Friday, February 20, 2015

When Disney Dreams Turn to Nightmares: Part I

You know, I was really looking forward to this vacation. After everything that my family and I have been through since July (husband's hospitalization for over eight weeks, healthy grandmother's sudden death, husband's two subsequent surgeries, my back injury... the list goes on and on), I was really looking forward to having a magical time with my family.  My kids haven't been able to travel anywhere, and I wanted this to be super special for them.

Me and Magoo on the Magical Express.
It started out with being berated by someone when we approached the Magical Express after getting off the plane. My mother's jacket was lost at the airport, and I wanted to find out where the lost and found was. I stepped away from the line and attempted to talk to a Magical Express representative. He shooed me away before I could even ask my question. He even did a "shoo" hand motion at me! I tried to explain what I wanted to know, and he cut me off. He then proceeded to yell at me in front of 30 people about how I needed to stay with my group. I only had a question about where lost and found was. We got onto the Magical Express without being able to talk to lost and found. The people at the resort attempted to help me, but it was too late.

Strike one, Disney. This set the tone for my entire trip. (Notice I say "trip" and not "vacation.")

Please note: I attempted to hide EVERYTHING that occurred from my family so that THEY would at least have a magical time. I absorbed all of the stress so that it wouldn't ruin their time. I would rather ruin my own vacation than let my family know what was going on and ruin theirs. It was WAY more important for me to see my family have a wonderful time together than worry about having a good time on my own.

The Pop Century was nice-- I will get into my reviews in later blogs. It was a way better hotel than I expected it to be. It was fun and the kids loved it. They had our three rooms right next to one another, with two connecting as we had requested.

Me and Coach Trish waiting for the bus...
The transportation between the resort, parks, Downtown Disney and ESPN, however, were a freaking NIGHTMARE. On Friday, Pumpkin's twirling coach Trish and I wasted about four hours just waiting for buses. FOUR HOURS. Not exaggerating in the slightest. We actually ended up cabbing it for the rest of the weekend to and from the ESPN Wide World of Sports-- To the tune of about $100. It was unbelievably frustrating.

On Friday, Trish and I met my family for lunch at the Contempo Cafe in the Contemporary Resort. We tried to take the monorail to the Magic Kingdom to hang for like an hour, before having to head back to ESPN with Pumpkin for her first set of competitions. Well, the monorail broke down, and we were told to walk. While hoofing it with two six year olds and a husband with a medical condition, two monorails (TWO) passed overhead to the Magic Kingdom.

We entered the Magic Kindgom, ran up to the train to try to get over to Frontierland quickly-- And found that the train had also broken down. Dejected, we left the park and headed back to Pop Century to get Pumpkin ready. We were planning on getting her ready, then heading to the ESPN Grill for dinner before she had to compete.

We got to the ESPN Grill, only to find that they "closed early because there wasn't much traffic." Ummm... WHAT???? Are you KIDDING me? So, none of us got to eat dinner until about 10pm, when we got back to the Pop Century.

That pretty much sums up our first two days at Disney. Believe me, there is a LOT more coming, but I need to finish packing out stuff to get the heck out of here and go home.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Twirlmania: A Magical Competition

As you may or may not already know through following my blogs and YouTube Channel, my daughter is a competitive twirler. She is on the travel team with The Sparklers. She is currently on their Intermediate Tiny Tots team and she performs solo competitions in marching (basic and military) and will start presentation soon. She is 6 years old (will be 7 next month) and absolutely LOVES twirling. She especially loves her team and being a part of such a spectacular organization.

So, what does this have to do with Disney?

