Rainy Day – Any Day Fun

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Arts, crafts, movies never watched but promised…. More than that it is time spent with mom and dad!!! Being stuck indoors can be pretty boring. As kids get older they will find activities to amuse themselves but when they are little they look to mom and dad to show them the way. Below are some of our most favorite indoor activities that make any day fun!

Ok I have to admit this post has been in the works for some time. Ever since my nephews entered our lives we have had more sick days in one flu season then the previous ten years. Even when our family is healthy we seem to have some horrible timing issues. Any healthy days during the flu season seem to coincide with bad weather from snow and ice to rainy day after rainy day come spring.

When the weather is nice and everyone is healthy we seem to be over booked with activities from doctor appointments to conventions. So outdoor time tends to be a “grab it when you can” type of event. Recently wildfires in our area have tested our list of fun indoor activities. Even with the wildfires we have been able to have some any day fun!

Admittedly a few of the activities I mention below are carry-overs from memories of a wonderful childhood. I am one of eight grandchildren on my mother’s side of the family. There were a lot of family gatherings when I was a small child. Not all gatherings took place on perfectly sunny and warm days. Then there were the times when only a few of us would be visiting my grandmother and still needed to be “entertained”.  As a child my favorite any day fun activities were #1 and #4. As an adult I kind of like all five.

 

 

Here are our Top Five Favorite Activities for a Rainy (Indoor) Day:

  1. Indoor Hide and Seek

Unless you treat your house like a museum indoor hide and seek is a great way to burn off some energy. You do not have to have a large house to enjoy this activity. Our home is a one story ranch style with an open floor plan. Even with an open floor plan there are plenty of closets and blind spots to create great hiding areas.

With our nieces and nephews being toddlers we do not play the traditional game of hide and seek. Generally the game starts with a “run by tickling” to get the kids pumped up to follow as one of us adults begins “running” around the house. Because we are still a little bit faster than them we can quickly dodge behind an open bedroom door, dart into a darkened bathroom or hide behind a dresser in the closet. When the kids catch up to us we let them look around for a moment before we “jump” out and they begin to chase us all over again.

This game generally can last five to twenty minutes depending on how much energy needs to be burned off. This game makes a good quick diversion and the kids love that we play along. When the game is over the kids are ready for a snack and potentially nap time.

 

  1. Sticker Mayhem

There are several ways to play sticker mayhem.

One way is like an indoor scavenger hunt. Generally I stuff stickers in fun shaped Easter eggs (you know the ones that aren’t actually shaped like Easter eggs but rather Darth Vader’s head or some other silly shape) and then hide those eggs around the house. Since I never use these “eggs” for Easter the kids don’t expect anything like candy to be found. By now they know that these shaped “eggs” will contain stickers of their favorite characters. Following the scavenger hunt the kids will sit down and look at their stickers. Each kid has their own fun shaped inexpensive notebook where they can then place their scavenger hunt finds within.

In recent months I have created a chore chart for my nephews. On busy chore days, I have gotten my nephews involved with the promise of specialty stickers for each completed chore. I keep extra special stickers just for these days. If my nephews do an amazing job their chore chart gets so loaded with stickers they start to layer them.

 

  1. Music Video Dance Off

Okay, this activity has actually evolved out of a guilty pleasure for us adults: Lip Sync Battle.

One evening while watching Lip Sync Battle, we noticed that our foster daughter would run into the room every time she heard LL Cool J talk. The following week she came into the room and began to dance when the music was on. Soon our youngest nephew was joining her. Then they started getting us involved in their dancing. Now we save up all of our Lip Sync Battle episodes for rainy/indoor days as they make great 30 minute breaks in an otherwise hum drum day.

When we run out of Lip Sync Battle episodes, Rent-a-Dad streams videos from Youtube. This way we get to be selective with the music content and the kids still have a blast dancing. They are so used to this activity now that they have their favorite music videos. “Let It Go” is one favorite, of course, but another happens to be “Hall of Fame” by the Script.

 

  1. Indoor Obstacle Course/Box Fort Bonanza

When life is boring and you can’t do activities outside it is fun for kids to bring the outside inside. A good way to do this is by turning an area of your house into a temporary obstacle course or a place to build a fort.

With a little imagination every day items can be used as part of an obstacle course. The most recent obstacle course I built with my nephews involved cat beds, kitchen chairs and a sheet. Building a fort is much the same. While my family built forts with old cardboard boxes, I have just as much fun building forts with blankets and chairs or even the dining room table and an old extra large sheet.

As a child, building forts in my grandmother’s basement was the best way to pass the time. It was also a great activity to make “teams” with when all eight of us cousins got together. Once forts were built we could have the adults do a judge them. Often we would have “fort wars” which involved capture the flag or even fake snowball fights with pillows or balled up pieces of paper.

 

  1. The Most Magical Place on the Internet… Youtube

A couple of Christmas’s back Rent-a-Dad asked for a Chromecast. At the time I didn’t really understand how useful that gift would be. For the first year I never paid much attention. Last year I asked if the kids could watch a Youtube video on his computer. Rent-a-Dad’s reply was “why not watch it on tv?” So he showed me how to stream videos from my cell phone. Since then Youtube videos have become a great way to add a little magic to an otherwise boring day.

The first few times I used the Chromecast to stream songs from Frozen. This way the kids could watch and sing along without having to watch the whole DVD over and over again. When the kids began to ask questions about our last Disney vacation, I wondered if there was a way to share the experience of a Disney vacation without having to leave our house.

Youtube had the answer. We started pulling up all kinds of parade and ride videos. The kids loved it! While watching a ride video we would “play along” by throwing our hands into the air and moving side to side. All of the parade videos fascinate the kids. They love telling us what their favorite character or float is. Event videos like the Frozen Musical at the Hyperion Theatre mean the kids can enjoy a show that I would be concerned to take them to at their age.

Over a year later and the kids still love watching Youtube videos of Disney attractions. Since we don’t watch these videos every day they still feel like an escape from everyday activities like a vacation is supposed to feel. The bonus is that kids know what rides they want to ride again when we are able to go back. We have even branched out to include videos of rides and parades from Universal Studios. One of my nephews can’t wait until he can go to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. I guess it is time to start saving our pennies!

Payoff of Being Nice

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We all know there is a give and take to this world, however sometimes people tend to be more takers then givers and vice versa. Sometimes we see people being takers in the most selfish of places and if they only knew how a little gesture of gratitude would payoff they might just change how they act… or maybe not. I can hope though.

