Fantasyland is Getting a Makeover!

From the bright brain of Real Disney Mom Michelle W!

As everyone knows by now (okay, maybe if you live under a rock you might not know), Fantasyland in Walt Disney World is getting a makeover! Back in February they closed down Mickey’s Toontown Fair to start some of the major work. Up until then there was some construction going on, but now it’s in full force with the opening planned for late 2012.

So how do I feel about this change? Well in some ways I’m excited, and in others…okay, who am I kidding? I’m TOTALLY excited about it! While it was sad to see Mickey’s Toontown Fair totally taken down, and it will be upsetting to see Snow White’s Scary Adventure close , I think when you look at all the new stuff coming into their places it will totally make up for it!

Toontown, in my option, was always a nice little place to go if you wanted to take a bit of a rest. If you had little ones, it was a nice spot to go and let them run around after being trapped in their strollers for most of the day. But in the grand scheme of things, the area didn’t really have much else to offer in terms of attractions. While it was nice to visit with Mickey after taking a tour of his house, I think having a whole land for that was a bit much. I know there were many visits that I made to the Magic Kingdom, where I never even stepped foot into Toontown, but that was also before my daughter was born. So while it would have been nice to have her enjoy playing there a few more times, I think she’ll enjoy all the new attractions that are in store.

As for the closing of Snow White’s Scary Adventure, this one I’m sort of on the fence about. While I don’t like seeing the classic rides go away, like Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, this ride I always found to be a bit too scary for the little ones, even before I was a Mom. Let’s face it, Snow White is a pretty scary movie, so it only made sense that the ride was scary too. But it will be nice to have Snow White still be part of things in the expansion since it was the first full length animated movie. So I look forward to seeing the Seven Dwarfs Cottage and Mine Area come to life.

I know I for one cannot wait for the Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid Ride! The Little Mermaid is up there as one of my top Disney Movies of all time and while I love watching the Voyage of The Little Mermaid show at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, I just can’t wait to ride the ride! Also seeing the addition of Prince Eric’s Castle will make the trip worth it!

And speaking of Castles, not only will Prince Eric’s Castle be added, but The Beast’s Castle will be there as well as a whole Beauty and the Beast Village area! It’s almost like Disney asked me, “Hey Michelle, if you could add something to Fantasyland, which movie would it be from?” I would have totally said Beauty & the Beast! I can’t wait to see the new dining experience that they have planned for the Be Our Guest Restaurant. I always wanted to eat in a ballroom!

I also love the idea that Dumbo is going to be growing in size. While it’s nice to take a ride on a flying elephant, the long lines that you would end up in with little ones were never fun. So having a whole interactive area to play with while waiting to ride will make it all worth it! That’s what I love now about The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh ride that they recently updated as well. This way when you are waiting in line, you have something to play with.

So while I’m sad to see some areas leave Fantasyland, I’m looking forward to seeing all the new and exciting things they have in store!

http://about.me/michellewhalen

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Getting There; Planes, Trains and Automobiles!

From the practically perfect personality of Real Disney Mom Jewelz P!

Photo Credit: Joe Penniston

Well there are a few choices from California that we could have taken. Auto was out of the question due to having to stop very frequently for the baby and finding a hotel each night possibly, and too expensive; fuel was pushing over $4.00 a gallon…

We looked at trains but after Hurricane Katrina, there was too much damage to the train tracks after New Orleans towards Orlando. My parents did take the train to New Orleans then rented a car to drive on to Florida. They chose a cabin with its own bathroom which made it very convenient. But being on a train for two days just was not my style even with the amenities. When you are on your way to Walt Disney World time is of the essence!!

So plane here we come!! I had racked up enough frequent flier miles to get my ticket for free. (sales and marketing in a previous life) Alexis was only 8 or 9 months at the time so she was on our lap. The husband’s ticket came out of our pocket. We opted for non-stop due to baby on board and my husband’s inability to fly much. After searching everywhere; Orbitz, Expedia…we went with United. 

