The Liebster Awards!

liebster2

I could not believe I was nominated for the Liebster award. Thank you so much Disney by Design. You have an awesome blog and was so excited you nominated me. Here are my answers and the rules for my fellow nominees:

Rules:
1.) The nominated blogger must link back to the person who nominated them.
2.) The nominees must answer the 11 questions given to them by the person who nominated them.
3.) Those nominated must choose 11 of their favorite bloggers who have less than 200 followers to answer their own set of questions. When you are nominated. You can not nominate the person who nominated you.

Questions from Disney By Design:
1. What quote inspires you the most?
“Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, you’re right.”
-Henry Ford

2. If you could live anywhere, where would you live?
After coming off one of the coldest/longest/snowiest winters, I’d go with Southern California. In reality, I’m very happy where I live in Western NY.

3. Which Disney character do you relate to the most and why?
Pumbaa, he is so go with the flow, a good friend, and always ready for his next meal.

4. If you could erase one moment in history, which would it be and why?
This is tough, maybe the Boston Marathon bombing. As a runner, I can’t imagine how devastating and scary this was for the athletes.

5. What’s your favorite TV show?
Currently it’s The Mindy Project. Mindy Kaling is hilarious and love her character on the show.

6. Do you watch Once Upon a Time? If so, who is your favorite couple?
Yes. Hard to choose. I think I’m starting to love Regina the “Evil Queen” and “Robin Hood.” I’m definitely a hopeless romantic so I always want characters to get together.

7. What inspired you to start your blog?
I’m in the process of becoming a Disney vacation planner and would like to start spreading my Disney knowledge to all who will listen. Plus it’s super fun writing about something I love.

8. How would you describe your style?
Comfy casual. I’m a jeans and sneakers kind of girl.

9. What one item can you not live without?
Sunglasses when it’s sunny out.

10. What is your favorite Disney attraction, restaurant, or show?
Can I answer all 3 of those? Pirates of the Caribbean, Liberty Tree Tavern, Festival of the Lion King.

11. Dogs or cats?
Dogs, have a 14 week old Cavalier King Charles named Puffin.

My Nominees:

A Man and His Mouse

A Year of Living Disney

Confessions Of A DisNerd

Eat.Breathe.Sleep.Disney.

Elly & Caroline’s Magical Moments with DCP

Living in a grown up World

MY TRAVEL LOBBY

Mouse University Online

my glass sneaker

Running Sweet Tooth

the imagination code

Question for Nominees:
1. What is your favorite part of the day?
2. Who was your most influential teacher?
3. Who knows you like no other person in the world?
4. What is your proudest accomplishment?
5. What is the coolest thing you have seen in person?
6. What is a must-do for you at Disney?
7. Do you speak any other languages? If not, which would you choose to speak?
8. How would you spend a million dollars?
9. What do you think the future will be like in a hundred years?
10. What is your favorite dessert?
11. What is your favorite song lyric and why?

Top spots that will give you song chills…Disney World

Song Chills

Song Chills

I read somewhere that about 50% of people experience song chills (aka goose bumps) when they listen to music. This phenomenon is something that happens to me frequently, and most often when listening to music from Disney World or Disneyland. (I have Disney radio stations going for the rest of the year when I’m not actually there.) As sure as the sun rises in the East, I will without fail sense that shiver of excitement and awe down my spine for these Walt Disney World experiences.

See what a little wishing can do

See what a little wishing can do

Wishes
If you read my Best Firework viewing locations, you know that I am a pretty big fan of Wishes. While some folks may be getting tired of this show (I’m sure I would love whatever firework show they eventually decide to replace it with) Wishes has been around over a decade. That means I have looked up into the sky and dreamed as dreamers do throughout high school, college, and part of my adult life. I have watched it with my mom, friends, and now husband. While the show stays the same, I know I have grown and changed, making it meaningful and song chill worthy.

