Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

I hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas! We're looking forward to a possible white Christmas here and all of the kids are very excited. It should be a lot of fun! So, once again, Merry Christmas, Joyeux Noel, Feliz Navidad, Frohliche Weihnachten, and Nollaig Chridheil.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving, ya'll! I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving spent with family and friends and all of the things we should all be thankful for. Eat lots of turkey and plan your Black Friday shopping lists. There are some awesome deals out there, especially on Disney movies on DVD and Bluray and Disney clothing and toys. Check out Black-Friday.net for all the ads so you can plan your predawn shopping strategy! Good Luck and Happy Thanksgiving!!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Good Witch's Gift

I love the Good Witch movies. The stories are magical and all about the importance of family, either the one you're born into or the one you find for yourself. The latest film in the series tells the story of Cassie and Jake's wedding, and the struggles they go through to reach the altar.

It seems that as soon as they settle on Christmas Eve for their wedding day, things begin to go wrong. First, Jake is having trouble proving Cassie's existence so that they can obtain a wedding license. Then, Cassie entrusts her mother's ring to Lori, who promptly loses it. Then there's Brandon 's girlfriend, whose father has recently been released from jail and seems bent on making trouble for Jake. Add to this Martha Tinsdale, who has been forced to find a job by her husband's real estate losses, and has decided that she should plan the entire wedding. Of course, by the end, everything works out for the best and the entire family can happily settle down to their new life together (and hopefully more movies!)

The Good Witch's Gift premieres on November 13, at 9/8c.


Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

I hope everyone has a Happy Halloween! We spent the morning carving pumpkins. I made a howling werewolf, Bean made a silhouette of Tiana kissing the frog Naveen from Disney's Princess and the Frog, and my sister carved a spooky face. Unfortunately, I had to run out and buy a carving kit this morning because we couldn't find last year's, and I had to try two stores, and only lucked into picking up the last one to be had at Target. This evening, we went to a church Halloween party and "Trunk or Treat" and then went trick or treating door to door in a nice neighborhood with full size candy bars. Bean had a wonderful time. I love this time of year!

From ghoulies and ghosties
And long-legged beasties
And things that go bump in the night
Good Lord, deliver us!
- Traditional Scottish Prayer

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Spooky Fun Treats

I love crazy theme food, especially at Halloween. I usually end up buying the Halloween flavors of Jones Soda. (My favorites are the Buried Pomegranate and Creepy Cranberry!) However, most fun Halloween treats are loaded with sugar. This year, I found a fun themed, good-for-you Halloween treat... Scarrots! Scarrots are snack size packages of baby carrots in cute Halloween packaging. They even come with tattoos featuring baby carrots dressed as a ghost, witch, Frankenstein's monster and Bride of Frankenstein, vampire, red devil, mummy, and skeleton. They are adorable and hilarious! And they are 100% products of the USA, both the carrots and the tattoos, which can be very difficult to find these days.

Each small pack has funny trivia on the back. For example, on the Frankenstein's monster package it says:
"What do Frankenstein and baby carrots have in common?
They're both misunderstood. They both lack human emotion. They're both sweet at their cores. But unlike Frankenstein, baby carrots are not made by scientists. They're aliiiive!"
The witch package says:
"Is it true that when you shut off all the lights...
And say "baby carrots" in the mirror six times while eating baby carrots, witches will fly out from under your bed on broomsticks and cast a spell on your Halloween candy? Only one way to find out."

These Scarrots have the cutest images on the bags and would be a fun surprise to stick in a kids lunch box. After all, how often do you get a Halloween treat that's fun AND healthy?

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Good Witch

Two of my favorite fall movies are The Good Witch and The Good Witch's Garden. Catherine Bell is fantastic as Cassie Nightingale and I love Chris Potter as Police Chief Jake Russell. When a mysterious woman moves into the local haunted house in a small town, residents wonder whether she is a witch. When she opens a shop called Bell, Book, and Candle, the mayor's wife starts a campaign to get her out of town. Will Cassie be able to work her magic on the town and be welcomed into the community?

In The Good Witch's Garden, the entire town is preparing to celebrate their 200th anniversary. Cassie offers to host the party at her home, the oldest in town. To help make ends meet, she opens her home to guests as a bed and breakfast. However, there's something suspicious about her guest. Will she be able to keep her home and help the community? Perhaps with a little magic.

I love these stories. They are romantic and magical stories that can be watched by the whole family. Not only do my sister and I enjoy watching them, but so does Bean and even her grandpa. Hallmark usually plays them in October because the end of the Good Witch takes place on Halloween. They are well worth watching.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Secret of Kells

I recently discovered a fabulous movie called The Secret of Kells. It is the story of a young boy called Brendan, who live within the walls of Kells. He meets an amazing illuminator from Iona, who has fled to Kells when his abbey was destroyed by the Norsemen. To help brother Aiden finish illuminating the book, Brendan, along with Aiden's white cat Pangur Ban, ventures outside the walls of Kells for the first time. He meets a fairy called Aisling who aids him in his search for berries to use for ink. As the Norsemen move ever closer, Brendan, with the help of Aiden, Aisling, and Pangur Ban, must decide what is more important: following the rules of his uncle and staying inside the walls, or finishing the book, which will enlighten the world in a time of darkness.

The story is great, and the animation, inspired by images within the Book of Kells are beautiful. The movie is a good one for families, although young children may be frightened by the images of the Norsemen and Crom Cruach. If you love Celtic art and stories that blend myth and imagination, then this movie is for you.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Halloween Movies: The Classics


When considering movies to watch for Halloween, don't overlook the classics. I grew up watching classic monster movies, such as Dracula, Frankenstein, and the Wolfman. They are black and white with sometimes odd music tracks. They aren't generally scary, but they are a lot of fun to watch. Here's a list of some of my favorite classic monster movies. Personally, I always felt sorry for the classic movie monsters, especially the Mummy... he just wanted somebody to love.

Dracula - Bela Lugosi as Dracula, probably the least scary and most dapper of movie vampires.

Frankenstein - Boris Karloff is fantastic as the monster. The laboratory set in this film was also used in Young Frankenstein. "Look! It's moving. It's alive. It's alive... It's alive, it's moving, it's alive, it's alive, it's alive, it's alive, IT'S ALIVE!"

Bride of Frankenstein
- A worthy sequel to Frankenstein. The bride's brief appearance is very humorous. "Alone: bad. Friend: good!"

The Wolfman - Lon Chaney, Jr. as the Wolfman and a cameo by Bela Lugosi as the gypsy werewolf who infects him. "Even a man who is pure at heart and says his prayers by night, may become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms and the autumn moon is bright."

The Fly & Return of the Fly
- Andre, a poor, unfortunate scientist, accidentally merges himself with a fly. In the sequel, his son makes the same mistake. Vincent Price does a fabulous turn as Andre's brother in both films. "Help me! Help meeee!"

