Thursday, September 30, 2010

Trip Report - Reflections on Day One

Welcome HomeI must admit to you that I’ve been on the verge of tear since we arrived in Orlando. I am *so* happy to be back here and around every corner I seemed to be overwhelmed with hospitality. From the cast members to the other guests it has the charm and hospitality that continues to be beyond compare. I nearly cried when we boarded the Magical Express yesterday, and then again when we went under the “Walt Disney World Resort” sign and the passengers erupted in cheers. My eyes swelled walking when we were escorted up to the concierge level, we were handed our keys and told “Welcome Home”. A deep whoosh of air left my lungs… home, I am home.

The kids and I made our way to EPCOT (which was only an 8 minute bus ride from our hotel. Walking through the gate and towards Space Ship Earth I became all choked up once again. Every beautiful childhood memory came rushing back to me, but now I was the adult and I had brought my children home. My aunt is with us on this journey, I can feel her spirit along side me, and it reminds me of how much I miss her. It’s been over a decade and I think of all the wonderful things that I wish we could share. Yeah… now I am crying.

We ate dinner last night at Tokyo Dining which is at Epcot’s Japan Pavilion. It was lovely, the food was great, the hostess’ were so demure and polite it was almost painful. I’ll write a review post from the meal after we get home. Right now stream of conscious is all I can manage.

After diner we walked back to Future World and I rode Test Track for the very first time ever! It was AWESOME! Oh my god I screamed so loud, Kirk was laughing at me the whole walk to our next ride. Then we rode Mission Space, also amazing! Also, my first time. By 10:00 PM my body was screaming at me that we needed to get back to the hotel room, so what did we do? What else? We hit Journey to Imagination and Living with the Land.

10:30 was the tipping point though, all of us were tired and ready to head home. On the way back to the bus a Palmetto bug ran across Katie’s foot and she freaked! It wasn’t the biggest one I had ever seen, but she was sure that it wanted to eat her. Screaming she kicked it off of her foot, only to have it run right back to her and jump on again. She flicked it off, stomped on it, and then it finally ran away. I’m sure that it was part zombie.

After a good nights sleep, I awoke at 6:30 and went down to the concierge lounge to grab some coffee. Now here I sit on my third Americano overlooking the savanna where giraffe and zebra casually graze on their morning breakfast. The kids are still sound asleep and I’m inclined to let them stay that way.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios is on the schedule for today and we’ll be closing down the park with a viewing of Fantasmic! I can’t wait. I’m sure that there will be more crying.

Day One Photos are up Online HERE

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

What to do!?

I didn’t sleep at all last night. It's not that I'm not tired, I'm just not sleepy. It must be excitement over vacation, which I leave for in less than 24 hours from now. My brain won't shut off and I keep running through all possible vacation scenarios in my head.

Am I all packed? Are the kids packed? Do I have all my documents in order? Will they make us check bags? Do we have everything we need? Is there enough money? Did I pack the medications? Will the guys be okay while I’m gone?

I’m in a pre-trip tizzy and now on top of that I’m sleep deprived. What if I don't sleep tonight? What if I don't sleep for the next week!? At some point will I be walking down Main Street USA and just collapse from exhaustion?

Oy Vey! What to do!?
Keep Calm
Ummm... thanks British propaganda machine, your the best.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Wine & Dine Weekend Pre-Trip Report

Where you can follow the trip:
Twitter Kristen @DVCMom and Katie-Bug @NDK_49
Blog http://dvcmom.blogspot.com

I’m hoping to have a live stream webcam from the room up at eyesonears.com, but no promises as our equipment if iffy on this trip. Photos will be uploaded daily at http://web.me.com/kvantass/Photography/Main.html

Trip reports will be posted upon return.

Kristen - Mom, main organizer, blogger, and supposed “responsible adult”.
Katie, age 11 - Co-planner, blogger, and type A kid, she’s turned into a real online personality getting ready for this trip.
Kirk, age 16 - Claims he’s just along for the ride.
Tori, age 17 - Laid back and good natured she’s probably real voice of reason on the trip.

