Magical Moments: Goofy’s Skeleton Dance

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As the Disney Parks begin gearing up for Fall and all things Halloween, I was recently flipping through my photos from last year’s celebration to get in the spirit.  When I came up to this batch of photos it was just too sweet not to share.  Back in Disneyland’s Big Thunder Ranch area, the meet & greets tend to be a bit less formal and the characters will just mingle with the guests.  At one point during our visit, Goofy was playing tag with Donald in the crowd when this adorable little girl caught his eye.  With Billy Hill & the Hillbillies playing on stage, Goofy grabbed her hand and lead her in a very sweet dance.  Everyone stopped what they were doing to watch.

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Isn’t she the cutest? The smile on her face was infectious, and her giggles overshadowed the music.

On our way out of the park, Goofy was out of costume and greeting guests on Main St., USA. He even surprised my dad & husband with an impromptu photo op!

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Thanks for the great day, Goof!

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A Happy Sort of Panic

We’re all checked in for our flights, which means we leave in LESS than 24 hours!  For those familiar with Southwest Airlines, our boarding passes are A27 and A28; justifying the $12.50 we shelled out per person, each way for the EarlyBird check-in.  Every time we fly I argue with myself (in my head, not out loud) on whether or not I should pay for the service. I always say I’m not going to be suckered into it, then lo and behold, I end up buying it.  And I never regret it.

Epcot and the Studios as seen from our airplane window!

Now that we have less than a day left to go, the panic-packing has commenced. Where, even though I have a packing list, I keep thinking of things I don’t want to forget to either pack (Brita water bottle), buy at Target today, or pick up at the Super Target in Kissimmee that we ALWAYS go to when we arrive.  Maybe a silly tradition, but a tradition nonetheless.  I have no idea why, but if we’re in a town that’s new to us, I want to check out their Target.

Quarters for the toll roads!  Ugh, the thought bubbles never stop.

I’ve turned into a laundry folding machine. This time, I made both D and I go through every single piece of clothing we want to bring because we always pack like we’re moving to Disney World.  Maybe it’s a psychosomatic thing because we WISH we were (Golden Oaks, here we come!), but I’m seriously tired of lugging around 1.374 pieces of luggage in the hot and muggy Florida heat.  We’ll be resort hopping this trip, so I’m trying to make it as bearable as possible.

Ack! Where are our ponchos?!

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That time it was pouring so badly that we had to cover our luggage in trash bags (yep, got ‘em at Super Target!) just so we could move to our next resort. (This was before I knew you could have bell services move them for you. Whoops!)

Somehow, no matter how prepared I am beforehand, I always end up staying up the entire night before our flight to finish up the packing.  We usually have to leave between 3-4 in the morning to make our way to the airport, so I wouldn’t be able to sleep even if I wanted to.  This time our flight departs a little later, which means we don’t have to hit the road until 7:00am.  I’m HOPING that it will let me get at least a little sleep tonight, and if not, that’s what the plane ride is for, right? 

Oh shoot, we need to wash our travel pillows!! More laundry.  “HEY HONEY…”

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Don’t worry, the landing will wake me.

Left on the agenda today (once my work day is done) is to finish up two more loads of laundry (3 now with the pillows), finish folding/packing, tweak the itinerary a bit, make sure I have all the confirmations we’ll need (I’ve already done this, but I have OCD), triple check our funds (again, OCD), get my nails did (possibly the most important thing on my to-do list), and then TRY to sleep and not think of the 1,001 things I might be forgetting.  Even if I did forget anything, who cares?! We’re at Disney World! Annnnnd, I can always make a run to my beloved Super Target.

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Mr. D  modeling some snazzy sandals in the Kissimmee Super Target. Best. Target. Ever.

I still can’t believe that we’re going  T O M O R R O W!!

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I suppose I’d better get back to work…

We’ll be posting live updates from the parks during our 10 days in the World!  You can follow along on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram.

Celebrating Earth Day & 15 Years of Disney’s Animal Kingdom

To commemorate Earth Day and Disney’s Animal Kingdom’s 15th anniversary, I wanted to share some of my favorite shots from our many trips to this stunning park. Faulted, though it may be, there’s no denying it’s beauty and charm. I can’t think of any other place that can transport you in the way that Animal Kingdom does; from the architecture, to the music, the plant-life, and of course, the animals. While I can’t be certain we’ll ever have the opportunity to visit Africa or Asia in our lifetime, Animal Kingdom certainly does a fantastic job at letting us play make believe. Just make sure to have a cold drink handy to help curb the heat!

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Since Animal Kingdom Lodge is one of our favorite resorts, I’ve thrown in a few photos from there, for good measure.