Pumpkin & the Sparklers Titanium Team
Every year for the past 20 years, Disney has been host for Twirlmania, an international competition for twirlers of all ages. When Pumpkin first tried out to be on the travel team, we met a woman whose daughter had just been to Twirlmania. She showed Pumpkin all of the pictures of twirling at Disney. At the time, Pumpkin was just five years old. She asked me if we could go to Twirlmania, and I told her that we could go when she was six if she stuck with twirling and really enjoyed it. I honestly forgot all about it until the Sparkler Awards Dinner in September. At the Awards dinner, it was announced that the Titanium Team would be the first Sparklers team to ever compete in Twirlmania. My daughter, who has a memory like a freaking elephant, stood up and shouted, "I'M GOING TO TWIRLMANIA, TOO!!!!!"

Yeah, so, I'm on a plane right now, heading down to Orlando once again. We are staying at Disney's Pop Century for the first three nights, then transferring over to Disney's Old Key West for another five nights. We desperately need a vacation, especially after all of the health issues my husband faced since July 2014. I'm really looking forward to the break.  I'll be blogging a bit, of course, so keep checking back to this blog.

The hair ribbon from Team Titanium
I also wanted to give a huge THANK YOU to Pumpkin's coach, Trish, who worked so hard with her for this competition. Another THANK YOU to Linda Peters and the rest of the Sparklers staff for having such an awesome program. Finally, THANK YOU to the Titanium team for including Pumpkin in your excitement and for the hair ribbon. You all made her feel so wonderful and special. The photos at the airport and the greeting she got from you all is something that she will not soon forget.

The whole family is very excited to support Pumpkin at Twirlmania. We are looking forward to experience new things at Disney, such as the ESPN Zone for the first time and spending quite a lot of time at Downtown Disney! The twins each received a Disney gift card from Uncle Tony, Aunt Jean and their cousins for Christmas, so they are really looking forward to going shopping. Magoo is going to go fishing with his dad while Pumpkin is rehearsing. We got the meal plan and annual passes, and we are soooo ready to go. Once we get off the plane, we will meet up with Coach Trish and head over to the Pop Century. The plan tonight is to go to Epcot for a little while-- Maybe even see the fireworks!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

WARNING: Fantasmic May Be Scary For Little Ones!

I know that these entries are getting shorter and shorter, but I want to make sure that I get at least one blog entry a day while I'm at the Happiest Place on Earth. Today, the fam and I went to the Animal Kingdom. And, yes, Yak & Yeti was as fabulous as I expected it to be. We had a real blast there, but I will write more about it another time. (SOOOOO freakin' good, though.) 

After going on the Kali River Rapids (and getting thoroughly soaked), we headed back to the hotel to change and grab dinner. I also promised the kiddos that they would be able to play in the water playground for a bit. Things started happening with my business, so I had to work a little bit. Fortunately, I was able to work from a lounge chair, watching the kids play. 

My friend, KJ, and her family were at Hollywood Studios, so we decided to meet them over there. She was able to save us seats for Fantasmic. I was so excited, because the kids really wanted to see fireworks. I didn't realize that this was more of a stage production than a fireworks display.


My innocent kiddos
My kids are 6 years old. They are very innocent. I wouldn't necessarily call them sheltered, but they don't like scary things. They think that everything is real. They have wild imaginations. It's one of the many, many, many things that I adore about my kids.

That being said, Fantasmic is about Mickey Mouse having a dream which turns into a nightmare, featuring a majority of the Disney villains. And it does get a little scary... At one point, they set the water in the lagoon on fire. It's cool to an adult, but my son completely freaked out and started crying. My daughter had her face crushed into my side. By the way, we were sitting in the last row.  So, yeah, a little terrifying to my kids who think that villains are real. If your kids are as innocent as mine are (and they are 6 years old, remember), you might want to skip Fantasmic for another display elsewhere. We're checking out Illuminations tomorrow night. I'll be sure to let you know how it is.

Monday, April 21, 2014

An Annoying Thing About Magic Bands

Pumpkin on Cinderalla's Carousel
I love the Magic Bands. So far, we have had a near-perfect experience with them. However, it isn't COMPLETELY perfect. You see, there is the Fast Pass debacle. When the idea of Fast Pass first came out (basically a reservation for you to go on a ride), they were unlimited. You even got a free Fast Pass every now and again when you got a ticket. you would slip your park ticket into a Fast Pass machine, and got a ticket in return for your desired experience. It was a fabulous idea, and a lot of people took advantage of it.

