Friday, April 29, 2011

A Disney Introduction by Disney Bird

Today I have the pleasure of introducing you to our newest addition to Disney Guru writers.Brittiany aka Disney Bird comes to us fresh from her own site Disney Bird, where she tells the tale of her magical journey in planning a Walt Disney World vacation for her family. Take it away Bird.....

Well, hello there! Bird here, and I want to start by saying what an honor it is to be here at Disney Guru! I'm excited to have been asked to join Kelly, as well as the rest of the awesome Guru Team.  I'm looking forward to sharing whatever Disney knowledge I can with the wonderful readers of Disney Guru.

Compared to the other ladies of Disney Guru, I'm quite the Disney newbie, but in planning for my upcoming trip I am learning a lot. I'd love to share this information with you, along with my own experience, ideas, and advice. Before those posts though, maybe I should tell you a little about myself...

Again, the name's Bird, which is short for Brittiany... sort of, lol. When we were little my cousin would try to say my name and it came out "Birdy" which was eventually shortened to "Bird" and it stuck. I'm married to a wonderful man, my Prince Charming, if you will, and we have two beautiful children. Bug, my tomboy-princess, will be turning 7 in a couple weeks, and Bubby, my fellow Disney connoisseur, turned 2 in January (these are nicknames, of course). They are my greatest treasures.

As I said, I am currently planning a trip, and I've finally made it to the 30 day mark! Woohoo!! This trip is going to be extra special as it will be my kiddos' first trip to Disney! At the moment, I am more excited about it than they there. How so, you ask? Well, that could have something to do with the fact that they don't even know we're going yet. Haha! We'll finally be telling them next week on Bug's birthday. Bubby won't really get it until we're surrounded by all his favorite Disney buddies, but Bug is going to be blown away!

She'll be even more blown away when she finds out we're not the only ones going. This is going to be a Grand Gathering of sorts (a G.G. is a group of 8+ Disney travelers). There will be 10 of us going. My hubby's family likes to travel in a pack ;-) and I love it! The party will consist of his Grandma, Aunt & Uncle and their two daughters (18 & 25ish), his parents and three of us. Wait... what?! Unfortunately Boo (the hubs) will not be able to get off work to go. He's working on a project that will be due the first week in June, meaning the last full week in May (which is during our trip, 5/21-5/27) will be crunch time for him. This of course wasn't known when we first began planning the trip. So here his family has planned the best vacation ever and he doesn't even get to partake. Hmph! Though I am truly glad he has a job when we know of so many who don't, this is really throwing a wrench into my anniversary celebration- which would have been at Disney during our vacation!

Being the prince that he is though, he insisted I go ahead and take the kids. He figured that's the best anniversary gift he could have ever given me anyway... I think he was right! So, we're making the best of it and proceeding as planned. We all know I'll be documenting their every move and reactions, so aside from it being in real-time, he shouldn't miss much. While I'll have plenty of help from the family, this will make the trip a bit more interesting so wish me luck!

While I had trips to Walt Disney World at age 4 and 7/8?, I can honestly say I don't remember much- aside from being tricked onto Big Thunder Mountain Railroad... and LOVING it! Disney has still always had a place in my heart. I love the way Disney keeps the magic alive in people of all ages... So, when I returned to Disney as an adult with my husband, the magic was definitely alive and well inside of me! That trip spawned a whole new love of Disney. It has been my mission to bring my children to the World and have them experience all the wondrous things Disney has to offer.

When Kelly asked me to join the team, I was pleasantly surprised and also quite flattered, but what could I offer?... What would be my niche? I couldn't come up with one focus. I love every bit of Disney... every aspect of the planning, from my crazy lists and shopping missions, to making the phone calls... And of course, like everyone else, I am always wanting to get the most out of Disney... all the experiences, from rides and attractions to the entertainment, the people, the cast members, the hidden gems... I just want to take it all in :-)

And there it was!! A little bit of Disney Potpourri! I think when planning a Disney trip, the beginning to the end is an experience! And is there ever really an end?

So there you go... I'll be taking the things from planning, to park adventures, to keeping the magic going at home, and sprinkling them here at Disney Guru for you to enjoy.

