Thursday, October 21, 2010

Jack's Resort Anagrams

Originally found here, Jack Spence designed an anagram quiz starring the Disney Resorts. Now, I love Disney, but I also love me some anagrams. I decided to try my hand at it! (Disclaimer: just because I love anagrams doesn't mean I all that good at them!) Thank goodness he provided clues, which helped me a bit. My answers are below, in bold. Starred answers mean that I had to get a little bit of help. (blush)

1 A Cub Belch - Sandy
Beach Club

2 A Dark Bowl - Atlantic City

3 A Massive Troll - Celluloid
All Star Movies*

4 Be A Ranch Cabbie - West Indies
Caribbean Beach

5 Betrayal Woke - Cove
Bay Lake Tower*

6 Country Pep - 100
Pop Century

7 Darn Frigid Loan - Admitted 27th
Grand Floridian

8 Deaf Ogres Hens - Olive, Kelly, Hunter
Shades of Green

9 Demon Gold Milk Again - Creature
Animal Kingdom Lodge

10 Downers Lifters - Stronghold
Fort Wilderness*

11 Goat Grasps Rains - Racetrack
Saratoga Springs

12 God Sells New Ride - Forest
Wilderness Lodge

13 Insane Ploy - Papeete

14 Butch Lacy - Ship
Yacht Club*

15 Loaner Sport - French City
Port Orleans

16 My Rancor Poet - Up to date

17 Parrots Stalls - Athletic
All Star Sports

18 Poor Rancid Songs - Explorer
Coronado Springs*

19 Rustic Llamas - Harmony
All Star Music

20 Stewed Yolk - Hemmingway
Old Key West

ETA: Here are the answers . I got them all right! :)

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Disney Store at the Block 37 Shops!

The Disney Store at Block 37

Several days ago, on my way home from work, I noticed that a new Disney Store was opening up. There was a big blue covering in the windows, and a sign for a casting call. I briefly entertained the idea of applying, but knew that I'd not be available until the winter. So I nixed the idea. The casting call came down not long after I saw it, anyway. Then the blue covering came down. I could see sparkly chandeliers and pretty blue princess dresses in the window. I had to get in there!

The Disney Store at Block 37 opened on September 28, 2010. I didn't know about this, or I would have totally been there! Instead, I sauntered in today on my lunch break. It had been kind of a rough morning for me and I needed a little bit of Disney magic to help me through the rest of the day.

This new Disney Store is simply beautiful. The first thing I noticed was the way it smelled. I can't describe the scent of the store, only that it reminded me of being AT Disney World, in one of their stores. It's decorated beautifully. I couldn't resist getting my camera out and taking a few pictures.

The Disney Store at Block 37

The Disney Store at Block 37

The Disney Store at Block 37

The staff was friendly, smiley, and a bit overwhelmed. *I* was overwhelmed! There is Ridemakerz, an interactive section of the store where you can build and customize your favorite Cars character. There is a section for little (and big) princesses to make some magic happen with some magic mirrors. And a huge sitting area where kids can draw, watch Disney stuff on a huge HD screen, and even choose what they wanted to watch with big remote controls that looked like giant iPhones.

I had a fun time browsing the store. It transported me out of Chicago and the middle of the workday just for a few minutes. After purchasing a cute little plush Halloween Minnie Mouse and a Trick or Treat bag, I headed back out into the city.

I'm very glad this store is here. I'll be going back!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

To Agent or Not to Agent?

The first time I planned a Disney World trip on my own was in 2008. The two trips I'd taken prior had been planned by my then husband, Chris. My first was in 2001. I still have all the paperwork for it, and all the receipts. He did everything, and booked our flights using AOL Travel. Does that even exist anymore?

The second trip happened in 2005. Again, Chris planned the entire thing. I didn't see any of the financials or paperwork for that trip. I might have it all buried in my Precious Things bin. Maybe I'll hunt for it someday.

In 2008, I got remarried and Adam and I decided to take our honeymoon at Disney World. We got married in July of 2008, but decided to take our trip in September because we wanted cooler weather, lower crowds, and lower prices. We got all three. I planned that trip on my own. I know, isn't it the husband who is supposed to plan the honeymoon? Whatever. I had fun. Plus, he's the one who paid for a good chunk of it, so I'm not complaining. (The rest was funded by our friends and family and well wishers who contributed to our Disney Honeymoon Registry.)