Well, with the Magic Bands, you are able to book your Disney experiences WAY in advance-- Pretty much as soon as you know you are going to disney and pay in full for your package. Pumpkin really wants to see Elsa and Anna, but the Fast Passes were all booked up... And the wait was 135 minutes. Um, no freaking way. Maybe if we can get there earlier, before the line gets completely out of hand. But, there were no fast passes left even last week, and she REALLY wants to meet the sister princesses.

Magoo on the carousel
But that isn't what annoys me. What annoys me is that you are only allowed to get THREE Fast Passes per day. It doesn't matter if you have park hopper tickets, or get your first Fast Passes really early in the morning-- You are limited to three. It sucks. We got It's A Small World, Winnie The Pooh and Tomorrowland Speedway. We were done by 1:30 with everything, and headed over to Hollywood Studios. There were no Fast Passes to be had-- I wasn't allowed to get them, even though we got to Hollywood at 6pm. Totally stinks.

Still, we had a fabulous time at the Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios today. At the Magic Kingdom, the kids went on: It's a Small World, Cinderella's Golden Carousel, The Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Mad Tea Party, Dumbo, Tomorrowland Motor Speedway and the train in the Magic Kingdom. They met the White Rabbit (obscure!) and Pumpkin met Mickie Mouse (who actually talked in the Town Square Theatre). I even convinced the kids to do Muppetvision with me, which is my absolute favorite attraction in all of Disney. Tomorrow, we are off to the Animal Kingdom, where I get to eat my FAVORITE lunch at Yak & Yeti! YAY!

Me and my kids on the teacups

Sunday, April 20, 2014

We Made It!

Well, we made it! We left Islip MacArthur Airport on Southwest flight 2261 this evening, after all of our Easter festivities. The flight departed 10 minutes early and arrived 20 minutes early. I guess the pilot was in a rush to get home. It was a terrific flight-- Magoo sat with Daddy and Pumpkin sat with me. She fell asleep as soon as the sun went down, and woke up five minutes before we landed. Magoo, on the other hand, was ver excited to be on the plane. He and Daddy played games, colored, talked, bonded... It was heartwarming to look across the aisle and see the two of them chumming around. I gotta tell you, my husband is a great dad. I really lucked out in that department-- And so did my kids. (On a side note, I haven't spoken with my own father since New Year's Eve 2002. He has never met the kids. Incidentally, he works at Disney. Every time we come here, I always get nervous that I might run into him. I have no idea what I would say. But, I digress...)  It was a very, very pleasant flight. I'm proud to say that my kids were extremely well-behaved. 

Since we didn't have a very full flight, we picked up our luggage right away. Since we came in after 10pm, Disney's Magical Express Luggage Service was closed for the evening. Nonetheless, we grabbed our bags and headed to Disney's Magical Express.  We got right onto our bus, headed to the Caribbean Beach Resort, checked in, and made it to our room. We are staying in a Pirate Room: Standard View in the Trinidad section of the resort.

My reaction to the room as soon as we walked in:  Okay, this is pretty cool.

Magoo, on the other hand, had an entirely different reaction. He ran around the room, trying to form words that just wouldn't come out coherently: Momarite! Dadachoo! Yargh! MOM! Pirate! Finally, he turned around and shouted, "I LOVE YOU!!!!! Yeah, score one for mommy here.

The room really is cool. The first thing you notice are the pirate beds, which are cool without anything else in the room. But there is just so much more. First, the carpeting looks like wooden planks. The furniture looks like wooden crated and barrels, but they have secret drawers and doors.  There is even an etching of the Flying Dutchman on the wall of the shower. A very, very cool room, indeed. Even my princess-oriented daughter got caught up in Magoo's excitement. While I'm sure Pumpkin would much prefer the Royal Guestroom we stayed in at Disney's Port Orleans Riverside Resort a year or so ago, she totally got into the pirate beds. She even wanted to sleep with the gold dubloon bed runner (or whatever it is called) wrapped around her. The kids are super, super excited. You can't help but get caught up in their excitement. It's just so much fun.