When I look back to summer vacations as a kid my memories are filled with all of the staycations and famcations that had my schedule packed from June straight through August. Every day was an adventure with some thing to explore in the woods near my house, friends to catch up with at the neighborhood pool, or touristy things we could do so close to home or when we were out of town at a close to a family member’s home. Whenever I had down time it meant day dreams, reading books on the couch on the back porch, and climbing trees to see what was going on in the neighborhood. The only time I was ever really bored was when there was a lot of rain so I would have to stay in and find another way to stimulate my imagination.

With all the staycations and famcations of my childhood there was never any room, or perhaps money, for typical vacations. I was never exposed to what others may call “typical vacation interactions” so I can’t attest to how (if at all) the attitudes of people on vacation have or haven’t changed over the years. What I can say is that from the observations I have had as an adult that vacations are stressful and not everyone on vacation is the best version of themselves.

I find that observation rather sad. Bad moods are as contagious as good ones. To spend your entire vacation (and a rather lot of money) devoted to bad energy is just depressing and can make those around you miserable. When you think about how one good thought can make your day and how that day can brighten up those around you… the payoff for being nice is worth more than just money.

It is true that we all have moments where life gets to us and life doesn’t seem to care if we are at home or on vacation. With the idea that vacations are supposed to be that much needed break from our every day lives, sometimes when life attacks while on vacation we become a dark shadow of our joyous selves as we feel “robbed” of that time to rest and replenish. Sadly that time to replenish can turn into a “chore” and feels just like any other day from the never ending daily grind.

When that happens we can get just as touchy as a toddler without a nap. We know what we need and we know what we want but we can’t seem to make the two meet in the middle. Frustration starts to leak out of the cracks and before we know it we are a snarky snappy rude version of our regular self.

This is the point in which we need to give ourselves a much needed “time-out” before we turn into Mount Vesuvius with more causalites than the friends or family members on vacation with us. The good news is that we have all been there and done that. There is no shame in admitting you are about to loose your “cool”. Let your family knew what it is you need in that moment. If you have kids this is a good teaching moment to let them know that adults also need a “time out”. Then define what you need in that moment whether it is a few minutes to catch your breath or let your brain catch up to what is happening right now.

The moments where I feel I need a “time-out” generally involves situations where I feel backed into a corner with no options. That is when my “fight or flight” instincts kick in as I feel like I lack control over what is happening. The truth is I still have the opportunity to take control back as I am who needs to be in control of me, which also means not making a bad situation worse. It can just mean some creative thinking in a bad situation:

“Let’s get out of this long line and grab an ice cream. The line may be shorter later.”

“Let’s play I spy and ignore the guy who is pushing their way through the line.”

“Let’s go back to the hotel and enjoy the pool!”

It really just takes a moment to pull yourself out of the situation and think creatively about what you could do to make the day better instead of worse. I often find that when I think of what I CAN DO to make the situation better rather then what someone else did to me or my loved ones to make our day unpleasant; I am a much better and happier person.

Honestly, I have had those vacation moments where I needed that time out. Some I am more proud of then others mainly because I was not the only person frustrated or hurt in the situation and I could have set a better example instead of adding to the aggravation. Even when the situation is not the best, I do prefer to turn my smile on instead of a frown, especially when I am on vacation.

The employees at vacation destinations and leisure activities are used to seeing the worst sides of people because they are expected to make each and every persons vacation the most perfect one. So sadly they get the blame when ever something, no matter how small, goes wrong. They get berated, yelled at, and verbally abused. I wish I could say it is a once in a while occurrence but I have seen and heard how often this really does happen. It surprises me that when these employees see the worst in human behavior daily that they choose to come back day after day. It could be because they need the paycheck but often the truth is they really love their job and they love all the people who smile at them, thank them and are truly grateful for their help/interaction. I heard one amusement park employee say that they look for that smile in the crowd after a bad interaction as someone out there does genuinely understand that life is impossibly complicated and things happen, not all vacation moments are perfect but you can choose to make the best of any situation.

Being nice to the hotel staff, amusement park member, attraction attendee, or honestly any paid person for any job, can not only brighten your day but their day as well. I have often found that a few truly honest and gracious words can open more doors that lead to unexpected opportunities and fun.

I won’t mislead anyone and say that you will get a discount or large rewards if you heed these words of advice but I have found a few well meaning “please” and “thank-you” has turned up unexpected perks. Over the years our nephews and foster children have received small toys from stickers to Mickey Mouse shaped straws at just the right moment to make them laugh and smile. The adults have received help getting strollers on buses, people who held a door at just the right moment and even held an elevator so we weren’t late to an event. The bigger perks have been coupons, tips on places to avoid (and when to avoid them), discounted amenities, a bump to the head of a line because we asked the right question, and even bonus rates on the whole trip. Honestly one thing that sticks out in my mind that has been the best “perk” is the people we have met. Their experiences and knowledge have made our trips better from taking a bad day and turning it into a great one to simply knowing when to avoid an attraction thus making for a much more enjoyable experience for the kids.

While you can’t really buy happiness, you can invest in a good trip by just being a happy carefree person ready to make adaptations to any plan… and trust me I am a planner! So plan your trip but be ready for the bumpiest part to be the most rewarding as long as you can adapt to the situation.

Don’t forget to read our 5 Easy Trip Tips post!

5 Easy Trip Tips.

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Over the years we have learned a few things that have made our family trips and vacations a little easier to navigate and enjoy! I hope they help your family have a little more fun as well!

  1. Know the rules before you book a trip. It is folly to choose a family destination if what you really want to do is sun bathe on a nude beach! Having knowledge of your vacation destination seems like common sense but it is easy to assume you know and not double check. We have done this a few times and ended up paying for things we didn’t want or need on our vacation.
  2. Rough out the schedule you would like to keep while on your vacation with the idea that vacation schedules are made to be broken. Disney World is a great example of this. I have heard people complain over how the whole Fast Pass process works now and how you can’t plan for spontaneity any more. I don’t find that to be true. Make your Fast Pass selection with the idea that you don’t have to use your Fast Passes. For our Disney World vacation we followed all the Fast Pass tips and booked our passes based on the time of day and how busy the ride was. We got to the park early and rode all the rides we wanted without using one Fast Pass that day but we had them just in case which seemed to take a lot of pressure off of figuring out what we “needed” to try and fit in for that day.
  3. Ask everyone what is the ONE thing they most want to do while on vacation. Make plans so each person can have their one wish fulfilled. Make sure everyone knows that anything over that one wish is a bonus that way there are no unfulfilled expectations that can put a damper on your trip.
  4. Research your trip destination so you understand things like the weather for that time of year and places that may be closed while you are there. While Tripadvisor has provided some ideas on what NOT to do, I like to also look at the website(s) for the town including the town’s visitor bureau site. There are studies that say just planning a trip can make you feel more relaxed so take your time as you research your vacation destination!
  5. Above all make the decision that the vacation will be a good one irregardless of what happens and plans that get sidelined! Some of the best vacation moments have been born out of the absolute worst ones!!!!!!

