Friday, December 30, 2011

On the DL with Chad: Will the Real Magic Kingdom Please Stand Up?

I was out at Disneyland, well, out at the Disneyland Toy Story Parking Lot recently anyways, during one of our very famous (or infamous, depending on how you view such things) 'Santa Ana' wind-storms.  For those unfamiliar, they're great big gusts of winds that come tearing down out of the Mojave Desert, fly down through the gaps and mountain passes between us and them, and generally make you feel like you're in four-alarm hurricane.  I was trying to text a tweet out at the time, but because the winds were literally almost blowing me off of my feet (and my phone out of my hands), I opted for throwing this out to the masses: "It's windy today at the magic kindgom! #Disneyland"  I'm going to assume that by now you've already noticed what's "wrong" with this picture... and yes, I did include the word 'wrong' in quotation marks, but we'll get to that more in a minute.

I've been in the game long enough now to know that there's a distinct east coast-west coast rivalry going on between those that consider Disneyland the quintessential Disney Park experience, and those that consider Walt Disney World the same, and I've learned to be pretty careful with what I say; but I slipped up.  What else can I say?  Within minutes I had received comments asking me "Don't you mean Walt Disney's ORIGINAL Magic Kingdom? ;)", and "Are you allowed to call DL the magic kingdom?  Won't FL people be upset with you?"  I assume you see what I'm getting at here... 

As I've gone along I've learned that Disney Park fans run the gamut from those that don't care one iota about the history or technical aspects of the Disney Parks (Disneyland Florida, anyone?), those that are complete and totally anal "Disney-philes" about everything (and you better make sure you say the exact right things around them or they'll let you know about it!), and those that are somewhere in the middle (like me) who can appreciate both ends of the spectrum.  We tend to view things on a simpler scale (we use the correct verbiage most of the times, but allow ourselves the occasional slip-ups) but by its very nature, we're also completely interested in the history and technical aspects of the Disney Parks, but not enough to say something to someone when they mess it up.  Honestly, and it's just my own opinion, to me it's always been a sign of negativity in a way to correct someone about the way they say something.  The question, "Is it necessary to correct that?" is the stick by which I gauge what I do and do not say, or correct someone upon.  Don't call Sleeping Beauty Castle by Cinderella Castle or I'll probably, gently say something to you; that sort of thing.  But I don't like doing it, so I might just keep my mouth shut about it, to be perfectly honest.  It's just my nature.  Like I said, I kind of view it as a negative in a way, and to me, there's already enough negativity in the world without my adding to it.

But it did get me thinking (which I like) about just why I tweeted about "the magic kingdom" like that.  And since Growing Up Disney hired me on to talk a little Disneyland history, I figure it would make a good topic!  And yes, I know that Walt Disney World has a Park called 'Magic Kingdom' and this is in no way meant to detract from that.  Despite what many people might know, or what they think they might know about Disneyland, there is in fact more than just a few precedents set by which Disneyland can also lay claim to the nickname "magic kingdom".  It was actually good for me to be able to take a few minutes to stop and think about it later (to make sure I wasn't completely losing my mind about the whole thing) and hopefully it interests some of you as well.

What might be little known to many people is that Disneyland has almost always carried the nickname "magic kingdom", and with Walt Disney World and it's creation of an entire Park called the same, it's created quite a bit of confusion (and contention) over the years.  But even from the very beginning, Disneyland has also carried the title to a pretty large degree.  One actually has to look no further than some of the Park maps from those early days to see exactly what I mean.  If you head on over to this article on Vintage Disneyland Tickets, you can take a look at a Disneyland map from 1964 and see what I'm talking about.  In the bottom right corner next to Walt Disney's head. It reads, "Walt Disney's Magic Kingdom - Disneyland U.S.A."  I figure there's only so many ways to interpret that.  Although Disneyland was never "officially" called The Magic Kingdom (and people even debate that, too!), there's certainly little way around the fact that it was at the very least a nickname for Disneyland; it's on the map for heaven's sakes!

But I can even go you one better!  One of the main reasons I think I referred to it as that is because of the Disneyland Resort music that I listen to!  It's used quite prominently in what I lovingly refer to as "The Disneyland Railroad spiel".  In two different bits of dialogue, Disneyland is referred to as "the magic kingdom" or "Walt Disney's Magic Kingdom".  I have a collection of tuneage from the Disneyland Resort entitled A Musical History of Disneyland, a 6-CD set of Disneyland songs and sound bites which I picked up from Amazon last year (and I'm glad I did because it's out of print now!) which has a track titled "All Aboard!"which testifies that the Disneyland passenger train, the E.P. Ripley, is now loading on Track 1 for trip around Walt Disney's Magic Kingdom.  And perhaps my favorite reference of all, during the Remember... Dreams Come True fireworks spectacular which debuted during the Disneyland Resort's 50th Anniversary celebration, we learn that "the Disneyland Ltd." is "now leaving for a grand circle tour of the magic kingdom".  Seems pretty cut and dry to me!