Disney Potpourri with the Disney Bird is coming soon!

Thanks again to Kelly for inviting me over!

See ya real soon!
Bird of DisneyBird

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Spring Disney Fever

Living the Fairytale Life with Belinda.......

Its spring time, the weather is nice, the sun is shining and you still have several months before your trip “home” to Disney World. If you are like me, you’re finding yourself going crazy with what I call, “Spring Disney Fever”!  As my husband and I go for walks in the neighborhood taking in the sites of houses and trees, my thoughts quickly go to views of Main Street, the castle and the smell of fresh baked goodies. Spring is such a lovely time to visit Disney, with all of the flowers a bloom at the flower and garden festival, the sunshine and the Easter holiday, one can’t help but get into the blues when their trip is still a few months to a few years away. Luckily we are heading home in 4 ½ months, but the withdrawal that one can feel while time is spent waiting can be a bit of an unhappy one.  Over the past few months, I have found ways to bring a little bit of Disney into our home to help make the time of waiting seem less painful.

Bring Goofy’s Candy Co. to your kitchen!

Goofy’s Candy Co. is one of our must do things every time we visit Disney. We had been missing our rich chocolate goodies and needed a fix badly. So, Shawn and I decided to bring Goofy home. This was so much fun to do! It is really easy, inexpensive and will help get you through those waiting blues.

Items Needed:   Box of rice krispies cereal, Bag of marshmallows, big barks of cooking chocolate, any candy coating you prefer, Popsicle sticks, large mickey cookie cutter.

Make the rice krispy treats according to box. Let cool and lay flat on counter. Make sure you cook chocolate exactly according to package. This was the tricky part, cooking with chocolate is very delicate, if you don’t get it at the exact temperature, it won’t work. It took a few tries, but we got it! Press the mickey head cutter into the rice krispy’s to make the heads. Insert sticks into the bottom. Dip the tips of the ears into the chocolate then into your favorite topping. QUICKLY, put on waxed paper topped plate and into very cold freezer for about 15 minutes or so. Keep checking on it. You’re all done! And now you can enjoy a little bit of Disney at home to help get you by :0)

Countdown to Mickey
There are so many things that we try to do to incorporate Disney in our day to help make time go by fast.  The thought of waiting seems endless but with each day that passes, we are a bit closer to the magic and closer to “home”.  Every year we make a countdown and put it on the fridge. We don’t count each number of days like some; instead we count only the Saturdays until our trip arrives. This means a lot less Mickey heads on the fridge and it makes time go by a lot faster, which I love. I would rather say, only 19 more Saturdays than 133 days! We use the same mickey cookie cutter, find different colors and designs of scrapbook paper (this works well if you’re going during a holiday, they have all sorts of designs) cut them out, have them laminated, and slap a magnet on the back. We only have to take them down once a week, so in that time the countdown number of day’s drops drastically. I love it!!

Plan a Disney Game Night
Shawn and I started this Disney tradition several years ago and it has steadily become one of our favorites. Disney game night! Every Friday night Shawn and I spend the evening in our living room battling it out playing nothing but Disney games! I must say, he knows his Disney stuff! It is a lot of fun and helps to keep the magic of Disney going as we wait for our trip to arrive. It also helps build the excitement when you’re in those Disney withdrawal blues. We usually pick one or different Disney games to play and incorporate our snacks to go with it. We make several appetizers baring the Disney title from our Disney cookbook and usually make some sort of Disney desert as well. This makes for a Disney night of magic and fun that everyone will enjoy and look forward to every week. The fun part is deciding what Disney snacks to make beforehand!

Some of our favorite Disney games! Magical Moments Scene it is Awesome!

This cookbook mainly has appetizers in it and is great for game nights!

