Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Crashing the Disney SM Moms Celebration

Lets just start this off with "I *so* should have been there".
Disney hosted a first ever Social Media Moms Celebration (SMMC). And for reasons that make me the mommy that I am, I did not sign up to go. With that being said, I watched the Twitter-verse in envy the weeks & days leading up to the conference. A lot of mommy-bloggers that I have grown fond of...yes, shameless shout outs will be posted at the end ;)...Jen, Debbie, Lynne, Jackie, JL, Traci, Amanda..all were going to be there. How could I *not* have signed up to go & meet these fabulous people??
*cue "light bulb going on" type music*
I have an annual pass. These mommas were going to be in the parks enjoying some down time. I can go to the parks whenever I want....so, maybe, just maybe, I'll go on one of the days they are there..SCORE!!
*Ok, so it didn't take rocket science to figure that deduction out. Maybe a little of it (ok, maybe most of it) was slightly embellished for the purpose of interesting reading..but you get my point ;)*
In a completely unrelated coincidence, another Twitter friend of mine, Ali, was having a “tweet-up” Thursday night at the Polynesian. The SMMC itinerary had listed most of Thursday afternoon free. Perfection-Thursday it was! As the day grew closer, I realized just how important Thursday was. Disney was gearing up for a major press event for this conference & Thursday was the main event day. Yay me!
Just a few days before, I found out that another Twitter/blogger friend, Aurora, was also going to "crash the party". How exciting!! Now, I wasn't the *only* one to not be attending the conference!! I was so excited, but nervous too. I mean, online everyone got along fabulously, but what if we didn't "click". What if they had all bonded so much over the course of the first day of the conference, I was just an outsider? What if they thought I was an over-zealous nut just showing up & crashing the party? Oh, the things I put myself thru!! Still, it felt good to know that I wasn't the only one just "showing up".
We set out Thursday morning. I followed the Press Releases (ßDisney Blog Posts) all the way up. Things like
  • 600,000 people already signed up/volunteered hours thru Hands On Network
  • Ty Pennington was there
  • He said "Move those balloons"
  • The picture of the largest can sculpture does not nearly look as majestic on your cell phone as it does here
  • Demi Lovato & Joe Jonas were at the park
  • Did I mention Ty Pennington was there?
I think I am still floored that 600,000 people have volunteered already..and the program had only been in effect for 6 weeks. That is an incredible amount of man-power & community fellowship. But, we'll save that for another blog post.

Super Family Fun Weekend 2010 pt 3

Princess Peanut playing "drums" at EPCOT. In front of Innovations

Talk about a whirlwind weekend....

Part 3 of our adventure found us at Epcot...and what a beautiful day it was. Not too hot, not too cold...not too windy. Just plain beautiful ;)  Mini-Me went off to take pictures...The Boy & Future Headache  went off to do Sum Of All Thrills & Princess Peanut & I went off to the Character Spot.

This was our first time in the Character Spot. The wait was not bad..maybe 20 minutes. And she was all excited about seeing her favorite Disney characters...Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Pluto & Goofy! Thank goodness for Photopass...or so I thought....

Mickey's picture was great, but in moving to Pluto, the photographer had to do something with the scanner (sorry for lack of proper terms). So we were pushed thru & I had to take a picture with my video camera..*not* the best quality :( Can you say disappointed?? Moving on to the next character.Minnie..her favorite, and guess what?? It happened again!! This time I was not a happy camper about it. I told the CM I was very disappointed & this was the 2nd time this had happened. She let Princess Peanut finish her visit & pulled me to the side. She apologized & told me that I could wait to the side. As soon as the photographer was done, they would put us in front of the line. Sweet :) I was now a happy camper! Only waited about 5 minutes.

The photographers must be on the same sort of a schedule, because it was a chain reaction. As I approached each Photopass person, they had to do whatever it was they had to do with their scanners. *UGH* Um, hellllooooo...I have a 2 yo here, people!!

Luckily, I was allowed to wait for each to finish, but only because I asked. I feel bad for others this has happened to that didn't ask & possibly missed out. I woudl think that if the photographers had to stop to do whatever it is they had to do, shouldn't there be a back-up photographer? This is not the first time this has happened to us. We have missed several character shots because the Photopass CM had to do something with the scanner, one actually had his batteries DIE (they don't carry spares?) & another had to "take a break". Yikes!!

Bottom line, I got my pictures...and I am still buying the Photopass CD. Still happy (for the most part) with Photopass. I just don't understand how this kind of issue hasn't been corrected.

We finished up with pictures & waited in front of Innoventions for everyone to finish whatever they did. We all met up & were serenaded by Princess Peanut's Drum Solo (see picture above). Group picture & to the car for Superbowl!!

The weekend was great! It was a very busy 48 hours, but they were exciting!!! Can't wait til next year!!