The Creature from the Black Lagoon
- A scientific expedition searching for fossils on the Amazon River captures a mysterious creature. The creature escapes, but returns to capture the beautiful Kay, his unfortunate new love. The sequel, Revenge of the Creature, features a first appearance cameo by Clint Eastwood. "We didn't come here to fight monsters, we're not equipped for it."

The Invisible Man - A scientist is determined to find a way to become invisible. He succeeds, but the formula makes him insane. He goes about terrorizing the countryside. "Don't worry, the whole world's my hiding place. I can stand there amongst them in the day and night and laugh at them."

The Mummy - The mummy of an ancient Egyptian prince, Im-ho-tep, played by Boris Karloff, is brought back to life. Ten years later, under the guise of Ardath Bey, Im-ho-tep returns to claim his lost love, Ankh-es-en-amon, who has been reincarnated into a beautiful young lady. "Death... eternal punishment... for... anyone... who... opens... this... casket. In the name... of Amon-Ra... the king of the gods." Good heavens, what a terrible curse!"
"Well, let's see what's inside!"

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Mommy Holly and Wild Olive giveaway

Check out Wild Olive's blog for a fun giveaway: a $15 gift card to Mommy Holly's shop!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Halloween Movies for Kids, Part 3

Now we've made it to the movies that would be appropriate for teens. Some of these movies may be a little young, but most would be great for a party with teenagers. I've separated them based on rating, with PG at the top and a few select R rated films at the bottom.

Rated PG:
Twitches & Twitches Too - Two stories following twin witches Alex and Camryn, who learn that they were separated at birth and possess magical powers. Will they learn to use their powers in time to save Coventry and their father?

Nightmare Before Christmas - I can never decide if this is a Halloween movie or a Christmas movie, but it is certainly a classic. Follow Jack Skellington and his pals from Halloween Town as they try to make this the best Christmas ever! This would probably also be good for some younger children, but does have some scary monsters.

Corpse Bride - While not strictly a Halloween movie, the story of Victor and his accidental marriage to a Corpse Bride is full of spooky humor and misadventures.

The Good Witch - This film would be acceptable for the entire family (Bean loves it) but, the romantic relationships and town problems would probably bore most kids.

Young Frankenstein - This ridiculously campy film pokes fun at most every Frankenstein movie ever made. It's fun and silly with a fantastic cast. Who doesn't love Mel Brooks films?

Ghostbusters & Ghostbusters 2 - Another pair of campy horror films. The Ghostbusters must uses their skills to prevent ancient evils from raising hell in Manhattan.

Beetlejuice - When a young couple discovers that they are ghosts, they must learn how to haunt their house to get rid of intruding New Yorkers. Can they do it without the aid of the unpredictable Beetlejuice?

Rated PG-13:
Blood and Chocolate
- The story of a young werewolf, on the threshold of adulthood, who is torn between her loyalty to the pack and the graphic novelist she's attracted to.

Covenant - This is kind of the boy version of the Craft. A good story with some great action scenes.

Cursed - Although this movie is available in PG-13 and an unrated version, it's a good werewolf film. I haven't seen the special unrated version, but the regular film would be appropriate for most teens.

Practical Magic - Follow the Owens family of witches and their cursed love lives. Can Sally save her sister Gillian and escape the curse?

Rated R:
The Craft - Sarah's always been different. When she arrives at St. Benedict's, she falls in with a group of outsiders, and together they can make real magic.

Sleepy Hollow - By far the bloodiest retelling of Washington Irving's classic story, Johnny Depp is fantastic in the role of Ichabod Crane, no longer a simple schoolmaster, but an eccentric investigator sent to solve the mysterious murders in Sleepy Hollow.

**These last two are a fabulous retelling of classic stories, however, both contain nudity, sex and extreme violence and should only be watched by older teens. I would recommend watching them before allowing teens to view them.**

Mary Shelley's Frankenstein
- The best of the Frankenstein movies, this is a fairly faithful retelling of the classic story of obsession.

Bram Stoker's Dracula - The closest to the book of the Dracula movies, this story also incorporates the myths and history surrounding Vlad the Impaler, the main inspiration for the book.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Disneystrology

Have you heard about the new book combining beloved Disney characters and astrology? In Disneystrology: What Your Birthday Character Says About You, astrologer and author Lisa Finander has identified 366 unique Disney character types and paired them to appropriate birth dates. Each page features an illustration of the character, the three words that best describe that character, a description of your personality, what magical gifts that character bestows, the keys to your success, and which film the character first appeared in. My family and I each checked our birth dates and found the information to be surprisingly accurate. We had a lot of fun comparing each others characters and traits.

For instance, my character is Princess Atta from A Bug's Life.
Three words - "Destined, conscientious, and thoughtful."
Personality - "Fate plays a strong role in your life. The subjects you study early on prepare you for your occupation as an adult. Responsible, cautious, and creative, you realize that your best friends are those who allow you to express your silly side. As you grow older, your life gets easier because you have learned to trust your own wisdom and abilities."
Magical gifts - "Atta brings you the gifts of awareness, courage, and open-mindedness. When presented with novel ideas, she teaches patience and encourages you to convince others to give it a try."
Keys to your success - "Developing your own style of leadership."

I'm truly enjoying this book, which has helped me to see some of my favorite Disney characters in a new light. Check it out and see how much like a Disney character you are. It may surprise you!

I was provided with a copy of this book by Quirk Books for the purpose of review. All opinions are my own.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Halloween Movies for Kids, Part 2

For children in elementary school, there are a lot of movies available, but it can be tricky to decide which ones are appropriate for your child. After all, you don't want a movie that's too scary, but you don't want one that's too young either or they won't be interested. Here's a list of movies that Bean enjoys. I'll try to make a note of which movies are a little scarier and which are good for most ages.

Mickey's House of Villains - Mickey and pals throw a Halloween bash at the House of Mouse, complete with old Disney favorites and new ones too.

Casper - Casper the Friendly Ghost meets some new friends. An "afterlife therapist" and his daughter move into Casper's home to remove the ghosts, but the ghosts don't want to leave. This movie may be slightly scary for young children. Casper Meets Wendy is less scary, but somewhat annoying.

Scary Godmother: A Halloween SpooktakularThe Revenge of Jimmy - These two films show that monsters are just people too, and that you just can't stop Halloween!

Alvin and the Chipmunks Meet Frankenstein & the Wolfman - Alvin, Simon and Theodore get mixed up with Frankenstein's monster and bitten by a wolf in this hilarious double feature.

The Magic School Bus: Creepy, Crawly Fun!
- Educational and fun, the kids in Ms. Frizzle's class learn about sound, bats, and spiders in this Halloween flick.

The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad - While I don't generally watch Mr. Toad, the Legend of Sleepy Hollow as sung by Bing Crosby is not to be missed.

The Haunted Pumpkin of Sleepy Hollow - Two school kids try to escape from the Headless Horseman and keep him from reclaiming the pumpkin containing the original Legend of Sleepy Hollow manuscript. Catchy music and simple animation make this a fun film.