5 Nights - September 29th -October 4th, 2010
Mode of Travel - United Airlines, Chicago O’hare to Orlando International then Mickey’s Magical Express
Hotel - Animal Kingdom Lodge, 2 Bedroom Concierge Villa
Special Events - EPCOT Food & Wine Festival, Mickey’s Halloween 5K, Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, Lou Mongello F&W Walkabout, Disney Food Blog Foodie Fest Scavenger Hunt, DVCNews.com Meetup!


9/29 - Arrive, EPCOT. Toyko Dining ADR

9/30 - Disney Hollywood Studios in the evening w/Fantasmic! Sci-Fi ADR

10/1 DVCNews.com Rope Drop Meetup. Race Packet Pick up at WWoS, then off to EPCOT for the Lou Mongello F&W Walkabout. Kona Cafe’ ADR

10/2 Mickey’s Halloween Family 5K! Most likely we'll hit the Magic Kingdom that afternoon and evening. DVCNews.com Electrical Parade Meet up. Chef Mickey ADR

10/3 Disney Food Blog, Foodie Fest & Scavenger Hunt 11am-2pm
Magic Kingdom in the evening for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. Tony’s ADR.

10/4 - Animal Kingdom Morning. Depart in afternoon.

15 days and counting down…
This trip has been a very long time in coming. It’s been “in the works” for almost two years and the basic plans have changed several times. We’ve lost people from the original plan (first to be nine, whittled down to four) added park days, events, then dropped them again, made and canceled enough ADRs for three trips. It was all paid for and now I’m budgeting more tightly again. If I have learned anything from the experience that planning this trip has been, it’s been to let go, plan less and just let things happen the way that they’re going to. Not so easy for this type A mom. I think that I’ve finally come to peace with it all and I’m ready to go.

Update 7 days to go...
My suitcase is mostly packed and I just have a couple of things left to buy. Tip envelopes have been re-done (since I had to raid them for emergency cash last week). I completed my online check in at Animal Kingdom Lodge. It's my first time using the online check-in, so we'll see how that goes.

Bump in the road... Doh!

My travel documents are in our safe, which has suddenly become a little too safe. That's right, I can't get the dern thing open to save my life. The locksmith should be here within the next two days. $150 in spending money will be reallocated to a safe-cracking expense.

Just two days left!

Everybody is packed up, I've checked into the hotel online, and we decided that we'll be leaving for the airport at 6:00AM on Wednesday morning. Och! Talk about an early wake up call. I'm a little concerned about how I'm going to feel regarding my fibromyalgia, but there's nothing I can really do about that before we get there.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Isabella Fiore for Disney

Isabella Fiore Handbag

The Disney Store continues to add more high end designs made with the adult fans in mind. Jim Fielding and his fabulous team are showing us that they know the mom crowd doesn’t just want fabulous fashion for the kids, but will proudly sport the brand on their own when it’s delivered with quality and style. After four collections of bags from Dooney and Bourke earlier in the year; This fall they have partnered with edgy, fashion forward designer, Isabella Fiore, to release some luxurious accessories with attitude. Two, handbag and wallet duos, honoring Disney classics, Snow White, and Minnie Mouse, have given Disney fashionistas around the world a thrill.

Smitten with Snow White, I had to order Isabella’s gorgeous leather satchel to have for myself. The bag arrived today and I couldn’t be happier with my purchase. The classic Snow White sketch adds whimsy while still maintaining the classic elegance of it’s design. The fabulous frame covered in red leather opens with a click of the metal bow shaped clasp to revel a roomy interior with fabric of little red apples. Several interior side pockets and two small zippered compartments make the organization of essentials a piece of cake.

More of Isabella’s styles can be found in Lucky Magazine’s Fall Bag Guide. You can order your own Isabella Fiore for Disney at DisneyStore.com

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Bad Mommy...

We’re six days away from our Walt Disney World vacation, we’ve had to make some changes because of funding as well as tight scheduling. As Mom, and the main vacation planner, I’m doing everything that I can to please all of my travelers. I’ve gone from a trip that first only had one park day to six, four meet-ups, a race and a hard ticket party. It’s honestly going to be a pretty great trip. Here’s the rub, it’s Disney, it’s #EPICOctober2010, there’s only so much time and money available. We can’t do everything. We can’t do everything.

Today I decided that we would not be park hopping, it’s just too much of an expense to add to our tickets when we would only be using it 2 out of 6 days. However, this also means that we can’t to the WDW Foodie Fest scavenger hunt. This has lead to one of my daughters pouting around the house and making me feel like a bad mommy.

