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Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Broadsides of Harambe Village

While the Princess Party Crew and I relaxed in the comfort and shade of the Dawa Bar, waiting for the Jammin' Jungle Parade, I noticed the the area was papered with creative broadsides full of local propaganda.  Flyers slapped up on the on walls and poles, signs painted on building to help create the feeling of this little village. 

Harambe
Guests of Hotel Inside Tusker
Local Customs
Untitled Untitled
Untitled Baloon Trip
CPT Bob Untitled
Masks and BroadsideJourney
Disco

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Wordless Wednesday Flamingo


No zoom needed, friendly Flamingo!


Focused on the Magic

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Saving Money on Meals in Disneyland

When I travel to Walt Disney World I frequently purchase the Deluxe Dining plan, however for our upcoming trip to Disneyland that just won’t be possible. Disneyland does offer a set of vouchers to purchase for your dining, but it doesn’t seem to me like they really offer any added value, so we’ll be using Disney Gift Cards that we’ve saved money on for our meals.  We had saved $900 on the card before we had to start making changes, so that’s what I have to work with. Using Gift Cards just for meals will help us maintain our budget since the money is set aside from ticket money or spending money.

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When I discovered I would have to cut out budget significantly, the first thing I did was decided that we would only eat at counter service restaurants. This is a fairly simple choice to make at the Disneyland Resort because not only is it easy to get to any place you want to eat on foot, but they truly have some exceptional counter service establishment. This choice immediately cut what we would need to budget for food by 40%.

Added benefits of switching to all counter service meals include:
  • No need to make priority seating reservations.
  • Save more money by not having to leave a tip.
  • More flexibility in our touring plan.
water is good for you
I also decided to save money in our food budget by cutting out soda. I could not believe how much we will save when I ran these numbers. By carrying water bottles and single serve crystal light packs we will save at least $40 a day. For our 6 day trip, that’s a savings of $240 from our budget. That’s HUGE!! The added benefit here is in overall health, less sugar and more water are always good things.

Next, I headed over to AllEars.net where I was able to look up the menus for Disneyland Counter Service.  There I could get an idea of what was available, and which restaurants had the most options that my kids would eat. In order to create our budget, I added up the cost of the most expensive entree at each restaurant and multiplied it by 4.  By figuring my budget in that manner, it gives me a maximum cash lay out to expect for each meal.   For our family of four, I can expect a range of between $40-$60 per meal at the following establishments we picked.
AKL Villa Kitchen

I made one more choice in my attempt to cut the food budget. We’ll be eating 3 breakfasts and 1 lunch in our room. The Villa has a full kitchen, I figured that we might as well make it work for us. Not to mention the requisite morning Starbucks coffee in our room since the new stores won’t be open yet. At the Disneyland Resort you can have groceries delivered to you for a fee through the Vons.com website.

According to AllEars.net, most of the Disneyland Resort counter service restaurants also give a 10% discount to DVC Members. I’m not sure if that’s correct, but you know that I’ll be asking at every place we go! I’ll report back on that later.

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We’ll be departing Disneyland on Mother’s day, and I’m hoping that we’ll have enough money left over that we can squeeze in an early breakfast at the Storyteller’s Café, which is my favorite Character Meal in Disneyland.  Keep your fingers crossed for me!

I think that these savings tips could probably be applied to a Walt Disney World vacation as well. They were really just common sense placed to pinch out pennies. I can’t wait to share our Disneyland food adventure! Do you have a favorite counter service place to eat in Disneyland? Leave me a comment and let me know!

I'm thrill to have this post featured in Disney Blog Carnival #45 
Stop by for the best News & Views the Disney Blog-o-sphere has to offer.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Starbucks at Disney!

DSC03873Oh my gosh, I'm not one for the cut and paste press release, but I'm so excited about this I can barely put two sentences together!!

This is a partnership I've wanted to happen for decades.  Finally high end coffee all over Disney Parks.  No more packing my own, I can leave the French Press and beans at Home.

Are you as excited about this collaboration as I am!? 

The News Straight from the Disney Parks Blog:
"Today, we’re excited to officially announce plans to bring your favorite Starbucks drinks and food items to all of our theme parks at Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort.

