Disney’s One More Day

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

Hey All!

Sorry it has been a while – been busy trying to keep the clients happyand the strollers clean and purty!
Disney’s One More Day was great! at least for the times we picked to
go. Being 45 miles away from the Happiest Place on Earth in Los
Angeles traffic is not an easy feat to just pop up and go..

We finally met up with our friend Amanda (The Disney Go To Girl/Disney
Mom’s Panel) and her little one and Ari Krell (Disney Mom’s Panel) at
Trader Sam’s for adult drinks – I wanted to have a little medicine in
me before the crowds and Excedrin was pulled from the shelves. This
was just as good.

So I just renewed our Annual Passes online and had to still get to the
ticket booth to issued a new passes. I found out that the “Stroller
Rental Deal” was not a deal at all. You could just pay for your days
needed all at once and just show your receipt at the pick-up area
instead of having to wait in line.. still $15.00 a day for the use of
a ratty over used stroller with no sun/rain/wind cover. I also saw
many kids who were way to big for these strollers. I wonder who
maintains them?

Any who –  2 o’clock and off we go to the entrance of Disneyland. Many
families were leaving for the mid afternoon rest. Not too crowded for
Main Street USA. Looking around at the shops just gives me bliss.
Though it is not Disneyworld – I still feel a calm even with kids
running into me and my head being bombarded by balloons. “Drink is
helping”..
We head on over to Sleeping Beauty’s Castle for our AP photos. Go over
the bridge and into Fantasyland we go. Peter Pan’s Flight had a 25 min
wait – not too bad but Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride was my first intentions!
This was Alexis’ actual first time to Disneyland – It took me a while
but WDW and DLR in her first three years was an accomplishment!

Now mind you the lines and railings were not made for us “Pooh size”
addicts so directing my port and starboard side while carrying a
little one was rough. The husband had the diaper bag and it started to
get a little crowded. Alexis’ anxiety started to rise. “Drink helping
here” So I put her on my shoulders so that she could the cars and
people ahead – little distraction. Yes! We got “Ratty” a white little
car with burgundy seats. works for me. I sat inside so Lexi could
steer the car. Once again Pooh Size not helping here. Alexis was just
getting her start of stimulation for the day. Left! Right! Switchback!
KaBOOM through the TNT doors! – Hmmm is this how she will drive in 14
years? Oh wait it is me at the helm..

Next we were search of our stroller – CMs moved them yet again. There
is the StoryBook Ride but no It’s a Small World is next – literally
walked on the boats. though the song is played over and over – but no
it did not stay in our heads. YEAH!!

As we exited – Mickey’s Soundsational Parade  was just ending it’s
route right by us so that was great because we did not have to pick a
spot to watch – it went right by us! Lexi was trying to join the
march.

After a few more rides in Fantasyland we were off to Mickey’s ToonTown
– I loved the one in WDW but I am sorry to see it go. I hope to see
the expanded Fantasyland in Oct 2013.

New Orleans Square – Pirates had a 14 minute wait – and I could not
have been more happier! ah the smell of the chlorine and the Blue

Bayou food in the background as we waited for our perot (Pur Row).
Cajun for boat..
The scenes and some animatronics have changed through out the year but
the Wench in the Red Dress will never go way – Jack Sparrow popping up
here and there – And the flume drops – better than WDW’s.  Time for a
little dinner. Hanging out in the square hoping to
see………………… but  darkness is upon us and that means
LIGHTED toys for the little one. Some of the quick dining restaurants
had specials for the Disney One More day – We decided to try the
French Market – Good Food and with our AP discounts – even better!..

Haunted mansion was next in line – Walked right into the house and off
to the elevators we go… They changed some of the magic through here
too.. some things I even forgot – How could I do that? The Doombuggies
were tight as well.. POOH SIZE and the drinks are still helping! As we
exited the ride, You could hear the screams from Splash Mountain – To
cold and and dark to get wet at that time of the night.

Off to Tomorrowland – That’s where I drew the line – too many college
kids and the 70 minute wait for Star Tours!  It was becoming VERY
crowded at 8PM. So we went to the baby center to change out Lexi’s
clothes for PJ’s and a needed a new bottle that she dropped at
Pirates. $2.00 for a new Gerber bottle not bad. The Baby Center has 4
breastfeeding rooms, 4 changing tables, two high chairs, microwave and
hot water. Very small environment that sees about @1000 kids a day in
the summer..

We decided to leave and may way for home! I was happy – I had my
Disney One more Day Buttons in hand, met up with Amanda and Alexis got
her first visit to Disneyland!.
Very happy to have beaten the late night crowds – those leaving work
at 5 or 6pm to hang all night in Disney!

