Sep 212016

By Roye Ann Morris


As I was getting ready to plan our next trip to Disney World, my mind wandered to previous trips and some of my favorite things that are no more.  I began to dig through scrapbooks and photo albums, searching for pictures of long-gone attractions and shows that my family and I had enjoyed through the years. Here are a few of my favorites!

Disney Dollars


We loved collecting these as we waited for our next Disney trip. Although they are no longer available, Disney will still honor any you might have. I think I’ll keep these, though; the memory is worth more than anything the dollars might buy!

River Country and Discovery Island


This is a pamphlet dated 1983. A one-day pass to Magic Kingdom or Epcot was $15 for adults, $14 for juniors, and $12 for children. We never made it to River Country, but Discovery Island was amazing! I still remember my mom posing for this picture, and shortly after it was taken being bitten by an emu she was trying to feed. Being an animal lover, the day we spent here was pure joy for me. I was very sad to see Discovery Island close, but I take every chance I can to visit Animal Kingdom!

Dreamfinder and Figment


This is from the newspaper Disney used to print for guests, dated March 4-17, 1983. As I’ve said before, these two characters and the original Journey into Imagination were my absolute favorite things about Epcot. We always set aside time to play in the pavilion after the ride, and I was thrilled when my kids were able to get a picture with Figment on one of our trips. I really believe that if the original ride came back, people would fall in love with it again!

Epcot Restaurants


This little folded pamphlet included tips on planning your visit and a list of Epcot Center counter service restaurants. Some of the tips inside it were: “Visit Magic Kingdom in the morning and Epcot Center in the afternoon. Take in the wonders of Future World later in the day. Make your dinner reservations at Earth Station before 10 A.M. World Showcase dinner reservations may also be made at City Hall in the Magic Kingdom.” My, how things have changed! Can you imagine Le Cellier as a counter service spot?


The Waterfalls in the Polynesian Lobby


My family took a picture in this spot every time we were in the Polynesian. It was truly one of my favorite places in the World; beautiful, serene, a kind of oasis in the middle of busyness. Although the new lobby is also beautiful with its wide-open spaces and bright colors, this may be the thing I miss the most.

Random Character Photo Ops


While I realize that having a schedule for character appearances makes it easier to plan your day, happening upon a character as he (she? it?) walked through the park was always a fun surprise. We always felt like we had won a prize if we were the first or second in line when a character appeared.  Even if you didn’t necessarily know exactly who it was…. Does anybody know who this is??

Maelstrom in Norway

Of our favorite rides, although more recent than the other memories. I do love “Frozen”, but I am sad that people will not get to ride through the beauty that was Maelstrom, and was very sorry to see it “Disappear, Disappear”! Although I am definitely looking forward to the new “Frozen” attraction on our upcoming trip!

Well, enough reminiscing for one article. I’m still looking for pictures of other favorites: Orange Bird, Horizons, World of Motion, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride….what are your favorite bygone attractions at Disney?

Nov 042015

By: Jennifer Retzlaff

We are headed to Walt Disney World this summer for our daughter’s 9th birthday, my dad’s birthday and my sister’s graduation.   Our kids already know we are going, so we aren’t doing a big Disney reveal; however, I am going to use Christmas to make the trip seem more real.  These are some ideas I thought many of you could use for your upcoming trips or just as ways to bring Disney into your home while you wait for the next trip.

Magical Speaking November PJS

  1.  Pjs

The first item my kids get every year no matter if there is a trip planned or not is new Disney pajamas.  We absolutely love the coziness of these pjs as well as the magic they bring to the house.  There are so many to choose from that each year is a surprise as you can do character pjs as well as the family matching pjs (which I personally like as mom gets some new Disney magic as well).  I have ordered these from the Disney store and been extremely pleased; however, many retail stores such as Target, Kohl’s and Walmart carry them as well.  These make those Disney movie afternoons all curled up on the couch that much better!

  1.  Disney Movie

The Disney company is a smart one and there always seems to be a new movie released on DVD or an old classic being released right at Christmas time.  We love getting our kids this particular movie as it provides us even more together time as we get our new pjs on, cuddle up on the couch and pop in the movie.  It is a great end to the holiday season.