Now if you have never flown with a baby here is the scoop for flying out of LAX; due to the fact that we were staying 7 days, that’s a lot of supplies for an infant and even more for Mommy and Daddy trying to make the room comfortable enough to call home. I was going to avoid BAGGAGE FEES as much as possible.  One bag alone was to carry Alexis’ things, and chances are it was going to be empty on the way back. I decided to ship 5 days of diapers (65), a large can of formula, teething items, burp cloths, some infant clothes, shampoo and body wash, Dawn (to wash her bottles out in the sink), and laundry detergent from a local Laundromat (cheaper than on WDW properties). With a baby I knew that we were going to do laundry. You can ship up to 70Lbs through the USPS. Just under $27.00 for two boxes! I had sent it to the Caribbean Beach Resort with a delivery confirmation so I that I could track it. Once I knew that our package arrived then I knew what to actually pack. I mailed on Monday and it arrived that Friday and we were leaving on Sunday.  Heed of caution; one box was crushed but the contents were fine. I also decided to rent a rocking chair and a stroller in Orlando for Alexis.

Prior to all the packing research, I had to look into the TSA rules. I knew that my baby gear would be scanned. Now having to deal with a 9 month old and a husband who hated to fly, it was all on me to make the security check point as painless as possible. I had Chase hold Alexis and I took out all the identification necessary to pass through. I needed a copy of Alexis’ birth certificate and our driver’s licenses. Meanwhile I had a carry-on bag, diaper bag and a baby carrier. My diaper bag was considered a carry-on bag!  I almost rolled my eyes but then reconsidered;  could have been as bad as saying the “B” word on a plane.

Some tips:

 

  • Get there at LEAST 90 minutes before your plane departs
  • WEAR slip-on shoes or flip-flops. Do not put shoes on a baby they will ask you to remove them as well; just keep socks on them.
  • DO NOT prepare a bottle of formula before passing the X-Ray; they may test for explosive gases (found that out the hard way).
  • Try to keep baby happy…change the diaper 20 minutes before boarding.
  • When changing a diaper on the plane, keep a few gallon size Ziplocs to put the used diapers in; remember the diapers do not flush and you don’t want the diaper to smell up the cabin.
  • Have a bottle ready for baby during take off ; cabin pressure build up can be painful for the little one; suckling will help pop the ears.
  • For other Travel Smarts – Please check out my page  http:/​/​www.citystrollerrentals.com/​Travel-Smarts.html

We had chosen to take the Magical Express from the airport with our WDW reservation. Approximately 3 weeks prior to your departure you will receive the ME boarding passes to and from the airport. You will also be receiving a luggage strip tag per person for your checked bags. If you decide to use them your bags will avoid baggage claim completely and will arrive in your room about 2 to 3 hours after you land.

Very helpful when you land and are a little exhausted from a 5 hour flight not to mention travel time to the airport.  Next thing to do is follow the path to the Magical Express!

Finding the Right Fit for You!

From the practically perfect personality of Real Disney Mom Jewelz P! 

It’s been 11 or 12 years since I last was at Walt Disney World. A very long time for me considering that I was going every year for ten years. Marriage, moving, new job promotions and a baby put a lot on hold. My husband and I were not able to go on a honeymoon or even a mini vacation. Finally a breath of fresh air! I was six months pregnant and I told my boss,  “I am going on vacation in 13 months”.  (Maybe it was Disney withdrawals, the hormones raging, or that I just really needed a vacation!) Without missing a beat I went to Walt Disney World’s Vacation Website and ordered the Vacation Planning DVD. I needed to see what had been built and improved over the years. This would also give me  the opportunity to show my husband what he would be in store for!!! Not having met my little one yet, I knew Disney could take care of her no matter what! I had for the most part always stayed on the WDW property. Why? If Disneyworld was my only destination (why anyone would go anywhere else?), there is no reason to stay off property. The conveniences and the ease of the transportation are priceless. 

Knowing your budget is where you need to start. Walt Disney has many resorts for different budgets which is great!!

 To save money; Value Resorts-All-Star Music, All-Star Sports, All Star Movies and POP Century

I only recommend these if you have a large group , such as sports teams, or if you only need a place to shower and sleep. They do not have any sit down dining restaurants, (Something to think about.) and are located farthest from the 4 Parks.  I stayed at All-Star Sports in 1998 and it is too small for my family for today. The rooms do not have as much closet or drawer space, and there is only one sink and mirror. Two adults and two children will be able to stay here in comfort, but more than 2 adults may be too much. There were no elevators to speak of that I remembered. So if stairs are a challenge, it is best to request a floor level room. The rooms are brightly colored and a sports theme is carried through out the resort, the room I was in had crayon marking on the walls and I could hear all the surrounding happenings. The pools were always too crowded for me. If you are new to staying on property and your budget conscious you may want to start here. There is a playground, arcade, laundry facilities and a food court with an average price 15.00 a person. Another little tid-bit ; The All Star Resorts are in a different county so they have a higher tax rate.

