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Friday, November 30, 2012

Powerball winner-what would you do with the money?

One of the winners for the record $588 Powerball winner came forward this morning- and the gas station they purchased it at is literally 15 minutes from my house. My mother in law drove by the gas station that night, nearly stopped, but bought a ticket from a gas station closer to home. It's just crazy to think how close we are to the winner. I always hope that if it isn't me or my family that won, that someone who needs/deserves it does, and that appears to be the case.




Something you'll usually find quoted from the winner- they always comment that they can finally travel. Actually, one of the exact quotes from one of the winners in the article I linked above-

"It's really going to be nice to spend time — not have to work — and be able to take trips with our family."

And that really hit home with me-why Disney is really my passion.

You travel with your family because you have fun, it's not the normal grind, you make memories. It's why I love Disney, I love my job, and I always will. Someone wins a giant pile of money-they aren't sure yet what they will spend the money on, but they can say they will travel. Because vacations, spending time with family, letting go of your job, not having to stress-a vacation is a place where you get to enjoy each other.

Think about a vacation-it's not a  brand new car, but a car is certainly useful. It's not a giant 3D/LCD/Plasma TV. It's not an iPhone. These items are definitely nice, and provide some momentarily happiness.

A vacation is times of joy, elation, bottled up excitement. Smiles, trying out new things you never would have. It's something you'll never forget. Look around your house- how many pictures do you have hanging up of your family on vacation?

One of the most popular vacations is Disney. Why? Because Disney is a one-stop-shop: food, entertainment, lodging, transportation, all the while putting you in a magical place with top notch customer service. Tell me you don't LOVE life walking down Main Street USA (until you get to Starbucks. Ok, ok, enough complaining).

You don't have to be a record setting winner to go and have the same feeling, make the same memories. Maybe it's once a year, versus one a week, but you get my drift.

The beauty of Disney is that it can be great for people who do want to save some money, and it's also great for those who have a little bit looser of a budget. While your experience will be slightly different, the end result is not-smiles, laughter, and a lifetime of memories.

I live in Missouri (unfortunately not Dearborn, Missouri, home of the Powerball winner), and we have been to Disney four out of the past five years. I'm by no means a member of the wealthy elite. I have a second job, in education. My husband works in minor league baseball. Some people are so scared of the cost of a Disney trip- yes, it's going to cost a little more than some vacations. All it takes is a little budgeting, saving, and a plan to go. It's that simple.

We allocate a monthly allowance to our Disney vacation, and it's not a crippling amount-what are we going to do instead? We could eat out a couple more times, buy a few more clothes, really, just waste the money... I swear, we could spend $200 at Target and have no idea what we bought but a gallon of milk. You put that money towards a Disney vacation, you will know, and remember, where that money went. I'll never forget my daughter screaming in pure joy and adulation the first time she layed her little eyes on the Cinderella's Castle, or when she gave Minnie Mouse a bear hug. My son, almost a year old, dancing with cast members at the Main Street Confenctionary (the Candy store) to a parade. Look at that look on daughter's face the first time on the Teacups ride-think any t-shirt I bought her could have the same reaction?



It just jumped off the page this morning when I read that quote, and I was reminded of how many times I have seen it in similar stories. Your children, grand parents-family-they are only this age once. Don't put off traveling, vacations, and the lifetime of memories you'll receive, for the extra money in your bank account to spend on other things. At the end of the day, this is what you will always cherish and hold on to.

To make a Disney vacation happen, it takes $200 to reserve your room. From there, you can make whatever payments you want, as big or as small. It's not THAT much-consider the value you are getting out of this purchase. I would pay a billion dollars for the memories I've had. You just have pay off your trip 45 days before your first day at Disney. I've planned trips on the smallest budget, and some budgets that I wish I could experience. Of course, like I mentioned earlier- you're going to have a blast regardless.