  Dream, Wish and Do!
Disney impacts our life in such an overwhelming way. It gives us a sense of happiness, hope, fulfillment and joy. When waiting out the days of your Disney trip during such a beautiful time as spring, one can’t help but get the Spring Disney Fever blues.  But there is help! Do everything you can to incorporate Disney into your day and make it a part of your plans. Cook a meal from a Disney cookbook, plan a game night, make some Disney crafts, have a Disney movie night. Use your imagination, there are so many things that you can do to help eliminate the springtime blues. Don’t think about doing it, just do it. You will feel so much better at the end of the day and as you keep busy doing all the things that make you happy like Disney, the days till your trip will be flying by and be here in no time. Just keep the magic of Disney alive in your days and in your heart and coping with your Spring Disney Fever will seem much easier!

What do you do to help eliminate the Spring Disney Fever blues?

Keep Believing


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A ‘Wacky’ WDW Resort Check-In Experience!

Wacky Wednesday's With New England Disney Diva, Julie!!!

Today I’m talking about a subject that isn’t mentioned all too often @ WDW (bad or unplanned check-in experiences) but nonetheless happens just the same. First, let me make it clear that I love WDW! I do place them on a ‘higher standard’ than other resorts, vacation destinations, etc, just because, let’s face it ‘it’s Disney’!  I think a lot of us would agree with this.

Having come from an extensive background in the hospitality industry, I know firsthand how mishaps can occur. I will admit to being a bit of a ‘hotel snob’ though, having worked in the industry for so long. I guess that just comes with the territory?

With that being said, I, myself have had one of those ‘wacky’ unexpected check-ins that I’d love to share with you! It took place, ironically, at my very favorite WDW Hotels, The Polynesian Resort!

My family (myself, husband & 2 little girls) were set off on a road trip from Pennsylvania to Florida (with my husband’s driving it was about a 13-hour drive-nonstop) & with ‘minimal’ breaks! Apparently he’s also in a rush to get to the magic.

We always make the drive down at night because the girls are asleep for the duration of the trip.  By the time they wake up, we are just about in Florida & everyone is happy!

As much as we enjoy driving there, we are always ready to ‘jump’ out of the car once we get on Disney property.  Excited to be at the resort, get situated in the room & hit the pool/beach area!!

Check-In Time!

We’re finally ‘home’ & I make my way to the check-in area, aaaahhh!! After a warm ‘Aloha’, having received our flowery lei’s, guest info in tow-we head to our room! We had requested a standard room (Garden view, top floor, same request every time we’re here.)

Well, the first room we went into was most definitely ‘occupied’ by a horrified family that seemed just as shocked as we were. I think I gave those two little girls that came to the door the shock of their lives!  All I heard was ‘Mommy, It’s a stranger!’ I was mortified! I bet they still talk about it to this day ‘remember that one time at Disney!’

I forgot which building we were in at the time, but it was quite a walking distance from the Great Ceremonial House. At this point, even thought was a tad upset, I totally understood that these things happen.

The Cm apologized & gave me a new room key. Again, the room was a hike from the main building. We were really anxious at this point, to just get into the room & cool off for a spell! This time around, we walked into an obviously ‘VD’ room-hotel terminology for ‘vacant & dirty’!  By this time, I had lost my ‘princess like’ cool. We had to trudge back (tired kids & disheveled lei’s by this time) to the front desk. Again the Cm apologized & I could tell she knew I was not a happy camper by now. I did let her know that this problem had to be resolved & that I was not happy! I was not feeling the ‘Disney spirit’ at this point, so unlike me!

Happy at last
She quickly fixed the problem, only to have ‘quietly’ upgraded us to a water-view room. We had the best room, overlooking the private stretch of beach, right past the marina area.  Needless to say, I was thoroughly impressed with the great guest-service I received! So even though our vacation was off to a ‘rocky’ start, it was turned around in a positive way by Disney!

do think that the Cm had the last laugh though. My parents were coming down & staying at the same resort-about a day after us. When my husband went out to the balcony to enjoy a drink one evening, he was greeted by his ‘father-in-law’ on the balcony right next door to ours. The look on his face was priceless & I’m still living that one down! I honestly had no idea. More Disney ‘wackiness’ I guess!!

I’d love to hear if any of you had had any ‘Wacky check-In’ experiences or funny resort adventures of your own!!

Thanks for sharing your Wednesday with me… we’ll chat soon!!