 For those who need a little more room to breath; Moderate Resorts-Caribbean Beach, Coronado Springs, Port Orleans Riverside, Port Orleans French Quarter and Ft. Wilderness Cabins.

 I have stayed at both Port Orleans French Quarter (1999) and most recently Caribbean Beach Resort (2010) The Moderate resorts will have at least one sit down dining restaurant  and are not as far away from the 4 Parks as the Value Resorts. Carribean Beach or CBR has Shutters for sit down dining and a tasty food court to experience. These rooms not only have more space but a dual sink vanity. YEAH! The beds are better and the décor is just up my alley. While the All-Star Resorts and POP have three or four levels, I loved the Caribbean Beach Resort because it only had two stories and each village surrounds the bay. The pathways are wide and not cramped for walking. There are many villages named after Caribbean islands with their own bus stop. You can catch the theme park buses as well as an internal bus system to get you from village to village. This was helpful because we were in Trinidad South and the grandparents were in Aruba. I could have walked along Barefoot Bay but it was so hot and muggy that I wanted the bus with air conditioning. We opted for the Pirates of the Caribbean Themed rooms (Trinidad South only) and I loved it! The beds are not as comfortable as the normal Finding Nemo themed rooms. Why? The Pirate Ship beds are so high that the mattresses they have are about 5 inches thick and no box spring for support. The village pools were quiet and not many kids, that is because of the cool main pool at Port Royale. This is a fun pool! It is a themed old Spanish fortress, complete with towers, antique cannons (that spout water) and a water slide. So if you are looking for a more relaxing resort that has hammocks, child playgrounds and for those who walk, the stroll around Barefoot Bay is for you. Other amenities are beaches, an arcade, volleyball courts, bike rentals,  marina/watercraft rentals, and laundry facilities at each village pool.

 For those who have who want to experience a Deluxe Resort-Animal Kingdom Lodge, Board Walk Inn, Contemporary, Grand Floridian, Polynesian, Wilderness Lodge, Yacht Club and Beach Club, and the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin.

 These may not be the Disney Vacation Club Villas but they are sure spectacular! The Deluxe resorts are normally located just a hop skip and a jump to the Parks. I stayed at the Grand Floridian in 1997 and it was fantastic. I love the old feel of the 1900’s Victorian. The grand atrium is overwhelmingly immaculate and if you are lucky to see the cockatiels in the lobby they are beautiful. If you can, try to stay at a Deluxe resort once. The monorail and the water taxis make it very easy to get to the Magic Kingdom and the Transportation Center. The rooms are lavish and have a balcony or porch to extend your room space. Deluxe Resorts also have more combinations of rooms to accommodate your party. A choice of sit down dining options, baby and childcare services, pool of course, spa and health club, watercraft rentals, beaches and the possibility of having the best seat in the house to see the fireworks; from your room!!

For more information and updated refurbishments at WDW and new attractions please go to www.waltdisneyworld.com                                         

Introducing Real Disney Mom Jewelz P!

I am so stoked to introduce to you all another Real Disney Mom that will be blogging here at The Real Disney Mom!

Meet Real Disney Mom Jewelz P!

Real Disney Mom Jewelz G.

Hi all! It’s me, Jewelz. My husband thinks I am obsessed! I guess so when you consider that I had our daughter at the hospital right across from the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank,CA. (not to mention I planned our WDW trip when I was still preggers with Alexis)
But it doesn’t stop there; I started a business that takes me down to Disneyland every week!!! I love all things Disney from Mickey, to the Incredibles, to Handy Manny with my little girl. I worked in Disney Imagineering when the concept drawing and models for the Tree of Life were in it’s final stages, and I also helped with Disney Quest concepts.
Now as a mother of three, working full-time and happily accomodating clients to making their meltdowns at the parks easier, I look forward to sharing my 38 years of planning trips from a single and family point of view.
I hope to see you real soon!!