Watch World Showcase light up

Watch World Showcase light up

IllumiNations
For anyone interested, the pre IllumiNations and IllumiNations soundtrack are great songs to run to if you like to run to Disney music as I do. The finale always pumps me up and pushes me a little more. Plus it’s a long song, so by the time you ran to it, another mile should have gone by. Going off what I said about Wishes, I am a total sucker for Fireworks and anything that lights up and looks cool. When you are standing around World Showcase Lagoon at Epcot and the IllumiNations song is coming to its climax and all the countries light up as fireworks are sparkling overhead, it enough to make my hairs stand on edge for sure. While I could take or leave the giant globe (can never really see it anyways) the 360 view of world showcase lit up paired with an awesome song is just that…awesome.

Sing it girl!

Sing it girl!

Festival of the Lion King
Take one of the best soundtracks from a Disney movie and pair it with with super talented singers, acrobats, dancers, and fire handlers and you have a recipe for success. This show is just so visually stimulating, there is always something going on in front of you or above you. While the Tumble Monkeys are super impressive, and I can not figure out for the life of me how the dancing spinning birds (Can You Feel the Love Tonight sequence) don’t immediately fall over or throw up, the big beautiful woman who belts The Circle of Life is sure to give you well deserving chills.

Who doesn't love this guy?

Who doesn’t love this guy?

Mickey’s PhilharMagic
Disney again uses the soundtrack of the Lion King (If it aint broke) and other chart topping favorites, Be Our Guest, Part of your World, The Second Star to the Right, A Whole New World, to serenade you into a Disney Magic soundtrack coma. While it’s a 3D attraction (never wait in line for it), a “4th dimension” of in your face smells, pops, drips, and wind immerses you in the movie and gives the songs a refreshed feel. Without fail, the Little Mermaid sequence (did the blog title give it away? ) into the Lion King gives me song chills, and then I pretty much have them for the rest of the show with all that cool swirling wind. I feel like they packed so much classic Disney soundtrack magic into this movie, it’s impossible not to get a goose bump or two.

God Bless America, Voices of Liberty are awesome

God Bless America, Voices of Liberty are awesome

Voices of Liberty
Check you park entertainment times for catch the Voices of Liberty in the American pavilion of World Showcase at Epcot. This group of a cappella singers will serenade you will both Americana, Patriotic, and occasionally a Disney classic. Did I ever mention I love all things patriotic as well? They are so in sync and their sound is so powerful, which is amplified in the beautiful round rotunda room. Interested in more? They have a website: http://www.libertyvoices.com/, where you can even have them perform at your next event. That seems like a surefire way to have the coolest 4th of July party on the planet. Anyways, their voices are spectacular and the combination of their powerful sound and the very impressive sopranos cause immediate song chills all over my body.

I hope those in the (better) 50%, enjoy every last chill when experiencing these spots around the parks. Even if these spots don’t do it for you, there is bound to be a place in Disney World where you find the magic and let the emotions run wild. Disney is real great at immersing you in sights, sounds, and smells and this keep me coming back for more time and time again.

Oops, I married a Disney Fanatic!

Greetings blog reading humans. This is the compelling beginning of Sandy’s first post from a guest writer. If the title didn’t give it away, I am the non-Disney loving husband that Sandy has often referred to in her posts. I’m writing to share some strategies I’ve learned that help me to enjoy trips to Disney as quality time with my wife, and not as dreaded hours I try to ruin with my bad attitude and infectious negativity.

My ideal vacation

My ideal vacation

First of all, let me explain the extent of the problem. My ideal vacation would probably include a secluded cabin (with a delicious restaurant within far walking distance – maybe about 2.5 miles away) with miles of hiking and running trails over a variety of terrain surrounding me. Ideally there would be very few people so no one would notice that I like to travel with as few clothes as possible, no gift stores full of consumer nonsense, and maybe a good thrift store nearby for anything I forgot to pack. I think it’s a little silly that Disney’s Tree of Life is made entirely of dead concrete and plastic. Also, as an English teacher and avid reader, I remember most of what I read or hear spoken, so when I read a book or see a show once, chances are I can quote it very accurately even weeks later. In short, most of what I love is the opposite of what a Disney vacation provides.