In June, the first of six planned Starbucks locations is scheduled to open at Disney California Adventure park. And more locations are planned at Disneyland park and Walt Disney World Resort (Magic Kingdom Park, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom).

The Starbucks locations inside our parks will be designed to fit the theme of their surroundings. At Disney California Adventure park, Starbucks will be located in the Fiddler, Fifer and Practical Café on Buena Vista Street, a place that transports guests to 1920s Los Angeles, when Walt Disney arrived in California and a cup of coffee was the perfect way to jumpstart a busy day. The store’s location plays off the Spanish/Mexican architecture of the period, and baristas will wear 1920s-inspired attire.
The café will serve Starbucks items, including coffee and espresso beverages, Frappuccino® blended beverages, and signature breakfast sandwiches and pastries. Guests also will have their choice of Disney favorites, including signature sandwiches and other items, as well as delicious desserts and sweet treats.
Let us know what you’ll be ordering in the comments."

Katie's Pre-Disneyland Shopping Day VLog

My daughter Katie and I went out shopping yesterday to get her some things that she will need for the upcoming Disneyland. It was the first big shopping trip that we had in a long time, and while we were out she decided that we should shoot some video with my phone.  Ever indulgent I played along.  So I present to you Katie's Pre-Disneyland Shopping Day Vlog.  I hope you enjoy our banter.


Sunday, April 22, 2012

Packing Plan for 6 Days in Disneyland

Luggage
I’m usually one of those woman who packs everything, if I could travel with a suite of trunks like in a 1940’s movie, I would.  I simply believe in having every convenience of home with me on vacation.  I'm spoiled, I know, but I'm old enough to remember when traveling was a luxury experience, and I cling onto that memory for dear life.  Sure... you can call it denial,  I'll just call it a great vacation!   I know that I’ve shared my packing plans with you before and you’ve even seen my spreadsheets for a matching family, so you know how obsessive I can be.

With this upcoming trip to Disneyland though, we’re pinching every penny.  In order to save $200 in baggage handling fees, we're going to travel light and pack carry0ons only.  It's going to be a Bear Necessities kind of trip.  So what does it mean to me to pack light, and can I really do it?

Here’s my plan:

1. Count up how many outfits I need per day and cut it in half. 6 Days = 3 Outfits
I have a washer and dryer in our Villa for laundry. We don’t have any table service or fine dining reservations, so won’t need to change for dinner. However, I do need swimwear for the pool day and workout gear for our Power Walking Tour through California Adventure.

2. Choose only one or two colors to pack.  Mix & Match creates the illusion of greater variety. Navy & Khaki are my base colors for this trip.

4. Assemble outfits of clothes in those colors, and specialty attire.

5. Shoes, comfortable black sandals go with everything, add specialty flip flops and gym shoes.


Day 1
Tuesday
Outfit 1
Day 2
Wednesday
Outfit 2
Day 3
Thursday
Outfit 3
Day 4
Friday
Outfit 1
Day 5
Saturday
Outfit 2
Day 6
Sunday
Outfit 3
Khaki Capri
Ivory Cami
Navy  Shirt
Pearls


Travel Arrive DLR
Jean Capri
Gray Cami
Navy Swtr
Ombre Scrf


Park Day
Jean Capri 
Red Cami
Navy Shirt
Red Scrf


Pool Day

Khaki Capri
Ivory Cami
Navy  Shirt
Pearls


Power Walk

Park Day
Jean Capri
Gray Cami
Navy Swtr
Ombre Scrf


Switch Hotels

Park Day
Jean Capri 
Red Cami
Navy Shirt
Red Scrf


Travel Home


Specialty Dress
Outfit 4 – Work out clothes pants, shirt, socks, shoes. Will double as jammies.
Outfit 5 – Pool attire: swimsuit, cover-up, flip-flops.

Packing
Outfit 1 – Travel outfit, doesn’t need to be packed.
Outfits 2-5 In The Suitcase
Toiletries (Sunscreen, Make-up, Medication)

It all seems so simple, but on paper it looks like it will work!  I hope that I'm right.  I just hope that I can get the kids to bring together a plan that will help us all coordinate and look good in pictures.  Getting the kids coordinated is not so easy, Tori's fine on her own, but the last time I let Kirk pack for himself it was very, very bad. 