From what I overheard – 40 minute wait to get into the Mickey and
Friends parking lot, Stopped letting guests in for about and hour
around 10:15pm and the 5 freeway southbound was backed up to the
91(saw that when we drove home) All in All not major meltdowns and
good time had by all!

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A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes…

From the magical mind of Real Disney Mom Janie GD…
Please be aware that you may find parts of this article uncomfortable to read, and maybe even harder to imagine.
As in any Disney tale, you will find heros, villains and triumph over adversity; and this true life account is no different.
In a land, not so very far away; there is a terrible place where the sun never shines, and found trapped in that dark place were six children named Cooper, Dustin, Matthew, William, Nathaniel & Zoe Renee until their little lives were flooded with light by their adoptive parents Eric & Stephanie McKinney.  These innocent babes did not have the loving and cozy beginning that is usually lavished upon all new borns. Their birth parents had issues of their own, full of drug and substance misuse which lead to the horrors of child abuse; both physical and sexual.  Tragically this has left scars both visible and invisible…
Using Stephanie’s own words to describe just how her children’s lives began –
Cooper  – “He was found when he was three, abandoned in a trailer open to the elements…he was covered in body fluids and left to die in the elements.  He had been physically abused, mentally/emotionally abused, and sexually abused in the most disgusting and heinous way.”
Dustin – “Dustin was three and in the hospital when we met him.  He had been starved and abused in his FOSTER home.”
Matthew – “We got Matt and William at the same time, and Matt was two.  They are biological brothers.  They had already had three foster homes, because no wanted Matthew. He was ‘weird’.  He has Autism.”
William –  “He had been beaten so severely when he was 4 months old, that both sides of his skull had been fractured.  His biological father had beaten him hard enough to crack his skull on both sides, with a plastic bottle.  Everyone wanted to adopt William but not Matt.  But William has since developed ADHD.”
Nathaniel – “He was 22 months when we got him, and he is currently 4.  He came into care because both he and his sister (Zoe Renee) were removed together.”
Zoe Renee –  “She was 5 months old when we got her, and is currently 3.  She was a mess when I got her.  She weighed only 6.5 lbs and had 12 fractures.  Both her arms, and legs had been twisted broken…along with 8 of her ribs.   Both biologicals deny any involvement.”
Tough reading I know; especially if your soul has been sheltered from the darker side of humanity.
The McKinney’s are honest to goodness working folk, wanting only to provide the best life and accommodation for their growing family’s disability needs.  This year the project has been a more accessible downstairs bedroom for Cerebral Palsy sufferer Zoe, thus giving her more independence as walking and climbing the stairs is quite challenging.  The expense of this build soon nibbled away at the savings carefully put aside for a Disney vacation.  However, neighbor and self titled ‘Disney Nut’, David Mullican swooped in with the splendid idea of Eric and Stephanie entering their local Tennessee TV station’s competition for a deserving family to win the ‘Trip of a lifetime to Walt Disney World’…unfortunately, even with the help of all David’s fellow Mickey Moms Club members voting online until their fingers were sore; the McKinney’s luck wasn’t quite yet Pixie Dusted!  But not winning wasn’t an option for former US Marine Mullican, he soon rallied the MMC troops into action once again…with the afore mentioned pixie dust arriving in the human form of Club member Heidi LaDuca!  With Heidi’s generous donation of the free use of her stunning vacation home in Orlando, and the growing involvement of the Mickey Moms Club; gradually the dreams and wishes in the hearts of the McKinney family were coming true.
Now can you imagine the joy that this trip to WDW will bring?  It will bond and reinforce the commitment and love that runs right through the very core of the McKinney family.  When Eric and Stephanie announced that they were going to Walt Disney World in May 2012 the children all produced smiles bigger than the Cheshire Cat, not to mention more noise and sheer exuberance than Illuminations; now wouldn’t you have loved to have witnessed that?!  Amongst other conditions both Cooper and William suffer with ADHD, Matthew is Autistic and Zoe has problems with mobility, so the the careful planning of each stage of this amazing trip will be paramount due to each individuals special needs.  Each child has their own personal Disney ‘to do’ list’ including visiting Epcot, watching fireworks, taking in some rides, checking out Star Tours and visiting with the Princesses, but topping the list is of course, a meeting with Mickey & Minnie Mouse!
This family are all heroes, the parents for their unconditional love, and the children for their ability to thrive against all the odds.  Maybe this is your chance to be a hero, whether it’s giving complete acceptance of disability, or to just offer your love and support to the Marvellous McKinneys.
You can follow Eric & Stephanie, Cooper, Dustin, Matthew, William, Nathaniel & Zoe Renee McKinney on a Facebook page dedicated to their Disney dream vacation here – The MicKinney’s Magical Trip to Walt Disney World

The Many Adventures of Fort Wilderness

From the magical mind of Real Disney Mom Janie GD!