Speaking of fun, I received an email from Disney Guest Services while we were at the airport. This email invited me and my family to go to the Be Our Guest Restaurant this week for lunch! They are testing some sort of new program, and they need people to eat there. Considering this restaurant is completely booked up this week for lunch, I jumped at the chance.  My friend Christine is bringing her daughter this week, and could only get dinner reservations there on Saturday night. All they asked us to do was order our meals before we got there online. I guess this is some sort of test program for the Magic Bands.
OH! Speaking of the Magic Bands, they are working fabulously so far. We were able to check in for our Magical Express, the hotel and even use it as a key to open the door to our room. Very, very cool. 

My 10 year wedding anniversary is next year. I keep thinking about coming back to Disney, but staying in one of the deluxe resorts. Hubby and I know that we want to go away, but our anniversary happens to fall during the kids' Easter break next year. We really should take them with us... So, why not live it up at Disney? I guess I need to make this an amazing trip for Hubby so that he goes along with my idea.  Shouldn't be too difficult!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Disney, Here We Come!!

My kids are super stoked. Why? WE DID IT!!! We earned enough money through our eBay auctions to go to Disney. We are leaving tomorrow evening (4/20), and we couldn't be more excited. I cashed in on my Travel Agent rate, and we are going to stay at Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort in a Pirate Room. We got an unbelievable deal, as Disney offers me a fantastic rate once a year. We can't wait to get there. The kids keep asking me if we can leave earlier.

I had a nightmare last night, though, that I left our tickets and Magic Bands home. Have you heard of these things? I can't wait to test them out. They're supposed to make your Disney Experience smoother, quicker and more accessible. They're really cool wristbands that you get to customize. They supposedly act like a room key, park admission, FastPass ticket and more. You can connect them to and even link them with other friends and family you my have going to Disney. For example, several of my friends will be at Disney this week. We linked a few of them, so that we can meet up.

I'm irritated, though. Pumpkin, of course, wants to meet Elsa and Anna. I went on the website to arrange it through FastPass, and there was an error. It just would NOT let me do a FastPass for them. I just went back to try again, and now they're sold out. Of course, this just means that we'll have to wait, but it would have been so nice to get the FastPass for them. Ah, well.

So, away we go! Thanks so much for following my blog, and for all your support. IT's going to be a GREAT trip!!!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Baby Steps

The twins and I have been working really hard to list all sorts of items we have around our house: clothes, jewelry, shoes, etc. So far, they have earned $230. That means they have $2770 remaining. Can we do it? I think we can. We sure as heck are going to try!! As a matter of fact, I've started to document our eBay progress on YouTube with HollywoodChick's 100 Day eBay Challenge.

Pumkin and Magoo are having a BLAST learning about selling on eBay, trying to reach their goal and filling out the map as to where all of our items have been sent. It's a math, geography and business lesson all in one. I can't wait to reach our goal to head back to Disney. Maybe we won't get there in February, but we will certainly get there this year. I'm so proud of them. Take a look at our sales map:

Cool, isn't it? Once a state is filled, I will write the name of the state on it. Daddy has already sold something to a different country, but the buyer has yet to pay. If we end up sending items to a different country, we will visit that country at Epcot. I'm really, really, really excited about this project. I don't know who is more excited-- me or the kids!

My sister, Aunt Julie, and my best friend, Aunt Kristen, have decided to participate, too. Aunt Julie has a lot of stuff in this house, and I'm going to list them for her. Aunt Kristen brought a bunch of stuff over, which I'm starting to list today. The kids get to keep a percentage of whatever they sell for someone else-- like a consignment. It's something else that I can teach them.

Watch out, Disney! Here we come!