If you want to feel like you won the Powerball-carefree, happy, joyous- then send me an email at disneytripexpert@gmail.com and I'll plan you the vacation of a lifetime.

Also, if you have, or in the future, win the Powerball, feel free to send me an email as well. Hey, you could bring me to be your personal Disney tour guide!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

My favorite Disney/Thanksgiving tradition

I'm a sucker for the Macy parades- I always love watching them on TV. It's a tradition I'm sure I will pass down to my kids.

Of course, my favorite float is the giant Mickey float at the Macy Thanksgiving Day parade!

This year, the Disney floats will be Buzz Lightyear and Sailor Mickey, according to this article, although I won't be surprised if they switched it, as Sailor Mickey has been around for a couple of years to celebrate the new Disney cruise ships.

Just to show you how far these floats have come- check out this picture of Mickey from the 1934 Macy Thanksgiving Day Parade!


It's amazing to think the parade and Disney have been part of a tradition for so long. They've built a little bit of equity in that time!

Here's a cool link to the Disney Parks Blog- there's some great pictures there!

Also, some interesting pieces of information. Such as: 
"The first Mickey Mouse balloon was a collaborative effort between Walt Disney and Macy’s Tony Sarg, who years earlier applied the principles of marionette puppetry to invent the type of parade balloons we know today. This Mickey was easily one of the biggest that Disney had produced yet, hand-painted and measuring in at 40 feet tall (the star on his chest is a nod to the Macy’s logo).

Mickey was led in the parade by a team of 25 handlers who were festively dressed in Mickey/Minnie costumes. A smaller Pluto balloon, a 34-foot-tall Big Bad Wolf, a 31-foot-tall Little Pig, and a 12 ½-foot-tall Horace Horsecollar followed along in the 1934 procession.

Heres to you and your family having a wonderful Thanksgiving together, celebrating your own traditions!

Monday, November 19, 2012

New Disney Theme Park!

Ok, maybe the title is a little misleading...how about "What could have been a new Disney theme park."

Walt Disney grew up in Missouri- I visited Marceline, Missouri last year with on a D23 tour. It was amazing to see Walt Disney Elementary, with Disney characters painted in the school. The "real" Main Street USA, which the Disneyland version is modeled after.

It's also cool for me- I live in northwest Missouri, close to Kansas City. Walt did some work and lived in Kansas City for awhile, so I feel like I have some connection to Walt-albeit a small one, it's still something.

I've read and heard of rumors that Walt wanted to build a theme park in Missouri. However, I always read the major hurdle was weather- Missouri doesn't have the sunshine like Florida or California. It's also 70 one day and 30 the next.

KSDK, out of St. Louis, rehashed the topic. Apparently, weather wasn't the issue. Walt was going to open a park named Riverfront Square in St. Louis, and it was going to be inclosed.

Think about it-what disadvantage do Florida and California have? Location. Missouri is smack dab in the middle of the country-it'd be an within a days drive for so much of the US.

So why didn't it happen? It all boiled down to... beer. Walt didn't want to serve beer in the parks, while one of the Busch's (not the former president, but the Anheuser Busch, i.e. Budweiser) obviously wanted to. There were also disputes over construction.

The timing of KSDK releasing this is somewhat coincidental- it was announced not too long ago that Disney World will soon start serving beer at Magic Kingdom, at the Be Our Guest restaurant. In fairness, Be Our Guest is a french restaurant, and they are offering french wine and beer to go with the dinner, so that is a true "gourmet" experience. It's only available at a specific time-dinner-and to sit down patrons only. So it's not like you'll see someone wheeling around a cooler of beer, tailgating for the Wishes fireworks show.

Several classic attractions came from designs for the St. Louis Disney theme park- Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion, and Big Thunder Railroad.

Here's the link to the story-it's very interesting, and they go into more details about the rides.

Or, you can watch their video below.


Friday, November 16, 2012

Main Street Bakery Cinnamon rolls

You've heard a lot about Main Street Bakery this week. If you have never been, you might not understand my passion for it.