Super Family Fun Weekend 2010 pt 2

The view from our hotel room...Orange Co Jail ;)

Let's see...the recap...

Great football game
Great Fireworks (x2!!)
Found a penny..heads up...

And then we found our hotel...lol

I really cannot complain about this place. It was clean...didn't smell like "cheap hotel room". Even the bathroom floor was clean. Of course, though, we were on the 4th floor & didn't see the elevator til AFTER we were already upstairs. And we had such a lovely view of the jail...lol

Needless to say, I think we all slept in our clothes. I had friends that were also headed to see the Shuttle take off, so we were meeting up with everyone. I figured we could sleep til they made it to Lakeland. My wake up call was at 1:47am....

With everyone super-excited...we left about 2:15ish. Driving thru Downtown Orlando was neat. Would have loved to have found a 24-hr Starbucks! We drove thru Christmas, Fl...and boy did they capitalize on the name. The Ft Christmas Museum had lights & decorations up (& ON at 3am!!). They even had Rudolph's Restaurant! About an hour into the trip, I get a text from my Disney-Sis telling me that the launch is only a 30% GO. *Ugh* Only 30% is not good. I followed @NASA on Twitter the whole way. They really provided very timely updates...which was very helpful when driving across the state on the road to nowhere.

We finally got to Titusville....can you say LOTS of people?? We met up with our friends in a parking lot and waited!! At 4:10am, NASA gave the GREEN/GO for weather...only 20 minutes left. We were kept busy getting cameras ready, tripods, blankets (it was VERY cold that night)...and in about 10 minutes it went RED again. Within a few minutes, they were GREEN again. And then it was RED....

We were on pins & needles waiting for this. It was the first launch of the year..the last night launch of the shuttles. It was one to be remembered. And at T-9 minutes, it was scrubbed. :( We looked out across the water & saw the launch pad. The lights. The beams of light that stretched from the launch pad to the sky. I wanted them to at least see something.

Oh...and I gave Disney Sis one of the pennies I found. They say if you find a penny heads up, you must pass it along to someone else within 24 hours to keep the good luck going!! A friend of mine made a great observation, so I will quote her..

"Shuttle launches aren't like Disney shows. Disney shows always go on time"

Super Family Fun Weekend 2010 pt 1

What a whirlwind weekend!

Saturday - Future Headache's Football Game, Magic Kingdom, Hotel
Sunday - Space Shuttle Launch, Epcot, Superbowl

If you could define a perfect weekend, this would have been the one. For one thing, my house was clean & everyone was packed (including the car) by Friday night!! That itself is an extreme rarity! (you can read about past OCD issues here).

After Future Headache's phenomenal game(read here), we were off to Magic Kingdom. Granted, after all the trips I make there, a normal person may not be as excited as I was. There was another photo lesson to be taught..this time ACTION! So, after the standard & customary Move It Shake It, the rest of the group & I headed off. It was cold & windy...so we hit Pirates of the Caribbean. For once, we were thankful there was a LINE! After PotC, we met up with the rest of the gang over by the Crystal Palace. Thanks to the refurbs being done at that time, most of the area was blocked off. So, that beautiful little area that overlooks the castle was pretty much dead(think..great spot for fireworks!) We love finding new angles to watch the fireworks from.

So while we held our seats, we just had fun. Princess Peanut ran around the circle area there & sang songs. Patriotic music played in the background with twinkling lights surrounding us.  Later on(we waited for about an hour), I did send some of the troops over for a Waffle Bowl Ice Cream Sundae from the The Plaza Ice Cream Shop. Can you say excited children?? Watching them sit around this one dish of ice cream... and before you can say " 1 bowl?", there was a reason for that....seeing the sharing... laughing... talking... was priceless.

Just before fireworks started, I got a text from a friend, Michelle (<---follow her on twitter!) that I have not seen since 8th grade. Thanks to Facebook, I have reconnected with most of my gradeschool friends. She was in the park, too. She & her family made their way over to where we were & watched fireworks with us. It was so neat to reconnect during such a magical moment!! Luckily, they are local (& passholders!) so we will meet up again -next time to ride Cinderella's Golden Carousel. Disney is such a great place ;)

We decided to leave after fireworks, since we were driving over to the Space Coast st 2am. Originally, we were at Epcot, so we had to take the monorail back there for our car. As luck would have it, we boarded at just the right time. By the time the monorail was pulling into Epcot, we rode thru the park on the monorail during Illuminations. I have been wanting to try that for a while! While missing the music, it was still a great sight!

What a great night!