I’ve explained to her that we have to make choices and that we can’t do everything. She says that she understands, but that doesn’t stop the sad sack slump and the “I wish I could do this” every 10 minutes since I’ve told her. I want to scream “GET OVER YOURSELF” at the top of my lungs, but that wouldn’t stop her from finding a new way to make me feel guilty for not being able to do everything.

One of these days she'll have her own kids and have to make choices. However until then I’m just a bad mommy. She can deal.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Wordless Wednesday


Monday, September 13, 2010

Five Fall Favorites - Give Away!

As the air is turns cooler and the days start to shorten I’m reminded again that this is my favorite time of year. We turned off the air conditioners and opened all the windows in the house. The cool morning breeze is wafting through the house. I love Autumn and all the wonderful treats that it brings along. These are just a few of my favorite fall things! What are yours?

1. We’re going to Disney World - This year my kids and I are taking our first Fall trip to the Walt Disney World Resort. We’ll be participating in Mickey’s Halloween Family 5K and enjoying the magical route through a seasonally decorated Magic Kingdom. Our race tickets included admission to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party where the kids and I will Trick-or-Treat our way around the park and party with a whole host of Disney Villains. This is a first time for us but I’m sure that it’s going to become a fast fall favorite.

2. Pumpkin Spice Everything - Lattes, Cheesecake, Ice Cream, Wine… I’m a sucker the flavors of fall in a sweet treat. The candles in my house even change to that sweet pumpkiny smell that ushers in the splendor of fall.

3. Fall Colors - Living in Northern Illinois color week is usually the second week in October. All of the leaves turn brilliant shades or red and yellow as light breezes blow them through the air. Rock Cut State park is like a wonderland as you walk through the crisp autumn air. If you’re lucky you’ll even come across a family of wild turkeys.

4. The Apple Orchard - Strolling through the lush orchard with bright red fruit hanging from the branches, that lovely country breeze blowing through the trees. One twist and the sweet red fruit comes off in your hand. My family picks bushels full of sweet and tart apples to bring home to make mile high pies or even just to munch on for a quick snack. Our local orchard has a gigantic pumpkin patch, fresh honey, and the most amazing fresh made apple cider donuts.

5. Thanksgiving - There’s nothing better to me than gathering the family for a wonderful Thanksgiving meal. I always cook a gigantic meal and invite the family that I’ve made to gather at our house. Good food, good wine, good friends, the perfect day!

To celebrate the Harvest I’m headed to Starbucks for a Pumpkin Spice Latte and I want to share the flavors of fall with you! I’m giving away one $10 Gift Card from Starbucks so that you too can revel in the season. You can earn chances to win between now and September 20th! Winner will be drawn on 9/20/10 via random.org.

So many ways to enter! Please leave a new comment for each entry:

• Let me know what your fall favorites are (one new comment per day allowed on this one until the giveaway closes)
• Subscribe to The DVC Mom Blog (or if you already are, just tell me) 
• Follow DVCMom on Twitter (1 extra entry)
• Mention/link this giveaway in a blog post or tweet about it (1 extra entry each allowed once per day until the giveaway ends, leave the link in a comment.) 
• Go comment on another post on The DVC Mom Blog then come back and comment on this one saying you did it (this is an unlimited number of extra entries as long as you do the extra commenting!)

This contest is now closed....

Mama's Losin' It

2011 Walt Disney World Moms Panel


Once again the search is on for the members of the fabulous Walt Disney World Moms Panel. These Disney fans from around the country answer questions and share their Disney experiences and advice with the millions of visitors on the Disney.com website.

Like thousands of other Disney fans I woke up this morning to put it on the line and submit my application. Last year I applied and didn't even make it past the first round. With such a wealth of Disney super-fans out there on the internet sometimes I wonder if I'm truly "Disney enough". This year I had prepared before applying. I had taken the time to rewrite my answers to last years questions and reflect on what my Disney experience has been.

I'm not sure that any of it really helped. The questions this year were so different. I ifelt just as lost when faced with the application. Perhaps it's just a sort of stage fright. The most valuable advice I chose to keep in mind while subbmittig my applicatio was from 2010 Mom's panelist and Zannaland writer Suzannah D. In her blog post on the 2011 selection process she said "Let the real you shine through."