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I have always loved ordinary magic, the idea that there is magic and joy in everyday simple things. As I was watching the Disneyland 60th Anniversary special with my family this and two additional thoughts tied to that idea came to mind: 1) I feel lucky to be able to share my love of all things Disney with my family (young and old); 2) Nothing in life is ever promised.

As a small child I never knew my life lacked anything. My life was rich with ordinary magic. My mom & dad loved me, my brother & cousins tolerated the small monster I was, and I had a large family which included blood ties and close family friends. There were epic family gatherings for the holidays from Christmas to the 4th of July and a summer bash for all the birthdays and wedding anniversaries that took place in August; one on one time with my maternal grandparents; stories in French from one great grandmother and English stories from two others. There were morning nature walks with my mom, afternoon walks at the mall with my aunt, play time with my best friend, and evening cuddle sessions with ice cream and my dad. In between all these moments there were TV shows and music from my present and my parents’ past so I had an oddly liquid view of time (wibbly wobbly bits anyone?)

My point is, from my perspective I lacked for nothing…

Included in the time spent with my brother and parents was Friday or Saturday evenings watching Disney movies like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs or Swiss Family Robinson and Sunday evenings watching The wonderful World of Disney, Disney Sunday Movie, and The Magical World of Disney. Through these stories I wanted to live in a tree house while wearing a fancy princess dress. I loved it when my mom would describe how magical It’s a Small World was when she rode it at the 1964 New York World’s Fair. As a child I never realized that Walt Disney had passed away long before I was ever thought about. I was just enraptured with watching how the rides like Pirates of the Caribbean had been made. It all instilled a deep love of Disney and a wish to one day go to Disney World.

I remember asking my parents “when can we go to Disney World” and being told “one day if we save enough maybe we can go”. I believe that was one of the first times I realized that my family lacked something (at least in others’ eyes) and that most of the people I knew didn’t see the magic in ordinary things like I did.

My family never went on big or elaborate family vacations like the beach, the Grand Canyon, or amusement parks let alone another country. As a child there was only one time I have been told that my dad took time off for a vacation, which was when I was one or two years old. It was for a visit to my great-grandmother over my brother’s spring break to work on a family tree project. Any other vacation growing up was spent visiting family with my mom and/or my brother. There were even a few times I went with my grandmother or one of my Aunts and their family. I went to Chesepeake or North Beach with my mom and amusement parks (three times) with my brother. I even went on a few church retreats with our youth group to places that were more family vacation destinations than where I went with actual family.

While this may have appeared as if my life lacked something, I was just as happy with visiting museums and getting to help out behind the scenes, nature hikes with my brother and mom, or days spent at the community pool. As a teenager I loved hanging out with my friends so church retreats were just fine and the time I got to spend being an extra set of hands for the summer theatre projects my brother was involved with helped shape who I am. As an adult, there is a part of me that mourns for the child who never had a vacation with my entire family, at least one I could remember. Even so, I know I was blessed to be able to do the things I enjoyed so much with my family.

I often wish that others could see that blessing and find magic in the ordinary.

Far too often I read or hear families complain that “Disney is evil” because they raised their rates so it is hard for families to visit Disney one time let alone annually. To me I would rather save my money and not attend a local park one season for $65 (just admission), than use that money to go to Disney for one day the next season $105. In recent years (at least the past ten years) rates for Disney have always been higher than other parks and Disney waited longer than most of the parks to raise their rates. I saw Dollywood raise their prices to $65 the year prior to Disney’s first rate hike in recent years. Disney’s food rules are also much more lax than any of the local parks. When Rent-a-dad and I went to Lake Winnie (a local amusement park) a couple of years back we easily spent $50 on the park food. I never spent that much on one day of regular park food for two people at Disney because I could bring in my own snacks, water and sandwiches. But that is just food for thought.

Most of the complaints I hear about Disney prices actually come from families that can’t make Disney their annual family vacation. Honestly, other than local residents or those with high incomes, who really could? And why would you opt to put all of your money into doing just that one thing every year? That is just my point of view though.

The first time I ever went to Disney World was a holiday weekend trip as an adult chaperoning for the non-profit organization I worked with. The trip was offered to a group of 50 teenagers. Sadly there was a large portion of that group that turned down the trip, not due to costs, but because Disney was not a destination like Hawaii or France.

For me, I felt as excited as a kid and very blessed to go with a group that felt so much like family, like back in my youth group days. While the girls were in a song session with Disney professionals (only a certain # of adults could attend so I made sure any interested parent was in attendance), the very first attraction I went to was the tree from Swiss Family Robinson. Most people don’t see that attraction as magical anymore and they would like to see it removed to make way for another thrill ride. For me it was as magical as I had ever dreamed it would be and I was once again a kid as I walked through that gigantic tree house. The second attraction was Pirates of the Carribbean as I dreamed of that ride since I was a child and the third was It’s a Small World so I could experience the magic my mom had at the World’s Fair.

Reality is sometimes very different from our dreams and sometimes it is even better if we just let it be.

After that first visit I had no idea if I would ever return to Disney World again after all it took thirty years to make a first visit. I shared my excitement with my family through small souvenirs that would be meaningful to them.

A year later we lost my father. Between my trip to Disney and when we lost my dad life had been pretty bleak. We lost several other loved ones that year, I had a life altering illness/surgery, and my dad was so ill that he was in an out of emergency rooms and hospital stays for nine months. The last nine months of his life he never made it back home. By the time my dad passed away I was so burned out I had turned in my resignation.