I'm sure I could probably go on and on with all kinds of information meant to try and convince people of my point, but the truth is that's really not the point of what I'm trying to say.  At some point it kind of becomes like the whole "our castle is bigger than yours" argument, which I've sworn I'll never touch, but now that I have I probably will again.  In the end I guess that what I'm trying to say is that both are correct in their own way, and neither group of people should feel slighted or irritated in the least when someone refers to their own home as "magic kingdom".  Both Disney Parks can lay claim to the title, and they co-exist on opposite ends of the country as such.  To me, it's a non-issue, and I guess that's maybe what I'm trying to do here with all of this nonsense; convince others that it's not such a huge issue too, and see it all as an entire package with plenty of playground for everyone.  I know that I love playing around in my "magic kingdom", and I know that I can't wait to travel back east in a couple of years and play in everyone else's Magic Kingdom, too.  And let's be frank here, there is a pretty obvious reason that the Florida version is shaped to look so much like Disneyland Park.  It's in the genes!

So, with all of that said, I know what the weather was like at the "magic kingdom" last Thursday?  What was the weather like at Magic Kingdom?

Contributed by Chad E of Rancho Cucamonga, CA. I'm a married dad with three little boys doing the stay-at-home-dad/youth ministry/seminary student/card carrying Disneyland Annual Passholder (Premium!) thang! And when I have the time, I also like to blog and podcast about The Disneyland Resort and am the co-creator of both Days in the Park and the Days in the Parkcast podcast.

Other Disneyland articles from Chad:

  • On the DL with Chad: An Introduction!
  • Why DisneyLAND means the World to Me
  • The D55s

  • Wednesday, December 28, 2011

    Photo Flashback! Merry Christmas

    From the Growing Up Disney family, we hope that your family also had a wonderful Christmas!  We did.  DisneyDad and Mom and Ridge came up to North Carolina to celebrate with us.  We all loved, but especially the girls, having everyone here.  We've been so busy I just didn't get a post out on Monday.  We've got a vacation to Disney Vacation Club's Hilton Head Island Resort in a few weeks and I am going to take a bit of a blogging break between now and then.  DisneyDad and Ridge will keep things going around here.  And we'll do some live blogging from HHI.  I've also been testing some new products and travel ideas.  Baby Minnie's first WDW trip is being planned for November 2012 and I'll be running another half marathon, so stick with us.

    Thank you for being here with us for another holiday season and I look forward to sharing with you in 2012.  

    Friday, December 23, 2011

    Cheap Character Breakfast AKA Dry Run

    Recently we saw this flyer in our local ChickFilA.  Even though we were having lunch there on Friday, we were back on Saturday morning to see Santa Cow.

    Tink loves the cow as you can see in this series of photos.  She's seen the costumed character before but she even likes the huge cardboard cutout at the restaurant's entrance.

    Tink was intimidated by the huge cow in the beginning so Minnie had the first visit with Santa Cow.

    This photo was taken by the marketing manager at CFA.  Sadly, this must have been the best of our bunch.

    While Santa Cow was ginormous to my 2.5 year old, Baby Cow was just right.  Tink followed him/her all over the place.

    Lots O Huggin' Tink

    Two very patient cows

    Back for another hug.  She seemed to like him better when he was sitting and therefore shorter.

    Tink also loved the Piggly Wiggly pig and a duck promoting the rubber duck race at a local festival back in the spring.  She drug us back over to see each of them several times.

    Take advantage of the cheap or free character greetings in your local area.  They are a good way to gauge your child's comfort level with the oversized critters he/she may meet on your Walt Disney World vacation.  This may help prevent a meltdown later since you'll know how to approach the situation.  And wouldn't it be better to find out for the cost of a couple of biscuits versus the hundreds you are likely to drop on Disney character dining?

    Baby Minnie doesn't like to travel yet so she'll be 17 months old on her first visit.  We'll find additional local opportunities for character interaction between now and then.  She was ok with the cows for now but we'll see what she thinks as a toddler.

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    Wednesday, December 21, 2011

    Photo Flashback!-- Epcot Drawbridge

    Many people high-tail it out of Epcot as soon as the fireworks are over but as I have brought up in the past, it is a perfect time to get those night shots you always wanted. One really cool one is the drawbridge. Set up your tripod, set your camera to bulb and hold for that just right exposure because it is dark at Epcot after the fireworks are over. You have at least an hour before they start sweeping you towards the front. So take that last lap and get some fun pictures.

    Monday, December 19, 2011

    Guest Post: Disney Magic is an Amazing Thing!

    Many years ago, when Heather, John, and I were first becoming a Family, my parents were going to visit my sister in Port St. Lucie (Florida) over Christmas. We decided that with John’s new Grand-mom and Grand-pop in Florida, it would be the perfect time for him to meet his cousins, aunt and uncle. We booked a trip to Disney World for the 26th through 31st of December. Just a quick Disney trip after Christmas to enjoy some Magic and see the family; but as they say, best laid plans….

    Before the trip even materialized, we knew it wasn’t going to be as planned. My mother, who I never remember being sick when I was younger, had an emergency appendectomy after her appendix burst in early November. My parents still made the trip to Florida in December; Mom decided she needed to spend some time recuperating in a warmer climate. A few days later, we arrived in Florida, but things were not perfect at our location. John had said he was not feeling well, before he went to bed the first day we had arrived. He had the sniffles and was feeling blah. We told him it was probably from all the running around from the last couple of days (Christmas and the trip and all). The next morning he woke up saying he felt tired, but he was ready to head out to breakfast.