Oh no! How will you ever enjoy a lifetime of vacations with your lovely wife if you have a strong dislike for her favorite location in the world? I won’t lie, it was a little rocky at first, but I’ve realized that there are a few tricks that help make the trips go smoothly.

runDisney makes it fun for the both of us

runDisney makes it fun for the both of us

1) Be Honest:

Too many people suffer in silence, and then explode. Whether the topic is a vacation destination, what color to paint a living room, or how to spend a tax return, there’s no way to make a relationship work if you don’t talk with honesty, and without judgment. Specific to Disney vacations, I’ve found it helps to share some very specific guidelines that help Sandy and I enjoy our time together.
It’s important to be specific, like:

•“Spending more than three hours in the park at one time makes me hate every one of the people you discuss in your How to Move Through the Crowds at Disney and Make it out Alive post.”
•“I love the meal we shared at the Liberty Tree Tavern.”
•“If we have someplace fun to watch the fireworks, I will be more comfortable and less bored.”
•“I’ll look forward to the vacation if we run a half or full marathon while we’re there.”
•“It’s important to me to stay at a hotel with a nice pool and hot tub.”

pools make me happy

pools make me happy

It is not specific communication to make commentary like:
•“It was better last time.”
•“Where was that other place we stayed.”
•“How much did we pay for this?”
•“What else is there to do?”

Notice the specific communications allow her to actually know what I want in a trip, and if nothing else, they can start a meaningful dialogue about how to spend your time together. The not specific commentary is simply a general collection of negative statements that cannot drive trip planning, and really don’t start an honest, non-judgemental discussion. It is, of course, unrealistic to expect to always get exactly what you want.

I expect frequent delicious snacks

I expect frequent delicious snacks

2) Have Realistic Expectations:
If your spouse loves Disney and you hate Disney, it is unfair of either of you to expect the other to come around completely to your side. Having an unrealistic expectation of complete compliance will always leave both parties feeling disappointed and misunderstood. Instead of hoping to become completely simpatico, use your honest, non-judgemental conversations to develop some realistic expectations of each other.

Did I mention I like to eat?

Did I mention I like to eat?

I don’t like rides where you sit in a fiberglass something and are towed through various dark rooms with themed shapes that dance while music plays. It would be unrealistic of my wife to expect me to start LOVING to ride It’s a Small World 50 time in a row. Instead, we have realistic expectations. I expect delicious and frequent meals and snacks, and vacations planned around running events, which is easy enough for us to plan. I also expect that I’ll be bored on some of the rides, but I’m ok with it because I know Sandy loves them, and I love when she has that look of innocent joy she gets on her face when she watches fireworks explode to music. It’s fair for Sandy to expect that I won’t ruin the rides for her with a sour disposition or negative commentary. When you have realistic expectations of what your spouse will love and hate, and realize that that both of you are on vacation, it’s much easier to love spending time with your spouse, even if you don’t love the location where you’re spending time.

I made reference to a Disney movie in my vows. Huband of the year award!

I made reference to a Disney movie in my vows. Husband of the year award!

3) Stop Being Selfish:
If I had to guess, I’d bet that the marriage vows you shared didn’t include sentences like “I vow to never compromise and always get my way, I promise to sulk and pout when I don’t like a decision we make, I swear that as long as we live, I will never give an inch, and I will always expect you to yield miles.” In the scheme of life, does it hurt you that much to realize that maybe for the four days you’re at the parks, you can live entirely to make sure your spouse has the time of her life?

People who are dating make selfless choices all the time. You want to make sure to pick a movie she’ll love. You want to eat at her favorite restaurant. You share her favorite flavor of ice cream so she doesn’t feel guilty eating an entire serving alone on a third date. Why is it that when people get married, a lot of them stop being selfless?

Together we kick butt

Together we kick butt

It really helped me when I put into perspective that I love so much of our life together, it’s ok for me to do what I can to make sure she loves a few days in theme parks. Instead of focusing on how to make your Disney stay better, maybe you can have a lot of fun making sure her stay is better. Carry her bag for her. Pack her favorite munchies for long bus lines. Tell her how much you love seeing her enjoying herself. Ask her questions about the parks. Ask her about her favorite Disney memories. Buy her a commemorative pin. Be patient and attentive. I could go on, but then Sandy’s expectations of me would be unrealistic on our next Disney sojourn. In short, don’t think of your Disney vacation as a Disney vacation. Instead, think of it as a vacation with your soul mate. Who wouldn’t love to go on vacation with someone they love?