Magical Speaking November Puzzles

  1.  Puzzles

Another item we love to give our kids is Disney puzzles.  There are always great puzzles out there that will provide great family fun after all the presents are open and we are back home.  We can choose from easy ones that the kids can quickly do on their own or go harder such as the Thomas Kinkade if we want more of a challenge and a puzzle that we can do overtime.

Magical Speaking November Game

  1.  Games

Playing games over the holidays is a must, so having a new Disney game to try out is always an adventure.  When the kids were little, we would choose a new traditional game with a Disney twist such as Yahtzee, Candyland or Memory.  Now that they are older, we have Beat the Parents, Eye Spy as well as Apples to Apples.  These are all fun, entertaining games that provide some Disney magic as well.

  1.  Clothing

Every kid seems to need new clothes as they are constantly growing.  We use Christmas as a time to get new socks, underwear, shirts and sweatshirts.  As our kids usually need new items right around the holidays, we use this time to update their wardrobe with some Disney magic.  From princess socks to Star Wars underwear the kids love to get new items that have a Disney twist to them.

The first five are items we do most Christmases even if we aren’t going to Disney.   This year, as we are heading back in June, we will do a few more Disney items to help make the trip seem more real.

  1. Travel book

I personally love the Birnbaum’s book for kids.  I remember my first trip to Disney and how I received this book.  With the great pictures and easy explanations I find it a must to buy for kids.  We will get our kids this book to help start our planning.

  1.  Calendar

A calendar is a great way for kids to keep track and add important family dates as well as see when the trip is coming.  I love watching them cross off the days as we get closer and excitement builds.

  1.  MagicBands

This is a new one for us.  We haven’t been down with our kids since they have switch to MagicBands so we haven’t exactly decided what we want to do to spice up their MagicBands.  We could buy the specialized bands or buy the MagicBands “MagicBandits” to add some magic.

  1.  Countdown Craft

Our daughter loves crafts so one of her presents will be a countdown craft that she can make on her own and then use to countdown our trip.  There are so many ideas on Pinterest it is just narrowing down what I like and what she can do on her own. (Or consider this great countdown craft from The Mouse For Less.)

  1.  Other Ideas

Our trip will still be over 100 days when Christmas comes around, but for those of you that are heading down earlier, here are some other ideas that we plan to do closer to our trip that you might find fun.

Magical Speaking November Bags

New backpack: kids love having their own carry-on backpack

Goodies for the backpack:  hit up the dollar store and dollar bins and grab those crafts, toys and snacks to fill those backpacks and keep them entertained.

Magical Speaking November Blankets

Stuffed animals/blankets:  our kids loved having a new blanket and stuffed animal to take on our trip with us.  Disney always has plush on sale throughout the year which is a great time to grab them.

These are just some ways to bring some Disney magic to your house over the holidays whether you are headed to Disney or not.  Happy holidays and happy planning.

Jul 292015


I knew I was in trouble when I staggered out of Epcot at the end of a long day. People say Epcot stands for “Every Person Comes Out Tired” and that certainly applied to me.

It does not, apparently, apply to active seven-year-old boys. Not only did my grandson Xavier skip happily towards the bus stop, when it was our turn to get on, he took a couple of steps back, ran and JUMPED over the steps onto the bus. The bus driver could only shake his head as I pulled myself up the steps behind him.

“Are you finding it a little tough to keep up with him?” he asked.

“Maybe a little…” I admitted.

I would have been ready to head to bed when we got back to Pop Century. But Xavier pointed out that we had not yet been swimming that day and we NEEDED to get into the pool. I briefly worried that I might fall asleep in the water and drown, but then realized Xavier’s antics would definitely keep me awake.

This was day two of our Grandma-grandson trip to Walt Disney World, and, yes, it was exhausting. But I promise you I fell asleep with a smile on my face.

I am lucky enough to have six grandchildren (and two more on the way). When the oldest, Sebastian, was eight years old I took him on a trip to WDW, just the two of us. His two uncles were working in Le Cellier at the time and I thought he’d enjoy hanging out with them and seeing them at work. The trip was such a hit that a few years later, I took his sister Callista, who thoroughly enjoyed having an all-girls outing and focusing on princesses and fairies for a change (she has three brothers).

