Disney Fun and Chaos

Disney Fun and Chaos

I got hooked late in life

In the Fall of 2010 My husband and I had a business trip to go to in Orlando which had one free evening on the agenda so Greg suggested that we go to Magic Kingdom for the evening. I actually resisted going, it seemed like a big hassle and since I hadn’t gone as a child I really didn’t care about going. Sure, I’d always been a Disney fan but not a sold out, decked out, nut! I reluctantly agreed but little did I know that Greg had it in his mind that we would have our wedding there. I will never forget the feeling I had when I first walked into Magic Kingdom and honestly its because I get the same feeling each time we go back. I thought I would write this to help those that are planning their first trip or even if its your fifth trip…we learn something new each time we go!

This year was our 15th Trip to Walt Disney World (and 1 trip to Disney Land) and I know there are things we still haven’t done yet. We have always stayed on property for our vacations and when we have gone for business trips we have stayed at the Ritz Carlton Orlando (which is amazing Ive stayed there 3 times). For this post I will only refer to the Grande Floridian and The Animal Kingdom Lodge because those are the only two hotels that i have stayed in.

These disney bags are discontinued but we also have this one and the Disney Dooney Weekender.

 

The Animal Kingdom Lodge

Last year we were asked to partner up with Disney for the Media Preview of Pandora World of Avatar opening (see previous blog post here) I thought the hotel was very nice and definitely would’ve been cool for kids but it just didn’t give either of us that relaxed feeling you get at The Grande Floridian. The positive of it is that it feels like you are on an adventure. I don’t like the layout of the Resort, its super long and we felt like it was a mile to our room.

The Grande Floridian

The bulk of our stays have been to The Grande Floridian. The first stay there was to plan our wedding and then the next trip was when we flew some family in for the wedding. We had to essentially book 6 vacations for that trip so we went through AAA, I didn’t really see much of an advantage booking through them so we haven’t booked with them since. Ill give more details on how I book next. The experience of the Grande Floridian is so relaxing. When you get there they greet you so warmly. If you stay in the main building (we have done that twice) you have a personal cast member to greet you and check you in and somehow they always know who you are are (total magic). The smell is so fresh and intoxicating in the lobby and if its the evening, there is a band playing. The main pool area is clean and classy, there is a fun pool with a slide and an under 10 area with a water play jungle gym. Really the resort is a vacation in itself. My children love it there and haven’t wanted to try any other resort.

The boys swimsuits can be found here, they are amazing quality

On a Side note-if you are going to Disney on a budget I think that its worth it to stay right on property just for accessibility to the parks without having to deal with parking. I will tell you about how it makes the Theme Park experience so much better.

Booking

From my experience booking in January works the best for our June trip. I book directly with Disney online and there is usually some kind of a deal on the Deluxe Resorts at that time. The deal may come at other times of the year but I don’t like paying for next years vacation right after I get back from this years vacation. If I do run Across some great deal I have gone ahead and booked it with the $200 deposit though.

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I book the trip in January and if I’m unsure of schedules for the kids I just put the deposit down and wait to pay the balance because you have until a couple months prior of your trip to pay the balance.  I never charge more on our personal credit card then I can pay off. I use a Southwest Chase Credit card throughout the year to get points for our flights and to date I have never paid for any of our flights to disney. I recently signed up for a Disney Chase card just to get the merchandise discount honestly. One tip for if you are trying to stretch out paying for your trip is to go to to Giant eagle and get $500 Gift cards and apply them to your account one at a time until the balance is paid. You can put one gift card in each time you go online to pay. So you get to earn free gas and if you use the Southwest Visa you get points to use toward your flights there. You also technically get an extra month to pay off the trip if you wait to pay right before its due because that amount will fall on your next months Credit Card statement. We fly Southwest for two reasons. 1. Its cheap and you can update your ticket if you see better deals! 2. There are a couple of non stop flights out of Columbus, let me tell you that is huge when you are traveling with 3 little ones. We also book to ride on the Magical Express when we book our hotel which is amazing because they get your bags from the sky cap directly to the hotel for you! No Baggage Claim!!!! We just bring a bag on the plane with us with one change of clothes for everyone Incase it takes a while for it to get to our room. I also go ahead and get park hopper passes with our tickets so that we don’t feel like we have to stay at one park all day.  (update: in the process of writing this we closed on DVC so next time we go I should have a totally different perspective!)