Under Wraps - A mummy comes back to life on Halloween to search for his lost love. A young horror movie buff and his two friends try to help the mummy, dubbed "Harold", in his search.

The Halloween Tree - Unfortunately, this movie is only available on VHS, but it is a wonderful retelling of Ray Bradbury's classic story, with Leonard Nimoy as the voice of Mr. Moundshroud.

Halloweentown & Halloweentown II: Kalabar's Revenge, Halloweentown High, and Return to Halloweentown - A fantastic series of 4 movies about a family of witches. The stories follow the misadventures of the oldest daughter, Marnie. The grandmother, played by Debbie Reynolds, tries to encourage the family to learn about their ancestry and use their magic. These films are one of my favorites.

The following movies, while some of my favorites, can be a little dark and scary at times. If you haven't seen them, I would recommend watching them first to make sure they are appropriate for your family.

When Good Ghouls Go Bad - When Danny and his dad move back home to Walker Falls, Danny discovers that Halloween is cursed and everyone is afraid to celebrate. This movie may be better for older children.

Hocus Pocus - I love this movie! The Sanderson sisters have been brought back to life for one day, but to stay, they must cast a spell to reclaim their youth. Only Max, his sister, girlfriend, and an immortal cat named Binx can stop them.

Tower of Terror - A fun movie based on the story created for the Disney Parks ride Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.

The Haunted Mansion - Another ride-based movie. This one features a family trapped in a mansion full of ghosts and the hi-jinx they undergo to escape.

The Little Vampire - A campy story about a family of vampires and the little boy who helps them find redemption.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Halloween Movies for Kids, Part 1

Every year, we start watching our vast collection of Halloween movies on the first of October. Okay, okay, so some years we start just a few days early. We love Halloween movies and collect several new ones every year. I'd love to share a few of our favorites with you.

For toddlers, I would recommend the following:

Rolie Polie Olie: A Spookie Ookie Halloween - This movie has Rolie Polie Olie, Book of Pooh, and Out of the Box, all wonderful Disney Halloween stories.

Pooh's Heffalump Halloween Movie - Roo and Lumpy must overcome their fears and save Halloween for the Hundred Acre Wood.

My Friends Tigger and Pooh: Hundred Acre Wood Haunt
- Piglet's friends must help him overcome his fears. Also includes a Handy Manny Halloween.

Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Mickey's Treat
- Mickey and his pals have to get to Trick or Treat Tower before the moon is full to celebrate Halloween at Pete's party.

WordWorld Kooky: Spooky Halloween - Pig sleepwalks and scares everyone into thinking he's a ghost and Sheep shares all of her costume and then must find something to wear herself. I love WordWorld and it's mix of letters, spelling, and fun.

Spookley the Square Pumpkin - Poor Spookley is different, but maybe being different is not such a bad thing after all.

Max & Ruby's Halloween and Max & Ruby: Perfect Pumpkin - Both movies feature 1 Halloween episode and then 3 non-Halloween episodes. Max and his sister Ruby are cute and sweet, although Ruby can be bossy and Max doesn't talk very often.

Franklin: Franklin's Halloween - Franklin tries to create a scary costume for Mr. Mole's Halloween party.

Maurice Sendak's Little Bear: Halloween Stories - Little Bear discovers what really makes those spooky night sounds.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Halloween is coming.....

It's hard to believe, but I've already been thinking about Halloween for the last two weeks. It may just be my favorite holiday. I've started planning costumes and thinking about having a party. I've even started making decorations. My sister and I recently found a fun new book called Witch Craft: Wicked Accessories, Creepy-Cute Toys, Magical Treats, and More! It has a ton of easy to make, creative crafts to haunt your house. There are projects for crafters of all ages and skill levels. The projects include several treats: such as the Witches' Brew punch, and my personal favorite, Peanut Butter & Jelly Skull Sandwiches; and also several tricks: beaded Spider Earrings, and crocheted Vampire Bite Necklaces. I love the Plushie Poison Apples and Fuzzy Bats and think that the crocheted Good Little Witch is absolutely darling. I'll probably end up making most of the crafts in the book before too long. I started with the crocheted amigurumi bone, but I still need to put the face on it. Bean loved it but now thinks we need a dog to go with it!

Then, since I had a ton of yarn left over, I looked for more patterns on the internet. I made a little amigurumi ghosty, but I still need to put a face on it too. Next, I thought I'd try my hand at making a crocheted spiderweb. The white sport weight yarn looked far too heavy, rather like those rope webs that people create for their porches. So, I used some fuzzy grey-green yarn that I had laying around. The web looks fantastic and is huge, all dusty and dirty looking. Currently, I'm making a web using size 10 crochet thread. It should end up being a rather large doily, and while it's not very delicate, it's not too heavy either.

Anyway, it's a start and I'm sure there will be more to come over the next few weeks. I'll try to keep you updated on my progress and may even end up putting a few things on Etsy. We'll see. At least it should be fun!

I was provided with a copy of this book by Quirk Books for the purpose of review. All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Trip to the World

I just got back from a six day trip to Disney World and I have loads of new information to share.

Magic Kingdom:
The new Fantasyland expansion is in full swing. They have blocked off large sections of what used to be Pooh Corner and some backstage areas so that they can begin construction. There are several pictures on the walls hiding the construction that detail all of the changes. While I'm not sure how I feel about the new Princess-themed land, it should be amazing when it's finished. They haven't closed Toontown yet, which was great for us because we love Goofy's Barnstormer, but it should be closing in the next few months.

We ate at Tony's Town Square for the first time. We had a little trouble getting to the restaurant because we got stuck in Toontown in a torrential downpour and Tony's is near the front gate, but we threw on ponchos and made a mad dash for it. The food at Tony's was really good, both dinner and the desserts. However, the atmosphere was not what I had expected. It was rather dark and tried to be upscale rather than the family dining experience that they advertise. The seating was very crowded. However, our waitress was very attentive and nice.

EPCOT:
We had our first character meal this trip. We decided to go for the Princess Storybook Dining at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall. The food was excellent and the atmosphere was wonderful. We were greeted by Belle when we came in. Bean got to spend several minutes talking with her before they took a photo, which was included in the price of the meal. Once we were seated, our very attentive server explained the Norwegian buffet to us and took our orders. My sister and I ordered the traditional Norwegian meatballs, but Bean ordered pizza. After everyone in our section had been served, the Princesses began to make their way through the dining hall. We saw Cinderella, Ariel, Snow White, and Aurora. They spend about a minute with each child, sign autographs and pose for pictures. They were all wonderful. At the end of the meal, they brought out the dessert plate, a preset selection of three different desserts. They were fabulous! I would definitely consider returning to Akershus.

Hollywood Studios:
They have re-imagined the Tower of Terror, adding all new drop sequences. The last room before the elevator shaft has been altered to remain dark as you travel through it. The new drop sequences add a new thrill for long time riders and new riders alike.

We rode Star Tours several times as it is scheduled to close for renovations soon. It's Bean's favorite ride, so we couldn't pass up what may be our last chance to ride the old ride.