Through that year I still found some ordinary magic in simple moments. The day of Christmas Eve 2010, I realized I had very little to give so I made an impromptu run to several stores. My mantra that day was “if I can’t find a close parking space then I am not going in”. Every store I went to I found amazing parking spots and one store while looking for a gift for my brother I found a really good deal on a personal DVD player. The one thing my dad missed the most about home was not being able to watch what he wanted to including all his movies. When my dad opened that gift his eyes lit up and he asked me if the gift was “for real” and I assured him it was. I knew then that gift was the reason I had to go shopping that day. There were a few other moments like that in those last nine months that make remembering how hard it all was worth the pain.

Rent-a-Dad and I had a lot of soul searching in the months that followed. One thing we had thought of doing was a trip just for us. We had missed doing something for our ten year anniversary because of how sick my father was and we had been saving up to do something special. When the thought of Christmas without my father was brought up we knew what we were going to do. Rent-a-Dad helped make my childhood wish a reality. My mom, brother, Rent-a-Dad and I spent Christmas at Disney. It was the family trip I had always dreamed of except my dad was not with us. It was a very bittersweet trip for us all and we had some very emotional moments but it was still something special that I wish we could have shared with my dad.

Since my father’s passing, Rent-a-Dad and I have tried to live without regrets. It was something I strived for as a child and teenager but lost sight of as a young adult who had bills and student loans. Finding magic in ordinary things has always been the way I have achieved my happiness. Yes, I have been able to share my love of Disney not just through Disney movies but through several trips to Disney World. Going to Disney would not have meant one thing if I hadn’t been able to share it with those I love. I am just as happy taking our little loves to Mayfield Dairy during the fall as I was when we went to Disney. Driving around looking at Christmas lights was even more fun then watching the Disney parade and the 4th of July fireworks we caught from four locations in one Walmart parking lot seemed just as magical as any… I would never trade any of those ordinary moments. While I share my love of Disney things, the most important thing I can share is our sense of family and love of finding magic in ordinary places.

When life seems to be very unfair and I didn’t get to do something I so looked forward to, I always remind myself that nothing in life is ever promised. Once I remind myself of that one thing (and shut the door to negative thinking) I find that the magic of ordinary things is all around me. While I may never be rich (in worldly goods), all of the memories I have are priceless.

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FYI: This blog is in no way endorsed by or connected to anything official from WDW.

When I first thought of this piece I wanted to make it follow the style of the various Disney related blogs I follow. I even looked into the possibility of writing for these blogs but then I realized two very important things 1) my writing style is drastically different from those blogs and 2) since I don’t live near Disney World I am a bit under qualified for those blogs even though my ideas seem “new”.

Both of those points gave me an idea. I messaged the moderators for two of the blogs with a few suggestions of things I wished we had known about the fall festivities at Disney World before going last year. And you know what? Within a few days of messaging them several new posts came out about exactly just that! Here is the one I think is most useful: http://www.disneyfanatic.com/10-things-nobody-tells-you-about-visiting-walt-disney-world-around-halloween/

While I am very happy that readers of those blogs have better ideas of what the fall festivities are like at Disney World, I still feel there are a few things that have been over looked. So without further ado here is my original article as I had intended to post it a few weeks ago:

When it comes to planning a Disney trip I tend to ask a lot of questions before we finalize our plans. The great thing is that cast members in charge of bookings (407- 939-5277) are wonderfully patient and very helpful with setting up trip plans.

Even with all of the cast member help and the guidance we have had from seasoned Disney veterans there have been some things we wished we had done differently to make our trips more magical. Sometimes no matter how much information is available or the number of questions you think will cover your trip, there is always something that is forgotten.

When our family went to Disney World last October we did have a great time and enjoyed both the Food & Wine Festival at Epcot and the Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party at Magic Kingdom. Here is a list of what we thought would cover the basic wish list of “In the Know for a Magical Fall Trip at WDW”:

 

  1. Make your stay less stressful and stay in a WDW hotel

 I know they can seem a bit expensive but I have found the value resorts to be comparable to non WDW hotels once all of the fees are added in. I can not stress enough how staying on site takes a lot of trip related anxieties away. You can compare and contrast yourself so you know you are getting the best deal possible. There are a lot of perks to staying on site. The onsite transportation and free parking make it worth it for my family. Taking an afternoon break and heading back to the hotel makes life that much nicer if we want to make use of the Magic Hours or are going to a special event. As to other perks here is a quick link that outlines the majority of them: http://www.disneyfanatic.com/10-pros-and-cons-about-staying-at-a-disney-resort/

 

  1. Fall Magic Hours are VERY different from other times of the year

If you book several months out the cast members helping with your booking will not know what days there will be Magic Hours and what those hours will look like.

Expect that Epcot will have the best hours because of the Food & Wine Festival.

Magic Kingdom generally has early morning openings because of the Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party taking place in the evenings. To catch late magic hours at Magic Kingdom you will need to look at the weekends like a Friday or Saturday night but don’t expect that will remain that way.

With limited magic hours make use of the early openings. Most people don’t want to get up early when they are on vacation. We fall into that category a lot. Last fall it would have been great to get up early and make use of the those magic hours because we felt like we were constantly running behind even though we had planned on getting to the parks early.

 

  1. Keep travel times in mind even if you are staying on-site.

On-site does not equal “only a five minute drive”. If you are staying on site plan to get to the bus loading area an hour before the park opens. We got to the bus loading area 30 minutes prior to the park opening but kept ending up at the parks 30 to 45 minutes after the park opened. One reason was that we had a handicapped person with us and not all the buses can accommodate people with wheelchairs or motorized vehicles. Another reason is that the buses are not always on time and the park you want to go to may not be the only stop the bus makes.

So keep in mind your travel time when you plan on getting to the park before it opens! Arriving at the park before opening time means watching the opening show and getting to go on rides with little to no wait time. Honestly! We rode the Space Ranger ride twice in thirty minutes. We have had other friends get on the roller coasters right as they walked up to the line.

 

  1. Epcot Food & Wine Festival Concerts

Part of why we were going was to do with the evening concerts. In 2014 the concerts ran anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes long. Some performing groups did two sets while others only did one. I believe in 2015 some performers are slated to having three sets to allow for even bigger crowds.

For us we never quite knew what to expect. We even missed half of the concerts because of bad weather or poor planning on our part. So we suggest that if the concerts are a big reason why you are going at this time of year then plan an extra hour to get to the concert venue. So if you are in Epcot and the concert begins at 7:30, start making your way to the World Showcase Concert Venue at 6:30. If you went back to your hotel or are park hopping, then plan to catch the bus or make your way over to Epcot at 5/5:30.