Dining Plan

We have gone back and forth with the Dining Plans worth now that we have been to most of the Character Dining Experiences. We don’t eat a whole lot and I don’t like sitting for 3 meals, so last year we didn’t do the Deluxe Dining Plan like we have normally done, we only did the Disney Dining plan which seems to suit us better. I would say if you can do it sit down for a least one meal a day…its relaxing. I have realistic expectations so I know generally that Buffets aren’t going to be the best food ever but honestly I have never had a meal at Disney that didn’t meet the expectations that I had for the type of restaurant it was. I would say for us the benefit of the dining plan is that our trip is totally paid off before we go, plus gratuities. The first thing I do is book Chef Mickeys when I know the dates we are going. This is a hard to get reservation and if its your first trip its a must! You see Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Pluto, Daisy and Donald and the food is really good. Here’s a list of our favorite restaurants and one that we are trying new this year. We also plan our days around what is available at these.

Chef Mickey’s (The Contemporary)

Tepan Edo (Epcot)

Crystal Palace (Magic Kingdom)

Mama Melrose (Disney’s Studios)

Dino Cafe (Disney Springs)

Pandora’s Quick Service Cafe (Animal Kingdom)

Hollywood and Vine (Disney Studios)

Be Our Guest Cafe (really hard to book but lunch is open for quick service)

The Boathouse (Disney Springs) tried it this year and loved it.

Some others we have been to but just haven’t gone again yet are Victoria and Alberts (AMAZING Anniversary dinner), Cinderella’s Royal Table and The Brown Derby.

Book your sit down meals early! You have to confirm with a credit card but its so much better for your overall experience. I have heard so many fights in the waiting areas of families that are hungry and tired that waited too long to go to the restaurant and have an hour long wait. My husband likes to sit down for at least one meal each day, its quiet, not as chaotic and also a good time to chat with the kids and hear what they are enjoying. If you aren’t on a Dining Plan you can still pre-book but they just hold a card for the reservation.

Another benefit of some restaurants is priority seating for shows so you don’t have to waste your fast passes. I usually book the Dinner package at Mama Melrose or Hollywood and Vine so that we can get priority seating at Fantasmic.

How to Keep it Magical

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This may seem silly… don’t under-plan but don’t over-plan, Ive done both. Over planning (yea I’ve done spreadsheets) makes it seem like work keeping right on schedule and under planning can lead to a lot of tears (and I’m not just talking about the kids). We have literally seen a fist fight, sun burned kids screaming and adults yelling at each other and their kiddos (not judging because I have fussed at mine). I mentioned earlier that we like to stay on property and even if you have to stay at one of the Value Resorts in order to stick to a budget its worth it.

We get up between 7-8am we don’t set an alarm unless there is something special or a breakfast that we are getting to). We get breakfast at the quick service restaurant and bring it to the room (we have done a lot of Character Breakfasts over the years and the kids are usually too cranky to enjoy it honestly). We get ready and head to whatever Park we are going to between 8-9am. We already have 2 fast passes booked sometimes they are set for the evening if that’s the case we ride a couple rides that aren’t long wait times.  Jaden and Christian both have sensory issues and ADHD so having a flexible agenda has made trips to the park so much more enjoyable.

Capture the moments

I would recommend having family Pictures done or at least using the Memory Maker program. Here are a couple of our family photos that Disney Fine Art Photography has done and that reminds me, we are way over due for more!  I don’t take many myself as I have decided to be present when I am at family things so it helps to know they still will be captured!

 

Have a magical Vacation at Walt Disney World Resorts!

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Mickey….Target Style

I went into target to pick up last minute odds and ends and to my surprise they had loads of Disney tops and Jammie’s!  There were about 6 men’s top options, 4 women’s and tons of kids in the grove city store.  I am going to link all the tops below but seriously look at all the Disney woman options  

I bought 3 for greg, he chose this one and made me take the others back here is one of the others I couldn’t talk him into. 

My top is really cute, I love how it is worn looking. I really liked this one too.  My magic band is the new limited edition Dooney and Bourke but, I can’t find it on the Disney store so they may have sold out, I got it on Main Street last week.

My shoes are mentioned in my Disney experience post


My weekender is the old version but here is the new one.  I lucked out a couple of years ago and found the luggage at tjmaxx!!! We only use them for Disney trips so they will last.  I had to get this bag last week since my bag weight was over.  This bag is a good deal at Macy’s right now!  #1 tip is have an extra carryon or half empty bag for the flight back since kids like to get prizes. #2 we get gift cards from giant eagle and write each of heir names on them so that they have a budget and we don’t get roped into more stuff. (Well sometimes this happens anyway, haha we try at least!) #3 make sure you hit up the Pandora World of Avatar shop there are really cool things in there!  

Breezy Pineapples

Breezy Pineapples

I picked up this outfit yesterday at Easton.  I spied the pineapple print as soon as I walked in and decided on this top and shorts.  The length on the shorts is perfect!

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Of course my taco truck tagged along  (on a side note I seriously need to lay off the tacos!!!) The Bag isn’t online yet but you can call my girl Emily at Easton and she will get you one. Here is a really cute necklace!!! 

