Welcome home.

Why do I love Walt Disney World Resort the way I do?

It’s more than the thrilling attractions, more than the delicious dining, more than the beautiful resort hotels … it’s all of that … and so much more.

Having had one friend stuck there when her flight home was cancelled and another friend who ended up evacuating to there before Hurricane Irma struck, I’m grateful for the Cast Members who went above and beyond to keep them safe and pixie dusted along the way! It’s the “so much more” that makes the difference.

We’ve done went and started a glamping giveaway!

glamping giveawayYou won’t believe it, but I’m going to Walt Disney World and I’m glamping it! Here’s the scoop…(and the link to enter the Disney Giveaway is below!)

It’s called glamping, a word for a new kind of travel, defined as glamorous camping. When you’re glamping, there’s no tent to pitch, no sleeping bag to unroll, no fire to build. (Thanks, glamping.com, I couldn’t have said it better myself.)

When several of my favorite and fabulous blogging friends invited me to join them on this glamping adventure, there was no way that I was saying no! In October, we will hitch our wagon to Chip & Dale’s at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground for a fun-filled week at the Walt Disney World Resort and we want you to join in the fun ~ with some prizes and by following along with us!

DISNEY GIVEAWAY CONTENTS

  • $40 Disney Gift Card (who doesn’t want that?!)
  • 2 Mickey Mouse Ear hats (you know, ears are required)
  • A Vera Bradley Mickey Mouse phone case (always in style!)
  • “Disney By the Numbers” – autographed by the author (a little magic goes a long way!)

HOW TO ENTER THE DISNEY PRIZE PACK GIVEAWAY

Its simple, y’all ~

Enter through the Rafflecopter by clicking this link: Glamping Retreat Disney Gift Giveaway!

Now, you all have to promise to follow along in October when we are at Disney’s Fort Wilderness ~ #GlampingBloggerRetreat17 ~ You never know, you just might see some glamping shenanigans (ok, let’s be real, shenanigans are a sure thing!) And . . . there might be more prizes for folks who follow along! It will be an adventure for sure!

AND JUST WHO ARE THESE FABULOUS BLOGGERS?

It’s an awesome group, so be sure to stop by their sites for a visit…

An Open Suitcase

Journeys with Jenn

Lola Lambchops

Sherry Boswell

Post 50 RX

Dawns Dorky Diary

My No Guilt Life

Sweet Crazy Life

Fans of Mickey Mouse’s House

My Small World

Let me know if you have any glamping pointers for all of us first timers!

The not-so fine print:

One prize pack will be awarded to one winner. The giveaway is open to residents of the United States age 18 and over. All entries will be verified. The giveaway will run March 4, 2017  to March 17, 2017. Winner will be notified via email and will have 48 hours to claim prize. If prize is not claimed within 48 hours, a new winner will be chosen.

Picture1

I Second That Emotion…an encounter with Disney magic

Not too long ago I was asked what made a Walt Disney World vacation special to me and my family.  It wasn’t the old, “You know there are other places in the world to take your family on vacation, right?” <said with a sense of satisfied smugness>.  And just for the record: Of course I know that! My family has been fortunate enough to go to some amazing places on vacation.  Instead, the question was a sincere desire to understand why we love  Walt Disney World so much and why we return year after year. Very simply, I can sum it up with this fabulous little video, which interestingly enough wasn’t even filmed at Walt Disney World! It was at a mall in Long Island, New York, a world away from Central Florida and yet overflowing with Disney pixie dust.   Over on Oh My Disney there is a  brief interview about the making of the video. You may have already seen it floating around Facebook or Twitter, but it is worth watching again, so go ahead and cue it up. So what is it? What is it that keeps up going back to Walt Disney World (or Disneyland or motivated us to explore Disneyland Paris or Disneyland Hong Kong or plan for a trip to Tokyo Disney)?  I think it can be summed up in four words: emotion, connection, inspiration and imagination. Just like the faces of the children when Mickey and Gang walk out from behind those doors in the mall, something about Walt Disney World elicits emotion – joy, surprise, love.  Which leads to connection, like the way that soldier connected with Mickey in a dance-off (who knew Mickey could bust those moves?). So much of a Walt Disney World vacation is about connecting as a family, connecting with Cast Members, connecting with other Guests, connecting with our memories and even inspiring us to look into our future. And inspiration gets us every time we are there and we have Mr. Walt Disney to thank for that. Our family’s favorite Disney quote, “When you’re curious, you find lots of interesting things to do.” resonates in our minds over and over again as we take in all that a Walt Disney World vacation offers. Like those who passed by that storefront window and realized that it was more than it appeared, curiosity goes hand-in-hand with inspiration. Those unsuspecting shoppers let their guard down and let their imagination loose. They explored and were rewarded with… joy. Well, now we are back to that emotion word again, aren’t we?  I’ll second that.