Here's a video that show the Main Street Bakery in Magic Kingdom in its current glory, and before Starbucks takes over.




If you read either of the posts this week, you'll also notice one of the items I was concerned about were the cinnamon rolls- those sticky buns are legendary. Also, if you watched the video above, you caught a glimpse of them.

You'll be able to find them in Gaston's Tavern in the new Fantasyland area-but I posted a video with the recipe for Main Street Bakery Cinnamon Rolls, so you can now make them at home!


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Main Street Bakery Update

If you missed my rant yesterday about Starbucks taking over Main Street Bakery, then let me summarize it for you: I don't like it!

However, I noted there are rumors of the current Disney menu still being offered, so it's not all Starbucks.

Today, it was announced that Disney in fact will still offer brownies, cookies, and seasonal cupcakes.

The cinnamon rolls will now be available at Gaston's Tavern in Fantasyland, the ice cream sandwiches will be located at the Plaza Ice Cream Parlor on Main Street USA.

Apparently they were listening, as I noted both the brownies and cinnamon rolls in my post yesterday. Disaster averted- now I will have to do a little bit of walking to get some of my favorite snacks, but it's walking I would have made regardless.

So, I guess I can live with this decision. I'm still not thrilled that Starbucks will be located on Main Street USA, but it could have been worse...

Also of note, this location will be closed from January-Early Summer 2013 while they are making these changes.

Free Disney Gift Card Giveaway!

If you answer yes to one of the following:
A) Like Disney
B) Like Free Gift Cards
C) Want money you could apply for a trip, use at the Disney Store, or at the online Disneystore

then this is for you!

I'm giving away a free Disney gift card on my Facebook page to celebrate 1200 likes- I do this often, so make sure you like my page for your chance to win a Disney gift card for free! All you have to do is comment on my post about your favorite Disney restaurant-or what would be your favorite, if you haven't been... or heck, maybe your own favorite Disney themed meal you cook, like Mickey pancakes!

I'll randomly select a winner on Friday, so the count down is on- just click here, like my page, and post your comment! Good luck!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Main Street Bakery closing at Disney World- for Starbucks.

I posted about this on my Facebook page over the weekend- Disney announced that Starbucks will be moving in Main Street USA at the Magic Kingdom. Going out will be Main Street Bakery.



Main Street Bakery was one of our favorite places to use snack credits from the dining plan- their bakery was unrivaled. From the best brownies on Earth to giant cinnamon rolls full of melted warm gooey icing, my family always loved the offerings. Last time we couldn't choose between some of the items, so we just ordered some to go, and ate the rest there. Main Street Bakery was a staple, and a perfect fit on Main Street USA. It will be closing in January 2013.

In it's place-Starbucks. Yep, the same Starbucks that you can get at 5 different locations in your city. This seems like a obvious money grab, which Disney should have more than enough of. Starbucks adds no value to my trip, nor is it unique. Main Street USA is themed after the downtown area in Marceline, Missouri. I visited it last year. And while the building decor may stay the same-it's still going to be "Starbucks,"and full of their products- not what I think of when thinking downtown Marceline. I think of homemade products, soda fountains-much of what the Main Street Bakery was. But hey, now we can get a Starbucks muffin or scone-it really is unfortunate there is not a sarcasm font. This just reeks of a selfish monetary move, and I wish Disney would have kept it the same. This is Main Street USA!

I'm pretty sure Disney was already profiting off the location, but they will surely see more with this move-maybe from the Starbucks corporation, but not from me. I  see no issue in offering Starbucks coffee, but retaining the same name-Main Street Bakery- and product line. But to switch over to a "Starbucks" location on Main Street USA is disheartening.