Wishes

From the happy heart of Real Disney Mom Janice B!

It seems as if I am always planning the next WDW family trip! Probably because as soon as I return from one trip I start planning the next. I have been planning one to two trips per year for almost 30 years. When my children were young, I took great care in planning each step of our WDW trips. After all, having two children almost four years apart in age, one boy, one girl, it was not always easy to make everyone happy all the time. Their likes and dislikes were so totally different that once they were school age, I began a WDW vacation game/contest. Each one was allowed to keep a “running list” of things they wanted to do on our next trip with the understanding that not everything could be done on each trip. 100 days before the trip, they each received a hand-made by Mom booklet. Their booklets included a count-down calendar, the top 3 things on their wish list with a point value attached to each and a list of how to earn the points for a coupon/promise that if not the whole family, at least that child would be able to do one of his/her special requests. They earned points for good report cards; chores around the house; etc. Several years in a row my son chose taking an animation class that required us to drop him off early in the morning at MK and pick him up later in the afternoon. My daughter always seemed to want to earn dinner in the castle! Before leaving home I would actually create a spread sheet with each day across the top, outlining what we would do at each park trying to make time and room for both of their wishes (I also used this to keep all of my dining/special event reservation numbers in one place.)

I am now planning a 7 day trip for October, 2011. My children are now adults, 27 and 24, they no longer live at home and I think they would argue if I tried to make them earn points, but they do look forward to updates and e-mails with new ideas and suggestions, as well as sending me e-mails with new ideas. Planning has not really gotten any easier even with adults. I still want to make sure they each are able to do all the things that excite them. After all, no matter how old, they are still my little kids! I get an enormous amount of pleasure watching my son (27) in the Magic Kingdom. He gets just as excited now as he did as a small child! He loves to find hidden Mickey’s and show them to little kids in the park. My daughter, a chef who has actually cooked at the 2010 International Food and Wine Festival, always wants to go when the festival is in full swing. I search daily for new ideas; constantly try for reservations for their favorite restaurants; check websites, facebook, etc., daily for new items. My son is extremely excited this year to try the Wild Africa Trek at Animal Kingdom.

I may not offer points for WDW rewards anymore, but I still create a folder with a spreadsheet trying to get in everyone’s favorites. After all, once you hit WDW, everyone is a child a heart again!

http://about.me/bjkbrady

Disney Beginnings

From the magical mind of Real Disney Mom Janie GD!

Me on Main Street in 1979

“I’ll start at the very beginning, as it’s a very good place to start” This statement is very appropriate, as this is my very first adventure into the world of blogging!

My own love of Disney began in 1979 during a vacation with relatives in Wisconsin.  Our American family had been enjoying visits to Walt Disney World since it opened in October 1971, and thought that their Cornish cousins would like to meet Mickey Mouse too. So off we flew down to Orlando, not having ever heard of Mr. Disney or his mouse before!  Can you imagine that today?  You’d have to be living on the moon not to be acquainted with Disney in some small way!  At least I don’t believe that cable is available yet in other parts of the galaxy?!
We arrived in the beautiful Sunshine State, and lodged in a Vacation Villa on the shores of Lake Buena Vista.  At night time from our balcony we could see the charming “Empress Lily” (so named after Walt’s wife, Lillian) gleaming with twinkling fairy lights.  A few years later, I enjoyed my first character meal aboard her called “Breakfast a la Disney”.  This still impressive steamboat can now be found moored at Downtown Disney, with a restaurant afloat re-named “Fulton’s Crab House”.
For me, the memory of entering the Magic Kingdom for the first time , and walking up Main Street USA with the aroma of popcorn and cookies in my nose, the jolly park music, and the sight of Cinderella’s Castle towering high above, has remained as fresh in my memory as if it happened yesterday.  It connected with my senses which was quite a powerful thing for a 10 year old country girl who had never tasted popcorn or ever seen a fairytale princess castle before!
The other memories that remain special to me from that first trip are a particularly hysterical and wild spin on the Mad Hatters Teacups where my aunt laughed so much she almost burst with glee!  Then there was the stomping evening entertainment at the Hoop Dee Doo Revue at Fort Wilderness! Here, my Dad was chosen to be the fairy in the shows finale, which I’m sure to this day my aunt pre-arranged for our amusment!  (The Revue is the longest continually running musical stage show in the whole of the USA, a “Disney fact” that I love.) I now share all it’s rowdy silliness with my own children!
When I’m asked for some planning advice from a “newbie” Disney vacationer, I tell them to savour the first moments of stepping onto Main Street USA, “Let Disney enchant you and wipe your daily worries away”, I tell them.  Yes, I know, I hear you………that’s practically impossible when you’ve got your own little princes and princesses chomping at the bit, ready to race into Fantasyland and take their first flight on Dumbo!  So…… I advise, go buy them a tub of popcorn each (so they won’t have to share, and lead to yet more high drama) which then should buy you a few moments to make and memorise your own special Disney beginnings.
Remember it’s not always the “big” things that remain with you from childhood….so now that you’re the parent, don’t stress about making memories happen for your children, because at Disney, the magic is everywhere…even in a tub of popcorn!