Even if you get to the concert area early there is a lot to do in the America Pavillion. There is even a nice out of the way niche great for listening to the concert while enjoying a nice counter service dinner in the Japan Showcase. We were able to eat dinner in the Japanese Garden behind the counter service food option. While we didn’t get to see the show we heard it very well and the kids were happy to dance to the music in a Japanese garden. It made that evening seem so magical and special.

As for the Food & Wine aspect of the event, there are a lot of people and foot traffic in the evenings. So if this event is the main reason you are planning your vacation try to go between lunch and dinner on the weekdays. Weekends tend to be very busy because of all to local people who love this event. I have read quite a few of the blogs that suggest setting a budget by purchasing prepaid Disney Gift Cards so you don’t overspend. What we found useful was reviewing the official Food & Wine list before we went. You can generally find the list on the Disney Food Blog: www.disneyfoodblog.com. When we arrived we already had an idea of the booths we wanted to look for. In the end, even with a family of 3 adults and 3 kids we only spent about $30 trying foods at the booths. Where we spent the most money was just on the regular counter service foods which are already amazing. Even the menus of the counter service change from trip to trip especially if you only take a trip to WDW once every so often or decade.

 

  1. Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party

We had several friends tell us we needed to go to this event. It is a separate event with an additional ticket price. It is pretty pricey. Because of that hefty ticket price I wish there had been more information ahead of time about the event so we could have made the best use of the time we had during the event, meaning don’t assume you can tackle all of the Halloween festivities with going once.

What we should have done ahead of time was decide what was most important to us: “trick or treating”; riding all the rides; catching the special fireworks display or castle light show; participating in one of the actual dance parties taking place; or viewing one of the two parades. While we ended up doing a little bit of each we also could have made better use of our time and had even more fun.

Example: We planned on getting some dessert at the Sleepy Hallow Tavern and watching fireworks there. We had done this several years before at Christmas time. Sadly that is where everyone tried to hang out so we had a heck of a time getting our dessert with three toddlers and a handicapped person. We had to wolf down our dessert because the trees had grown taller and we could not see the fireworks. Then we were pushed around several places because all of the normal viewing spots were already taken so we only caught the last 5 to 10 minutes of the display. If we had known all of this we would have planned to watch the fireworks show from behind the castle to start with. We wouldn’t have seen any of the light show, which we barely saw anyway, and the fireworks were more important to the kids.

As for the rest of the festivities… overall we were most interested in spending the evening “trick-or-treating” and riding rides which worked out rather well. We did have a bit of a problem with getting a good viewing area for the kids for the parade but still managed to have fun.

Our suggestion: go to where the parade begins about 20 to 30 minutes before the start of the parade and if time is not a worry then catch the second parade as there usually aren’t as many people to deal with the second time around. You can use the time during the first parade to get on the popular rides quicker or run through more “trick or treat” spots. I believe we only went to three stations but we had so much candy that going “trick or treat” during Halloween at home was not as big of a deal.

Another great tip to know: Even though the party begins in the early evening cast members told us that the party ticket holders could arrive between 3 & 4pm. If we had known this we might have not purchased a park ticket that day and made that morning the time we went to Downtown Disney (now Disney Springs).

Keep in mind that most of the stalls and stores start closing about 5 minutes before the evening is scheduled to wrap up. We were sad that as we went down Main Street that the doors were already locked even though our phones said we still had a couple of minutes before the park was officially to close. That meant we couldn’t purchase the souvenirs that sell only during the Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. However a little side note that we found out about was is we took our bracelet into the stores on Main Street and begged a cast member who wasn’t busy showing them our Halloween bracelet that the cast member might take pity on you if you know EXACTLY what you want to purchase. My husband surprised my mom and I with the special pins and a t-shirt that I had been wanting the whole time. He definitely won himself brownie points!

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Over the years we have charted trips from Maryland to Georgia; Iowa to Maryland; Iowa to Georgia; Tennessee to Missouri; and a few other destinations less traveled by our families. We try to keep a journal for each trip we take mainly to know what worked, what didn’t and where are all the good stops we have enjoyed along the way.

The one constant road-trip-tip (say that one 10x fast!) for us has been to make sure we have a good idea of several stops we can make along the way. It helps so us to have an idea of where we might get gas, grab a bite to eat and even gives us something to look forward to as far as a place to stretch our legs and change drivers if not just a fun stop to make some memories.

Last year my husband and I lost our minds and planned a trip to Disney with two toddlers, an infant and my handicap mom.

Yep. We plum lost our minds.

There is a back story to our insanity. We were originally planning a get-away January 2014 but that wasn’t to be as we almost lost my mom to a severe illness. Then we became ill. Once we were all better, Branden and I thought “Let’s go after our nephews go home.” His logic being we would need happy thoughts to get us through missing our nephews on a daily basis as they had been staying with us every day for eight months. Life has fun throwing lemons our way because almost as soon as we thought about planning a trip Branden had a job offer he couldn’t refuse which meant he had to re-earn time off.

The sad news was postponing the trip again. The good news was my mom got better and we were able to use a trip to Disney as an end goal for her recovery. A placement later and we not only wanted to bring our nephews but also our newest addition as well. It all seemed right because it meant my mom could enjoy seeing these grandbabies at Disney, which might never happen again.

So… without further ado we set the date, purchased the tickets, made the hotel reservation and yes we were just that crazy to bring two toddlers, an infant and my mom with us.

While the trip in its entirety is a whole other blog post, the point I wanted to make here was that even this trip was not just about the destination, as lovely and magical as it is. As usual for us the trip was about the journey… to, from and everything in between. Sadly though, even with our best intentions sometimes trips really are about the destinations. That the road trip to the destination is a big push.

The first time we went to Disney, Branden and I were both chaperones for a girls choir that I was the business manager for. So our schedule was planned out for us including the bus ride down. I barely remember that road trip except there were a LOT of Disney movies being played on the bus to put everyone in the mood. The Disney visit was more then memorable and filled with stories I won’t easily forget like a bird landing on the head of one of our singers in the midst of a song. That chorister handled that incident better then most professionals!