What do you think about my plan?  Does anyone have any suggestions for me?  Leave a comment and share your experiences!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Keep Calm, and Go to Disneyland

Keep Calm

This year, the universe has decided that it will teach me to be more flexible, and overcome obstacles with positive thought and determination. My normal hyper-planned and strategized methods have been tossed to the wind and I’m learning the true meaning of the word flexible. There’s no time for me to be a control freak, when plans keep changing and finances are unstable.  So, you may wonder, how on earth are we going to Disneyland in less than a month!?

After finding out that I didn’t need to be in WDW in June for a wedding, I decided that we would take our family vacation in Disneyland. So, knowing that I had to use the DVC point we had moved, in early February I booked our airline tickets and a room at Disney’s Grand Californian. By the end of the month I realized that I had booked one less hotel nights than I needed, and scrambled to find a room for Saturday Night. $800 later and we had an add on at the Disneyland Hotel.

Before the end of March, my husband had lost his job. How on earth do six people go to Disneyland with no income? Could we change the plans again and just reschedule? Nope, it would cost $900 simply to change the airline tickets, another week went by and we were within 30 days, no travel would mean losing a years worth of DVC points. So I decide that we’re going no matter what, after all, we had a hotel room and the airfare was paid.

Even with hotel and airfare taken care of, I still needed to figure out how to make other aspects of vacation work. A stroke of luck in Mid-April! My husband found an interim job, but that means he wouldn’t be going to Disneyland either. Two less people, cuts the budget in 1/3 straight off the top.
  • I was able to whittle away at the food budget by deciding that we would only eat at counter service. That saves close to half what I had planned on spending right there. Aprox $700.
  • Counter service breakfasts for $35 a day? No way, we’ll be having bagels, doughnuts, fresh fruit and the like delivered from the grocery store down the road. The savings will be about $100.
  • More cuts… we’re saving $40 a day simply by deciding that we won’t drink pop, another $240 off of the needed funds. Can you believe that? It’s probably the most shocking budgeting discovery I’ve made.
  • We also gave up one park day and bought 3 day tickets instead of 4 day… another $100 saved. Oh no, I’ll have to lay by the pool and sit in the hot tub. Yea, I don’t really expect any pity there.
  • Forget extra housekeeping services, we’ll do dishes and make our own beds. Savings about $150.
  • Online discounts made out park tickets, and ground transfers less on the California side. I called our hometown limo provider, and they gave me $40 off our car to the airport, just because I asked.
  • No checked bags! I told the kids that we’ll be packing super light. A washer/dryer in the Villa means we can still be fresh & clean even with fewer clothes. $10 for detergent is much better than $200 in airline baggage fees.
  • Having free internet connection in the Villa also means that I’ll be able to do my full work week while away, so we won’t lose any additional money by me being gone.
So I’m cooking, cleaning, and working while we’re going to be in Anaheim.  I’m not entirely sure that this qualifies as a vacation. I think I’m thinking of it more as a temporary relocation to one of my favorite places on the planet. After all, Disney after work and a theme park view during the day is way better than being depressed at home from canceling the whole trip.

Life happens, and it can be hard to roll with it. Lord knows that I am not really known for my ability to “roll with it”, but I’m learning. Man am I learning…

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Avengers are Coming

I am *so* looking forward to The Avengers next month. Even with the financial crisis my family is currently facing, I think we'll be treating ourselves to a trip to the Movies. After all, it's good to escape reality for a bit when everyone is so stressed out. New clips are out and I thought that I would share this one with you. Why this one? Because it's Robert Downey Jr. Duhh....





Will you be headed out to see The Avengers when it opens May 4th, 2012?


Who's your favorite hero? Leave a comment and let me know!

Wordless Wednesday: Nature

HIbiscus

Hibiscus photographed on Disney's Private Island, Castaway Cay, May 2011
It's so hard to pick just one thing to represent "nature" so I picked one of the most beautiful things I saw in the most natural Disney setting I've encountered. Vivid and luxurious this hibiscus shows that something natural can also have the most breathtaking beauty. What in nature do you find breathtaking?

