Sunday, July 27, 2014

Packing For Disney

Although I LOVE going to Disney World, I HATE packing for it!  (Or any other trip.) 

But, that's all a part of getting to Disney, so I grind my teeth and get to it.  

So, what should you be packing and hopefully not forgetting?  

First, just remember that, although Disney carries most everything you need, you'll pay a premium for it, so you may as well bring it from home. 

Here's a list of some things you won't want to forget:

1.  Wet Ones antibacterial wipes.  I always put a few packets into my backpack when we go into the parks.  That way, once we're ready to eat a snack or a meal, we just wipe away all of the bacteria we picked up while we were having fun (yes, it is Disney, but there are germs there too, people!).

2.  All medications you'll need, whether prescription or over the counter.   Please don't forget Benadryl if you're allergic to anything! The resort shops do sell some over the counter medications, but, again, you'll pay a premium.  Also, if they don't have what you need, you may end up having to get a taxi to run you over to the nearest pharmacy off property. So you're going to spend money and lose time from your vacation.  

3.  If you have asthma, don't forget your inhaler and an extra one just in case one gets lost.  

4.  If you wear contacts, don't forget to bring a couple of extra pair and your saline solution - it wouldn't be any fun to lose a contact and be blind for the rest of your vacation.  There's a lot to see at WDW, so you don't want to miss out on it.

5.  Hats and sunblock - you'll need them to help protect you against the strong Florida sun.

6.  If you are a gum chewer, make sure you bring gum with you.  You can't buy gum on any Disney property - for obvious reasons.  So, if you want it, either bring it with you or make do without it for the duration of your trip.

7.  Don't forget your batteries, photo and video cameras, your cell phones, extra memory cards, and the corresponding chargers.  You'll want to capture all of the magic, and you're going to be pretty upset if you can't.

8.  Some plastic utensils for eating in your room.  If you're taking cereal down with you, don't forget to take a plastic bowl and some dish detergent - that way you can wash and reuse it!  

9.  Shampoo, conditioner, soap, etc., if you don't like using the ones they provide at hotels.  

10.  An extra change of clothes in your carry-on bag, in case your luggage is misplaced.  If you're using the Magical Express, please note that it can take up to 3 hours before your luggage is delivered to your room. 

11.  All of your travel documents, including a copy of your itinerary for your days in the parks with your dining confirmation numbers.  

As to the type of clothing you'll need to pack, that will depend on when you're traveling to the World:  If you're going in the summer, definitely bring a sweater or light jacket because it gets very cold on the buses, in the restaurants, shops, and in the resorts.  If you're visiting in the winter, you can check for the most accurate weather in Orlando; however, you should definitely pack some warmer clothes as it can get cold at times.  
You can go to for a more complete list of what you'll need to pack for your trip.  

I hope this is helpful, and until next time, remember to keep the Mouse in your house!



Tuesday, July 22, 2014


I can't begin to count the number of times I've been asked, "You're going to Disney again???"  I'm sure some of you have been asked that very same question a number of times as well. 

And the answer is always a resounding "Yes!"

So, why do people, including myself, continue to return to Walt Disney World year after year?  The answer is simple - Magic.

No matter how many times I've gone to Disney, every time I step on property, there's a feeling that envelops me, a precursor of what's to come.  And as soon as I walk under the train station at the Magic Kingdom and onto Main Street, there it is - Magic.

Sure - we could travel out of the country, to Europe or to a beautiful island.  And I'm sure we will at some point.  But why would we when we can enjoy a wonderful family vacation in a beautiful and magical place like the World?  

How many times have we all gone on a family vacation, only to have everyone do their own thing?  Perhaps, Dad is on his iPad, Mom is on her cell, and the kiddos are playing on their Kindles or watching a DVD.  Sure, everyone is in the same place, but are they really enjoying it together?  Probably not - they're each enjoying something on their own, not really communicating with each other.