Before you let your hatred for the seven unattended, screaming children in the hot tub boil over into your marriage, take a deep breath, and follow this simple advice:

You can easily avoid arguments by speaking openly and honestly and not judging each other. Once you discuss what you’re looking for in your vacation, have some realistic expectations of each other. Most importantly, it doesn’t matter if you find theme parks to be boring if you approach your trip selflessly.

Rides with Virtually No Lines…Disney’s Hollywood Studios

With the recent addition of Fastpass+ only allowing you 3 fastpass selections per day (apparently this might be changing soon!) it’s important to save that treasured pass for rides that really need it. Many of the rides and attractions at Disney can be virtually wait-less with a couple tips and proper timing. My hope is to get you on so many rides that you won’t even notice your 3 Fastpass maximum. These are some rides at Disney’s Hollywood Studios with virtually no lines.

Huge arena with great views everywhere

Huge arena with great views everywhere

Let me Tell You a Time
Disney’s Hollywood Studios centers around movies, theater, and entertainment. They offer a variety of shows scheduled at multiple times per day, and they tell you exactly what times these shows start. For example, Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular, Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show, Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage, and Fantasmic! have specific start times that can be found on your My Disney Experience App as well as the Entertainment Guides you can pick up at the park entrance. Never get a fastpass for any of these shows. If you’re not a super die hard fan of any of these, you can walk in when the show starts and they will still seat you.

Notice the bleachers that are available for late comers

Notice the bleachers that are available for late comers

Granted you may be off to the side or a bit higher, but Disney designs theaters and arenas so “Bad” spots don’t really exist. Even if you want to arrive a bit before the show starts to sit a little closer, I would never go more than 10-15 minutes early for a couple reasons. If it’s not the first show of the day, they might not let you into the theater and then you are wasting time standing in line. And even with 10-15 minutes left, you should be able to squeeze into a good spot or will be directed to a pretty decent location.

I'm always very late to Fantasmic but have always had a good seat

I’m always very late to Fantasmic but have always had a good seat

Many people show up to Fantasmic an hour or so before hand and I simply can not understand this for the life of me. You will be seated in a ginormous theater and will be able to see the show from any seat, top to bottom, left to right. The only downside to showing up last minute like I typically do is you will be one of the last people out, however you also didn’t waste an hour sitting on a concrete slab, so I’d say it about evens out.

Waiting for the next Muppet Vision show to begin

Waiting for the next Muppet Vision show to begin

Moving Right Along
Much like the “show rides” I mentioned in the similar blog about Magic Kingdom rides, Muppet Vision 3D and Voyage of the Little Mermaid follow the same rules. Again I would not recommend getting a Fastpass for these two attractions. For Muppet Vision, ask a cast member when the next show starts and head in a couple minutes before. The theater is huge and never fills completely up so you will definitely make it into the show. This particular attraction has an entertaining pre show.

If your a fan of the Muppets, check out the pre show

If your a fan of the Muppets, check out the pre show

And if you are a fan of the Muppets like me, it might actually be worth it to head in and watch it. Voyage of the Little Mermaid is not as easy to navigate. While they display what time the next show starts, the outside line can be long followed by a cattle call into the holding area. (Side note, I have seen many a kid throw some serious tantrums in this tightly packed room. If you sense your kid or husband might be getting rowdy, I would come back later). Getting in without a wait is all about timing. If the line outside looks completely packed, skip it and try again later. If not, hop in line when you see the doors open and the holding area is starting to fill up. Being towards the back of the holding area is fine, as the people in the front will be asked to move all the way to the end of the row anyways and every seat in the theater gives you a different view, none of them bad.

For the Walt lovers out there, this is a must

For the Walt lovers out there, this is a must

Walk This Way
For anyone that is a fan of the man, Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream is not to be missed. This is not really an attraction, but a display of Walt’s life and career and history of the Disney parks. Since it’s a walk through attraction, you can stay as long as you’d like. People will be continuously filing in and out so it will never be super crowded. It might be something fun to do after you walk by Toy Story Midway Mania and the wait time is over two hours.