This year it was Xavier’s turn. This is also the year I will turn 60. I have a very sedentary job and nobody would describe me as “athletic.” Or even fit. But I can still have a wonderful time at WDW.

Here are some things I’ve learned as a “mature person” visiting my favorite spot.

  • Comfort beats fashion. I know, we all want to look good. But those adorable sandals with the cute little heels are not going to be your friend at the end of a day in Animal Kingdom. Us mature people can get cranky when our feet hurt.
  • Benches are your friend, and fortunately Disney has lots of them. Walt wouldn’t have put so many in his parks if he didn’t want us to use them, now would he? If you don’t see an actual bench, look for concrete walls to sit on. Plenty of those, too.
  • Make FastPass+ reservations and give yourself plenty of time to get to each of them. Let’s face it, you’re not going to win the race at rope drop to be first in line for the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. But here’s the good news – you don’t have to! Book yourself a FastPass time from the comfort of your home weeks in advance, and then just stroll over at your own speed when it’s time.


  • Consider a sit-down meal in the middle of the day. Like most people our age, you’ve probably developed a real appreciation for good food (as opposed to fast food). And you probably have an even bigger appreciation for air conditioning on a hot day and a chance to rest those tired feet. Make an ADR and you’ll get a relaxing hour or two enjoying lunch – and maybe even a hug from Mickey Mouse.
  • Check out the not-in-the-parks activities. Many are perfect for the older guest. Some examples: Afternoon Tea at the Garden View Tea Room Grand Floridian has all the elegance of a Victorian tea room, and your server will make you feel like a queen; the Segway Tour at Fort Wilderness is a less-tiring way of checking out the trails and you’ll learn some history and nature lore along the way; Disney’s Yuletide Fantasy Tour shows you the behind-the-scenes work that goes into the holiday décor at the resorts and parks.
  • Take lots of photos – or get Disney to take them for you. My memory, I’m not ashamed to admit, isn’t quite what it used to be. Photos help me remember the special moments of my trip when I get home. I try to take a picture of the front of each ride before we get on, as well as any shots of character interactions or fun moments on the ride. This helps me afterwards to recall what we did throughout the day.  I’ve found that if I’m alone or traveling with a grandchild, the CMs are usually more than willing to take photos of us. All I have to do is ask. You can also get PhotoPass photos and either purchase the whole CD or just the ones you want. I usually buy some of those, too.
  • Push yourself a little! Some of us – myself included – can get into a comfortable rut. WDW is a great place to try something new or just a bit more challenging, in a safe environment. I’m a bit nervous about heights, but I decided to try the Wild Africa Trek a couple of years ago, even though it meant walking along a rickety-looking bridge with some open-mouthed crocodiles underneath. With our guides and the other group members cheering me on, I made it across and thoroughly enjoyed the rest of the tour.

Or just go with a seven-year-old boy. I promise that will push you into whole new levels!

I’ve read that Walt’s goal in creating Disneyland was to make a place that parents and children could enjoy together. I’d extend that another generation – it’s great for grandparents too. I’m hoping I’ll get a chance to see what it’s like for great-grandparents. But that’s still quite a few years away…

Jun 032015

Top 7 Must Bring Essentials for a Disney Vacation

By   Ann Dunnington

After being a seasoned traveler to the Walt Disney World Resort, I have picked up a few tips and tricks to make my trip as comfortable as possible, both for myself and for those around me. Some of the items that I bring on vacation with me are a little unconventional, but they have all come in handy and I’m so glad that I’ve brought them along! Here are my Top 7 (a la Stacey) Must Brings that are often overlooked by the average vacationer that you should bring on your next Disney vacation.

For the Hotel Room:

Extension Cord

1- Travel Size Power Strip

Let’s face it. Hotel rooms simply do not have enough power outlets. Bringing along a travel size power strip can help corral all of your electronics in one place so that everyone can access the power they need, and no electronics (or chargers) will be left behind.

2- Over-the-Door Shoe Organizer

This is where I get a lot of funny looks. What I like to do is bring along a fabric over-the-door shoe organizer to organize our toiletries in the hotel bathroom. The bathrooms in most of the Walt Disney World hotel rooms have separate sink and toilet/shower areas. Keeping your toiletries in the organizer helps everyone stay more organized and efficient while getting ready in the morning. You can keep the organizer on the restroom door, hang it on the clothing rack in the sink area, or hang it on the shower curtain rod. This also helps Mousekeeping out as well since your bathroom areas won’t be cluttered with bottles everywhere!