    We went to 'Ohana's Best Friends Breakfast! (This is a character breakfast hosted by Lilo and John’s favorite, Stitch.) Since it was only our second trip to Disney together, I had shirts made for the occasion. They said The Glover’s After Christmas Getaway 2005. (I know there is no way that John would wear a shirt like that today, but I think the shirts made that trip even a little more magical for all of us and at that time, I think he thought it was neat that people were reading his shirt and thinking it was a big deal also.) When we got to breakfast, John mentioned that he wasn’t feeling great, but you couldn’t tell it by the way he interacted with the characters. He laughed and giggled through the entire meal and ate quite a bit. After eating, he waited to say hello to Mickey who was greeting people as they came into the restaurant. It was then that he started looking a little peak-ed. By the time we got his picture with Mickey, he said he wasn’t hungry anymore. Our plans after that were to head to The Magic Kingdom for the morning and enjoy some after Christmas scenery. We jumped on the Monorail and headed to the Magic Kingdom. When we got there, John didn’t look good at all. Feeling his forehead, his mom declared he had a fever. When the little man asked if we could just head back to the room, I knew it was serious. We walked from the Monorail station to the boat dock and took a boat back to the Wilderness Lodge, where we were staying.
    After falling asleep on the bench waiting for the boat and then sleeping on the boat ride back, we put him to bed and while Heather stayed with him, I searched for some children’s Tylenol. John slept for the next 24 hours. While he slept, we enjoyed hanging out in the room. We took turns going to the Mercantile and getting food and reading materials. The next day, we were supposed to meet my parents, my sister, and her family in Sea World. We a little worried that instead of meeting them, we would be finding a doctor to take John to, as his fever didn’t seem to break. But as will happen in Disney World, the next day, Magic happened. John’s fever wasn’t just lower, it was gone completely. I called my sister and told her we were on for meeting up at Sea World. John was going to get to meet his cousins.

    When we got there, and found them in the parking lot, they were two people short. My parents, who had driven all the way from West Virginia, decided not to make the trip north to Orlando. My mom was feeling a little rundown from their travels and her surgery. As disappointing as that was, John was still excited to meet his cousins, Lauren and Leslie and his Aunt Sue and Uncle Ron. The girls and John bonded immediately. It was like they had been family all their lives. They laughed and ran all around the park together until they had tired us out. One of the highlights was feeding the dolphins. They all enjoyed that very much. When we returned to Wilderness Lodge late that afternoon, John was tired but still feeling good. So, we headed to the Magic Kingdom that night for some Disney Christmas Magic.

    John and Heather both loved the snow falling from the sky on Main Street USA (of course I did too). We had a great time that evening and the next couple of days flew by without any more incidents or illness. I look back on that trip and have to smile, I wonder if we were anywhere else, if John would have gotten better as quickly as he did. Was it Disney Magic? Of course I think it was. Disney Magic is an amazing thing!

    Contributed by Bruce G., husband to Heather, proud father of John, and creator of The Unknown Magic Within Walt Disney World

    Check out other wonderful Disney memories from Bruce:

    Sunday, December 18, 2011

    "Pathology in the Hundred Acre Wood"

    This morning I heard a story on the radio about the Canadian Medical Association Journal. 11 months out of the year, it's is a dry work, dull but necessary reading. However, each December they have a little fun, such as an article suggesting physicians remove ear wax with a super soaker water gun.

    One year, they did a psychological analysis of our pals in the Hundred Acre Wood. If you read this as the joke it is intended to be, it's quite amusing.

    And is it just me or is there a hidden Mickey in the illustration at the end?


    Saturday, December 17, 2011

    Quick Tip: Christmas Cards and Vacation Postcards

    I love getting Christmas cards from family and friends. Here's a lovely way to display them in your home.

    I simply tied a long piece of red satin ribbon around a kitchen cabinet door. It is anchored by a bit of sticky tack (that gum-like stuff we all used to put things on our dorm room walls.) Wooden clothespins attach the Christmas cards to the ribbon.

    I need to do another cabinet door for the other cards I have now and will add on as we receive additional cards.

    I'm thinking about doing something similar in my laundry room to display photos of the girls, artwork, vacation postcards, etc. Since the cards or photos are held on by clothespins or other small clips, it will be easy to add or change the photo gallery.

    For really crafty types, you could do this while on a Walt Disney World vacation. At resorts with kitchen cabinets, such as DVC, you could display the maps, stickers and other small items you gather each day. For studio-style rooms, tie or hot glue a section of ribbon on a small metal ring (or just tie one end of the ribbon into a loop.) Take along a Command hook so you can hang it without damaging the wall.


    Update: Here's the final result. I love seeing all these joyous wishes and cute faces while I work in the kitchen.

    Friday, December 16, 2011

    Magical Blogorail: What I Would Update

    Welcome to the first stop on Magical Blogorail Red.  This month we discuss what we'd like to update at Walt Disney World if we could.  Imagineers are continually updating shows and attractions.  This is what we would like to update...