Focused on the Magic

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A Truly Comfortable Car: The Buick Enclave

A couple of weeks ago I had the honor of test driving a Buick Enclave as I drove five DeMolay Teenagers to Basketball Weekend in Springfield, Illinois. When I picked up the car I was immediately taken with the curvy figure, leather seating surfaces, mahogany-inlaid steering wheel, and plenty of legroom.
Buick Enclave-exterior
Because of my Fibromyalgia hitting the road can be very difficult. Sitting in one position for more than a couple of hours tends to put a lot of undue stress on my body. Because of this our family rarely drives anywhere that’s more than about 3 hours away. When Buick said that they had a car for me, I was doubtful at first, my drive would be a total of 8 hours in only about 36.  Could they really have made a vehicle so comfortable that even I could drive without pain?  Well, I doubt no more because the luxury and comfort of the Buick Enclave gave me the best road trip that I’ve had in years.

I truly enjoyed having OnStar in a car again. It’s one of my very favorite safety features available today. OnStar is like adding peace of mind to the amenities list. I’m also quiet fond of the XM Satellite Radio that was installed in the Enclave. The Margaritaville channel became my must listen station, after all driving this luxury crossover was truly like a little vacation around town. It handled so well, and I think it may have the best suspension of any car I’ve ever driven.
Bruick Enclave-Interior
The kids were fond of the extra leg room, heated and air conditioned seats, and CD player and plugs that were available to hook up our gaming system. Buick’s SmartSlide technology gave the teens sitting in the third row you plenty of room to climb in and out. Moving the second row was a simple job only took a second with one free hand.

I’ve liked other cars that I’ve had the pleasure of test driving, but this has got to be my favorite. Getting out of the car without being in pain is a rare treat for me, and I never once had a problem driving this one. Buick strives to make the Enclave the “finest luxury crossover out there” and I think that they’ve done a pretty fantastic job. The spacious enclave was such a treat, and if we could buy another car today, this is the one that I would want.

Disclaimer: Buick lent me the Enclave for a week to see if I could really find a car with comfort. All opinions expressed here in are entirely my own. Your results and experience may vary.

Monday, April 16, 2012

How About A Giveaway!

As I struggle to pull my budget together for our upcoming Disneyland Vacation, it occurs to me that many of my readers may be struggling to pull their budgets together too.  I know that I could sure use some extra cash for Disney, couldn't we all?  So a few friends and I have gotten together to offer you this fantastic giveaway!

You can win a $100 Disney Gift Card! That's right, $100 in your pocket to spend on something Disney wonderful.

What can you dream up to do with $100 at Disney?  How about some fantastic things with these!
  • Enjoy Breakfast for 4 at Boma, Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge
  • Meet & Greet with your Disney Friends! You can buy 28 Dole Whips!
  • Sport a new "Balloon Mickey Mouse Mini Barrel Bag" by Dooney & Bourke at DisneyStore.com
  • Rent a Pontoon Boat from a Magic Kingdom Resort Marina and Cruise the Seven Seas Lagoon for an hour.
  • Grab three girlfriends and order up the Buckingham Tea at the Grand Floridian's Gardenview Tea Room.
  • Add seven new Vinylmation to your collection!
What would you do if you won?  Leave a comment and let me know!
This contest runs April 16th- April 23rd, 2012 so enter now!

Congratulations Amy C.!!!! AKA @willsgirl31. You have won a $100 Disney gift card!

Special thanks to the following bloggers. Hop on over and check them out!
  1. The Dragyn's Lair
  2. Focused on the Magic
  3. WDW Solo Meets
  4. Disney on Wheels
  5. Everything Walt Disney World
  6. Living with the Magic
  7. Magical Mouse Schoolhouse

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Ohana Means Family

OhanaOne of the most loved restaurants at the Walt Disney World Resort is the Polynesian's family style feast at 'Ohana. Located on the second floor of the grand ceremonial house Ohana.

On my last trip to Walt Disney World I finally got to experience this fun family restaurant for myself, and I must say that I left completely enchanted.