On a positive note- there is a strong rumor that Disney will offer their current menu items. Should that happen, I will obviously stomach the name change (pun intended). However, no one really knows until A) Disney announces that..but really it's B) When Disney reopens the Bakery. I know the changes will be subtle-Starbucks already opened a location in Disneyland, and it's not in your face Starbucks everywhere. I just hope they don't become another Starbucks storefront, much like the ones I can find in my own town. Disney could avoid that by retaining their menu- I want to get unique food that I can't get elsewhere. You might say, it's just a brownie- I promise you, there's no bakery where I live that can touch the quality of food I have tasted at Main Street Bakery.

Starbucks is also opening a location in Epcot, at the Fountain View. Obviously, this location isn't as near and dear to me-it's just another storefront, and not part of the magic that Main Street USA offers.

Really, what's next- Chef Mickey's becomes Chef McDonalds? A buffet of chicken nuggets! That's a little overboard from me, but when I go to Disney- I want Disney.

Many of my posts are positive, pro-Disney and celebrating all you can find at Disney... and I truly love the Disney brand. I'm also very protective of my experience, and I like what it already is. There's a difference between opening something new-and modifying something to a different experience.

However, I am always truthful, and will give my honest opinion. I do the same when booking trips and offering advice to my clients- whether it's a restaurant, hotel, or some other issue- I will give you honest feedback, and not just sugarcoat it because it's Disney. Hopefully-and I will be watching closely- Disney will make the right move with Starbucks.


Friday, November 9, 2012

More Fantasyland Reviews!

As we near closer to Fantasylands opening date at Disney World (December 6), there are more reviews of what everyone will soon be able to find.

I'm sitting here drooling over what I read- I am so excited to check it out. From restaurants, to rides, to characters, to the actual theming, this new expansion at Magic Kingdom in Disney World has me so excited!



This morning, I ran across a review from the Detroit Free Press (and they actually picked it up from USA Today).

Some of the highlights-


"So is Gaston from "Beauty and the Beast." Once a minor character in the theme park, this biceps-curling guy has turned into more of a rock star, challenging 5-year-olds to push-up contests and tromping around Gaston's Tavern, a quick-service restaurant featuring roasted pork shanks and chocolate croissants."




"USA TODAY got an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour of the multifaceted attraction as well as a first look at the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train scheduled to open in early 2014.

This family-friendly coaster, with no upside-down turns, will be the centerpiece of the expansion. "It's right there in the heart of it, which poses a bit of a construction challenge," says Tom Staggs, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. "But at the same time, (this attraction) will really complete it."

Set on rolling countryside, it will take guests into the "mine where a million diamonds shine" while navigating 31-foot and 41-foot drops. With its patented train of vehicles mounted in cradle-like pivots to allow them to sway independently as they swing around the track, the coaster will be the first of its kind. Spanning more than 1,900 feet of track, it will give visitors a glimpse inside the dwarfs' cottage."


The following is about the "Be Our Guest restaurant-

"We're even making the ketchup from scratch using carrots," says Lenny DeGeorge, Walt Disney World executive chef. "And the meatloaf also has vegetables, so kids are getting their vegetables and don't even realize it."



And finally this-


"Outside, to the far left of Beast's Castle is Maurice's Cottage, which houses Enchanted Tales with Belle, an immersive experience that "allows guests to see themselves in the story," Vaughn says. The magic mirror becomes a portal into the Beast's Castle, where a talking wardrobe entertains and guests can have an engaging encounter with Belle.

After waiting two years to visit New Fantasyland, Amanda Jacobson from Ocoee, Fla., feels overjoyed. "It was awesome," says Amanda, 9. "It was better than I expected."

Her mother, Jennifer, agrees: "I can't believe Disney afforded audiences that much one-on-one time with a character. I hope they don't change it."



For all of the details of the review-and they worth reading- click here to read the original article. I can't wait to experience this!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Meet Wreck-It Ralph and Vanellope at Disney World!

Disney's most recent movie release, Wreck-It Ralph, looks so cute-and a novel idea. I also think younger boys would love the movie-as it features many video game characters.