Lotso Huggin' Bear has been added to the characters that you can meet at the Magic of Disney Animation. He is huge and pink and really does smell like strawberries!

We ate at the 50's Prime Time Cage for the second time. Again the meal and the service were fabulous. It's such a fun place to eat and totally reminds me of my paternal grandmother's house. We ordered Bean the Mickey's Bee Bop Drink with the glowing ice cubes. When the waiter first brought it out, it was pale pink. Bean said that it wasn't pink enough, so he took it back and added extra cherry syrup. She was thrilled. When she asked for a refill before we left, he even took her back to the kitchen and let her watch as he made it to make sure she had enough cherry in her drink!

Animal Kingdom:
At the Animal Kingdom, we decided to eat at the Yak and Yeti for the first time. Unfortunately, it wasn't the greatest experience. The ambiance was fantastic. The theme of the place was great. The drinks were wonderful; my sister ordered a Yak Attack which she loved, and I ordered a Glacier Water, which I also enjoyed. For the meal, I ordered the Maple Tamarind Chicken which I didn't really care for at all. My sister ordered the MalAsian Seafood Curry which she enjoyed but it didn't really agree with her. In all, I don't know that I would eat there again because the Yak and Yeti counter service was actually better and less expensive than eating in the restaurant.

All in all, it was a good trip. We got to experience several new dining choices and revisit some old favorites. As always, we truly enjoyed our latest trip to the World.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Free Summer Movies

I'm always looking for something to keep Bean from getting bored in the summer. However, most of the day camps and other activities cost a fortune! This summer, we'll be going to the Regal Entertainment Group Free Family Film Festival twice a week. Every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday all summer long, Regal is offering two free kids movies, one rated G and one rated PG. The movies start at 10AM and are available on a first come first served basis. Bean and I went for the first time today. We saw Night at the Museum II. Admittedly, we have the DVD, but there's something special about seeing a movie on the big screen. (Truthfully, we have nearly all of the movies they are showing this summer!) Besides, we're in the middle of an unexpected heat wave here in Georgia, and the air conditioning at the theatre was wonderful! The following is the schedule for the free movies in Georgia (this schedule does vary by state, so be sure to check whats playing before you go):

June 15-17 Charlotte's Web, Night at the Museum II
June 22-24 Wallace and Gromit, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
June 29-1 Polar Express, Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs
July 6-8 Doogal, Planet 51
July 13-15 Pirates Who Don't Do Anything, Imagine That
July 20-22 March of the Penguins, Paul Blart: Mall Cop
July 27-29 Kit Kittredge: American Girl, Hotel for Dogs
August 3-5 Arctic Tale, Monsters VS Aliens

Check Regal's website or your local theatre to see if they are participating in this fun festival. Our local theatre showed each movie on 3 screens, 2 for daycare groups and 1 for families, so there were plenty of seats for everyone. They do offer a full concession menu including Kids Meals during the movies, so you might want to buy some popcorn with the money you're saving on tickets. This Family Film Festival is a fantastic idea and I hope it continues for years to come.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Crocs


I don't know about you, but when I first saw Crocs, I didn't like the look of them. And then I drowned my shoes in a sudden downpour at Disney World. The Pirates of the Caribbean Crocs were on clearance at the Pirate shop, so I decided to give them a try. Within a few hours, I was hooked. My feet felt fantastic and the rain no longer bothered me. Admittedly, I did have to wear them with peds liner socks for the first few days to avoid blisters, but it was a small price to pay for comfort. I liked my Crocs so much that I wore them everywhere and actually wore them out. (There is no tread left on my first pair!) I found another pair of the Pirate Crocs at a Crocs outlet in St. Augustine for $10, so I replaced my first pair. Then I decided to give the ladies Mary Jane style a try. They quickly became my new favorite shoes. They are less bulky and have a more sleek look to them and I love them. I got basic pearl white and love to change them up with Jibbitz. They are a lot of fun. I haven't managed to get a pair of the Mickey Crocs yet, but I keep looking, hoping to find some at a more reasonable price than at Disney World. Sometimes you can get them at Big Lots or Ross for $10 or less, and the Crocs outlets are great too.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Twilight


Just a quick note for all you Twilight Fans. How would you like to win a copy of the new Stephanie Meyer Twilight book: The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner. Books Complete Me is having their first giveaway; you can win a copy of this new book which will be released on Saturday. So be sure to head over and check it out.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day


In honor of those who serve, please take a moment today to thank the members of our military, both past and present for the sacrifices they make to keep us safe. Many members of my family have served and continue to serve today. I am grateful for all that they do to protect our freedoms. As Walt Disney once said, "Tomorrow will be better for as long as America keeps alive the ideals of freedom and a better life." Thank you to our military for keeping those ideals alive.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Star Wars toys


Every year, just in time for Star Wars Weekends, Disney releases a new set of Star Wars toys. This year, they have a set of 4 die-cast racers, the fourth set to be released. These new racers feature Yoda, a Clone Trooper, Battle Droid, and Jedi Master Plo Koon. Each car will be available for $5.95. There is also a new set of Disney characters dressed as characters from Star Wars. This years characters include Mickey as Luke Skywalker complete with green lightsaber, Minnie as Princess Leia in her Boushh disguise with removable helmet and thermal grenade, Donald as Han Solo with a staff and encased in a block of carbonite, Goofy as C-3PO, and Pete as Boba Fett with removable helmet, jet pack and blaster. Each figure will be packaged individually and available for $8.95. Some time later this year, Disney will be releasing a Star Wars themed vinylmation set. So far, only three images of the set have been released: Darth Vader, a Storm Trooper, and Lando Calrissian. I can't decide if I like the vinylmations. Some of them are really cute, but they have a lot of weird ones too. However, the pictures released for the Star Wars ones look pretty cool.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Star Wars Pins

There are several new Star Wars pins that have been created just for this years Star Wars Weekends at Disney World. Several of the individual pins feature key scenes from the Empire Strikes Back including a dimensional AT-AT being circled by a Snowspeeder. A massive jumbo pin in the shape of the number 30 is filled with characters from the movie. A boxed set of six characters and there vehicles has been created. There's also a set of Muppet Star Wars pins, a R2-MK (like a red R2-D2 but with Mickey ears), and a special limited edition pin. My favorite is the passholder limited edition pin which features Han Solo in carbonite. Finally, there's a limited release pin featuring the logo for the Star Wars Weekends.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Lightsaber Chopsticks


Now the Force can be with you even while eating sushi... introducing Lightsaber chopsticks. Japanese toy company Kotobukiya has created an entire line of Lightsaber chopstick sets. The blades are cast in a translucent material and each pair of chopsticks comes with a translucent chopstick rest featuring the Star Wars logo. The Luke Skywalker (available in green or blue), Darth Vader (red), Mace Windu (purple), and Darth Maul (red) sets are over 9" long, suitable for adult use. The Darth Maul set also attach end to end like in the movie to create one long lightsaber. There is also a Yoda (green) set, which is shorter and intended for use by children. The chopsticks are available directly from Kotobukiya, on Amazon, and from Star Wars Shop. Amazon has sets are available now, while the others are on pre-order until August. These would make great gifts for your favorite Star Wars fan!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Photo of the Week


In keeping with this weeks Star Wars theme, here is a photo of the outside display at Star Tours. They have a large Ewok village and a full size AT-AT. I sure hope they keep it when they change the ride.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Star Wars Pancakes and More!