The Princess Party Crew and I arrived a little early for our reservation, so we decided to enjoy a cocktail in the Tambu Tambu Lounge. We ordered a delicious array of Tropical Drinks. I was thankful that Becks and I ended up switching drinks. I enjoyed her Tropical Mojito much more than the Ginger Lemonade that I had ordered. Not that the Ginger Lemonade was bad, it just wasn't the flavor that I was looking for. Both of these drinks can be found on the standard Disney Cocktail menu.

Tropical DrinksDrink Display


It wasn't long before our table was ready, so we grabbed our drinks and headed in to the restaurant. Winding past Tikis and the fantastic 18-foot-long, open fire pit show grill, we headed to a really fantastic table by the windows where I had a view of the castle in the background.

Princess Party Crew


All of the food at 'Ohana is served Family Style so that you can enjoy the Pan-Pacific flavors with your cousins. Service started with bread and a giant salad, then moved on to wings and pot stickers. Everything was very good, though I found the service to be both rushed and inattentive at the same time. Asian spiced noodles and steamed broccoli came next, followed by giant skewers of grilled shrimp, chicken, pork and beef, there was no shortage of delicious food! My favorites were the salad, pot stickers and grilled chicken.

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Pot Stickers and Wings


While we enjoyed our dinner the Polynesian's legendary Cast Member Auntie Kauai entertained the families gathered together with stories and music. The kids in the restaurant all joined in with some hula and a parade.

Auntie Kauai


Dinner ended on a high note with the fan favorite Bananas Foster Bread Pudding. I had a small bite, but honestly I was so very stuffed I just couldn't eat any more before heading back to the Magic Kingdom.

Bread Pudding


I had a fantastic time sharing this wonderful meal with my friends. I think that the style of service and the entertaining atmosphere make 'Ohana a must do for any family headed to Walt Disney World. If you're getting together with a group the single price and all you care to eat food make it a wonderful option for dinner with friends. For those on the Disney DIning Plan, dinner at Ohana costs just one Table Service credit. I will absolutely be returning to this fan favorite restaurant at one of my very favorite Disney Resort Hotels.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

For the Love of Minnie

I love shopping at TrenD! It's a fun, grown up, fashion forward shop that always has so much more than I can buy at once! On my last trip to TrenD I found some marvelous Minnie Mouse gear that I just had to share with you. So out came the camera and I started snapping away! Do you shop at TrenD? I find it to have one of the largest selections of Disney Dooney's on Property as well as the Harvey's for Disney Couture.

What do you think about this new "Skinny Minnie" that has been seen around? Not only have I seen her at the Parks, but she also made an appearance last year across the country at Forever 21. Do you think it's a good idea to turn Minnie Mouse into a starving model? I must say... I'm not a fan.

This trip brought me great purse love! I'd seen the Minnie Mouse Harvey Bags online and just thought them "OK." However, after seeing them in person at TrenD, I can say that I am totally in love! I wish I had the funds to snap up that Minnie Mouse Lola bag with it's cute polka dots and ruffles, it's just about the sweetest thing ever!

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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Adventure Wordless Wednesday



Adventure Yeti

Do you know where in Walt Disney World you can find this?

Focused on the Magic

Monday, April 9, 2012

Running the Castle

I Ran Across the Finish Line Too!Hello Everyone!

I wanted to take a minute today to talk to you about my side Blog "Running the Castle". Now, I've had it up for quite some time and really didn't do much with it, however this year I've found a new energy and dedication to making it work.

"Running the Castle" is about my struggles as a stressed out, overweight, couch potato with Fibromyalgia as I work towards being able to complete a 1/2 Marathon.   I'm training to fight depression, to keep my sanity, to lose some weight, and to just plain feel better!  They say it's never to late to start.  That's right, I've lost my mind and you can watch it all unravel on "Running the Castle"! These are just some of the posts you'll find on this renewed blog:
  • My Training Log via Daily Mile
  • Training Tips
  • Motivational Stuff (I'll think of something)
  • Fitness Shopping 
  • runDisney Inspirations
  • Healthy Food (really?)
  • My Struggles with Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain
  • Vlogs from my walks (so you can see first hand how I'm doing)
  • Race reports
Please stop by and subscribe to "Running the Castle" by pulling the RSS Feed or following me on Google Friend Connect!  The more people I have supporting me on this journey the better I'll do. 