Pioneer Hall. Notice in the tree the dangly, hanging "old man's beard" aka Spanish Moss.

With the Pioneer Players “Hoop Dee Doo!” still a-ringin’ in my ears, I thought that I would take you on a little ramble around it’s home; Fort Wilderness, which is one of the original Walt Disney World resorts opening in 1971 along with the rest of The World.
The peaceful rustic charm of Disney’s Resort and Campground at Fort Wilderness has kept me returning for a visit (even if just for a peek) for decades now.  Not many things have changed in that time, although sadly you can no longer ride on the Fort Wilderness Railway, which ran out of steam in 1980, or take a dip at River Country, which saw it’s last hurrah in 2001.  The railway transported guests around the resort much like the buses of today do; only with a few more bells & whistles!  Even today in the furthest reaches of wilderness territory, a keen eye can spot the old railway lines zigzagging about.  The first water park I ever caused a splash in was River Country; it was a naturalistic homespun styled swimming hole, the type of place you would imagine Huckleberry Finn and his pals to frequent!!  You can still see the River Country harbour from the ferry boats taking you across Bay Lake; you never know, it may just be re-imagined one day!!  Sadly, both attractions were closed due to costs, health, and maintenance issues.

The forlorn looking, abandoned River Country.

The 400 plus guest quarters are modelled on prospector’s log cabins from the 1880’s. They snugly sleep a party of six; on a double, and large bunk in the bedroom, and a pull down murphy bed found in the lounge.  This being Disney, you won’t have to rough it pioneer style  as your cabin is an air conditioned “home sweet home”.  Everything is thoughtfully anticipated for what any family on vacation may need with the themed decor carried on throughout.  The bathroom contains all the usual facilities, and will seem in constant use if the cabin has a full quota of guests!  The kitchen has all modern appliances, and if you wish to rattle those pots and pans whilst on vacation you’ll find plenty to choose from in the well stocked cupboards – you can even host a cook out on your own private deck using the charcoal grill provided!  Worried about cleaning up the mess?  Fear not……daily mousekeeping is included!!  Another major bonus is that you are able to park your vehicle right outside your front porch, although you are not permitted to drive around on site (just on entry & exiting) unless of course you hire one of the merry looking electric golf carts that are omni present.  If I can liken the resort as a whole for any British readers, it’s like Centre Parcs on steroids!!

Your "home sweet home" cabin. (2710 Heron Hollow)

The cabins are set out in neat loops, all aptly called country names like “Heron Hollow”, “Arrow Head Way”, “Shawnee Bend” etc…….my children found it highly amusing to recite the bus route perfectly when riding the resort buses!!  And talking of buses, I cannot speak too highly of this transit service!  Fort Wilderness covers a whopping 750 acres, and is served by three internal bus routes, which connect to the Out Post, which connects to the rest of The World. Sound complex?  It isn’t, trust me, if I can work it out so can you!  You are never placed too far away from a bus stop on site either, which is great news for your World weary feet!  A hot tip is to strike up a conversation with your bus driver (use your judgement for when it is safe to do so), they are such friendly and knowledgeable folk, with a mountain of information to impart with us pilgrims!  Another mode of transport are the ferry boats.  These jolly little crafts call at the marina, then connect you to the Magic Kingdom, the Wilderness Lodge, and the Contemporary Hotel. Bon Voyage!
Camping at Fort Wilderness is also wildly popular, and I can see why…..there are almost 800 pitches to be found set amongst the majestic Cypress and Pine trees with their dangly hanging Spanish Mosses  which I jokingly refer to as “old mans beard”! How wonderful it must be to camp in such an enchanted place, and only ever a stones throw from one of the superbly chilled and well kitted out comfort stations!  I like to call it “glamping”; like camping, but glamourous.You get the big woods experience, but without ever leaving civilisation!  We Brits you know, find it fascinating to look around at all the huge recreation vehicles; as we don’t have anything like them back home!
If you happen to run out of provisions then you won’t be disappointed with either of the little merchandise/convenience  stores in your neighbourhood. You will find the Settlement Trading Post near the marina, and the more centrally located Meadow Trading Post by the main swimming pool.  Both are well stocked with select every day food, drink and camping sundries, and of course WDW souvenirs!
A favourite pastime of mine is dining, and I can thoroughly recommend that you mosey along down to the ‘Trails End Restaurant’.  You will find the three square meals of the day are served here “without end”, in bounteous buffet style. “Crocket’s Tavern” is right next door, where one can purchase libations.  A super way to end a hectic Disney day I find, is to grab yourself a cold drink, pull up a rocking chair on the Tavern’s porch and people watch!  Hopefully while you’re resting your aching bones, your effervescent little darlings can let off yet more steam (under your watchful gaze), on the considerately placed children’s play area, or on my boys favourite, the beach swing ball!
As if there isn’t enough already to amuse and entertain else where in The World, Fort Wilderness has it’s own seemingly endless list of fun things to do!  There are two dinner shows; as we know, one is the famous Hoop Dee Doo Revue, and the other is Mickey’s Backyard Barbecue, which as the name suggests is hosted by none other than the big cheese himself!  You can also join Chip’n’ Dale for a nightly camp fire and sing-a-long with a “bring your own” marshmallow roast, followed by an outdoor Disney movie, and best of all, this gathering costs my favourite price; free!  A visit to the Tri Circle D Ranch is always a crowd pleaser, it’s where all the park and resort working horses call home. The ranch offers pony, guided trail, carriage and hay rides; something for every budding gaucho!  If you still have any time or energy left…..other activities are plentiful, like two wonderful swimming pools, the beach, a games arcade, bike hire, jogging trails, tennis, segway tours, various boats for hire, volleyball, shuffle ball, horseshoes, both pole and line, and BASS fishing and so on and so on…….and for the the finale, be absolutely sure to NOT miss taking in the quirky and nostalgic Electrical Water Pageant, or the Magic Kingdom’s “Wishes” Firework display, both perfectly viewed from the beach!  There’s truly a winning combination of good old fashioned family fun to be found here.
After reading this, my rural round up, you’re probably thinking the same as me; Fort Wilderness is an adventure destination all in it’s own right! And you’re correct, it sure is.  Yeehaw!