Although we certainly can't escape technology at the Disney Parks, we've always experienced something quite different while on vacation at the World.  We enjoy the parks together as a family.  Sure, we have our moments when the cell phones come out, but those are fleeting moments - 99% of the time, we're enjoying each others' company, laughing over the thrills, smiling over memories in the making, living in the moment, all of us excited about our next ride, show, or meal.  We're making plans together, scanning menus together, standing in line together - the key word being "TOGETHER".  

And let's face it - not too many people walk away from a Disney vacation disappointed. Of course people complain about the heat, the crowds, the lines (I do too!)...but ask them if they had fun, and most of them are going to say "yes" with a big smile on their faces, and most of them will say they're planning a return trip... 

Being at Disney, especially if staying on property, puts you in a Disney "bubble" where you're enveloped in magic, fantasy, and are given the gift of feeling like a child again - at least for a few days.  It's an amazing indescribable feeling, a feeling that is truly magnified if you have the opportunity to watch your own children enjoying that Disney Magic.

A couple of years ago, while in the Magic Kingdom, my daughter and husband went off to ride Astro Orbiter.  I waited for them and before long, Chip and Dale came out for a character meet and greet and stood about 3 feet away from where I was sitting.  I truly enjoyed watching them interact with everyone.  Suddenly an older woman came forward, having patiently waited her turn in line.  The smile on her face was incredible, from ear to ear.  She was smiling, crying, and hugging and kissing Chip and Dale.  It was obvious that she was having a "childhood" moment, and they were so wonderful with her.  

As I observed their exchange, it suddenly hit me why Disney is so beloved by so many - because it affords everyone that walks through its gates to magically become a child again - for however long they're at the World - they are granted a second childhood.  Amazing! 

How many other places can we say that about?  

How many times are we granted the wish of being a child again?  

Where else can we relive our childhood through the joy and delight of our children?  

Those opportunities are precious and priceless to me, and I enjoy them more than anything.  

So, although I'm sure I'll get asked the same question another hundred times in the future, the answer will always be the same - a resounding (and happy) "YES!"

Here's wishing all of you get the opportunity to feel the Magic for yourselves - over and over again.

Until next time, I hope you remember to keep the Mouse in your house.



Saturday, July 19, 2014

Mist Your Way Through The World...

If you've got an upcoming trip to Walt Disney World and are dreading the summer heat, here's a quick tip:  Take a misting fan.

Prior to your trip, make a quick stop at WalMart.  Go over to the Paint Department and grab a misting fan.  They're about $7 or $8 - a great deal compared to the $18.50 you'll pay for it at Disney.

Pack it into your suitcase (or throw it into your Disney Fed Ex box - see Post #3), and off it goes.

Once you're ready to head off to the parks, fill it with ice water.  Simply mist and/or fan yourself throughout the day to keep cool.  

The kids will really enjoy it, especially when standing in long, hot lines. Every time our daughter got cranky from the heat or long lines, we would hand it over, and she loved misting herself - it was like she was a different child!  We enjoyed it too!

It can be a lifesaver when the heat exhaustion sets in.

Helpful Hint:  Fill it up with ice and water each night, and place it in your room fridge.  That way, it will be extra cold for the following morning.

Happy misting, and don't forget to drink lots of water!  Staying hydrated is key!

Until next time, remember to keep the mouse in your house.


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Getting Everything You Need Down to Disney

So, you've decided to go to Walt Disney World.  You've picked your resort, booked your trip, made your advanced dining reservations, scheduled your fast passes.  You're all set to go.

And then you realize that you've got more stuff to pack than you initially thought. With airlines charging you for your luggage, most people are trying to limit their bags to one per person - and who can blame them?  Why put even more money in the airline executives' pockets?  I personally try to minimize any extra charges that might be incurred when we fly.

So... what to do, what to do???