The night I finally got online to book, the site was acting weird and not loading. A quick trip to some message boards confirmed that Disney was indeed having issues and that calling would be easier. Now, I'm not a phone person. I would much rather communicate by e-mail/blog/text message/Facebook/whatever. But this was my honeymoon and it was Disney World so I sucked it up and made the call. The agent couldn't have been nicer. I felt like I was talking to an old friend. I called again a few days later to make my dining reservations (no online system yet) and even though I was kind of annoying, the rep was pretty patient considering that I was indecisive, was calling well into the 180 or 90 day window they had going on at the time (because I'd booked the trip so late) and having a hard time finding replacements as my first choices were not always available. I guess that wasn't too painful, but man was I glad when Disney came out with their online reservation system a few years later!

For the trip I planned in 2009, I decided to click on one of the many Disney-oriented travel agencies to see what I could see. I happened to click on Mouse Fan Travel. I think I was at work, waiting for something to do, and browsing All Ears, and they had a link. I clicked it. Decided to get a free quote because I'd just gotten an e-mail about a free dining promotion. Not even 24 hours later, I got a response from Suzy. She was able to put the package I wanted on hold while I waited for my boss to approve the days off I'd requested. Once he approved them, I gave Suzy the green light to charge my card for the deposit, and I booked our flights with Southwest.

Over the next few months, Suzy was my go-to person for anything I needed to ask for my upcoming trip. She made all our ADRs (YAY, I didn't have to get on the phone!), scheduled our Magical Express information, and when it came time for me to make the final payment, I actually had to call her because my bank changed my card and I needed to update the information on file.

I don't ever dread talking to Suzy. She is amazingly personable and sweet. Again, it was like talking to an old friend.

Suzy got our trip documents first. You know what I am talking about! That magic package from Disney World with all of your information, perks, goodies, Magical Express tags, and assorted good stuff. She sent them to us using expedited delivery, but also included some surprises! There was a Peter Pan slap bracelet, a lanyard (that I still use), and a Minnie Mouse antennae ball (that I do not use because some wack job would just steal it). I was not expecting the extra stuff, but that cinched it for me. If I was ever going to plan another Disney trip, I was definitely going to use Mouse Fan Travel.

When I went to plan my 2011 trip, I didn't even hesitate. I e-mailed Suzy right away and she usually got back to me within hours if not minutes, even if I e-mailed her at 2:30am. She priced many different packages and options for me, helped me when I wanted to change a few things around, and again offered to call in my ADRs, but now they have the online system, and I had fun doing those myself!

So, to agent or not to agent? It's totally up to you. Some people would rather have complete control, especially if they have to make modifications to their vacation plans. Also, if you book by yourself, you get a Disney confirmation number and you can go on the site and play around with things. As for me, I find the services and help that Suzy provides for me to be beneficial and valuable. I am not a fan of math, but she's good at figuring out the best deals for me. She handles all the paperwork, and I can ask her anything because she's a Disney expert and a fan of the parks herself. She gets back to me quickly, and she's always fun to communicate with.

A good agent will try to get the best possible deal for your upcoming vacation. Mouse Fan Travel checks for discounts and automatically applies them if your vacation is eligible. There are many other services they provide as well. And did I mention how patient Suzy is with my questions? On top of all this, Mouse Fan Travel's services are free.

I'm sure that many of the other Disney-oriented agencies are just as great. I know a lot of people like Dreams Unlimited. There is also Small World Vacations. There are many agencies out there, but you want to make sure you book with an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner.

I can't see not using Suzy for future Disney trips. She's been such a help, and I trust her 100% with my vacation planning needs.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Rope Drop!!

I like to try new things when I go to Disney World. Usually it's a new restaurant or a new attraction or a ride. But this time, I plan to attend a Magic Kingdom Rope Drop.

*insert fanfare here*

OK, wait, WHAT? I've never done a Rope Drop? And I call myself a DISNEY WORLD FREAK? What the what?