Now, you can meet some of the characters at Disney World!

They are located directly next to the Animation Academy in Hollywood Studios-which, by the way, is one of my favorite things to do at Disney...and is free! You have to make at least one stop at the Animation Academy. It's where Disney Animators will teach you how to draw some of the characters, and you get to take home your drawing! You'll be surprised at what you can do, with a little guidance.

Back to Ralph-you can get pictures and autographs with characters from the Wreck-It Ralph movie there. Check out the video below- I would like to see Ralph try and sign an autograph with those clubs.

As always, this is a limited time deal-once the popularity of the movie goes, so will the characters. If your children like it (or you), what a great excuse to book a trip!


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Disney Trip Advice and Tips

A little over a week, I had a Disney gift card giveaway on my Facebook page. If you haven't liked my page-I'm going to give one away again soon, so go ahead and like it!

To qualify for the the free Disney gift card, I simply asked my followers to share their favorite Disney travel tip. I was amazed at the responses!

I have complied some really useful Disney tips that were posted, along with some of my thoughts. Click for some great Disney travel advice!

Monday, November 5, 2012

How to tell your kids you're going to Disney! Part 2

I blogged some earlier ideas on how to surprise your kids with a trip to Disney in July, which you can find here- if you missed it, there's some really fun ideas there.

Now that the holidays are approaching- and what better gift could you give than a trip to Disney (which I have many clients already doing)! I couldn't imagine how hard it would be to hold the secret in... but it would be so exciting!

Just a quick blurb to point out how great this works- all it takes is $200 down for a deposit for a trip, and then you have until 45 days before your trip to pay it off...so you give a great present, plan a vacation with me for free, and you can just make payments whenever you want until your trip that could be in March, July, September, anytime- and you could have a little extra money, because all it takes is $200 to reserve the room!

Anyway, back to the post- if you are surprising your kids, wife, husband, grandparents, neighbor, dog, or anyone else in the world-now is a great time to surprise them.

I'm going to share with you a couple of ideas- and I can't help but just imagine the look on my kids face if I were to pull one of this off. My only problem is that my kids are beginning to learn that we go to Disney nearly every year... makes it a bit tough to surprise them!

This one is one of my all time favorites.

First, the idea. You can buy fortune cookies online, and put in your own custom message. You could put the entire message in one fortune cookie or break up the message in multiple fortune cookies, saying "You're going to Disney!"

Custom Fortune Cookies is one place (of many) that you can order online. They also make giant fortune cookies- you could wrap up the fortune cookie, or just bring it in for dinner.

Want to see it in action? Check out this video. Imagine your kids doing it!





I love the look on their faces-it certainly tugs on my heart! Seriously, $200 gets it started.

Want more ideas? Click for more!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Be Brave! My very own real life Merida and one of Merida's brothers

I hope everyone had a safe, fun, and enjoyable Halloween.

I knew the instant I saw the characters from the movie "Brave" my plan for Halloween. Seriously- I think Harris, Hubert, and Hamish were modeled after my son.

And of course, my daughter absolutely loved the movie, and Merida. She certainly has the fiery personality Merida has.... and Kyber, our son, is 100% as ornery as her brothers. He has to be the most mischievous boy ever... just this morning, he ripped off his diaper and I felt a nice shower on my feet at the same time.... followed by a 10 second giggle from him.







Her hair was so funny-it was like a live animal bouncing around!

Show off your own children on my Facebook page- where I just gave away a Disney gift card and will be doing again soon! So if you haven't "liked" my page yet, do it now...share a photo, or check out some others hopefully!

Also- you can find Disney's Merida at/around the new Fantasyland area in Magic Kingdom. You can find my son there in February..although he can't sign autographs yet, we are still working on potty training (especially after my experience this morning!).

Disney will also be releasing Brave on DVD Tuesday, November 13. If you missed it in theaters- it's a wonderful movie, be sure to check it out!