Mickey, my mum, and me 1979

Big News for The Real Disney Mom!

Since I have started writing for the Disney Driven Life my own little Real Disney Mom blog here has been severely neglected! Between being the Kids writer for the DDL, finishing up the planning for my own WDW vacation on August 5th, and being a mommy and wife, I have had very little time to do much of anything else and I was very sad for my little blog here!

That is why I am very happy to announce that I will be introducing to you a fabulous group of Real Disney Moms that are going to be contributors to the Real Disney Mom blog!! Your own original Real Disney Mom is also going to assign herself one night a week to write a blog post for you about the planning of her WDW vacation! That being said I’d like to introduce to you the first 3 lovely ladies that are proud to call themselves Real Disney Moms!

Meet Real Disney Mom Janice B! Hang with her on FaceBook!

Real Disney Mom Janice B.

I am an almost 56 year old mom of 2 adult children (27 and 24); married for almost 30 years; and a true Disney fanatic. I was born and bred in NJ. When my husband retired in 2005, and both children were off to college, we moved to SC (much closer to Orlando!).

I began my love affair with all things Disney when, in 1972, my single mother drove her 2 teenage daughters from NJ to Florida to see the Magic Kingdom. Since that time I have returned to WDW approx. 35 times. It seems as if I am always planning our next trip. I have gone to Disney World alone; with my son for Mother/Son bonding; with my daughter for Mother/Daughter bonding; with my husband; with friends; bringing friends of my kids – I will never tire of visiting the “happiest place on earth!”

I am fortunate that my children, having been raised with the belief that everyone goes to Disney World on a regular basis, still look forward to our family trips. One of my proudest moments was when my daughter, a chef, was invited to cook at the Party for the Senses at the 2010 Epcot International Food and Wine Festival.

http://about.me/bjkbrady

Meet Real Disney Mom Janie GD! Tweet with her on Twitter! Hang with her on FaceBook! 

Real Disney Mom Janie GD.

I’m an English girl who’s been been enchanted by Disney since my very 1st visit to WDW in the late 1970’s.  Sharing my life with my much beloved husband, our own four little darlings, & an array of close family & dear friends, I aim to do random acts of kindness & think happy thoughts each and everyday!
Meet Real Disney Mom Michelle W! Tweet with her on Twitter! Hang with her on FaceBook!

Real Disney Mom Michelle W.

I’m a wife, a mom, a former Disney Store CM & all total “Diznoid” from NJ! I’ve been a visitor of WDW over 25 times, have enjoyed a few visits to DL, and have sailed on 2 voyages on the DCL. No one asks me where I’m going on vacation anymore…only when I’m going back!
Michelle is also a contributor to Disney World Nation
I am thoroughly excited to have a this fabulous group of Real Disney Moms here to help you get wrapped up in some pixie dust! I can’t wait to read their first blog posts, how about you?!

The Real Disney Mom Meets The Real Disney Song

The great thing about blogging about Disney is that you really meet some awesome people while doing it!

Tedd Solomon Rodman is a singer, song writer, and Walt Disney World vacationer who has written a fantastic song about Walt Disney World. Accompanying his song is a more than adorable slide show featuring his children on their WDW vacations.

His song is called “Welcome to a World Where Dreams Come True”.

Tedd and I hope you check it out and enjoy!