    Ah, what would I update next at Walt Disney World? Realistically we know the Disney Parks are constantly changing and improving but they just can't do all they'd like to do. Well, let's pretend financial and creative resources are unlimited for this discussion.

    My favorite park is Epcot so I'd put my imaginary refurbishment dollars there. Future World would be my main focus. The park is a terrific blend of entertainment and education. It plays host to the largest festivals at WDW however it needs a little attention and in my dream world, it will happen.

    First, let's start with The Seas with Nemo and Friends. The undersea ride is fun and I like that they put something back in that area. However, it still feels like the pavilion lacks cohesiveness. Once you hop out of the clam shell, the place feels like a random hodgepodge of exhibits even with several sporting Nemo themes. Somehow the flow through that large building also needs to be improved. More of an A to B to C rather than simply wandering.

    (Remember the hydrolators? When I lived in Kissimmee, I had a friend who was an Orange County sheriff. He was called out to deal with someone stealing from the gift shop at The Seas. The thief had quite the grin on his face when he jumped into a hydrolator to escape. Imagine his surprise when the officers didn't have to run flights of stairs to catch him. They simply walked out the door and waited for him on the other side.)

    Continuing on to the Imagination pavilion. Where to begin? On the plus side, the fountains are great fun to watch and kids love them. It was certainly time for Honey I Shrunk the Audience to leave the theatre but I hope Captain EO is just a temporary filler while something new and interesting is being prepared. I always try hard to look at the details in the preshow area and I love Figment but I don't love the current version of the ride. Here's where we'd call in those unlimited creative resources to bring us something awesome in both the ride and the interactive theatre.

    The Wonders of Life pavilion is now only used for special events. Come on fictional "skies the limit" resources, let's do something amazing over there.

    And again, since I am dreaming....The Land's popularity skyrocketed with the addition of Soarin' and it's always super busy. I'd love to see flow improved here too. How about moving the Fastpass distribution machines outside to cut down on some of the "running in as fast as possible" crowd?

    I wouldn't do much to Test Track (other than the maddening song in the queue) and Mission Space.  I know some want to update Universe of Energy since Ellen's sitcom has been off the air for years.  Personally, I wouldn't.  Not even with my fictional dollars.  Too low on the priority list.

    Thank you for joining us on our Magical Blogorail journey this month.  Be sure to visit all of our stops.  Next you will head of to visit Heidi's Head.  Please watch your head and step...

    Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail should you happen to have to make a stop along the way and want to reboard: 

    1st Stop ~ Growing Up Disney

    2nd Stop ~ Heidi's Head
    Final Stop ~ A World View 

    Wednesday, December 14, 2011

    Photo Flashback: Christmas 1973

    Christmas on Main Street 1973
     Christmas is always a beautiful time at Walt Disney World.  They have people who spend all year long desiging displays and finding just the right beautiful decoration to put in the park.
    My Bride next to Cinderella Castle 1973
      December 14, 1973 I married the most beautiful person in my life.  38 years ago today we said our vows.  Then I took my bride on her first trip to Walt Disney World and the Magic Kingdom.  Our lives have been "Magical" all these years.

    These pictures were taken on that trip to the Magic Kingdom on December 24, 1973.  Notice no one is in the picture of the Christmas Tree.  To get a picture like that today when the park is open would be almost impossible.

    Merry Christmas to all!!!

    10And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
    11For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
    12And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
    13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
    14Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
    Luke 2:10-14

    It Is Our Job To Raise Balanced Girls, Not Disney's

    It's the middle of the night and I can't sleep. I was surfing and ran across a new movie and tv show in the works from Disney. It's called Sophia the First and will star a little girl princess. This is marketed to the Disney Junior set, 2-7 year olds.

    While trying to find more information about the show, I encountered lots of snarky articles about this being a bad idea. They ranted about princesses being a bad influence and seemed to snarl at the general manager of Disney Junior when she admitted the young princess would have plenty of pretty dresses and sparkly shoes. Well, guess what? Most little girls already like sparkly shoes. My two and a half year old talked me into a pair at Target today when she declared she "needed" the glittering red mary janes. Even though the show is trying to teach that what is important is on the inside, guess what snarky bloggers? I'm not depending on Disney to teach that to my child. It's up to me to instill self-confidence in my girls. Growing up Disney myself, I had a regular diet of the latest Disney fairy tales. I was also taught that I am smart and what is truly important in life. In my house, we learned to enjoy the magic as well as be responsible people. And you know, I think I turned out quite well.

    If you look at the pile of gifts I need to wrap for Tink, you'll see that we are encouraging all sorts of play. She's getting a medical set and musical toys. Daddy had a hand in getting her a set of tools and a tiny Ducati motorcycle. And yes, there is a princess coloring book or two in the mix and she already loves the sparkly plastic jewelry she got from her aunt.

    I guess it just comes down to "they just don't get it." And that makes me a little sad for these bitter types. Disney is about magic and escaping from reality for a while. And yes, they do try to sell us merchandise but is a business after all.