Julie can be reached @ be sure to “like” Julie’s Facebook Page…New England Disney Diva’s!!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

When You See Things You Should Not See at Walt Disney World

Attraction Tuesday!!

To me Disney World is the most perfect place on Earth. I love everything about it, and for now in this moment, I do not foresee a time that I will ever NOT want to go to Walt Disney World for a yearly vacation.  As a family we are constantly seeking new ways to enhance the magic on our vacation aka keep the magic alive. 

Now that I have been to Walt Disney World over 20 times I love to look at all of the little details in the parks. I find myself looking at the back of the buildings, doors that the Cast Members are going in and out and anything that will give me a clue as to how Disney World is run.  Up until my most recent trip to Walt Disney World in October of 2010, I had not found anything all that exciting.

Here is the story of what I discovered. Beware this may not be as exciting to you as it is to me. :0)

We started off the third day of our wondrous Walt Disney World vacation at Magic Kingdom. There were extra early magic hours, which means that we were racing our way through the park to be the first on everything!!! Once the park officially opened we were a bit tired and decided to take a relaxing ride on Tomorrowland Transit Authority aka People Mover aka TTA. :0) As you know this is an elevated tour of Tomorrowland that takes you through the area’s four buildings. As you relax you hear details of the attractions that you pass.

One of the places that you pass through is Space Mountain. Usually when you pass through this area you can hear the music and some screams in the distance.  You are not able to get a good glimpse of the attraction because it is a dark roller coaster.  This is where things changed for me.

As we began to approach the area of Space Mountain I began to notice that things were looking a little different, for one I could see!! Normally it is almost completely dark. When I looked to my right I saw something that will stick with me forever….the tracks!! Yes, I know, this may not be very exciting to you but for me it was magical! In fact, my whole family was in awe as we were slowly escorted through this area of TTA.  

I know that for many, this would ruin the magic. For me, seeing the tracks enhanced the magic! Disney does a fantastic job of never showing you things they don’t think you should see, this helps transport you into all of the fantasy worlds that we love so much about Disney….not seeing is the magic in my eyes. But I have to tell you, in this particular situation, I saw beauty. No the tracks themselves were not anywhere close to beautiful in fact, everything about Space Mountain in the light was such a dull color of grey that it was almost depressing. What I found beautiful, is the fact that when I ride Space Mountain and when others ride it….they have no idea about the other side of Space Mountain. All we know is that we have been transformed into space. For that few moments in our lives we giggle, laugh, scream and enjoy with the people we love the most. This is what makes it all so beautiful.

I would love to know if you have ever seen something you were not supposed to see? Did it ruin the magic for you?

See ya real soon!!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Beware of Seasonal Pricing

Money Saver Monday!!

When I travel to Walt Disney World I try very hard to have all of my costs laid out in advance. From tipping all of the way to souvenirs, I want to know what I am going to spend.  I thought that today's Money Saver Monday would be helpful to those budgeting their money the way I do....even a slight increase in price can throw off a budget. 

Did you know that several times of year some Walt Disney World dining locations increase their price due to an increase in guest demand?  Below is a list of the fixed priced dining locations that participate in the increase. Please note that this list is subject to change.  :0)

  • 1900 Park Fare
  • Akershus (Princess Storybook Meals)
  • Biergarten
  • Boma (breakfast and dinner)
  • Cape May CafĂ© (breakfast and dinner buffet)
  • Chef Mickey’s (breakfast and dinner)
  • Cinderella’s Royal Table
  • Crystal Palace
  • Garden Grill
  • Hollywood and Vine (Play ’n Dine character buffets)
  • Liberty Tree Tavern (dinner only)
  • Ohana (breakfast and dinner)
  • Trails End
  • Tusker House
Dates to expect the price increase:

  • February 17 - February 26, 2011
  • March 12 - April 30, 2011
  • June 3 - August 13, 2011
  • December 23 - December 31, 2011
If you are on the Disney Dining Plan you will not be effected by this increase. Out of pocket guests can expect to pay an additional $4 for adult guests and and additional $2 for children. 

Don't forget to "like" us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!!! Thank you so much for visiting!!