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Let’s talk about these shoes from Talbots (heart emoji!!!!). Snag them tonight while they are 30% off.  Ive mentioned before that I think they do a good job with keeping the price and quality on point!  I have several more on my wish list. These come in 4 colors I also want the gold.  Wish list shoes, flower sandals , Strappy dressy,  flower heel.  I also picked up this dress, its on sale too! KAT_4746fKAT_4702

The Disney Experience

The Disney Experience

While prepping for our trip to Disney World I can’t think about the little boy that I saw at the Orlando airport on our way back just last week from a work trip there was probably about 100 people in the area and he was having pretty bad tantrum similar to those that Jaden has.  These kind of tantrums are pretty much uncontrollable, there’s nothing you can do to make the screaming stop what you get very frustrated.

This boy was carrying on with what I think was his grandparents I kept telling myself to mind my own business,  but as I saw strangers looking,  several laughing and giving looks of disapproval.  I thought, you know what if that was me… [which it was a couple years ago at a Disney park] so against my better judgment and using God’s prompting I went over and asked if I could offer of help.  He stopped crying and focused on what I was saying.  I’m not telling you this to tut my own horn because I was there about three years ago on a Disney trip, Jaden was having a major major down on the bus on the way back to the Grande Floridian.  Greg was not with us because he’s been injured by one of Jaden’s tantrums just before our trip.  A couple stepped in to help me restrain him as he was violently ripping my hair out and punching me. It had gotten so bad that he worked his way out of his diaper and was screaming uncontrollably with pee going everywhere  that stranger stepped in and offered a hand and I’ll remember that face for the rest my life because I was so distraught, so embarrassed and helpless.  I guess the Pink Lemon today is YOU!  You can be someones light today!  You never know what someone is dealing with so instead of offering up at judgmental Stare or Snicker maybe offer up for helping hand. Even a sweet word or simple smile can go a long way.  I want to share some pictures of our Trip to Pandora World of Avator but first here are a few of our Planning Tips based on staying at Disney Properties that have worked out pretty good.  We will go to Disney will the kids next week and I will share more!

#1 Don’t over plan your day-  Ive found (this will be our 7th Trip with the kids)  that if the day is too planned out I get stressed trying to make sure we stay of schedule.

#2 Get a Meal plan if you can-  We have always used one our family trip.  When Greg and I have gone on a weekend even just doing the Quick Service and one Big meal we spent a lot.  This Year we are only doing the Disney Dining plan (we usually do the Deluxe)  We switched because its only one sit down meal per day and I think that most of our problems were from the kids having to sit for a full service meal (plus tipping gets pretty pricey)

#3 Pack as light as possible for the plan ride if you are flying- we try to fit everything in one carryon then we each check a bag with Disney Magic Express (they take your bag straight to the hotel

#4 Don’t Stay at the park all day!!!!  I can’t stress this enough,  I see families fighting all the time because they are hot, worn out and irritated.   We go in the morning at about 8 or 9 then we stay till about lunch time and head back to the resort.  The older boys swim and Jaden and Greg Nap (he gets grumpy too).  Then at Dinner time we head back to a park.KAT_4444

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Disney Sponsored us to go to the Media opening of Pandora World of Avatar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and to see the new Fireworks Spectacular “Happily Ever After”.  As I expected they hosted a phenomenal event!  One of the Disney Ambassadors told me during an interview that Disney has an acronym for their guests, every guest is a VIP (Very Important Person)!

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These are “Disney Super Fans” we interviewed for our Radio Show.

KAT_4372.jpgPandora itself was amazing!  My Shorts are from Zara here and my favorite top of the summer here on sale at JCrew.

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My shorts can be found here  and Mickey Mouse Keds are on sale

***Spoiler Alert*** The Flight of Passage Ride is hands down my favorite ride at all the parks, I rode it four times during the preview.  I think the middle couple seats were my favorite (seats 5 and 6 particularly)  When you first get on your Banshee, you can feel it breathing against your legs.  As you take flight you can feel the cool breeze in your face.  As you fly over the water you get the spray of the waves and then the smell of the trees as you go over land again.  my favorite part is as you go over land you smell dirt.  You go into a cave and it gets cool again and so calming as this fresh scent takes over.  It really is a Journey!  KAT_4325

The Na’vi River Journey is pretty cool too here is a our Mounted Camera ride.

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Thats all for now!  Ill be sharing our family trip next week!

 

Anniversary Dinner

Anniversary Dinner

I bought this Dress for a White party we were having on our trip but when I got it I thought it would also be perfect for our Anniversary.  You can also buy it here or here

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KAT_4242s I love the gorgeous collar detail.  Talbots has a similar look on a shell top hereKAT_4246s

I get a lot of compliments on my necklaces the bow is from Tiffany and Co (5th anniversary present) and the pendant and earrings are Hearts on Fire ( I just changed out the chain to rose gold).