    Monday, December 12, 2011

    Disneyland Paris Planning with Nine: Holiday Fun

    As it is the Holiday Season I thought I would share with you a short piece about this wonderful time of the year at Disneyland Paris.

    Although as you will already know from reading my previous entries about our coming trip to Paris next year, we are going in July, but as December is my most favourite month, I would love to visit a Disney Park during their Yuletide celebrations whether it be in France or the US.

    As with both WDW and DL, there's already so much to see and do at Disneyland Paris, but here's some of the best extra bits that happen for the 2 months over Christmas (from Nov 7th to Jan 8th this year) :-

    * Sleeping Beauty Castle transforms into an ice palace
    * Snowflakes & magical decorations on Main Street
    * One of the tallest Christmas trees you've ever seen and a spectacular TRee lighting ceremony
    * Meet and greet with Santa Claus in his toy workshop and drop off your wish list at his very own Post Office
    * Holiday shows in both Parks
    * A glimmering, shimmering night time parade in the DL Park
    * When the sun goes down, Mickey "decks the halls" at the Disney showtime spectacular celebrates Christmas
    * The Fantillusion Festival of Lights
    * Mickey's Magical Christmas Dinner (a buffet and meet and greet with the characters all in Christmas outfits, followed by an interactive dance party).

    Doesn't that list alone make you want to book a visit right now?

    Contributed by Janine P. of Swindon, England. She is a proud wife, mommy to Felicity and one of our Minnie Moms.

    Follow along as Janine plans her family's first trip to Disneyland Paris in summer 2012.  Learn more about Janine here.

    Friday, December 9, 2011

    It's Official...DVC will be more Grand

    Disney Vacation Club Members received the following announcement from DVC today.

    Disney Vacation Club has announced plans to build an estimated 147 villas as part of the previously announced expansion of Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. Estimated to open in late 2013 near Disney's Wedding Pavilion, the resort's slated to become the 12th Disney Vacation Club property.
    Photo property DVC

    A Walk Around The World With Ridge--New Addition!

    Good morning friends! I wanted to take today to formally introduce the newest member of the Growing Up Disney Family; Princess Auburn Tiger Lily.

    She is an 8 week old Boston Terrier with a very happy disposition. At this point Lily is only about 2 pounds but should get up to 15 or 16 when she is fully grown. I had been batting around the idea of a new dog for some time, long enough ago that I had a tag made at Downtown Disney on my last trip in October 2011.

    Oddly enough Lily was born the following week. She has been loads of fun and is both an Auburn fan and a Disney Fan with her given name. When I registered her with the CKC I decided that I couldn't pass up an opportunity to toss Auburn in with her name.   I hope all you Disney fans know good and well that Princess Tiger Lily is from Peter Pan. I made a big list of names while talking with my friend Wendy and she helped me make the final decision.

    Now you all know by now that I am going to take a picture or two so let me show off a few of my little girl.

    - Posted by Ridge

    Wednesday, December 7, 2011

    Photo Flashback! Grandparents

    Here at Growing Up Disney, we say we are "three generations taking on the World."  And presently, that is true.  Our Disney vacations are three generation gatherings and we are all having fun introducing my girls to the Mouse.  However, in the circle of life, the individuals making up those three generations have changed over time.  This photo hangs in my kitchen and it's one of my favorites of my mom's parents.  They came to visit me during my college program in 1997.  I stayed with them and my parents at the Polynesian, hence Granny's flower.  (Note: just because a room CAN sleep 5 doesn't mean it SHOULD.)  We had such a good time on that visit.  I remember having lots of fun letting Granny use my Cast Member Christmas discount on the sly.  My grandparents loved to travel and their idea of vacation was loading up their large conversion van and driving for two weeks seeing national parks and other "rocks and trees".  They fully supported my parents' decision to buy into the Disney Vacation Club but their way of staying at Disney was a little different.  While the rest of us love to settle in to the familiar digs at Old Key West, my grandparents enjoyed switching resorts every couple of days.

    ***Stopping this now.  I'm tearing up.  How much fun would it be to have 4 generations?  Tink is named after this grandmother and reminds me of her all the time.  Seriously, can't type for the tears.***

    My dad's parents visited Walt Disney World too.  Here's a post from DisneyDad showing his family in Adventureland in 1971.

    Monday, December 5, 2011

    Minnie Moms: Biggest Disney Splurge

    Natalie: This year, I took the plunge and purchased my top dollar Disney splurge, thus far. My family and I took a cruise aboard the Disney Dream. When I heard that Disney would be introducing new cruise ships, I could not resist. I had been on several cruises through the years but had never been able to take one aboard the Disney Cruise Line. I had wanted to take one of these cruises with my son, in hopes that he would enjoy cruising as much as I always had.

    We booked our vacation aboard the Dream and were so excited to see what Disney had in store. Our room was one of the great inside rooms with the virtual porthole. We enjoyed sitting looking at our virtual window see what was going on outside and being occasionally greeted by a Disney character. The room was spacious and much nicer than what I had thought we would experience being in an inside room.

    We quickly found that the Oceareer's Club was everything we hoped for. My husband and I found that we felt comfortable leaving him there to the Cast Members' care. My son found that he loved the Club so much that he often preferred the fun there to time with his parents!