Don’t Know ~ but can’t wait to find out!

It is the final countdown of the announcement of the Disney Parks Moms Panel Class of 2015. I feel like the High School Musical soundtrack should be cued up.  I’m wishing upon a star that my name is on that list. It would be a big commitment and would require me to keep my head in the game (see what I did there?) in a new way, but it would be awesome!

On a smaller scale, I answer questions all the time from family, friends, neighbors, and strangers (just got a text a few minutes ago, in fact) asking me for advice on their Disney Parks vacations. And I get giddy with every one! I love helping other Guests make Disney vacation magic. I love it when they send me pictures of what a pixie-dusted time they are having. I love it when they come home and they tell someone else about how fantastic their Disney vacation was.

I also love being stumped with a question.  Getting questions about things I don’t really know the answer to immediately is like icing on the cake! I’m not a Disney Parks go-to person because I know everything there is to know. Seriously, who does? Instead, I’ve learned a lesson from the Disney Cast Members, like Byron from Disney’s Keys to the Kingdom Tour, who have answered my questions with, “That’s a great question! Give me a second and I’ll get the answer for you!” keys to the kingdom

That is half the fun for me. It’s what motivates me to explore new the things when I’m on vacation myself and then write my “Ten Things” posts (as off the wall as they can be!). It is why you will find me checking the Disney Parks Blog every morning. I love learning new things and then sharing that information with others to give them a sprinkling – or sometimes a huge helping – of pixie dust.

I know she didn’t mean it in just this way, but I think Pocahontas nailed it when she said, “But if you walk the footsteps of a stranger, you’ll learn things you never knew you never knew.” And I can’t wait to do it – if not after tomorrow, then someday. Until then, at least you know where to find me!

Ten Things I Learned at Walt Disney World Resort® ~ Summer 2014 Edition

This post first appeared on the fabulous The Adult Side of Disney website – go and check it out for some great up-to-date Disney information!

We Did It ~ and both lived to tell about it.

So, I’m feeling a little nostalgic. My friend, who was “Sherpa” on the venture I share below is about to do a century bike ride (that’s 100 miles, if you didn’t know) in Moab, Utah (aka: the middle of nowhere). I wish I could be there to return the Sherpa favor, but since I can’t this will have to do…

DISCLAIMER: This post is full of “you-had-to-be-there” references.  This one’s for you, Sherpa.

I have been thinking about writing this post for a couple of weeks now, but somehow I needed to process the whole experience before I could say something more than, “It was great!”
Really?  “Process the whole experience?”  Who am I?

Well, it was GREAT! The whole thing, from start to finish, except the fact that I didn’t get my pre-race dinner of  the “Anchors Aweigh” sandwich, but even that ended up working in my favor by giving me something to look forward to other than the finish line!   Yes, everything was more fun and way easier than I imagined, no kidding!

Of course, there was at least one reason for that.  Yes, the best part, the part that was truly amazing was sharing it with “Sherpa Extraordinaire: KPD!”  I mean really, who else would get up with you at 3:00 a.m. (as in…the…morning – it is dark at 3:00 a.m. and it stays dark for a long time after 3:00 a.m.)?  Who else would break a number of traffic laws while half of the Florida State Patrol police force was within arms reach?   Who else would run back to the car in the EPCOT parking lot (have you ever been to the EPCOT parking lot?!) to find my gloves for me (well, it was one fabulous parking space, but really).  Who else would tell a bold-face lie to that nice volunteer who was just trying to help – oh wait, that wasn’t a lie, that was acting!  Cinderella, step aside.  Who else would walk like a sardine (work with me here, if sardines could walk, you get the picture) along with 27,000 other nuts just to make sure that her friend knew where the heck she should go and what she should do?  Like how to get into a start corral – with or without a race number – and that is real knowledge, my friends.  Who else would be one side of a make-shift latrine in front of said 27,000 people?  (let’s not mention why, shall we?) And who else would run for half a mile without a race bib before making a quick and stealth-like getaway.  And did I mention that this was all while video taping the whole thing – and I mean the whole 72 hours or at least the highlights?  I’m not kidding.  It was amazing.

There is no doubt that this experience – from start, which began here: (http://wp.me/pJ4M8-jto finish, which culminated here, was less about running and way more about friends helping friends put one foot in front of the other.