See ya real soon!!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

A Disney Vow Renewal at Sea

Living the Fairytale Life With Belinda...

This week you are in for a real treat. I want to thank Belinda for sharing such a precious and personal story with all of us. Enjoy! 

For many of us Disney fans, getting married in Disney is far out of our reach. It was for Shawn and I back in 1999 when we said our wedding vows. We always knew something was missing that day, don’t get me wrong, the ceremony and the wedding was beautiful but it did lack that one little spark… the magic of Disney. We vowed this day that on our ten year anniversary, we would renew our wedding vows Disney style…. And boy did we do just that. I want to share with all of you this magical day that was filled with so much Disney magic and Disney love. I still cry when I look at the photos and think back to just how amazing Disney is in capturing romance…. It truly felt like a day in Cinderella’s shoes.

Our vow renewal took place on the Disney Magic. From the moment we arrived on the ship, the wedding magic started. I was ecstatic. Our wedding coordinator, whom kept in touch with me long before the cruise arrived, was amazing.  Before you ever leave home, you do everything from pick out your wedding songs to all the other little details of your ceremony. We chose to walk down the aisle to the “Beauty and the Beast theme” and the music that played in the background during our ceremony was from Tarzan, The Little Mermaid and The Lion King. This music is played live by an organist. It sounded so beautiful. You will also pick out the kind of cake you want, the flavor, your topper and of course, your first dance wedding song. We danced to “I don’t Want to Miss a Thing”, by Aerosmith.  Lord help me if I hear that song when I’m driving *tears*.  When we stepped on the ship, there were gifts abound waiting in our stateroom, along with what the formal invitation looks like and a sweet card from our coordinator. Ladies! You would love these gifts. We received a Disney Fairytale wedding beach bag that was super cute, a huge Mickey and Minnie wedding photo box with goodies all inside, and a double sized beach towel with the wedding logo and a picture of the Disney castle made out of sand with the ship in the background. It was like Christmas!!!

We also received many other things nightly when we came back to our room. This consisted of things like chocolate covered strawberries, little appetizer plates, petit fours and champagne.  It was wonderful. I knew from the moment we arrived on the ship, I never wanted to leave. I felt like Cinderella getting ready for the ball. I had everything from my prince to the magic... And it was all so perfect.

Getting ready for the big day, my flowers arrived that morning. They were gorgeous! You get to pick out your bouquet too. My colors were pastel pink and purple. I even brought my own petals to have placed down the aisle for the ceremony. Shawn and I decided that before the ceremony that day, we would go down and take a peek of what it looked like. I wasn’t going to, I was already was so nervous but I just couldn’t stand it, I had to go see! I never in my dreams expected what I saw. I knew of course that it would be pretty, after all this is Disney, but I never expected the backdrop of the ocean on this beautiful Disney ship to make the view so breathtaking, I was speechless… and in tears. It really overwhelmed Shawn and I when we saw it all set up. We were high school sweethearts, had been since we were 16 years old and the butterflies were there. I was like a school girl again and super nervous but never more excited than I was at that moment!

It was time to get ready! Unfortunately my family was not able to attend during this time. I was a bit saddened to not have my mom and dad there but they were close to my heart. My mother had bought me a beautiful heart locket where she placed a picture of her and my Dad on one side and my late Nana on the other. I wore it that day with my dress, so in spirit they were with me. All of my Disney friends of whom I met in a forum and we became one big cruise group attended our ceremony that day and watched and took pictures from the balcony above. The ceremony was so private and romantic, just me, my prince and a lot of Disney magic. It was a day I will never forget. They had already come to get Shawn so I could get ready without him seeing me. Our coordinator sent one of his assistants, a lady, to help me get ready. I was all set! They snapped a picture of me on the way down to meet my honey. I was ready to go!

The ceremony was perfect, everything from the vows, to the ring exchange and the, “you may kiss the bride”! Of course, I cried, my mascara ran and Shawn had to wipe my tears but it was beautiful. I never felt the movement of the vessel. All I could remember was how the sun was beaming upon us and the waves were crashing against the front of the ship. It was like being in a whole new world and it was perfect. At the end of the ceremony, all of our dear Disney friends cheered and clapped. I was so happy and so emotional. This had turned out the be the best day ever and I couldn’t wait for what was next.