    My family found that Castaway Cay was our favorite part of the entire vacation. The island offered many unforgettable experiences for all of the family from snorkeling to water fun with the Club to water slide excitement. It was so very nice to have all of these offerings without paying extra for their enjoyment.

    I hope to again board a ship owned by the Disney Cruise Line. If I do, I hope it is as exciting an experience as it was the first time!

    Photo from
    Amy:  My biggest Disney splurge of something just for me was my WDW 40th anniversary Dooney & Bourke tote. Thankfully, my brother purchased it for me on his 20% premium annual pass discount. Even with that and the fact that I was using Christmas and birthday money, I still had a hard time justifying a purse so expensive. I'm deep in the world of diaper bags and don't have an opportunity to carry a purse often. The 20% off finally twisted my arm and Chris was gracious enough to be my personal shopper and stop by World of Disney. Now I am really thrilled with the bag. It makes a lousy diaper bag but I carry it from time to time anyway just for the fun of it.  The pattern shows images from years past at WDW but isn't specifically marked for the 40th or for 2011, so it won't be dated and I should be able to use it for years to come.  Now they've tempted me with the new Minnie Mouse line of Dooneys but that will have to wait.

    Janine: My answer to my biggest Disney splurge is quite simple and short - the holidays themselves.

    As you will probably know by now, we live in the UK.  Therefore when we make a trip to the US, whether it be to Florida or elsewhere, we usually stay for 2 weeks.  So that's Trans-Atlantic flights, 2 weeks hotel accommodation, 2 weeks car hire, park tickets (both WDW and ahem, all the other Orlando Parks and Busch Gardens) for 14 days, spending money for food, sundries and souvenirs to cover whole fortnight, extra stay in a hotel in St Petes, tickets to the Rays, clothes money (we stock up on things like trainers, jeans and Abercrombie etc. as they're sooooo much cheaper in the US) and any other little treats that we can think of while we're there such as tickets to Cirque de Soliel.

    So, all of that adds up to roughly about £5-6,000. That's about $7819-9382. Wow. That's a BIG spend ... Oops. No wonder we've only been 4 times in 10 years (with 3 other trips to America too ...). Hmmmm, now I know why DH says if I wanna be a stay at home mummy we have to wait until 2014 to go back lol.

    I can't think of any single huge purchases that we've made whilst at WDW to add, asides from every time we got to World of Disney the bill ends up in triple figures. I think the most expensive items that we've bought have probably been clothing, I have a lovely Tink hoooded sweater from Tinks Treasures that was $65 and I know DH has a Jack Skellington baseball shirt which was around the same price. Funny how I would balk at paying the equivalent price in pounds in a High Street shop in England but in Disney I'm like, wow, what a bargain! That's how Disney make their money I guess?

    Thanks to our regular contributor, Janine, and Natalie from Meet the Magic for joining me today.  Please visit the Minnie Moms page for past articles and more information about these fabulous ladies. 

    Friday, December 2, 2011

    Planning for Disney's Hilton Head Island Resort

    Hilton Head Insider Card
    Hilton Head Island Website
    If you have read any of my post on Disney vacation Club you know that we have been DVC members since 1993.  Since joining, we have been on Disney vacations once or twice a year.  Most trips have been to Walt Disney World, but we have been on Disney Cruise Line, to Disney’s Vero Beach Resort and Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort.  It has been several years since our last trip to HHI, and after adding on to our DVC points, we decided to spend a week there.

    We have made so many trips to WDW that “trip planning” is almost automatic.  We decide if we want to do the Disney Dining Plan (most trips this is – No) and do we want to make any dining reservations.  Which park we go to on any given day is decided by were we want to eat.  Our up-coming HHI trip is a little different.

    One, we actually have to do some planning and research.  Since it has been several years since our last trip we have to re-familiarize ourselves with the area.   I have done quite a lot of research on what restaurants are on Hilton Head, their proximity to the HHI resort, and something new for my planning – are they child friendly and will Tink eat what they serve.  Yes, this trip will be another family trip and Amy and I both have been researching for this trip.  Since HHI is not located at a Park where restaurants and entertainment are “built in” we have to look outside the resort for most meals and activities.

    For research I’ve used websites and, something fairly new to me, my iPhone. 

    I started with the DVC members’ site to read what Disney has to say about Hilton Head.  They have basic all the basic information on the resort plus floor plans for the rooms and pictorial tours of the room.  Since it will be fairly cold while we are there, I don’t know that either of the pools will get much use.  There are 2 snack bars, with one at Disney’s Beach House.  The Beach House has access to 12 miles of private beach which should provide some nice long walks along the surf. 
    Hilton Head Island APP

    Since there is not a sit-down restaurant, we must look outside the resort.  A quick search on Google finds the “official” site of .  On my iPhone I found the corresponding App for Hilton Head.  Both provide what I was looking for in local events and restaurant reviews plus lots more.  One App I have found especially helpful is tripadvisor.  Again, there is a corresponding web site, but I have found I like the App more.  Type in a city or address and tripadvisor will give you a list of restaurants by distance and ratings.  From here you can locate the restaurant on a map, read reviews, and for some you can make reservations, all on the App.  I was glad to find the Hilton Head Diner listed.  While not the highest ranked (150 of 182) it was one place we have been to on several trips and I thought Audrey would like it.
    Disney's Hilton Head Island Resort