The Hoop De Doo Musical Revue Revisited

From the magical mind of Real Disney Mom Janie GD! 

Audience participation pioneer style by my youngest son in 2011

Following on from my last blog, “Disney Beginnings”, where I reminisced about my first experience of the evergreen “Hoop Dee Doo Revue”, a thought occurred to me; “What puts the ‘Hoop’ in the ‘Dee Doo?'”, and makes us all keep coming back for seconds, thirds, and so on and so forth?

The revue began it’s very long and illustrious run of shows in 1974, (according to Disney, it is the longest continually running musical in the whole of the USA) and was originally billed as “The Pioneer Hall Show” so names after the hall in which it is held three times nightly within the Fort Wilderness Resort and Camp Ground.  Today’s show title is far more memorable and quirky don’t you think?!  I can also recall a similar show being held at the “Diamond Horseshoe” at Frontierland in the Magic Kingdom during 1980’s. I remember it so well as I took part in it dressed as a showgirl, and had to speak with a Southern drawl; not an easy task for a Cornish maid I can assure you! 

The Hoop Dee Doo is a rowdy family affair dinner show that is sure to entertain from the youngest little dude in your gang, right up to to the oldest cow poke in town!  Good old fashioned clean cut comedy is certainly part of the winning formula that keeps you coming back for more belly laughs and groans year after year!  The show revolves around a fictional travelling vaudeville troupe who are; Miss Flora Long – a beautiful maiden, Miss Claire De Lune – a delightful dancing girl, Miss Dolly Drew – a witty wholesome gal, Jim Handy – a dashing cowboy, Johhny Ringo – a swanky card shark spiv, and then the chap, who for me carries the whole show along with such gusto, Six Bits Slocum, who is a loveable buffoon.  The action starts as the cast bursts in through the main doors……immediately you are captivated by their enthusiasm and charisma which carries right on through with lots of sing-a-long songs and high kicking dance routines culminating in the deliciously ridiculous “Davey Crockett” grande finale involving several “volunteers” from the audience!

Your show ticket gives you as well as the revue, dinner, plus a broad selection of drinks and is inclusive of all gratuities.  And what a heavenly dinner it is……I think that “endless banquet” is probably a better description for the chow down at Pioneer Hall! Your jovial servers, upon request will keep replenishing your table with endless supplies of the lightest cornbread, the stickiest ribs and the crunchiest deep fried chicken you’ve ever eaten, all served in pioneer style tin pales! Dessert is a show stopping strawberry shortcake extravaganza!  And “Where else on earth?” I ask you, would it be socially acceptable for a lady to drink rose wine from a preserves jar?!!  

I’ve watched and enjoyed the revue several times since my initiation in 1979 and each time come away feeling uplifted, not to mention full to the brim of food glorious food!  Over the decades this booming show hasn’t changed one bit, and neither really have I or my family. We go along in holiday mood wanting to have a laugh and good time with those we love, being entertained by characters we’ve come to know over the years, in a setting that is cosy and familiar.  So, I believe that’s the answer; we the audience are the “Hoop” and the perfect partner for the Pioneer Players to “Dee Doo'” time and time again.  If you asked Six Bits for his opinion I bet he’d answer you with something like “If it an’t broke, don’t fix it!” And, I pray that Disney never will!

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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