To recap, make sure to check the times of the shows so you can schedule meal and snack times in between the entertainment and still show up right on time. Never be afraid to ask when the next show is, and take advantage of walk through attractions.

Best Firework location to View “Wishes”

My husband often laughs at me because I’m a sucker for anything that lights up, twinkles, and has cool colors. When I’m not at Disney, I will settle for Christmas tree lights or even a nice camp fire. When I’m at Disney, however, watching the fireworks is a priority for me. It’s something that never get’s old to me, and is even one of the few things in the world that can get me a bit emotional. I feel like fireworks are the perfect way to end any day and make a night at Disney seem even more Magical. If you are at the Magic Kingdom, you will have the opportunity to watch the nighttime show “Wishes”. I have two favorite places to watch the show in case you are new to “Wishes”, or looking for a new viewing location.

The Frontierland Bridge Splash and Big Thunder Mountain will be behind you

The Frontierland Bridge
Splash and Big Thunder Mountain will be behind you

The Frontierland Bridge
For many years this was my go to spot to watch “Wishes”. Bridges are always great because you have something to lean against after a long day. Splash Mountain is behind you and you can watch the guests plummet into the briar patch before the show. You are also close to Pecos Bill’s Restaurant in case you are hungry or need to run to use the bathroom before the show. Not to mention there are great food carts out in Frontierland in case your heart is set on popcorn or a hot pretzel. A little note about “Wishes”, fireworks are actually set off in two locations, some come from Cinderella Castle, but most are set off over Tom Sawyer’s Island. When you watch Wishes from this bridge, you will have a side view of Cinderella Castle so you still see the fireworks by the castle, and you will have an excellent view of the ones launched from Tom Sawyer’s Island, because it is right across from the bridge. This location is ideal if the park stays open a bit longer than the scheduled time for “Wishes”. When the show is about to come to an end, quietly moon walk back on the bridge and take your pick of riding Splash Mountain or

Fireworks from Big Thunder Mountain

Fireworks from Big Thunder Mountain

Big Thunder Mountain Rail Road. The lines will be short to non existent. If you are looking for a new way to experience the fireworks, try riding one of these rides during the show. It is truly amazing weaving in and out of mining caves and seeing the entire sky lit up. If the park doesn’t stay open later that night, you are also in a good spot to let the crowds from Main Street clear out before you make your way to the exit. Now is a great time to leisurely stroll, taking in the sights and sounds.

View of Castle from walkway

View of Castle from walkway

The Walkway to Tomorrowland
The last time I was at the Magic Kingdom, my husband and I ended up on the walkway/bridge that takes you from the hub outside the castle to Tomorrowland. This spot is awesome for a couple reasons. You are super close to the castle and you can see into Tomorrowland. I think many people would agree with me that Tomorrowland at night has a very magical feel (there are lots of lights and colors so of course I would like it.) This spot also gives you an up close and personal view of Tinkerbell. Spoiler Alert. Tinkerbell literally flies right over your head from this spot.

Tink flies right over you

Tink flies right over you

You can see the rope she ziplines down from so move close to it if you really want to be amazed. The fireworks from this angle appear more above the castle and so it felt less separated than the Frontierland Bridge location. This location also allows you to make an early split and head to some Tomorrowland favorites likes Space Mountain or Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin. I’ve never seen the line for Buzz longer than 10 minutes during the fireworks. Again, if the park closes right after Wishes, my suggestion would be to wait out some of the crowds. I wouldn’t recommend going up stream of the traffic flow, but if you can get to a bench and just hang out for a bit, you will be better off than dealing with the masses.

During the fireworks, I always think how lucky I am to be standing at Disney with somebody special to me. “Wishes” always leaves with me the feeling that dreams can come true. I think Disney got it right, and that fireworks should not just come around for the 4th of July, but instead be that perfect kiss goodnight to an already magical day.

Spots highlighted in pink

Spots highlighted in pink