Just in time for the 30th Anniversary of the Empire Strikes Back, Williams-Sonoma has created some awesome Star Wars themed cookware. They have three new items: a kids apron with characters embroidered across the bottom and the Star Wars logo across the top, a set of four cookie cutter/embossers, and a set of three pancake molds. What better way to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of a true classic than with pancakes shaped like Darth Vader and Yoda? The set is hilarious! I can't wait to see it in the store.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Star Tours

Well, its that time of year again... Star Wars Weekends. Every year, I say I'll go, but I never seem to make it. This year guests will have a chance to ride one of the last trips to Endor on Star Tours. The ride is scheduled to close July 27 at Disneyland and September 8 at Disney World. They are going to be "reimagining" the ride with a new 3-D experience taking guests to familiar places in the Star Wars universe. They're also hosting a special "Last tour to Endor" party on August 14 during "Star Wars Celebration V" at Disney World. As this is one of Bean's favorite rides, I am rather sad to see it change. Sometimes I think Disney gets carried away trying to keep up with the latest and greatest. However, if it lives up to the promise and becomes an immersive 3-D trip through the universe of Star Wars, it may be alright. I just hope they don't totally change the outside of the ride as well. I love the Ewok village and AT-AT that shoots water from it's guns. Also, every year when we go, we take a picture of Bean on the speeder parked outside. It's a fun way of seeing how much she's grown. Here's hoping that the new ride is as much fun as the current one!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Win a trip to Disney Parks

Rayovac batteries is giving away a trip for four to either Disneyland or Disney World! Let Rayovac power your vacation and enter for a chance to win.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

My Favorite Time of Year

I know it's a little early to be thinking about Halloween, but I figure you need to start planning early for trips to the World. My favorite time to go to Disney World is the end of September-beginning of October. It's a chance to experience a lot of Disney fun in one quick trip. We've gone to Disney three times during September/October and loved it every time.

It's fun to go to Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party, dress up in Halloween costumes and go trick-or-treating around the Magic Kingdom. Bean's favorite part is the Boo to You Parade. The parade begins when the Headless Horseman rides down the parade route on his horse and holding a flaming pumpkin. At the end of the night, cast members will top off your trick or treat bag. The last time I went, they were topping off with Ghiradelli caramel squares... the big ones. We always come home with a huge pile of candy, some of which we give out at Halloween, as there is always too much.

For the adults, try the EPCOT Food and Wine Festival, which runs during this same time period. It's a great chance to try a lot of food from a lot of different nations and see what appeals to you. My favorite mini plate is the cheese plate with three types of cheese, brown bread, Irish butter, and chutney from the Ireland stand. I eat it every time I go. I liked it so much that I have started buying Dubliner cheese at home too. My sister's favorite is the lamb slider from New Zealand. There are so many fabulous things to try that it would be impossible to pick just a few. I would recommend going as a group and having each person purchase one food from each nation and then everyone trying a bite. That's what we usually do and you get to try so many more things that way without getting overwhelmed.

You'll probably find something that you may want to eat even after you get back home. Fortunately, there are several websites that have recipes from the Festival. I haven't tried any of the recipes yet, but they sound fantastic. Several of the countries offer demonstrations of various recipes and styles of cooking popular in their homelands.

Each year is themed, so a few years ago, there were stock pots and characters from Ratatouille everywhere. Another year was Alice in Wonderland. This year's theme is "Delicious Discoveries". They are changing the Goebel store in Germany to a Werther's Candy Shop and the new Via Napoli restaurant in Italy opens in September. There are also a lot of beautiful displays and decorations representing each of the countries. In all, its a fabulous Festival with something for everyone. And that's what make this my favorite time of year to travel to Disney World!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Princess and the Frog Cake


I've seen a lot of different Princess and the Frog cakes out there lately, but this one has to be my favorite. I spotted this cake on the Cupcake Blog and just had to share it. I love that the cake is the dress without the doll stuck into the top. It's much classier this way and besides, it's so CUTE! Whoever created this cake is quite talented. I love it!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!


I hope everyone had a great Mother's Day today. I love having a special opportunity to celebrate my Mother and all of the wonderful experiences that she has shared with me. Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers and near-mothers out there!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Photo of the Week



I love the Twinings Tea Garden at the Flower and Garden Festival. Various plants used in their teas are grown in teacups behind the Tea Caddy shop.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Photo of the Week



I just love the displays at the Flower and Garden Festival. I manage to miss the official festival every year, but I sometimes get to see all of the fabulous floral displays before the festival starts.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Photo of the Week



The Pixar Parade at Hollywood Studios is one of our favorites. My niece loves dancing with the characters as well as playing all of the games before the parade starts.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Free Giveaway

Check out the napkins being given away by Condo Blues. They are Fabkins napkins for kids and they are absolutely ADORABLE!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter

Happy Easter, ya'll. I hope everyone is having a great Easter and many surprises from the Easter Bunny. I love this Mickey Bunny from the Disney Store, but my favorite Easter Bunny was actually an Easter Dragon. The Georgia Renaissance Faire once held its opening weekend over Easter Sunday. As a result, they added bunny ears and a fluffy tail to their giant Dragon mascot, and he handed out Easter eggs to all of the children. It was hilarious!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Help fix school lunches



I recently watched the first episode of Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution. Some of the stuff that he showed was quite shocking. I knew school lunches were bad, but I didn't know how bad. Jamie Oliver has a petition on his Food Revolution website asking parents to request change in school lunches. If you'd like to view it or sign it, just click here.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Ren Faire Dress

So, I've been working on a new dress for the Ren Faire this past week. I'm getting through the sewing rather quickly, although I have taken frequent trips on the internet to make sure that I am making it as authentic as possible. It's interesting to see descriptions and recreations of what we think they wore during Tudor and Elizabethan times. My dress is Elizabethan. It is similar to the pattern for the Shakespeare in Love dress, but that was just a jumping off point. I have changed more of the pattern than I have kept, but it's really starting to look good. I have finished a full length chemise that I designed myself, an overskirt, an underskirt, and a forepart (the pretty part that shows under the front of the skirt.) I'm still working on the bodice and bumroll, which will help to hold up all of those skirts. I must say, this costume has gone the smoothest of any I've made, especially considering all of the alterations I have made. I still enjoy making costumes, even though I've made dozens and really enjoy getting into the history of each one. Anyway, I'll be posting pictures of the finished product soon, as well as pictures of the remaining 5 costumes that I have to complete before the 17th of April. I'm going to be very busy!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

New Moon Bluray

Well, in the end, I didn't go to the midnight release party, although I heard it was a great, well organized affair. However, I did buy the Bluray Ultimate Fan edition at Wal-mart. Mind you, I had to go to two different stores to get it, but it was worth it. I just got a Bluray player this last Christmas, so I don't have very many Bluray movies yet. I was surprised at how much better Blurays can be. You can see all of these details that are blurry or obscured on regular DVD. While I wouldn't replace all of my DVDs with Bluray just yet, they are fantastic for movies with a lot of fast-paced action or period pieces where you actually want to see the details of the clothing. Anyway, the extras on the Ultimate Fan edition of New Moon are fantastic. There are tons of behind the scenes looks that are only available in this set. So, while I missed the party, I'm happy with the end result.