See, what had happened was...I almost did one in 2005. We were just a few minutes late, and it was unintentional. Meaning, we just happened to arrive as it was happening. On the video, you can hear everyone counting down in the background and Mickey Mouse jabbering away. We were on our way to breakfast, probably the Crystal Palace. I was walking and trying to get my then two-year-old to walk on his own, but he wasn't having it. He wanted me to carry him. I remember feeling disappointed that I couldn't walk quickly enough, especially while carrying Aidan, to get up to where the good times were happening.

I did a Disneyland Rope Drop in 2009. That was pretty cool, being at the park so early. It was chilly at first, but it warmed up during the day. That was thanks to Melissa and Eli, who are our resident Disneyland experts. It's to the point that when I see the pictures, I crave chocolate donuts because that's what we all munched on in the car on the way to the park.

Anyway, I think I am ready to do a Magic Kingdom Rope Drop. We only have one chance. Our second day there. It will be tricky because we're going to be doing the Extra Magic Hours late the night before. I am not an early riser by nature. Adam is. He gets up every morning at 6am no matter what time zone we're in. It'll be ME who's holding everything up. Still, we have ADRs at Crystal Palace that morning, so it really will be in our best interest to be there for Rope Drop anyway. Not that we'll benefit too much from it; we'll be eating instead of hitting attractions and such. Still, the crowd level is pretty low for that day, so I'm not too worried about getting to do the things we'll want to do. Besides, I just want to do it, so I can say I've done a Rope Drop at Magic Kingdom for once in my life. Even if it does mean getting up insanely early during my vacation. It'll be worth it.

But I can do it. It'll help that there won't be any EMH that morning--so I don't have to get up at an ungodly hour or anything.

Saturday, October 2, 2010


Happy Things to report here! First is:


Second is that we added an extra day to our vacation. I'd been waffling about it for a while, and finally Adam and I just went for it. I changed the flights and contacted my travel agent just an hour or so ago. Now I will feel even more relaxed at the parks. It's going to be interested to have 6 days in the parks with no Park Hopper™. This will be the first time I've been and not had the Park Hopper. It's just that we typically stay in the same park for all of most of the day anyway--I'd started to feel that what I spent on the Park Hopper could have been used somewhere else, like SOUVENEARS!

So now I added another character meal to our dining agenda. On Day 6, we're going to go to 'Ohana for breakfast. It's pretty early, but I want to maximize our time in the parks as we'll be flying home that evening. And since we'll be taking the Magical Express, who knows how early we'll need to be back at the hotel to catch it! For that reason, I picked Animal Kingdom as our last park of the trip, because that park isn't open as late anyway. I won't feel like I'm missing out on stuff. Looks like we'll still miss the Jammin' Jungle Parade (I have never seen it) but maybe we'll catch it next time. Or I could switch some days around and do Animal Kingdom on a different day, or we could skip it altogether again and just hit Magic Kingdom again. There are many possibilities.

I am a planner. I even have a spreadsheet! But that doesn't mean I won't be flexible, especially for those last couple of days.

Thirdly, the crowd level predictions for our week are amazing. The highest I have is a 4.1 (out of 10). Now, the last time I was in a park with a 4 or so, it was beautiful. Not crowded at all. I have a feeling I might get spoiled by the 1s and 2s (and even a .5 on one day!) we'll be having as well, so that 4.1 might seem relatively crowded, but I think we'll be OK. After dealing with 6s and 7s in August of 2009, this will be a nice break.

I'm hoping the weather will be nice. The average temperatures are in the 70s F, which I will adore. Still, it can get super cold or be super warm. Most people said that they've worn shorts, tee-shirts, long pants, coats, and gloves all in the same week. SOUNDS LIKE ILLINOIS TO BE HONEST. But the rub is that we're not outside all day here. So I plan to take layers. Lots of hoodies, some gloves, a cute hat. Jeans. I don't care how dorky it looks, but I'll probably wear my Keens with socks. Bwah.

I'm having fun, trying to think of all the fun little things I want to do. I'm trying to save for souvenears. I always say I won't go nuts but I ALWAYS DO. I always underestimate the sheer amount of shinies and happies that are waiting for me to buy them. I do plan to get more earrings, one of those Dooney & Burke purses, some pins, some hair do-dads, and a stuffed Mickey commemorating the year. Stuff for Aidan, of course. Postcards to send to friends. I think I might be able to control myself better this time, but again, we'll see. *innocent look*

Anyway, that's all for this post. :) 'Til next time!


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