    Amy found one restaurant she would like to go to if her parents will babysit (please make me keep my granddaughters).  She would like to try Robert Irvine’s eat! (13 of 182 on tripadvisor).  Both of us found another place we may try called A Lowcountry Backyard.  The reviews are good with one commenting it is “hard to find at night” and recommended to locate it in the daylight.  If you have never been to Hilton Head, this is a MUST for finding most places.  There is a tree-line along the main roads that stores “hide” behind and all signs are short.  Even if you know where you are going, at night, it can be difficult to find.

    I will be doing more research as the trip gets closer.  We’ve found where Publix grocery stores and Sam’s Club are located.  And there are some good restaurants and shopping in walking distance of the resort.  There are Dolphin watching cruises offered.  There is plenty to do, and nothing to do except relax and enjoy being with family.  I just hope it is not so cold I can't enjoy a hammock for a while.

    I’ll give you a full trip report once we actually go to Hilton Head in a couple of months.

    --Disney Dad


    This is post #501 for Growing Up Disney.  We've been blogging now for over a year and a half.  Thank you to the Growing Up Disney family and our wonderful friends who contribute guest posts.  Thank you to our readers for sticking around with us as we've grown and changed.

    And for another celebration, baby "Minnie" was 6 months old yesterday.  This picture of the girls is totally out of focus, but I love it anyway.

    Baby "Minnie" and proud big sis "Tink"

    Thursday, December 1, 2011

    On the DL with Chad: The D55s

    When last I was frolicking across the blogging landscape of Growing Up Disney, I spent some time extolling the virtues of Disneyland and attempting to at least explain in some part why when I'm at Disneyland, I feel like I'm at "home".

    When Amy first approached me about writing for "Growing Up Disney", one of the first questions I asked, of course, was what type of articles she would like to see.  Being from Disneyland while the majority of her readers are no doubt Walt Disney World people probably had a lot to do with her response.  Although I'm pretty much allowed to write whatever I want, she seemed particularly interested in articles dealing with the history of Disneyland.

    I'm a History buff by trade, complete with the Bachelor of Science to prove it, so it seemed right up my alley!  The thing about being a history major, though, is that aside from random facts which for whatever reason stick out to me, I'm so far removed from earning my degree at this point that much of it has probably gone out of my head never to return.  But one thing earning my degree instilled in me and taught me is that although history is a lot of remembering facts and being able to regurgitate them come test-time, history is more and most importantly a frame of mind; a mentality.

    When I first began going to Disneyland as an Annual Passholder, I was pretty much just like any other "regular Joe" in The Park, and spent much of my time running from popular attraction to popular attraction.  Space Mountain was always a must ride, as was Pirates of the Caribbean, and Splash Mountain.  Basically, I rode and did what the cool kids rode and did.  That's not to say that those rides aren't still awesome, but they used to be at the top of my list, and they're not anymore.

    Space Mountain - NOT a "D55"

    So what changed?  Nothing really, but history changed it for me.  When people used to ask me what attractions I would recommend to them if it was their first time inside Disneyland I would, of course, give them the "cool" answer, and tell them to ride all of the thrill rides.  Silly Chad.  As time has gone on, however, my answer now is nowhere near what it was then.  If asked today which attractions I recommend for a first-timer at Disneyland, without question, I would say that people need to see/ride/experience what I've lovingly begun calling "The D55s".

    Simply put, "The D55s" are those attractions at Disneyland that are original to Disneyland; meaning they have been there, in some form or another (though many have obviously been refurbished and what-not during the last 56 years), since the very day that Disneyland opened to the public.  Hopefully it's obvious to everyone just how history ties into that.  Although many amazing attractions have opened at Disneyland since its inception, and many more were worked on by Walt himself, the ones I recommend the most are the ones that have been there since the very day that Disneyland opened to the general public.  Many might disagree, but to me, these have the most historical significance of all that are in The Park, and as such, deserve much respect and in many cases, are just plain fun to experience!

    Pirates of the Caribbean - Worked on by Walt himself, but NOT a "D55"

    Since my intention is for my articles to be both informational and useful, I figure why not include a list of the attractions that are still around today for your next, or maybe first, trip out!  While there will, of course, be some debate as to whether the list is all-inclusive, I've opted to focus primarily on the attractions that are listed on the official Disneyland website.  You can find them there, of course, but they are:
    • Autopia
    • Casey Jr. Circus Train
    • Disneyland Railroad
    • Dumbo the Flying Elephant
    • Jungle Cruise
    • King Arthur Carrousel
    • Mad Tea Party
    • Main Street Vehicles
    • Mark Twain Riverboat
    • Mr. Toad's Wild Ride
    • Peter Pan's Flight
    • Snow White's Scary Adventures
    • and Storybook Land Canal Boats

    Jungle Cruise - So THAT'S what a "D55" looks like!