The second time we went it was using our 10 year anniversary fund (long story) so my mother could see Disney for the first time. My dad had been really ill the year of our 10th anniversary so we did not get to take a special trip. When my dad passed away and we were faced with the idea of Christmas without him, Branden and I decided to use that fund so we could spend Christmas at Disney. It seemed the right thing to do but it meant that we didn’t really make the stops along the way that we thought we would. I don’t even really remember our trip down and I barely remember the trip back up. I do remember the bits in between which was the most important thing for that trip.

Now for this third trip, we were planning to have one senior and three little ones. From the start we knew there would need to be multiple stops both going and coming home. As most of those stops would be potty breaks and “the kids need to burn energy off” breaks, I knew that meant more unplanned stops but thought it never hurt to check the internet to see if there were any suggestions out there to make our road trip more pleasant. Mainly I wanted to have an idea of how spaced out the rest stops were and if there were any exits along our route that might offer quick food eats with healthier options.

So I looked up our route and what did I find? It was a mixed bag of nothing. There were rest stops and some restaurant locations listed for Georgia and a few Florida rest stops listed on www.i75exitguide.com. Sadly there were no specific gas exits only prices linked to www.gasbuddy.com (a website my in-laws use regularly when they are out of town for work). I then cast a wider net to see if there any other food suggestions listed somewhere for Georgia but there still wasn’t much out there. After a lot of digging I did find an interesting truckers site with some gas station ideas for making stops off of I-75 at www.findfuelstops.com/truck-stop-on-I-75. I was still left a bit sad since I knew we would need to take at least one stop in Florida before getting to Disney.

Overall what I wanted was some reassurances that we wouldn’t be spending all day on the road trip from hell. That we would have an enjoyable drive down where we could easily get gas, grab a bite to eat, let the toddlers burn some energy and of course change diapers all within a few feet of each other… How could the internet not have the answer to what I wanted? After all I knew for a fact that we were not the only people who lived in our area to drive to and from Disney. And that was just our area!

I am a very organized traveler. Even for trips where we have traveled the route often I have a trip binder. It has written (or printed) directions, itinerary, hotel information, etc. On years where I am very stressed about making the trip work well I even create a packing list and a list of things to buy for the trip. One year I even pre-packed our van with our luggage to make sure everything would fit. Then I took a picture and labeled the picture so Branden and my brother could later re-pack our van since I was going to be busy with my day job up to the day we left. So my trip binder is my trip “how to” for dummies because we all get a little dumb sometimes. Don’t believe me? Someday I will share the story of how we lost an entire state on my way to college.

My point here is that when I am armed with information I feel more secure about the road trip, which does kind of set the mood for the first few days of any trip. This trip I even had a goal for taking notes on the places where we took stops so I could do what I couldn’t find: create a basic road stop list that people could add to. Sadly my notes for the return trip ended up as toddler fodder, meaning one of the toddlers got a hold of my note book and most of my notes got torn to shreds. This made me quite sad as the Pizza Hut on our return trip had such a wonderful staff that I looked past their outdated bathrooms with absent of diaper changing stations. Honestly this stop made our whole return trip home much more enjoyable then we had originally thought!

Even with most of my notes gone I was able to make a small list of the exits we took on our way down to Disney. I hope the small list of noted places can help others who like to plan make a more enjoyable car-ride down to Disney and that others will add their favorite stops to this list!

I really wanted to provide more details and lots of useful stop information but like much about life, lemons were tossed and we did the best we could to make lemonade. This time it meant not getting upset with the toddler who unpacked the luggage sitting next to him or tore/shredded pages out of my trip binder when we got home. The good news is that we hope to make a few more trips to Florida in the next couple of years to visit family and friends. Maybe we will even take a side trip for another much needed family vacation! So we hope to add to this list as much as we hope others will help add to this list as well!

 

Georgia

Exit 179 Southbound

Rest-Stop

Note: While the rest stop may seem a bit over crowded when you pull in there is over flow parking in the back. There really wasn’t an area where I could let the kids stretch their legs because of how tight of an area the rest stop was. I ended up being worried that they might get hit by a car. The only leg stretching they did was running around inside the small bathroom and taking trash from the van to the trash can.

 

Exit 146

Pilot Travel Center

Note: Was a good stop for gas. The price of gas was pretty decent and comparable to Tennessee. The gas station had an Arby’s adjoining it. We ended up not grabbing food here because there really wasn’t an area for the kids to let loose some steam. Instead we grabbed snacks and got back on the road. The kids were ok with this since we had started our trip so early. They mainly wanted to nap in the car for most of the morning.

 

Exit 22

Burger King

Note: Wonderful stop! There was a play yard in the Burger King so the kids got to stretch their legs and let off some energy. The bathrooms even had changing tables. Yay! Bonus was that this exit also had a few gas stations to choose from. I believe we used the Shell Station but I don’t know for sure as that was on one of the pages that the toddler shredded.

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In today’s world of social media we see these awesome vacation photos of our friends and acquaintances. What do they all have in common? (Other then looking a little too picture perfect at times) They are all photos of the vacation destination which reminds us that vacation is about the destination. Right? Well not for my family.

Both my husband and I grew up in families that road tripped. So our early vacation memories are just as much about the journey as it was about the journey’s end. For me some of the early trips meant the journeys end was at a relative’s home in another state so I was more excited about the drive then the final destination as my relatives generally still had their day jobs to go to while we were visiting. Now that we are adults who have experienced a variety of vacation styles from “staycations” to road trips to international travel, we have not forgotten our roots.

Neither one of us care for air travel as it exists today, although we have a lot of respect for the journey it has taken to protect travel for those who must fly. Since 9-11 travel on an airplane is not as enjoyable as it once was. All that rushing around, not knowing if you are going to be singled out for a search and then the possibility that you may not make a connecting flight. Then add in that I am claustrophobic. I once told an airplane exec that was curious as to why I didn’t like air travel that airplanes reminded me of coffins with wings. Yeah. Just the thought of starting a vacation with a plane ride for either of us kind of sets us on edge. That kind of feeling can set a bad tone for the entire trip. If we can avoid using a plane it’s a much better trip right from the start.

That means we do a lot of traveling in the USA within a 9 hour drive of where we live. Since we live in Southeast Tennessee we feel like that gives us plenty enough options for adventure and excitement. In recent years we have been to Washington, DC (where I am originally from); Williamsburg, VA; Orlando, Florida; Lake of the Ozarks, MO and plenty of places in between. Each time we plan our trips we try to incorporate special stops along the way. We also try to plan our road trips with extra time as the unexpected can be just as enjoyable as the planned stops.