Well, here's the good news (or at least it's been my experience - and that's what this blog is all about, right?):

If you have a United Airlines credit card, they will not charge you for the first piece of luggage per person in your party.  Simply present the credit card at curbside check-in and remind them (I do!) that you're not supposed to get charged for the first checked bag per person.

We are a family of three, so I make it a point NEVER to take more than one bag per person.

Here's another good piece of news:

If you fly JetBlue, they don't charge you at all for the first checked bag per person in your party.  JetBlue credit card or not.  Period.

So, what if you've done all of the creative packing you can imagine, but you still have plenty of stuff to take that just won't keep you down to one piece of luggage per person?

Here's what we've done every time we've gone down to the World.  Please keep in mind that I can only vouch for the Coronado Springs Resort where we've always stayed, but I would be willing to bet it would work for any resort on Disney property.  However, when in doubt, call Disney and ask - their representatives are there to answer any and all questions you may have.

In the past, we've had to take pullups, wipes, and other varied toddler items. Also, in order to save time and money, unless we have a character breakfast reservation, we eat breakfast in our room, which means cereal (milk is sold at the resort's shop), and other assorted breakfast pre-packaged foods (muffins, cereal bars - that type of thing), as well as snacks (crackers, candy, etc.) also need to find their way down to Disney.

Well... I've come to learn that Federal Express is my friend.  That's right!

About three to four weeks prior to our trip, we'll pack up a box with all of those extra items, call Fed Ex to pick it up, and off it goes to our resort.  I address the label to myself c/o the resort, and I make a big note on the label in red marker and yellow highlighter indicating our arrival date.  Just make sure that you check off GROUND DELIVERY.  We messed that up last year, and I accidentally checked off next day delivery (yikes!).  That was not a good bill to receive, but thankfully the people at Fed Ex were very understanding when we called them... Yeah, I will be very careful about that going forward, LOL!  I was wondering how that package got down there so fast!!!

Once we arrive at our resort, we pick up our package (the resort charges us a nominal fee for handling - still cheaper than paying for an extra piece of luggage), and we're ready to start our vacation.

Helpful Tip:  Throw some packing tape in your suitcase, and print out a return Fed Ex delivery slip reflecting your home address.  That way, if you have any items left over from your trip - or if you bought any souvenirs that won't fit in your luggage, you can put everything back in the box and repackage it, drop it off for delivery at your resort, and it will arrive back at your home in no time.      

Have fun packing, and until next time - I hope you remember to keep the Mouse in your house!


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Disney Trip Celebrations!

We turn our Disney trips into Celebrations!

And Disney wants us to.  

So much so, that we can get free (yes free!) celebration buttons at the parks.  

Although we didn't do it on our first trip because I didn't know about the celebration buttons, on our second trip, I had our travel agent mark our reservation as a special celebration - our daughter's birthday.  It didn't matter that her birthday was at the end of September - a whole month after to our trip.  The trip was an early birthday gift to her.  

When we first arrived and made our way to the Magic Kingdom (always the first park we visit - but more about that on a later blog), I immediately went over to City Hall on Main Street and requested a complimentary birthday button for my daughter to wear during our stay. The cast member very happily provided one and wrote my daughter's name on it with little mouse ears over the "i" in her name. Very cute.  I will note that you should ask them to put a strip of scotch tape over the name so that it doesn't rub off.  We had to keep rewriting her name on the pin (thank God I had thought to bring a sharpie with me) until a wonderful cast member at the Pirates of the Caribbean showed us this nifty trick.  And... got Goofy on the phone to wish her a very happy birthday!  Talk about a special birthday surprise!

The wonderful thing about it was that, once I put the button on her, cast members and other park goers immediately started calling out birthday wishes.  You can just imagine how happy that makes a child.  

What made her even happier was that, at every meal, the cast members would either sing her happy birthday, or bring her a special birthday dessert.  Needless to say, she was overjoyed.  