You can find Running the Castle at:

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Disney & Dali: A Unique Animation Pair

I want to thank my husband Geordon for taking on this unique Disney review for me. It was out honor and great pleasure to be able to see this screening of one of Disney's most interesting shorts. I was overjoyed that we were able to catch this screening while on board the NCL Spirit. It just goes to prove that I can turn just about anything into a Disney vacation. LOL!! Look soon for Geordon's review of this trip's other Disney connections!
~Kristen



Destino

While on our recent cruise, Kristen and I had the opportunity to watch a short film that was a collaboration between Walt Disney and Salvidor Dali. The name of the film is "Destino" and it has an interesting history.

Currently, Park West Galleries at Sea claims to be the only source for Destino, but reports on the Internet suggest that it is available on the "Fantasia & Fantasia 2000 Special Edition" Blu-ray that was released in late 2010.

Disney and Dali both had a standing love for the Mexican ballad "Destino" when they met in 1945. They met at a cocktail party hosted by Jack Warner, where they came to know each other and discovered that they had great admiration for each other. They decided that they would like to work together.

That's how Dali came to work at Walt Disney Studios for a short, 7 month tenure in 1946, where he mostly worked on Destino.

Unfortunately, The film was shelved in 1946, after only 18 seconds of animation had been filmed. It sat in the Disney vault until the original storyboards were uncovered while Fantasia 2000 was being made.

Roy E. Disney felt strongly that the storyboards should be brought to life, and he enlisted the help of John Hensch (who had worked on the original Destino project in 1945) to make that happen. Unfortunately, there was not much written documentation in the vault to describe how Dali's animation work should be sequenced.

However, it was discovered that Dali would tell his wife, Gala, all about the story of Destino and his animation vision when he returned home every evening. Fortunately for Disney fans, Gala wrote all of this down in her diary. It was these journal entries that led to the final sequencing of Destino that we have today.



Destino was created by Dali and Disney as a romantic homage to their respective wives. The tale tells a love story between Chronos and a mortal woman. The imagery has many layers and is fantastic and surreal in much the same way as many of Dali's paintings, with the woman moving into and through parts of one scene and exiting in another.

I would have liked to have been able to watch Destino several times, since there is so much involved imagery. Scenes transitioned seamlessly from one thing to another as the woman danced through the film. -G


Thursday, April 5, 2012

Little Avengers


This is adorable!



Please note these are stunt kids, no evil villains were actually harmed in the in the aisles at Target.
All aspiring heros should stay with their parents for maximum super power amplification.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Easter Gifts from Disney's Enchanted Florist

Do you have family or friends headed to Walt Disney World for Easter? Would you like to surprise them with a fantastic Disney Easter Basket delivered right to their hotel room? Disney's Enchanted Florist has just the thing for you! The basket below is just one of many charming gift ideas available for your Easter Gift.


DisneyFloristEaster

Don't forget to check out the Enchanted Florists latest post on the Disney Parks Blog! Not only does Jean offer great ideas for gifts for your family, but she's added a downloadable page of Mickey & Minne Easter Egg Holders for your little ones to color & craft!

If you want to learn more about all the magical Easter gifts from Disney Floral and Gifts visit the “Easter” page at Disneyflorist.com or call a Disney Floral & Gifts Dream Maker at 407-WDW-GIFT.

"Mick-torian" Style Not So Wordless Wednesday

Deb, you asked for it, you got it!

The theme of the Day for the Focused on the Magic Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop is Disney Hats, Caps, Bonnets and Bows.

When down in the World in February my daughter Tori spent hours searching out this fantastic pair of vintage style Mickey ears to match her pink and black tutu with flocked Mickey icons. In this picture she rocks them while walking the Tangled Royal Family 5K. Gettin' her Can-Can on, Tori looked magnificent fabulous at the race in "Mick-torian" style.


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Focused on the Magic