OH! & I found a penny...heads UP!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

My Give A Day, Get A Disney Day Adventure

In 2010, Disney will celebrate the efforts of 1 million people by giving away a 1 day park ticket in exchange for a day of volunteer service. Kicking this event off on January 1st, the site was *flooded* by people all looking for volunteer events they could sign up for. I will admit that I was one of those..desperate to find something that my entire family could participate in. Needless to say, I was very disappointed the first few days, not being able to find anything local. Even more disappointing was notes I was reading from others on Twitter, expressing the same frustrations. :( So close to giving up, I decided to wait a week.

Going back to the site a week later, I did some "in-depth" searching & stumbled upon the Gus A Stavros Institute Finance Park & Enterprise Village events. (Enterprise Village is a real-life, job & financial learning experience for 5th graders & Finance Park is geared for 8th graders) Well, just so happens that I have an 8th grader & that I was already signed up to volunteer for this event. Talk about luck!! Granted, this didn't accommodate my whole family, but I was excited to get in!! I called a friend of mine who also wanted to do a volunteer event & we were signed up together.

Having all the kids that I do, I have been to these field trips many times. I was given a group of students and was there to help them budget their finances & buy a house & car and try to experience some of the monthly financial budgeting we have to do as adults. I was lucky enough that Future Headache allowed me to eat lunch with her & even let me get my picture with her! What a lucky mom I am...lol.

There were a few other volunteers there as well, volunteering for Disney tickets :) These people were excited, planning on using their tickets for the Flower & Garden Festival, Star Wars Weekends & just regular visits.

After this, I decided I needed to find a volunteer event for the rest of the family. The Boy was lucky enough that his play group, Actors Reaching Out, signed up to act out The Little Mermaid for an after school care program. The rest of the family is signed up to help clean up after a ADA fundraising race. Of course, I will be participating again, but thats ok. We are just happy to be a part of this experience!

If you have not yet signed up for something, I encourage you to keep looking! It really is a rewarding experience..especially when you can do it together as a family!

Monday, February 1, 2010

We like Toontown

As January draws to a close, we have successfully visited the world 4 times this month. I am off to a great start! And luckily, I picked the only non-rainy day of the weekend! :)
As Mini-Me played with her camera for this trip, Future Headache & Princess Peanut decided to play. After riding Goofy's Barnstormer for the first time last weekend, Princess Peanut decided she needed to "ride again". So off we went to Toontown.
Can I say that I am sad that they are demolishing Toontown? First of all, I am totally thrilled about the Fantasyland expansion. It is so needed. Really...just try to walk thru Fantasyland & you will see what I mean. It is super-crowded. More room & more attractions are definitely exciting thoughts, although I am scared to see what the construction will look like!! I overheard on twitter that they are starting on Winnie the Pooh's playground. That saddens me because that is one of Princess Peanut's favorite play areas. But anyway, back to Toontown.
The only thing that saddens me about Toontown leaving the Kingdom will be the loss of Mickey & Minnie's houses & Donald's boat. (Goofy's Barnstormer is staying.) As we walked thru the houses this weekend, I can't imagine Magic Kingdom without them. I know many children are thrilled to walk thru these attractions & see how their beloved mice live. Everything started with the mouse...his presence should remain strong in the parks...especially the Magic Kingdom. I know they are moving to Expo Hall, but it just will not be the same. :(
It will be a long haul with construction. It will also be weird to not see Dumbo front & center with the Carousel. But it is a nice thought that Princess Peanut might be able to ride Dumbo without having to wait 45 minutes ;)
Speaking of construction, lots is being done on Main Street during this slow month. Just this week scrims were put over the Plaza Ice Cream Shop & a large blue scrim was put over the Tomorrowland Terrace Noodle House/Wishes Dessert Party seating area.
For some good news, the 20% Annual Passholder Discount has been extended to March 1st! Yay!

Looking forward to our trip next week..planning on meeting up with an old grade school friend (who I have not seen since the 8th grade) & then going to see the shuttle launch afterwards at the Cape.

Til then, have a magical day!!

Reflection Lesson

Mini-Me is in a photography class. She was able to bring home her camera from school & the assignment was reflections. Where else can you get a wide variety of awesome shots than at WDW? So, off to Magic Kingdom we went ;)

We did not have to walk very far to start taking pictures. Along the stores of Main Street gave awesome examples of reflection, as you can see by the *awesome* picture I took with my cell phone! If you look carefully, underneath the word "Disney" you can see the word "Arcade" reflected underneath. Great thing about this shot, it could only be seen like this from my point of view. Mini-me was too short, so I was proud to see it on my own!! Yay me..lol
 Mini-Me ran around the parks for the rest of the evening taking various shots..the Liberty Belle, Castle & Moat pix, a reflection from a water fountain. She shot with a very old school Pentax 35 mm. Yes, it used film!

We (me, Princess Peanut, & Future Headache ) ran off to see Dream Along with Mickey & Move It Shake It. Can't wait to see the pictures!!