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Lemons on the Beach

Lemons on the Beach

Today is our Anniversary!!! I only have one of our wedding pictures with me so I’ll have to share that one.  We were married at Disney’s Wedding Pavilion, did a photoshoot at the Magic Kingdom and had our reception at Epcot.  It was definitely Magical but, I will say today was just as magical.

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(Photo Credit: Disney Fine Art Photography)

We just relaxed on the Beach today and talked about some of our business plans and ideas for our growth.  I Love that he is really starting to catch on and get some really good shots for my blog.  Its a lot harder to teach something and “model” at the same time but we are having fun anyway.  I would say that this beach was not the most pristine one we have been on but, it was very pretty to look at.  No pink lemons today but here is a yellow one!KAT_4213s

This Lemon Beach towel is the cutest, I got it at Nordstrom Rack I also found a similar one here at Dillards.

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I posted a similar swim suit on Instagram.  This one is a one piece with a swim cover was from last year but Trina Turk is sold everywhere and has great prints every summer here are a few i like Solid off the ShoulderOne PieceCover up & Caftan

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The lemon sandals I posted about yesterday.

 

A Much Needed Refresh

A Much Needed Refresh

Today was probably one of the most fun days I’ve had with my husband in a while. We got up early and went Golfing at the Punta Espada Golf Club in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. We have always tried to support each others hobbies but golf was one that had been frustrating me. I started taking lessons with the Golf Pro, Matt Smith at The Pinnacle Golf Course in Grove City, OH.  In just 3 lessons he has made it much more fun for me.

There were a couple of sentiments that I had today.

#1 Greg, my husband is my best friend.

#2 He is my biggest cheerleader, seriously pompoms and all!!!!

#3 He is one of the most encouraging and positive people I know!

I am so thankful to God for the Friend that I have in my husband, because it has always been hard for me to make good friends. I have had my fair share of “Mean Girls” in my life and recently even had a “Mean Moms” incident.  I was talking to a friend on this trip and we both agreed if we spend less time thinking about what we don’t have and more about what God has blessed us with our lives, marriages and parenting will be so much more on point!

We met this really sweet couple at dinner that came over and said they noticed us praying together and they were encouraged as newlyweds to see that.  It was so sweet to see a young couple understanding that they need Jesus at their center.

Here are a few shots from the day!

My Caddy Roberto was awesome,  he joked with us and really was a fantastic guy.  The other caddy for our foursome laughed when Greg took this picture and said, “Cafe et crema”.  A lot of the Dominican people have thought I was from here.  I even had some come up and speak Spanish to me.  When I told them I wasn’t and that I am mixed, black and white, the one guy said oh Michael Jackson.  I thought it was hilarious!  I always try to get to know people on our travels.  Roberto has 2 Children and our other Caddy was Juan, he has 4 children.  They work very hard and travel far to work at the course.  Ill be praying for them to continue making Golf loads of fun for people like me.

Greg and I came back to our Resort Secrets and got ready for dinner.

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But first Coffee

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My top is from Talbots and also comes in pink, it is perfect for a breezy evening…very light weight!  Of course I had to get these Jack Rogers sandals when my friend Emily of (Laugh Live and Shop) sent me the link.  These sandals also come in blue and Im not gonna lie I kinda want blue too😊

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Sorry but you will see one more pair of these shorts in a couple days.  They are so cute and I love them in every color.  The pink are going fast so grab your size if you can.

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I Love novelty bags and this Camera Bag is my favorite so far.  I also have the Camera iPhone case which is currently on sale.  I love the lipstick I’m wearing in this picture.  its Lorac Matte Lip Color in Mauve and my eyes have a magical unicorn look with Tarte Make Believe in Yourself  palette.

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We are a little red, I was gonna color correct it but I guess it shows how much fun we had  in the sun today and thats ok…also perfect is boring!

Dominican Republic – Secrets Cap Cana

Dominican Republic – Secrets Cap Cana

We got in about 4pm today so I only got a few pictures in today, but this resort is gorgeous. We are staying at the Secrets Cap Cana in Dominican Republic. I will give you a photo tour sometime this week but for now here is a little preview.  We dined at El Patio for dinner, its a Mexican style restaurant.  The Food was good and the staff are very friendly. Its hard to come up with a lemon today as the travel went very smooth (well there was a 10lbs over the limit bag that got a $100 charge…oops).  I can’t wait to show you around the resort.  When I travel I like to dress nice but comfortable.  This Dress from JCrew was perfect, the shoes are old but you can get a similar pair here or here! The humidity is off the hook so Ill be wearing my “curly hair, don’t care” look.  KAT_3535FKAT_3578