It was time to cut the cake! I was in love with my cake! A Disney cake!! Yay! It was so pretty! I had bought my own topper and brought it with us to have put on. It was perfect! And the cake was huge. We had a Bavarian mousse filling. It was yummy. After we cut the cake, fed each other a piece, and exchanged a sip of champagne, it was time for our first dance. This was going to be memorable... Dancing on the Magic while sailing through the Caribbean with Mickey! What more could a girl ask for.

I think the dance is the part of the ceremony I will remember most. It was like a dream; like I needed to pinch myself to make sure I was awake. I can still remember the feeling I had as I looked up at Shawn and he had tears; Just hearing Aerosmith play as we danced all alone on the back of that ship was the best feeling in the whole world. It was like the ship was ours, and all around us Tinkerbell was spreading her magic, we were captured in a moment that was priceless... and something only Disney could do.

 The wedding ceremony ended beautifully. I will never forget this day. We stayed after for a few hours for formal pictures on the deck and was then taken inside with the photographer to capture more wedding photos throughout the ship. I purchased a large wedding photo package and it was well worth it.  At the end of the ceremony, you are presented with the certificate of affirmation Disney style. This was beautiful. I was now a happy and proud Disney princess bride and from that day forward I knew I always would be.

I cannot put in to words just how truly amazing this was for us. If any of you have ever considered a vow renewal at sea with Disney, go for it! It will be a moment in your life that you will treasure forever. I wake up every day as a Disney bride and remember that one special moment when Shawn danced with me. I can’t get it back but I have it stored in my heart forever. Disney creates and captures moments that are priceless, that no one else on this earth can do for us. I am so blessed to have been able to experience and share this moment with the most amazing man a girl could ask for. This was a true fairytale, a Cinderella story that came true and on that day…. I was the princess. Our dream was to renew our vows again on our 20th wedding anniversary with all of our family with us. Sadly, my Daddy is a much older Daddy….. If I waited that long he would nearly be 80... In my heart I’m afraid what would happen if I waited that long. So Shawn and I hope to share this dream again for possibly our 15th wedding anniversary so that with hope, my Dad can be there so that Disney can capture the magic once again only to create a memory that this little girl has longed to have with her father. There is a Disney princess in all of us, for all of you that are considering a vow renewal, you can’t go wrong with Disney. Bring out the princess in your heart and become a Disney bride, it will put magic in your heart that will truly last an eternity.

Keep Believing

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Illuminations: Reflections of Earth

Attraction Tuesday!!

Illuminations can be viewed at Epcot.  Utilizing the entire World Showcase as its stage, Illuminations is a nighttime spectacular that is beautifully synchronized to music. This show features fireworks, strobe lights, lasers beams that shoot out from various countries around the international pavilion. While there is no narration, this story is beautifully told as a rotating Earth glides across the water as reflections of images are displayed on the continents around the globe. 

There are three acts to Illuminations; "Chaos," "Order" and "Celebration." As you can imagine, "Chaos" begins with the Big Bang theory. A single shooting star explodes and creates "Chaos." "Order" is the part that brings everything under control. Take note of the globe during each phase as it depicts images of the acts. The last act, "Meaning," is my favorite part of the show. This is when the globe opens and a 40-foot torch rises out from the inside of what is now a lotus flower. "Meaning" represents human diversity and the changes of all mankind and how everything came together.

As illuminations ends, you hear loud noises and the beautiful song, "We Go On."  This show truly gives you the chills as you watch it, between the musical score and the dancing fireworks, it is a true work of art. 

Where should you watch it? 

This show was designed specifically to to be directed toward the front of the park. This makes the best viewing spot to be World Showcase Plaza, this is where you will see everything that the Imagineers intended you to see. While you can see the show throughout the entire World Showcase and speakers are streaming throughout, the views are not the same as watching it from World Showcase Plaza. 

Fun Facts....