Friday, March 19, 2010

New Moon

I'm a total Twilight fan, so I just had to mention that the New Moon DVD is coming out tomorrow. I'm considering going to a Release Party tonight, but can't decide. I'm not exactly a teenager and so I'm not sure I want to be there with a million teenage girls. On the other hand, there will probably be a lot of Twi-Moms there, so that wouldn't be too bad. I'm thinking about trying a Wal-Mart party this year. Well, we'll see how it goes. Now I just have to decide between Bluray or regular DVD. Hmmm....

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Ren Faire fun

Bean with Titania, Queen of the Fairies, and her Court

My family enjoys going to Renaissance Faires. We dress up in costume and spend a day among the Lords and Ladies of the Kings court. It's a lot of fun and a unique experience. As purchasing costumes can be very expensive, I make all of my own, my family's and most of our friends. It's a lot of work to make sure that they are authentic, but it's well worth the effort. We all look great and it's a much richer experience to go to the Faire planning to play along instead of looking in as an outsider. For the next several weeks leading up to the Georgia Renaissance Festival, I will be working on half a dozen new costumes, so I'm going to be rather busy. As I spend a lot of time researching each costume, I'll try to share any interesting information I find. Enjoy!!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Photo of the Week


Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show

It's a blast. Literally. This show is high action, high speed, and a lot of fun. While I wouldn't recommend it for small children due to the noise, both from the cars and explosions, it is still a family friendly show in the grand Disney style.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Enchanted Calls


I recently got a code for a free Disney Enchanted Call from Princess Tiana. I ordered and received the call today. It was actually kind of fun. The phone rings at a prearranged time and tells you to press 1 within 30 seconds. You press 1, and Tiana says hello and starts talking about making gumbo. A minute or two later, she tells you that she's got to go because her pots boiling over, and says goodbye. Bean really enjoyed it. She was excited that Tiana had called HER personally. I don't know how much these calls normally cost, but there is a deal for several calls available from Disney Movie Rewards. The calls are great for kids and are a wonderful surprise. Consider arranging a call as a special birthday surprise for that wonderful birthday kid.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Updates

Well, I just got back from a spur of the moment trip to "the World." There are a lot of changes going on and a lot of new things coming soon. I'll be updating several posts, especially the ones about what characters are available and where. New characters have been added and you won't want to miss them. Stay tuned for the latest information regarding my favorite place!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Pin Trading - Gear for trading

Once you decide to start trading pins, you'll need some gear to help you carry them in the parks. The easiest solution is to buy a lanyard that you wear around your neck. These come in many colors, styles and themes. They can be purchased at the Disney store, in the parks, at stores like Walmart, off the internet, or on Ebay. Some lanyards have a place to hang a lanyard medal at the bottom. A lanyard medal is like a giant pin. Some have a place to hang keys or other small items. My favorite has a small, zippered pouch that I use to store my ID, park tickets, and fast passes. It's great to have the tickets and fast passes in a place that's very easy to get at.

If you don't want the weight of a lanyard hanging around your neck or worry that you may lose pins this way, consider a pin bag. Pin bags come is several sizes, styles, colors, and themes. There are small bags that hold 10-20 pins and large bags that will hold up to 100. It just depends on how much you want to carry. Keep in mind that the more pins you carry, the more weight you will be carrying. For kids, I would recommend a lanyard or very small bag that clips onto a belt or has an across-the-body strap. They probably won't want to carry them all day, but the smaller bags and lanyards can easily be put into a backpack.

So, now that you've decided to start trading, pick a theme, find a lanyard, get out there and have FUN!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Pin Trading - Managing your collection

© Disney
Once you get started pin trading, you will probably have a collection of keepers that grows fairly quickly. Now you have to decide how to keep track of all those pins. How many pins are in a set? Which sets do you have? Which sets are you missing a few from? What do the missing pins look like? The answers to these questions can be found on several websites. 

 Disney's Official Pin Trading website lists all new and soon to be released pins and has good information with pictures of each pin. They also have a few printables to keep track of your cast lanyard collection, pins that can only be obtained by trading with cast members. 

Another great website, called Pin Pics, allows you to not only gather information about each pin, but create a profile that allows you to keep track of which pins you own, which pins you are still looking for, and, if you want, which pins you are willing to trade with other Pin Pics members. I don't trade over the internet, but I do use Pin Pics to keep track of my pin collection. Each pin has a photo and information about the original price, where it was available, rarity, and more. It is a great way to determine whether a pin is worth bidding on on Ebay, too. When you know the original price, you will know how much to bid without paying too much. (I usually don't bid more than 50% of the original price if purchasing from Ebay.) 

A great source of information about pins is Dizpins. They update their information frequently and always seem to know the latest pin news. Now you can easily keep track of your collection and keep up to date on the latest pin news as well.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Pin Trading - Getting Started


In the last few years, I have come to love collecting pins. At first, I didn't understand what all the excitement was about. But now, I love the added adventure of looking for that perfect pin to trade for.

I purchased my first pins off of Ebay. While many collectors complain that you can't guarantee the authenticity of such pins, I've found a few reputable sellers to buy from and haven't had any problems. The great thing about buying off of Ebay is that you can often get pins for $1.50 -$2.00, much less than the $6.50 and up that you would pay in the parks. I generally don't worry about which pins I get when buying from Ebay, after all, you can always trade for what you really want once you get to the parks.

I have several collections of pins that I have put into frames to decorate my home. I love Pirates of the Caribbean and have a frame that has pins surrounding a lithograph of a pirate ship. I also love the Haunted Mansion and have a set of pins surrounding a postcard of the Mansion. It's a fun way to display your collection. For extra pins that I haven't decided where to display yet, I keep them in a soft book with felt pages. Disney sells pin trading bags and books, but they can be a bit pricey, so I made mine. It keeps my pins safe and allows me to look through them quickly and easily.