 

Kidani Village at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge ~ one pixie dusted surprise after another!

Once again, I’m sharing a post that originally appeared on the FANTASTIC DISNEY SITE (seriously, check it out!), The Adult Side of Disney, that my friend, Janice Brady, owns.  Her site covers all sorts of Disney goodness, so head that way for more pixie dust – after you read here, of course…

So, here’s the thing.  If someone even sneezes the word “Disney” I get all giddy.  I have “friends” who give me a hard time about that. You would think that by now they might get it or at least pretend to. I mean I go along with their idea that a fun vacation is sitting idly on a beach drinking some silly umbrella drink (well, that is after I explain to them that they can do that at the Walt Disney World® Resort, too!).

Not all my friends are naysayers, of course. For instance, I have some friends who bought a Disney Vacation Club® property sight unseen. Yes, sight unseen! They grew up as Disneyland®Resort devotees, but had spent minimal time at Walt Disney World® before plunging in full force to Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas-Kidani Village. And while I’m not sure I could have made the same quick decision while aboard a cruise ship (even though it was a Disney cruise ship!), I do like their style! It reminds me of one of my favorite Walt Disney quotes, “When you believe in a thing, believe in it all the way, implicitly and unquestionable.”

So, when their first Walt Disney World® vacation as DVC owners approached, they asked me for a little advice on their planning. And you know me, I leapt at the chance to sprinkle a little pixie dust their way. A whole week at Walt Disney World® is fabulous, but between the ever changing FastPass+ and the new Disability Access Service Card process (which they needed to know about), not to mention dining options for the foodies that they are, I had my work cut out for me – and happily so! I was on it and they were right on board with all my neurotic planning on their behalf.

And then the most magical happening happened…they invited me to pack my bags and come along! I was hoping they really meant it because my bags were packed in no time and I would have ridden on the back of a yak to get there if that’s what it took.  The trip that followed was magical indeed. There was so much pixie dust involved that I’m only going to be able to hit the highlights of Kidani Village in this post or this website might explode like the truck in Catastrophe Canyon. So remain seated and keep your arms inside the vehicle and let’s get started!

shannon1

Though I had toured DVC properties before, I had never actually stayed in one. The room was a one Bedroom Villa – Savanna View and it really was well appointed and spacious, including the fact that the master bath was larger than my bathroom at home.

There was actual African art work and artifacts on the walls, such as these fabulous sandals that I wish they sold in the gift shop. And there were multiple Hidden Mickeys in the carpet!

shannon2Ashannon2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now on to the view! We had a savanna view and was it awesome! We spent most of the first day relaxing on the balcony taking it all in using the handy dandy animal identification guide – everything from giraffe to wildebeests to a bird that was the size of an average man.

shannon3 I would hate to run into that thing in Africa!  If your are considering a Kidani Village stay take my word for it, the view was worth the extra      money. One other thing to note about the views, all resort parking is located under the buildings, which was a nice touch for at least two reasons:  no-one had a parking lot view and you could get in and out of your car in the rain without getting wet!

I had a lot of questions to ask about the animals: where did they came from; where do they go at night;  and do they mind the Florida rabbits that  have taken up residence alongside them? Fortunately, over at the Kidani Campfire area a cast member is present to answer these sorts of  burning questions!

shannon4So I met up with Tumi from Pretoria, South Africa (who speaks Zulu, Setswana and English!) and was able to get all my questions answered: The animals come from lots of places that are too numerous to list; they stay in the savanna over night and you can come out at night and see them with night-vision goggles; and no, they don’t appear to mind the bunnies, especially since they are all herbivores.

And speaking of eating, there are plenty of good places to do that. Just off the lobby there is a convenience store/snack shop, The Mara, filled with all the essentials including these little prized goodies – Zebra Domes.

There are also all the fabulous eateries located over in the Animal Kingdom Lodge, just a short stroll away. And the newest table service venue in this area, Sanaa, is located right there in Kidani Village.

And speaking of food, a few days into our stay we came back to the room mid-day to find a surprise!

shannon6Holy smokes! The treats were beyond delicious and were a most pixie dusted way to kick back and relax for the afternoon.  That’s just one of the many ways that the cast members of Kidani Village made our stay magical.

One of the things that I love about the Walt Disney World® Resort is that you often find quotes and sayings that are strategically placed around and that inspire you to think and to wonder. Kidani Village is no exception. As you make your way down the halls or into an elevator or out a door, African proverbs greet you. One of my favorites, that I kept seeing over and over was truly appropriate for this fabulous vacation my friends were so gracious to allow me to help plan and then enjoy…

shannon7