But the best, most incredible part of all happened when we took her to Turtle Talk With Crush, the sea turtle from the Finding Nemo movie, in EPCOT.  Crush noticed her right away, since she was wearing her birthday button on her hat.  He immediately honed in on her, started the show by pointing her out to everyone.  He asked her some questions, sang a special Crush version of happy birthday to her, spoke to my husband and I, and literally made her feel extremely special during the show.  She was the most excited little girl in the world! 

All in all, that entire trip was a huge birthday fest for our daughter!  It was amazing!  And she has wonderful memories of it to last her a lifetime.

On our trip the following year, we decided to celebrate one of our daughter's personal triumphs, as well as our wedding anniversary.  

We spent our days receiving best wishes and congratulations over and over again and offering birthday wishes and congratulations to others wearing their own celebration buttons.  It's fantastic!  

When speaking with people about their upcoming trips, I strongly urge parents to mark their reservations as a celebration of their child's birthday (whether it's coming up or already past - or, best case scenario, actually happening while they at the World) and encourage them to take a few minutes and stop in at one of the parks to obtain a celebration button.  It will make such a wonderful memory for their child!

Disney offers celebration buttons for birthdays, anniversaries, first trips, personal triumphs, and honeymoons.  You can get them at City Hall in the Magic Kingdom, or at Guest Services in EPCOT, Hollywood Studios, or Animal Kingdom.

Make sure you get one on your next trip.

And be sure to check out my Face Book page under The Mouse In Our House!  

Until next time, make sure to keep the Mouse in your house!


Monday, July 14, 2014

7/14/14 - Welcome to The Mouse In Our House...

No!... Not that kind of mouse!... The Mouse... The one and only - Mickey Mouse.  

I am passionate about many things in my life - first and foremost, my family - my husband, Manny, and our daughter, Sabrina.  Then there's reading, family time, my faith, The Real Housewives Franchise (yes, all of it! LOL), Bravo, and, of course, shopping!

And then.... there's the Mouse... Yes, Mickey Mouse, the one that started it all.  I LOVE Walt Disney World, and nothing makes me happier than getting our family there.  Suffice it to say, we are now a Disney family.  

Although I had visited Walt Disney World a few times, I really became passionate about it in 2010, when we took our daughter for the very first time at the age of 3.  As an added bonus, it was my husband's first time too.  He was somewhat skeptical at first - he thought it was for kids.  Well... it's become one of his favorite vacation destinations - a 9 on a scale of 1 to 10, so he tells me!

On that first trip with our daughter, I became addicted to the joy of seeing her meet her favorite characters and princesses for the very first time.  It was incredible watching her meet Mickey and Minnie, and it was even more special that they were the first ones she met.  

But, if there was one defining moment that sums up that entire trip for me, it was breakfast with the princesses at Akershus in the Norway Pavilion in EPCOT.  As we entered the banquet hall, Sabrina, dressed as Princess Tiana, of The Princess & The Frog, a stuffed Ray in hand, was led to the waiting Belle for a picture.  It was adorable.  But, when the staff brought over the picture that they had taken, tears instantly sprang to my eyes.  There was my baby, dressed as a princess, holding the hand of one of her favorite princesses, all smiles, and looking beautiful.  To this day, that picture hangs framed in her bedroom and is one of my favorite and clearest memories.

Since then, we've gone back to Disney twice - in 2012 and 2013, and are working on our next trip.  Watching Sabrina's excitement at seeing and meeting her favorite characters just makes me incredibly happy.

I love EVERYTHING Disney!  I'm always looking for a little Disney in my life which has now led me to listening to Disney podcasts.  Nothing gets me through a long day like putting on my earphones and downloading a podcast.  My absolute favorites are 3 Moms And The Mouse and The Resort Loop.  They offer so much wonderful information and are funny as well.  I love them!

Well, that's it for tonight.  Not too bad for a first time, I think.

Till next time, may the Mouse be with you!