    So, there you have it; my list of "D55s" that must be experienced if you're new to Disneyland and all that it has to offer.  Since I have become such a big proponent of Disneyland history, and how important that should be in each person's experience of The Park, I highly recommend everyone begin just there, at the beginning.  Disneyland is about much more than the sum of all of its parts, and I think that when people begin to realize that, and begin to open themselves up to the fact that Disneyland is about much more than being just another "amusement park", then the magic can really begin. 

    Looking over the list myself is genuinely quite amusing, because many of them would be considered the "kiddie" rides of Disneyland, and in fact, I hear that quite a lot.  It just comes with the territory.  And even I have to admit that the list is pretty Fantasyland-heavy.  But truth be told, you're never too old, or too adult, to be a kid again.  And even today, I'm not too old, or too adult (though I may genuinely look funny doing it) to strap myself into Dumbo the Flying Elephant, and take a whirl around the sky with my magic feather.  People may look at me a bit oddly, but ultimately who cares?  If being a party of history is wrong, I don't want to be right.

    Contributed by Chad E of Rancho Cucamonga, CA. I'm a married dad with three little boys doing the stay-at-home-dad/youth ministry/seminary student/card carrying Disneyland Annual Passholder (Premium!) thang! And when I have the time, I also like to blog and podcast about The Disneyland Resort and am the co-creator of both Days in the Park and the Days in the Parkcast podcast.

    Wednesday, November 30, 2011

    Baby Travel Gear: RoSK blankets on sale today

    RoSK (Rain or Shine Kids) 5 in 1 blanket

    I just bought one of these blankets for myself and another as a Christmas gift. They are on sale for $17.99 today at

    I can see these as being really handy for cold/rainy weather travel with little ones.

    It's a soft fleece blanket on one side and a waterproof material on the other. There are ribbons on two sides so you can attach the blanket to your stroller or infant car seat. The waterproof side allows this to be a handy playmat or changing mat in a pinch. You can also tie the ribbons together for a nursing cover.

    I'm really excited about mine to help keep Minnie warm this winter as we take Tink into preschool. This multi-tasker should also be great when we visit Hilton Head in January.

    I get nothing for this. I simply wanted to share this cool baby travel item.

    Photo is property of Baby Steals and the manufacturer.

    Update: 1/30/12--I love the concept but they are not very tough. Mine has had the nylon rip on one side and the ribbon shred on the other. Relatively easy to fix but I shouldn't have to repair a new product that hasn't been mistreated. I bought one for my sister in law when I got mine. I've cautioned her to wash it in a pillowcase.

    Photo Flashback-- Sunset on the Castle

    Sunset at the Magic Kingdom
     When the clouds and sun are working together, they make some wonderful natural colors on the castle.

    - Posted by Ridge

    Monday, November 28, 2011

    I Feel So Clever (Or Necessity is the Mother of Invention)

    It seems like I always need a little more storage space on my strollers or just one more hand to help. I recently purchased these Jeep hooks and love them. They're only about $6 for the set so I have ordered a second set for our single Bob. I've used them on the single to hold my preschooler's backpack and on the double to carry a shopping basket, among other things.  On the shopping trip pictured, I bought Tink some popcorn (aka bought myself a little peace) and used the hook to hang the bag off the back of the stroller, keeping the popcorn upright and easily accessible.  Later I ran across a stack of shopping baskets in the store and had the idea to hook one on to the stroller.  I got a look or two with this contraption but who cares?  I was able to get around the store in peace knowing my girls were happy and my purchases weren't going to fall.

    These hooks don't need to be removed when the stroller is folded so they are always ready to go. So far they seem nice and sturdy and the hooks rotate to any position.  I'm thinking these will be great for traveling.  While I am a big fan of packing as light as you can for the parks, you always end up with something extra and here's a good place to put it.

    And to clarify the pictures, my diaper bag is attached to the handles of the stroller, behind the basket and then the shopping bags.

    I wrote the above portion of this story a week or two ago.  Since then, necessity was again the mother of invention.  I usually go grocery shopping while Tink is in preschool, allowing me to go with only one child.  The school Thanksgiving party was Monday so the grocery store had to wait until Tuesday.  There are various ways to carry my girls through the store...Tink in the seat of the cart and Minnie either in her carseat in the basket of the cart or being worn by me.  Or, I could push their double stroller and pull a small cart.  Well, that's what I decided to do.  Thankfully, even though the Bob Duallie is the size of a tank, it handles like a dream so we were doing great.  It was a busy day and would have been a bit of a challenge regardless.  Anyway, I was almost finished when Minnie started yelling and I had to hold her.  Now I had one super-sized stroller and a small cart and a baby on my hip.  Hmmmm.  I used the hooks to attach the cart to the stroller and pulled the whole thing by the handle of the car seat.  It worked fairly well but I was really glad we were almost finished with our shopping by that point.  I can't see any way that this helps you with a vacation tip but it was too funny not to share.


    Wednesday, November 23, 2011

    Photo Flashback! Happy Thanksgiving!

    Wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving!
    from the Growing Up Disney Family

    Cinderella Castle is always my favorite "photo opp" at Walt Disney World. 
    This photo is from October 2003.