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Disney’s D23 Shopping Days at Mickey’s of Glendale

Disclaimer: All pictures featured here were taken during an event where photos were allowed. No photos or video are permitted at the D23 Mickey’s of Glendale shopping days. Also, members are not able to tour the campus freely.

If you were to find yourself on Flower Street in Glendale, CA, you might think it was just any ordinary business street. However, the businesses here are anything but ordinary. 1401 Flower St. is the home of Walt Disney Imagineering; the place where the ACTUAL magic happens.

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Unassuming business exterior, until you notice the not-so-subtle clues all around.

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Close-up of the adorable signage

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Hidden-in-plain-sight Mickeys?

A few times a year, Disney’s official fan club: D23, invites their members to the WDI campus for a day of shopping and fun in the cast member exclusive store, Mickey’s of Glendale. While the shop and adjacent patio are the only areas D23 members are able to access, there’s an electricity on the property that’s almost tangible. Simply being on the campus is incredibly exciting, and the opportunity to buy WDI exclusive merchandise is just the cherry on top.

Currently, there are two shopping days planned: one is this Saturday, April 13th, and the other is scheduled for June 8th. The event is free to all current D23 members, and each person can bring one guest along.

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The shop offers WDI branded shirts, hoodies, office supplies, iPad covers, pins, water bottles, backpacks, mugs, license plate frames, really anything & everything, and all in different styles (collegiate, classic, themed, etc.). Consider yourself warned: at first glance, you’re going to want it ALL.

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Who needs a Magic 8 Ball when you have one of these?! “All signs point to Disney! YES, PLEASE!”

About a third of the shop is dedicated to merchandise you can easily find in any of the Disney theme parks or World of Disney stores, and none of the regular Disney discounts are honored here (annual passholder, Disney Visa, etc.). You’re better off skipping that stuff all together, and just focusing on the real meat & potatoes – the items you can’t get anywhere else.

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Yep! There’s even a CLEARANCE rack!

It’s no surprise that this is a popular event. Folks will line up as early as 6:00 am for the 8:00am opening, and there’s generally a line outside to get into the store throughout most of the day. Once you get past the (imaginary) velvet rope and step into the quaint shop, you’ll most likely find the check-out line circling the entire store (there are just 2 cash registers). Since D23 allows you one guest, it really is a good idea to have a shopping buddy in tow – preferably, someone with Black Friday shopping experience. That way, one of you can wait in line while the other shops, and then you can switch spots. Some might consider that to be bucking the system, but realistically, this gets you out of the shop faster so that the folks waiting outside can get in that much sooner.

Outside on the patio, there’s pin and vinylmation trading, and they may offer Imagineer book or pin signings. The signings usually have long lines, and are generally over before noon – if that’s something important to you, be sure to get there early.

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Danny Handke, Imagineer and co-author of Poster Art of the Disney Parks signing pins he designed at an early Mickey’s of Glendale Event

You’ll find some pretty spectacular pieces of Disney history hidden on the patio, although they don’t allow you to get this close to them anymore.

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Skyway Bucket

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PEOPLEMOVER!!!

I have all of my fingers & toes crossed that D23 will offer tours of the WDI facility someday, similar to what they’ve been doing for the Walt Disney Studios. If just the common areas of the campus can garner this much excitement, I can’t even imagine what it would be like to be able to walk through their halls.

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Vacation Wear: Vintage EPCOT-Inspired Top

While I’m not planning on doing much shopping for our upcoming trip to Disney World, I did do a little poking around the internet the other day, you know, just out of curiosity. I stumbled upon this top, which ordinarily wouldn’t be my cup of tea, but the color combo totally reminded me of the gorgeous EPCOT Center map from 1983. I just had to bite, plus it was on sale & I’m a sucker for a good deal.

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Don’t worry, the ginormous white watch is NOT included with purchase. 

I also have a Vinylmation based on the same park map.  OOOH, maybe I should carry it around World Showcase with me when I’m wearing the shirt! Genius!

OK, maybe not….

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Although, I *am* considering buying these Minnie ears to add a little Spaceship Earth to the look.  What do you think?

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We’re Going to Disney World!

We started out the year with good intentions. Since we had such a fabulous time on our last trip to Disney World, we decided to take this year off to focus on some long overdue projects at home. Keeping that in mind, a few weeks ago I started looking for budget-friendly ways to celebrate our upcoming 14th anniversary. I priced out a few different options, all within California, and everything seemed to cost about the same as a trip to WDW. Which can we please just take a moment for that to sink in?! It costs as much to travel within the state, as it does to travel to Florida! That’s just craziness!

It dawned on me that our Premier passes are good through June, and we do love the Flower & Garden festival. Plus, this year’s festival has the added food & wine options…

Don't you wanna be our guest? Come on...you know you wanna.