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             Cahokia Mounds

I will never live down a time in which Branden asked if I wanted to make a stop at Cahokia Mounds right outside of St. Louis, MO. He knew that was on my bucket list as I am a big fan of archaeology and have an art history minor. I thought the historical site was going to be way off the beaten path but when he pointed to a sign that said it was only a mile off the exit I grabbed his arm and excitedly exclaimed “Yes, please! Let’s go now!” In Branden’s memory my eyes turned red and my voice took on a deeper tone. He even has gone so far as to say I ordered him to “Turn now servant!” Shame on him for picking on me! As you can see that has stuck with me for the past 15 years and is a favorite road trip moment of ours.

Sure road trips can be long and boring. But they don’t have to be. You can go low tech and do fun car games. You can use it as a time to have a conversation where phones and FaceBook can take a back seat. Use the trip as a way to re-invest in your relationship. Find out what makes your significant other tick today. You can also bring techie gadgets with you to entertain the little ones (or older parents). My mom has loved watching movies in the back seat on some of our most recent trips.

The point for me is I would never trade any of our side trips along the way for a fast or “easy” way to get from point A (home) to point B (the vacation destination). Those side trips are just as memorable, if not more so, then the actual trip.

This post is dedicated to creating memories and learning about the road less traveled. My maternal grandmother moved from Maryland to Georgia in the early 80s. From about 1985 to her death in 2005, some part of our family either traveled to visit her or her to visit us often enough that we came to have a love and hate relationship with I-81.

When I was a kid there weren’t a lot of exits along this highway. We depended on the road side rest stops as gas stations were few and far between. For a kid with motion sickness the trip could go from boring to excruciating in about 5 minutes.

As I got older and my motion sickness was found out to be vision related (Yay glasses!), I was able to value road trips more. I treasured the time we played games, walked dogs in snow laden grass embankments and had snowball fights, when we were able to explore small town America instead of just sticking to roadside rest-stops, and for me personally- I would sit and draw the mountains we drove past thinking of each one as a dear friend marking my journey. Then as I got older I began to miss and long for those road trips as family members aged, stopped taking trips or started their own families. Later on as I started my own family and also made the move from Maryland, I began to take trips down I-81 with my husband and have been able to add to those memories.

The first time Branden and I went to Williamsburg, VA was about our 7th or 8th trip together driving along I-81 so we knew that there were a few truck stops and exits on I-81 that we liked to stop off at. That said the older I get the more I realize fast food on a road trip can be fun but I pay for it in the end (no-puns-intended). So we are always in search of that quick sit down meal or a fast food place that has healthier options.

Our first road trip to Williamsburg followed a long day at work so we knew we needed an evening stop over before getting to our journey’s end. We weren’t sure where that would be so we grabbed a hotel coupon booklet from as rest stop for some ideas. What first stuck out and caught our attention was Staunton, VA. As we were pulling into the hotel we chose, we saw a sign for Edelweiss restaurant. It seemed like karma. We had always wanted to try that restaurant but never had time. The restaurant also stood out to us because Edelweiss is the name of the theme song for the choir I worked for at that time.

Sadly when we got to the restaurant it was closed. So we did not get to eat there on our way to Williamsburg however we grabbed a menu and on our return trip we made a point to grab brunch there. The restaurant was glorious! I whole heartedly recommend it to everyone who enjoys German food and has to take a trip that involves driving down I-81. Since 2009, Branden and I have been to this restaurant a minimum of six times. It has never failed to impress us. It has everything we love- good food for great prices, a wonderful at home feeling (with a German theme) and great staff.

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Edelweiss even has a website now (http://www.edelweissvirginia.com/). Maybe not the prettiest website but don’t judge a book by its cover or the website that represents it 😉 If you should find yourself planning a road trip along I-81 in Virginia and are able to have a sit down meal, you should look up Edelweiss up so you can add it to your very own journey.

For me the start to any possible vacation begins with a tango. That tango is led with questions, fraught with discussion and finally a destination is selected. You might ask yourself why selecting a vacation destination can seem so stressful or maybe you know exactly what I mean, even if your vacation tango has different steps.

Like most families, when I was a kid all of our vacation spots were pre-selected for us by our parents. First of all we were kids. Secondly we were not the richest family out there and so we had tight vacation budgets. Many of my mom’s closest relatives all lived out of state so any of my out-of-state traveling was to stay with family members and do things near to them like Lake Winnie Amusement Park in North Georgia. I know some families discuss vacation ideas with their kids but don’t mistake the pre-selecting of the vacations for me or the fact that we visited family A LOT as a complaint. I was able to visit most of the original 13 colonies as well as some others before I was 18. We went camping (maybe not me as much), hiking, biking and canoeing; I also got to go to the beach and see the sunrise; there were other trips with climbing waterfalls and playing in swimming holes or hot springs. A couple of trips included visiting historical sites and yes, more amusement parks. I had a rich childhood even if we lived on a tight income. The best part is that I have great memories of being with family. Now that many of those family members have passed, I wish I could go back to those trips and say “thank-you” a few more times to them.

As I transitioned into adulthood my trips involved visiting out of state friends and a boyfriend or two (before my husband’s time). Then Branden and I were married so of course we started taking trips together. As a young couple right out of college, Branden and I did not have a lot of money and I wanted to introduce him to those I held dear who couldn’t make it to our wedding. So the first several years of marriage involved trips visiting family, and a few over night stays at friends before hitting a RenFaire or two, even one memorable Halloween party. We never really did a vacation that was just about us. Even our honeymoon involved visiting family. That may seem odd other people but Branden was raised in a similar fashion to me so it was just what we did.

So when a vacation is just about Branden and I, we have had a hard time selecting trips that are get-away type of destinations. Having a vacation where we aren’t sharing fun experiences with our loved ones just seems so alien. It’s not quite how we are wired. To make vacation selections even more interesting, we have the added bonus of being work-a-holics so when we both had career paths that involved long hours at different times of the year we had a hard time selecting a time of year that fit both of our busy schedules. It was sometimes just easier not to plan and just do an impromptu weekend get-away.

At one point this was our vacation tango…

Step One: Select a time of year we both can get away

Step two: Select somewhere we both agree on that sounds like a fun place to visit

Step three: Research said destination

Step Four: Generally involves a step backwards and a few more ideas because the original idea at that time of year is not a good idea for one reason or another.