  • There are 19 torches around the lagoon. These 19 torches symbolize the first 19 centuries of modern history. The 20th torch, in the globe, represents the Millennium. 
  • The Morocco pavilion does not participate in the show. 
  • The performance uses 67 computers in 40 locations. 
Quick Tip...

  • Be sure to get to your viewing spot at least 30 minutes prior to showtime in order to get a good view.
  • Don't forget to check park hours and show times for Illuminations. These can be checked in the Times Guide at Epcot the day you plan to view the show. No worries as this show is presented nightly. 
                                     Enjoy this wonderful video!!

See ya real soon!!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Get your FREE Button!!

Money Saver Monday!!

Photo from

Disney is all about the little things and for me that is what makes Disney World so magical. A few years back we took our then, 8 month old son to Walt Disney World for his first time. In my planning and research for our trip, I found out that Disney World offers FREE buttons to its guest for certain celebrations. All you need to do is ask!! If you are celebrating a sepcial event at Walt Disney World you are entitled to a FREE button. Make a stop by City Hall at the Magic Kingdom, or Guest Services at Animal Kingdom, Epcot or Hollywood Studios. Ask the Cast Member for your FREE button to wear during your visit. For the birthday button they will write your name on it. 

Be sure to wear it while you celebrate as these buttons are known to generate special attention from Cast Members. :0)

 I would love to hear about your special memories that have been created when you wore  your FREE button!! Share your experiences by commenting below or on our Facebook page

See ya real soon!!

Friday, April 15, 2011

A Scurvy Tale of Pirate Dreams

Today's article is brought to you by Theresa Cook, contributor for Disney Guru and owner of Shutter Expressions . Enjoy!!

Last month, I introduced you to a magical place where lil girls, young an old, are transformed into princesses in an article called, "Princess for a Day."  Not exactually what most boys want. Boys want adventure.

This is Disney World, where adventure is not in short supply and they thought about boys and what they want to be, pirates.

Located next to the enterance to the famous Pirates of the Carribean and across from Jack Sparrow's stage show, the Pirates League is something boys and girls, mom's and dad's will enjoy.

Upon arrival, land lovers check in at the front podium where you are then escorted by a pirate into their hideaway.  These pirates don't mess around either and make you forget that they are actors, drawing you more into the experience.

Once inside, you are warned not to touch any treasure or you will walk the plank.  Once the ground rules have been laid, it's time to get your pirate name which is based on your gender.  You spin a large drum and pull out what will be part of your name.  Name is deterined by the month you were born in and what you pull from the drum, giving you a first and last name.  Unfortunatly, my son's wasn't very "piraty" as Chris Goodwater.

Now that the name has been selected, your "leather" sash is placed on youand your new name is pinned on you; time for your transformation.  The next room you enter looks like the captain's quarters and you are seated in your own captain's chair.  There, a story-telling pirate prepares you to become a Cursed Pirate, First Mate, or Empress.

The process takes about 30 - 45 mins, but the wait for the parents goes by fast with plenty of seating and humorous pirates always walking about.  I was accused of stealing while another woman was reminded that all the pirates were not Jack Sparrow and to calm down.  One pirate even gave our little ones crayons and coloring pages to keep them busy.

Once done, the pirate who performed the transformation swears the new crew member in then makes an announcement to the rest of the room that there is a new pirate aboard.

If it's your birthday, be prepared to stand on top of a barrel as a room full of the rowdy crew celebrate with you.

Now's the time to get your sword and sword fighting lessons before heading into the secret room.  Inside the secret room. . .well, I swore not to tell what's in the secret room.

To find out what's inside, make an appointment for the Pirates League.  The package includes:

Choice of facial effect (5 to choose from)
Reversible bandana
Earring and Eye Patch
Sword and Sheath
Temporary Tattoo
Unique Pirate Coin Necklace
Personalized Pirate Oath
Official Pirate Name
Removable Teeth*
Participation in a daily Adventureland Pirate Parade

* Empress package does not come with removable teeth but does come with vibrant and bold makeup, plus nail polish and face gem!

All this for only $29.95 plus tax for ages 3 and up.

There's even a parade during the day for all those who became a pirate and they march around Adventure Land with Jack Sparrow.  Can't miss that!!