Don’t you wanna be our guest? Come on…you know you wanna.

This was a light bulb just waiting to be turned on, and within an hour we already had a DVC reservation booked with rented points (thanks to our wonderful friends), dining reservations made, flights in the works, and most importantly, my ‘Days Until’ countdown app was updated.

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Our itinerary includes 3 nights in a studio at Saratoga Springs, and then we move to Old Key West for rest of the trip. It’s our first time staying at Saratoga, so I’m curious to see how we like it. Given that we have a tighter budget this time, we don’t have any signature dining plans, or any tours booked this time around. We’re really just looking to go at our own pace, and spend as much time in EPCOT as possible.

The grand plan to take a break from WDW lasted all of 3 months, but given our track record, that’s a pretty big accomplishment. Such is the life of a Disney addict. Sometimes, the pieces of a puzzle just come together, even when you weren’t looking to piece one together in the first place.

Be sure to check back for more planning updates!

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Disneyland’s Easter is Full of Character!

Leading up to Easter, a few folks asked us if we’d be celebrating at the park, to which we responded with an emphatic “NO”, certain that it was sure to be wall-to-wall people.  I can’t really say what came over us when we woke up early Sunday morning and decided to give it a shot, but I’m sure glad we did!

We arrived around 10am, and our first stop was to meet the Easter Bunny.  We had never met him at Disneyland before and from the photos I’ve seen online, he is absolutely adorable!  He was set up in Town Square, and we were happy to find his line wasn’t too long, so we hopped right over.

While waiting, we noticed Bert striking up conversations with guests in the area. 

I couldn’t help but wonder if those kids knew just who they were lucky enough to meet.

Friendly cast members were passing out free Peeps to those waiting in line. Don’t mind if I do!

When we first arrived, we saw Mickey & Minnie out greeting guests in their regular attire: Mickey in his tux & tails and Minnie in her signature red & white polka dots. Shortly after, we saw them head backstage only to re-emerge a few minutes later in their Sunday finest!

Could they be any cuter?!

People all around were going crazy over their cuteness.  We never saw where they went once they passed us, so we weren’t able to get a photo with them.  It seemed they may have just taken a stroll down Main Street, and then went straight backstage again on the other end of the street.  I was just happy that we were able to see them since it seemed like such a random occurrence.

At this point, it may seem like we’d been in line for at least an hour, but all of this happened in the span of about 15 minutes.  Before we knew it, we were at the front of the line meeting the most adorable Easter Bunny I have ever seen!

“Thank you, Easter Bunny!”

Afterward, we made our way through some of the shops on Main Street, and admired the lovely Spring window displays along the way.

The gorgeous pink trees in the Hub were calling my name, so we spent some time photographing them, along with the pretty spring flowers all around.

Christmas has always been my favorite time of year at Disneyland, but it’s in the Spring that the park’s natural beauty truly shines, making it a very close second.

Around this time, we decided to take part in the Disneyland’s Twitter based scavenger hunt.  I posted a review of the event on AdventuresbyDaddy.com,  As a result, we found ourselves back in the Big Thunder Ranch area, and were happy to find that it was practically empty!  The area was full of spring decorations, and we met Minnie in yet another outfit (her third costume change so far, and it was only 11am!), and some of the Country Bears!

Cowgirl junction…

The Country Bears were quite mischievous, which I can only assume is a result of them not having a show to do.

Apparently, Wendell’s selling soda in the park to save up for a new mandolin:

Afterward, we hopped over to Fantasyland and were excited to find that Casey Jr. (one of our favorites) had NO line! We could see the crowds in the park, but somehow we were lucky in avoiding them most of the day.

Pretty flowers in bloom around the carousel.

Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother greeting guests by the castle.

We found this cute little guy perched up on the castle.

Next, we saw this mama duck with her babies over by Storybook Land Canal Boats – I like to think she’s the wife of the big guy we saw standing guard on the castle wall.

After oohing & aahing over the ducklings, something caught my eye. Alice, the Mad Hatter, the Queen of Hearts and the White Rabbit were all together and cutting through the crowd. Usually we’ll see 2, maybe 3 of these characters together, but never all 4. And rarely when they stroll through Fantasyland do they actually stop to meet guests, so when they parked themselves next to the Mad Tea Party I made a beeline for them and claimed a spot in the quickly forming line.

Even though the line was growing longer by the second, they made time with each and every guest that came to see them, and seemingly with no handler.  Not to sound sappy, but it was truly an unforgettable moment.

By the end of the day, we rode just one ride, saw one show, encountered countless characters, and had one of the best Easter’s I can remember having in at least the last decade – all from just acting on an early morning whim. Sometimes, those whims can lead you on some pretty magical adventures.

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