3- Pop Up Hamper (and Other Laundry Supplies)

I always underestimate how many clothes I’m going to need when visiting Walt Disney World. After touring the parks in the morning, coming back to the room for a break or a swim in the afternoon, and heading back out in the evening, that’s a solid 2-3 outfits per person, per day! I don’t wear that many outfits at home on a daily basis, so inevitably, I run out of clean clothes by day three. I like to bring a pop up hamper and laundry detergent to do laundry mid-way through the trip so that I can resist the urge to pack (and carry) my entire closet on vacation.

For the Parks:

4- Fabric Magic Band Covers

No matter what time of year you head down to central Florida, you can guarantee that the weather will be warm. Now that Magic Bands are the way to enter the park, pay for items, access your Fastpasses, etc., your family will be wearing them all the time. Magic Bands are a soft rubber type of plastic, and they can get pretty hot and sweaty after a day of park touring. Enter the fabric Magic Band covers. You can find these online for very inexpensively, and besides making your magic band customized to your style, these covers can make wearing the Magic Band all day a lot more comfortable! And, the covers are machine washable, so just throw them into the laundry mid-way through your trip!

bandage (1)

5-   Blister Blocking Bandages, and Peppermint Foot Lotion

Nothing ruins a trip like getting blisters on your feet after your first day. I highly recommend getting a good broken-in pair of shoes, and spend some time in them before your trip. If they are comfortable but give your toes some “hot spots”, cover those spots with blister blocking bandages, and bring as many as you can stuff into your suitcase. I added peppermint foot lotion into this section too, because after a long day of park touring, nothing makes feet happier than a shower and a massage with cooling peppermint foot lotion! I like to mix a drop of peppermint oil with a little bit of coconut oil. The cooling effect is a wonderful refresher!

6- Heavy Duty Zip Top Bags

For those hot park days, a heavy duty zip top bag filled with a wash cloth and ice from the ice maker at the hotel can really do wonders to help cool you off. Hop onto the Tomorrowland Transit Authority, pull out your icy wash cloth from the hotel, and hold it onto your heat points (back of the neck, inside of the wrists and elbows, back of the knees, top of the head) for an instant cool down. Using heavy duty zip top bag will prevent the ice water from leaking all over your stuff. Maybe even wrap it in a small hand towel from the hotel for extra protection.

Floppy Hat

7- Wide Brim Hat and Sunglasses (for Everyone!)

If you’re not used to the Florida sun, a wide brim hat and sunglasses can be a real lifesaver! My husband looks like Gilligan in his wide brim white hat, but I have to tell you, paring that with sunglasses while touring around the parks sure beats the headaches and eye strain he would get without it. For ladies, a big floppy packable straw beach hat and over-sized sunglasses are the way to go. Harness your inner Audrey Hepburn!

Well there you have it- my Top 7 Must Brings for the Walt Disney World Resort. Do you have any unconventional items that you bring on vacation with you? Let us know on our Facebook page!

Mar 072012
Jan 112012

By: Dena Burkett

Today I am going to give you a glimpse inside my tactics for planning a Disney trip. I know that everyone plans for their Disney vacation differently, whether it is your first time or tenth time. I am hoping that some of the things I do can help make your future trip easier and more magical.

The first thing I do when I find out when I am taking my trip and where I am staying is to start making up my itinerary. It may seem like a lot of work or a waste of time (I get grief about it from family) but I love having it! It keeps everything in order and in one place. I put the park hours on it along with reservation confirmations, flight information, any other information I would like readily available, and of course, what we plan to do each day. Now, I will tell you that we sometimes stray from it, but for the most part, we follow it to a T. I also print out the hotel information, Magical Express information as well as any other documents I think I might need. I put everything in a red, Disney-decorated  folder that I use every time we go. That way everything is in one place and I can easily find it during the trip.  Doing something like this, whether it’s in an actual folder or perhaps saved on your phone in an app like Tripit, can really be a life-saver! Continue reading »