builds up throughout the year too!
4. Rebates, etc. Any random rebate checks that come through from products we buy always goes into our vacation savings as well. And, this year, a few random class action settlement checks came our way too (from a few credit card issues). I actually don't even remember agreeing to the settlements, but I'm not going to turn a few extra bucks away! Usually not too much from this category, but it's somewhat unexpected money, so a great way to save without missing money from other accounts.
5. Mycokerewards.com. I have a strong affinity for coke (as does my father), and they have a rewards site that you can collect points to turn in for prizes. Last year, they offered Disney GiftCards, and I am hoping they do the same this year as well.
6. Sunshine Rewards. I do a lot of online shopping and I always go through this website first. They pay me money for shopping through their site, and I can even cash out in Disney GiftCards! If you are interested in signing up, use my ID, and we will both get more money: 11109.
7. MyPoints.com. Again, a site that pays you for online shopping, clicking through emails, and doing surveys. We will both get extra points if you sign up via my account, so give a holler if you are interested!
8. globalopinionpanels.com. I do online surveys for Synovate Global Opinion Panels and earn cash for the surveys I complete. Again, not much of a money earner (I would never quit my day job for theses surveys), but a little extra cash for taking surveys every now and again. I do them while I'm watching TV or have a few extra minutes to myself while the girls are napping.
9. And finally, the biggest contributor to the Disney savings account is my Chase Rewards Visa. We earn 1% back for every purchase we make that gets converted to Disney dollars good on just about anything at Disney! This year, our rewards will be paying for a majority of our room and park tickets!