Once your collection begins to grow, you'll probably want to go through your pins periodically and see if one that you had to have before is now one you'd like to replace with something new. New pins are coming out all the time, so there's always a new set to start collecting. My family likes to trade with cast members exclusively. While some Disney guests will trade with you also, the ones I've met just want my best pins without offering anything good in return. As a result, I just stick to the cast members, who will trade you any pin on their lanyard. You can trade 2 pins with each cast member, each day. This is great for those times when you see more than one pin that you just can't live without. I've gotten some really great, and sometimes rare, pins from cast members. They are a lot of fun to talk to and always willing to trade. Some only trade with children, which is great for the kids, but most will trade with anyone. My niece loves looking at all of the pins and trading with nearly every cast member we talk to, so her collection is ever-changing. She enjoys searching for Princess pins, and pins from her favorite Disney cartoons.

Pin trading is a lot of fun and can be very entertaining. After all, the search for that one perfect pin is a grand adventure. So, get yourself a lanyard and a few pins to get started and get out there, and let the games begin!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Photo of the Week


Every week, I will pick one photo taken by my family on a Disney World trip. This weeks photo of the week comes from The Seas with Nemo and Friends at EPCOT. After riding through on a clammobile, my niece loves to go to the shark room and play with the sharks. There are several little stations for kids to learn about sharks and our oceans. All three of the sharks from Finding Nemo can be found in this room. Kids of all ages like to climb inside Bruce's mouth and wave to the people on the other side. It's quite funny.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Happy President's Day!


I hope everyone has a fantastic President's Day! Enjoy the day off and have a little fun with the kids. I would recommend some crafting using ideas from Family Fun, a Disney owned family magazine and website. Check out the Presidential Portrait game featuring Abe Lincoln or the Rescue Flat George game. Try making cherry pie and Lincoln log cake, a chocolate roll up cake. Talk about the Presidents and above all, Have Fun!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Outlet Store vs. Park, or How to buy the cool stuff without spending a fortune

I love going to Disney World and strolling through the shops browsing for fun new items to add to my ever-growing Disney collection. However, unless you find a rare sale or clearance item, you can end up spending a small fortune. A few years ago, I heard about the three Disney outlet stores located near Disney World. One, Character Outlet, is fairly small and sells both Disney and Universal Studios merchandise at a decent discount. There are two that sell all Disney items and are licensed Disney stores. Disney's Character Premiere, has several items that are discounted 50% or more, but also a lot of items that are regular price. The last store, Character Warehouse, sells items removed from the parks to make way for new merchandise, at a steep discount. This is our favorite Disney store. We've purchased a lot of fun items there at a great price. They have had everything from toys to Pal Mickey costumes, to t-shirts from Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party and EPCOT's Food and Wine Festival, all for 50-70% off. They usually have a wide selection and a wide variety of price ranges, with something to suit everyone. We've purchased pins there for $4 or less, picture frames from Tower of Terror ($1) and Star Tours ($5 and it even lights up!), scrapbooking items for 75% off the original price, and a ton more. This store also gives stickers to kids that come in, just like the stickers given out in the parks. It's a little farther from the parks than the others, but offers the best value.

One of the best ways to save money at Disney, is to buy your souvenirs from an outlet store at some time during your trip. Because we usually drive down, we drive right past our favorite store on the way to the parks. As a result, we like to stop BEFORE going into the parks and pick out a few new things. We always budget for souvenirs and allow Bean to pick out a new toy and accessories at Character Warehouse, then don't purchase much in the parks. She usually gets more this way for the same amount of money that we would have spent in the parks. Also, this means that she has something new and exciting before we even get to the parks and so she's less likely to fall in love with something in the parks. If you want to go to the parks first and are spending several days, you still may want to check out the selection at the outlets at some point during your trip. We have often found the same or similar items from the parks in the outlets at a much lower price. It's a fantastic way to save money and still make the kids very happy.

If you would like to visit the outlets, here are the addresses.
Disney's Character Warehouse
Pr1me Outlets International, Suite #95

Mon-Sat 10AM-11PM, Sun 10AM-9PM
4951 International Drive, Orlando, FL 32819
(407)354-3255

Disney's Character Premiere - Suite #1252
Mon-Sat 10AM-10PM, Sun 10AM-9PM
8200 Vineland Avenue, Orlando, FL 32821
(407)477-0222

Character Outlet - Lake Buena Vista Factory Stores
Mon-Sat 10AM-9PM, Sun 10AM-7PM
15629 Apopka Vineland Road, Orlando, FL 32821
(407)238-9301
charout@embarqmail.com

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Autographs - An Adventure in Collecting, Part 5 EPCOT

EPCOT is a great place to collect autographs. The lines are generally short and there are many opportunities to meet characters at this park. There are a few character Meet'n'Greets in Future World and several in the World Showcase. And if you're a Disney Visa cardholder, don't forget to take advantage of the special Meet'n'Greet in Innoventions. Not only will your family get a private session with some of the characters, but you'll also receive a free 5x7 photo from the session.

Characters that can be seen on normal days:
Mickey & Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy, Pluto
Chip & Dale
Aladdin, Jasmine, Genie*
Alice
Mary Poppins
Mulan*, Mushu*
Belle, Beast*
Snow White, Dopey
Winnie the Pooh, Eeyore, Tigger, Piglet

Characters that are sometimes available:
Governor Radcliffe
Marie
Baloo
Donald Duck in 3 Caballero's clothes*, Jose Carioca*

* = only at this park

There are also some special event characters that you can meet at Christmas, only at EPCOT, and sometimes they do sign autographs. They also tell stories about the winter customs of their countries. The stories are very interesting and help children learn about other culture's customs without realizing they are learning. I would recommend getting to each storytelling early and standing as near the front as possible. Depending on when you go, you may be the only family waiting for a storyteller, and you may be chosen to help with the story. (Bean was chosen to help La Befana by holding her broom!)

The special Christmas storytellers are:
Nowell the Lumberjack (Canada)
Father Christmas (United Kingdom)
Pere Noel (France)
Taarji (Morocco)
Daruma Doll Seller (Japan)
Santa & Mrs. Claus (American Adventure)
Hanukkah (American Adventure)
Imani (American Adventure - Kwanzaa)
La Befana (Italy)
Helga & the Nutcracker (Germany)
Monkey King (China)
Sigrid & Julenissen (Norway)
Los Tres Reyes Magos (Mexico)

Monday, February 8, 2010

Autographs - An Adventure in Collecting, Part 4 Animal Kingdom

Collecting autographs at Animal Kingdom is a lot of fun. At this park, most of the characters, quite appropriately, are animals. This has been one of our favorite places to meet characters because the lines are usually very short. Often, we've had to wait one minute or less. Sometimes we just get to walk right up to the characters with no waiting. When traveling with impatient kids, that's a real bonus. At Animal Kingdom, there are several places to meet characters. Several are available right after you enter the gate, and there are always characters at Camp Minnie-Mickey.