Now it's up to you to decide if you are brave enough to bored this scurvy ship and take the oath.  But I can promise you, this is one voyage you will be talking about for many journeys to come.

Keep smiling. . .till next month!!!

Theresa Cook

Shutter Expressions
"capturing the real you"

Thursday, April 14, 2011

A Collection of Dreams and Inspiration

Living the Fairytale Life with Belinda....

 I decided for my article this week, I would take some time to share with all of you my dreams and inspiration of Disney and why it is such an important aspect in my life, while introducing you all to something very special... my “happy place”.

As a child, I had always envisioned a place where I am at my most happiest, where my dreams feel as if they are real, where magic takes place around every corner…. And then I found it, Disney World; this passion and this love that I have for Disney started at a very young age. As I grew up, the passion turned into my life. It has become a part of mine and my husband’s daily routine, to incorporate Disney into every aspect of our day.  From my early visits as a child to now my yearly visits as an adult, I always knew one thing that really bothered Shawn and I and we needed a way to try and fix it…. Every time we went on vacation to Disney World, we always dreaded leaving. It would literally bring us to tears. That’s when we decided to create our own “happy place”.  We needed somewhere that would always make us feel “at home”.

We started by taking and extra room in our home and creating it into something amazing. We began keeping all of our memorabilia from past trips to Disney items that we have bought online and at Disney stores world wide decorated in this room. It has now grown into a massive phenomenon. I love my room! Because I have my computer in here, I get to the feeling of being in Disney everyday. It is floor to ceiling Disney and nothing more, with the help of my husband painting and hanging things, it has truly turned into a magical place for me. Disney is such an inspiration, and my “happy place” helps me to leave my problems at the door and to take in all the magic that lives inside my room. Life has so many trials and tribulations. At the end of the day, when life has gotten the best of me, I step into my room and onto Main Street, envisioning the sights and sounds of a magical place, where nothing else matters but me and all of my hundreds of stuffed mickeys. I now have everything from Disney snow globes, to hundreds of figurines, statues, crowns and princesses, pins, Nemo and friends and mickeys galore. It truly makes me happy, it is my daily inspiration, my heart and soul and my dreams all captured into one special place.     

 I can remember one very trying time in my life, about 5 years ago. An unexplained incident where I began having severe pain across my shoulder blades. As the pain got severely worse, I took myself to the ER while my husband was at work. During this time my parents we’re in Disney with my nieces. I was admitted right away. After an echocardiogram  and an MRI, I was that next day rushed into Emergency  surgery. The doctor came in and told me that I had 3 disk severing my spinal cord. All I could remember him saying was that if this wasn’t done quickly, I would end up a quadriplegic.  At this point, the feeling in my legs was scares and I couldn’t even write my name. All I could think about was the fun that my parents must be having and how I wish I was with them. I am fully recovered now, with a titanium plate in my neck. The one thing that got me through was the magic that was in my heart, the mickey blankets I would cover up with, and the snow globe of Four parks one world that my parents brought home for my birthday. Disney gets me through everything. It has taught me hope. It has taught me to live my dreams in a way that I never thought I could. For me, Disney makes everything better.

My most recent addition is my Tinkerbell tree. It has white twinkling lights that I turn on in the evening, after all, this is when the Magic Kingdom comes to life; and it is filled with all kinds of Tinkerbell fairies, balls and globes. My ceiling is covered with blue and white clouds and a parachuting mickey. I have now added many vinylmation’s and more shelving. Just as Disney does, my vision of my “happy place” keeps growing and growing. Disney is a place of wonder and enchantment, it is the heart and soul of all of us who believe in magic. It is my fairytale that has come to life and it has given my husband and I memories that years ago we could have only dreamed of. 

My hope is that people everywhere get to experience the magic of Disney at least once. It has truly changed my life in more ways than I could have ever thought possible. Disney is my heart, my soul and an inspiration that continues to grow, and with my “happy place” that I have created, I always feels at home!

May the magic of Disney live in your hearts and bring your fairy tales to life just as it has for my husband and I.

Keep Believing