Step Five: This is almost a tug-a-war as some years once we have selected a date range something like work pops up and we have to re-arrange our trip. Sigh. I am a planner so doing things on the fly really bothers me and re-arranging trips starts to sound like a chore.

I could bore you with all of our steps to our vacation tango and how the steps have changed over the years but the simple truth is that some years it’s a miracle that we take a trip. The most successful trips have always involved visiting family and friends. Then there are the trips where we have done NONE of the planning like being involved in a tour with 20 to 40 people. I was lucky to have worked with an organization that toured every year, both internationally and nationally, and needed chaperones or staff members to be involved. This meant easy lovely trips, even ones with 40 teenage girls I look fondly back on. The third type of successful trip is where we have to pay a percentage ahead of time with no-refund involved. That meant we had to really want to go on the trip and no one DARE interfere… like going to Disney World.

I once had a family member ask why we bother trying to take vacations when we are much happier just hanging out with family.

To start off with, once you are on the vacation it is always worth it. Just like many things in life, the difficult tasks are sometimes the most rewarding.

Also, here is a little fun fact about life… It goes one whether we want to participate or not. One day we can look back and go “Oh I meant to do that” and now not be able to. I don’t want to live a life where I realize one day I have a list of regrets and neither does Branden. So even if things aren’t perfect, they rarely are, we feel we need to try. My parents always looked forward to doing their traveling in their autumn years but by the time they reached those years my dad was too ill and all of their money went to medical bills. Now that my dad is gone, I know he would want us to get out and enjoy life. I also know he wanted me to include my mom in as many of those excursions as we can so that she can do some of the things they always dreamed of. Since loosing my dad some of our wilder trips have involved going to Disney twice, still visiting family & friends, attending several conventions and meeting some amazing people. We still dry to do fun weekend day-trips like autumn festivals, nearby amusement parks and attractions.

Some years our tango is so fun we can’t wait to plan the next trip and other times we feel like the dance has outlasted the music. But we keep dancing. I hope you are up to the adventure of continuing to read my travel articles as they take me down memory lane and beyond.

It’s now three weeks past the launch of our blog. Yay! Now what to write…? No I am just joking. I have a whole laundry list of topics I want to write about and events I wish to share. Before I get too deep and retrospective I want to share a series of articles dealing with two obsessions of mine: Travel and Disney.

I know these posts will be coming at an odd time. Summer is prime family vacation time so anyone who hasn’t already taken their vacation is highly likely to already have it planned. That said, this series of articles can appeal to those who are already planning their next great family vacation as well as those that vacation at off-peak times. With so many school systems across the country utilizing fall, winter and spring breaks, there is always a vacation right around the corner.

I come from a family with a love of road trips and traveling. In fact many of us “thank” or even “blame” my great grandfather for our wanderlust. Whenever he got bored with life he would hitch a train and go… he actually worked with the railroad from time to time so this made his wanderlust that much easier to satisfy but that is a story for another day. As a part of this series, I want to share my family’s perspective of travel as it has helped shape who I am today and had an impact on where our family currently lives. I also hope to cover various other travel related topics.

As for my other obsession… Yes, I am a Disney Fanatic. Even though I never went to either Land or World as a child, as an adult I have enjoyed three very different trips and hope to go again. As many fanatics say “I start planning my next trip before the one I am on is over”. In keeping with the theme of our blog, I want to share my current knowledge and love of Disney World with those who have either never been to or who have an interest in returning but have questions and want to make their next trip more magical.

Thanks to Facebook I can easily follow multiple Disney blogs through the Facebook Fan Pages. These blogs are my “go to” not just for trip planning but for when I need a magical boost to my day. Experts say that it is just as important to plan a trip you never take as it is to plan your real trip. I take full advantage of this theory and plan trips often as a way to escape from the daily doldrums.

My all time favorite Disney Blog is the Disney Food Blog. There are not enough good things I can say about this blog as I am also a foodie and have been accused of planning where I am going to eat out of town as soon as I know where my trip destination is. This blog has wonderful tips on where to dine, when to dine, and even recipes for some of the food items we have all grown to love while at Disney. I still need to try the recipe they shared last fall on Facebook for the Ohana Bread Pudding from the Polynesian Resort. (The actual full recipe was from a 2009 blog post from the food blog website.)

I have probably been sucked into “liking” about a dozen Disney related fan pages thinking titles of pages have changed or because a particular post sounded interesting. Of the pages I follow the ones I find most interesting and magical on a daily basis also have official websites as well Inside the Magic; Walt Disney World for Grownups; Disney Fanatic and The Main Street Mouse. I have found that Inside the Magic, WDW for Grownups and TMSM provide Facebook posts that cover events that make you wish that you were at WDW right now (perhaps inspiring ideas of what time of year you would like to plan a trip) while Disney Fanatic covers topics like “10 Closed Disney Rides We Miss the Most”. All of these pages can keep your Disney addiction well fed (don’t forget Disney owns the movie rights to the Marvel Universe and Star Wars- these sites help keep me updated) as well as provide serious tips for planning a great vacation. Although it is not one of my everyday reads there is another site that I find instrumental in answering vacation related questions: the official Disney Parks blog.

In planning trips to Disney and reading tips that these blogs have shared, I have found areas that are a bit gray and thin. Where information given is very generic or overshared in a way that obscures some more serious travel tips and questions. I hope that my series of Travel, and Disney related blog entries will cover topics like:

  • Vacation Tango
  • Magical Trips with Toddlers (from day trips to a WDW Vacation)
  • WDW: Making the most of a Fall Trip
  • WDW: Enjoying the Christmas Magic
  • 10 Tips I wish someone had shared with me about WDW
  • Spinning a Travelers’ list of Pet Peeves
  • Covering things “not to do” while on Vacation

In this series I expect to include links for additional information and to cover ideas and a few stories not listed with the above titles as they are personal experiences either from WDW trips or other vacations. One that comes to mind right now ties into the biggest pet peeves WDW fanatics or vacationers have about any trip and how to make the best of the situation.

On that note: take it from me that we all do things at one point or another that upset those around us. After all we can not please 100% of those around us all the time. Sometimes we are aware of what we do (and could behave differently) and other times we are forced into bad situations without needing others to make it even worse. If we can help be a part of the solution and not the problem then everyone could have a more magical vacation wherever they may be.