Characters that can be seen on normal days:
Mickey & Minnie Mouse, Donald & Daisy Duck, Goofy, Pluto
Chip & Dale
Baloo, King Louie
Winnie the Pooh, Eeyore, Piglet, Tigger
Lilo & Stitch
Flik
Pocahontas, Governor Radcliffe, Meeko
Rafiki, Timon
Terk
Jiminy Cricket

Characters that are sometimes available:
Koda* & Kenai*
Brer Bear & Brer Rabbit
Thumper* & Miss Bunny*
Princess Atta*

* = only available at this park
Tomorrow, last but not least, EPCOT!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Autographs - An Adventure in Collecting, Part 3 Hollywood Studios

There are many opportunities to collect autographs at Disney's Hollywood Studios. For some characters, this is the only park where you can meet them for photos and autographs. The lines in this park are generally shorter than at the Magic Kingdom. At Hollywood Studios, I would recommend seeing Prince Caspian, the Incredibles, Playhouse Disney characters if you have little kids who enjoy the shows, Lightning McQueen & Mater, Mike & Sully, and the characters from UP. I haven't been to the Star Wars weekends yet, but I've heard that there are a lot of great characters to meet at these special events, as well as some of the actors who performed the roles in the movies. Most of the characters at Hollywood Studios are in special, themed areas specific to the character and are available throughout the day. Then there are rotating characters at the Magic of Animation building. These characters vary and may change multiple times throughout the day. As a result, you never know who you're going to get, but that can be fun if you have the time.

Characters that can be seen on normal days:
Mickey & Minnie Mouse, Sorceror Mickey, Donald Duck, Goofy, Pluto
Chip & Dale
Buzz Lightyear, Woody, Green Army Man*
Prince Caspian*
Power Rangers Green*, Yellow*, Pink*, and more*
Elastigirl*, Mr. Incredible*, Frozone*
Genie
Playhouse Disney: Handy Manny*, Jojo & Goliath*, Annie*, Quincy*, Leo* & June*
Indiana Jones* & Marion* (after the stunt show)
Lightning McQueen* & Mater* (they can't sign autographs because they don't have hands!)
Mike Wazowski* & Sully* (they can't sign autographs because Roz won't allow extra paperwork!)
Russell*, Mr. Fredrickson (Carl)*, and Dug* from UP

Characters that are sometimes available:
Belle
Mulan
Mary Poppins & Bert, Penguin
Villains: Captain Hook & Mr. Smee, Cruella DeVille, Frollo, Governor Radcliffe, Jafar, Prince John, the Sheriff of Nottingham, Queen of Hearts, the Snow Queen, Evil Queen
Tweedle Dum & Tweedle Dee, the White Rabbit
Rafiki
Snow White & Dopey
Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore
Pinocchio, Gepetto
Lilo & Stitch
Max
Pocahontas & Meeko
Suzy & Perla (the Mice from Cinderella)
Marie

Characters that are only found during Star Wars Weekends:
Chewbacca*, Ewoks*, R2-D2*, Jawas*
Darth Vader*, Boba Fett*, Stormtroopers*, Darth Maul*, Clone Troopers*
Jedi Mickey*, Stormtrooper Donald*, Vader Goofy*, Leia Minnie*

* = only available at this park
Tomorrow, on to Animal Kingdom.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Autographs - An Adventure in Collecting, Part 2 - Magic Kingdom


When collecting autographs at Disney World, there are several ways to go about it. The first time I went to Disney World, I got the autograph of every character that had a fairly short line. That worked fairly well, but the next time I went, I wanted to try for different autographs. I would like to eventually collect one from every character, but that takes a bit of planning and a lot of time spent waiting in line.

When starting your autograph collection, it's a good idea to hit some of the spots where characters are always available. At the Magic Kingdom, I would recommend Mickey in the Judges Tent in Toontown and the Princesses in the Toontown Hall of Fame. The Fairies are also in the Toontown Hall of Fame, but often have a wait of up to 1 hour. However, with Toontown closing sometime this year to make way for the new Fantasyland expansion, these locations will probably change.

As you walk around the park, you will probably see lines for characters at what seem to be random locations. Many of the characters are available at the front of the park, just after walking under the railroad station. Sometimes, you will be able to meet unexpected characters here, such as mice from Cinderella, Pinocchio & Gepetto, Mary Poppins & Penguins, and others.

With a little planning, kids should be able to narrow down a list of which characters they absolutely have to see. I would suggest only visiting characters at Magic Kingdom which can't be found at other parks. If you plan to visit all four parks during your stay, there's no reason to try to meet all of the characters at the Magic Kingdom as the lines for characters are usually shorter at the other parks. For the Magic Kingdom, I would recommend the Princesses, Buzz Lightyear, Stitch (although he can also be found at Animal Kingdom), and Mickey. If you can catch them, try to see Tweedle Dum & Tweedle Dee, the Mad Hatter, and Alice near the Teacups.

At certain times of the year, additional characters can be spotted at the Magic Kingdom. During Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party, in addition to Mickey and the gang sporting Halloween costumes, you can meet the Queen of Hearts, White Rabbit, Playing Cards, and more from Alice in Wonderland. Sometimes, you can even meet all 7 Dwarfs at the same time, a real rarity. At Christmas, Scrooge McDuck can often be found near his nephew Donald's Tree Lot and Mickey and the gang often sport winter garb, which is fun to photograph.

Characters that can be seen at the Magic Kingdom on normal days:
Mickey & Minnie Mouse, Donald & Daisy Duck, Goofy, Pluto
Chip & Dale
Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore, Piglet, Darby* (from the new Tigger & Pooh Super Sleuths)
Lilo & Stitch
Buzz Lightyear, Jessie*, Woody
Cinderella, the Mice Suzy & Perla, the Fairy Godmother*, Lady Tremaine*, Drisella*, Anastasia*
Aurora (Sleeping Beauty)
Tinker Bell*, Iridessa*, Rosetta*, Fawn*, Silver Mist*
Captain Hook and Mr. Smee
Ariel*
Aladdin, Jasmine
Baloo, King Louie
Peter Pan* & Wendy*
Tiana* & Prince Naveen*

Characters that are sometimes available:
Alice, Tweedle Dee, Tweedle Dum, the Mad Hatter*, the White Rabbit*, the Queen of Hearts
Brer Bear, Brer Rabbit
Mary Poppins & the Penguins
Merlin*
Marie (from Aristocats)
Max
Meeko
Prince John, the Sheriff of Nottingham
Terk
Rafiki, Timon

Characters that can be seen only during Halloween or Christmas:
Scrooge McDuck*
Snow White, Dopey, Doc*, Sleepy*, Sneezy*, Grumpy*, Happy*, Bashful*
Bullseye*
Villains: Cruella DeVille, Frollo, Jafar, Maleficent, the Evil Queen from Snow White
Tarzan*, Jane*
Prince Charming*
John Smith*

* = only available at this park

The list is ever-changing, but this is a good starting point to help you plan out your autograph hunting. Tomorrow, Disney's Hollywood Studios.


**UPDATE**
There are two new characters to see at the Magic Kingdom: Tiana and Prince Naveen from the Princess and the Frog. They can be found behind the Christmas shop on Liberty Square. For now, they can be difficult to catch, we had to try three times before we could finally meet them. However, they may be moving to a more permanent location in a few months.