Well, I did my best to shine and I hope that this year I at least make it through to the second round of essays. If not, there's always next year, because I know that I'm Disney enough.

If you're interested in applying for the 2011 Walt Disney World Moms Panel it's not to late. "Applications will be taken from 9:00 am Eastern Daylight Time on September 13, 2010 through 11:59 pm Eastern Daylight Time September 17, 2010 or when we have reached 20,000 applicants, whichever comes first." So head on over to Disney.com and let yourself shine through.

Friday, September 10, 2010

If I were to climb on top of Expedition Everest: NDK49 Journal Post

EverestIf I were to climb on top of Expedition Everest it would look all snowy and I would see prayer flags dancing in the wind. When I reached the top I would probably hear the Yeti, the protector of the mountain, ROAR. At the top of Expedition Everest I would smell the scents of the food cooking at the restaurant Yak & Yeti.

I would see all of the colorful prayer flags dancing and blowing in the wind. Strung across the buildings, tied to trees, sending prayers to the wind horse spreading the good will and compassion everything it touches. It is very relaxing.

I would hear the Yeti roar because he is trying to scare away the train that took peace from HIS mountain. He doesn't want to hurt the people he just would want the people to leave him and the peaceful mountain alone.

I would smell the sweet and sour scents the meat cooking down in the Yak & Yeti restaurant wafting up with the breeze. The scent of noodle soup making my tummy rumble like the Yeti shaking the mountain!

This is what i think climbing to the top of Expedition Everest would be like. Expedition Everest is one of my favorite rides because it’s like a roller coaster but relaxing at the same time. It teaches the story of the Yeti and how some people think that he protects the land. I think that if people would stop looking for him, that maybe he’d show himself.

~ Katie, regularly shares "Disney from a Kids Point of View", she is eleven years old and still lives at home with her family. A real DVC kid, she is a Disney Channel fan and enjoys exploring all things Disney in her own way.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

You’re going WHERE?

If I had a nickel for every time I was asked why I don’t vacation anywhere but Disney, I would be a rich woman today. Well, who are we kidding, I would have spent it on going to Disney again. But I digress… The truth is that I have been other places, yet over the past 15-20 years Disney Parks have been my stand by. I know that when I go on a Disney vacation I’m going to experience high quality, great service, and fabulous food. What more could one want on vacation?

Next year (2011) I have four tentative Disney trips on the schedule. However, one of the perks of being a Disney Vacation Club (DVC) member is that I can exchange points for rooms at resorts around the world. My husband and I decided to take one of our planned trips (what was originally going to be our D23 Expo trip) and use our DVC points to go to New Orleans, Louisiana. At this point you may be panicking, I know I was at first, but it’s okay. Really. Disney helped me make this choice. You see, I am completely in love with all things that Disney has done with a New Orleans flair. My favorite land of all the Disney parks is New Orleans Square, Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen is one of my favorite places to eat, and I’m a HUGE Jazz, Blues, Dixieland music fan. I’ve decided that it’s time I get a taste of the real New Orleans, Louisiana.

I did a little research and it turns out that DVC members have two options of where to stay in New Orleans, through a time share exchange with RCI. One of the properties is right in the French Quarter. DVC members can exchange their points for week long stays at RCI properties 12 months out from their intended date of travel. When staying less than a week they can exchange points for an RCI stay at 10 months out. There is a $95 service fee for transferring points to RCI, and once the points are transfered out they stay RCI points and can not be transfered back for use at a Disney Vacation Club property.

We want to head to the Big Easy next fall, so we need to wait a few more months before I can try to get reservations. So while we wait take a browse at just a few of the things we want to see, do, and eat when we head to New Orleans!

Sucre’ by Tariq Hanna
NOLA by Emeril Lagassee
K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen by Paul Prudhomme
Cafe’ du Monde
Margarittaville by Jimmy Buffett
Steamboat Natchez Jazz Dinner
Walking Tour of French Quarter Cocktails
Preservation Hall Jazz
More Jazz! Kermit Ruffins and the Barbeque Swingers
Plantation Tour
Audubon Zoo & Aquarium
Mardis Gras World
Explore the French Quarter

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Wordless Wednesday