Sunday, 9 December 2012

Our very own 'wreck-it' Ralph

Having lost our 15 yr old Staffie Busta back in August we decided that now was the time to start looking into another dog. We went down to the rescue shelter yesterday and absolutely fell in love with this chap. He's very petite and at first we thought he was a girl and found ourselves considering a girl as we loved him so much, the shelter guessed him to be about 4 but he's very young looking and has many puppy traits as well as size.

He's fantastic with kids, we socialized with him for a while to see how he would respond to the boys and he's brilliant.
We bought him home within hours of meeting him and once at home he's never failed to let us know he was the right choice. He's impeccably well behaved, doesn't want to be on the furniture and loves his bed, slept there last night and he's even had a bath. He's down as unclaimed, I really can't understand it as someone has taken the time to train him, he's not boisterous at all, in fact he's very very gentle.

He's very calm for a staffie, loves other dogs and walks very obediently by your side. The only thing I can say about him is that he likes teddies and is checking out all the Christmas ones and even tried to take a mickey beanie to bed last night so that's on his Christmas list.

We've named him 'wreck-it' Ralph though we're hoping that he doesn't take to wrecking things at all.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Disney Cruise Line

As always, like any other Disney World nut we are forever in planning mode, as our holiday approaches fast we're already thinking of the next one. This time we're thinking of something a little, well in reality a huge bit different.

We're thinking of visiting the West Coast but with the added variety of a Disney Cruise. I love the idea of this but I can't find any prices past 2013 yet. And it'd be 2014 maybe even 2015 before we have enough saved up.

What are your hints and tips on DCL? Maybe you've done a cruise that ended or began in LA, maybe you have videos you'd like to share?


Saturday, 10 November 2012

Big news from the World of Mouse

Well, last week Disney announced they'd bought Lucasfilm, and as a household where Star Wars thrives we're excited by this announcement. Our youngest is 4 tomorrow and rather than visiting the Mouse et al, all he's bothered about is the Jedi Training Academy! I await very impatiently any expansions and further news regarding the future of Star Wars...

In other news, I'm absolutely dismayed that Disney have decided to do away with the Main St Bakery, MK and make it a Starbucks! What are they thinking?!
Every trip we stop off for breakfast in the bakery, I wouldn't care so much if they were just changing the coffee to starbucks but to do away with all those goodies is a travesty! An outrage! Now, I've read many comments and only 2 or 3 have had something positive to say. Walt would surely turn in his grave.

I'll no longer be walking right down the middle of main st usa, I'll be crossing over onto the other side of the street, not in protest but to avoid the smell of coffee that'll now ooze onto Main St rather than all those yummy smells :(

So what's your thoughts on these 2 changes? please share

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

93 days to go

Wow, just 93 days to go!

Sorry I've been a bit quiet of late, things have been crazy hectic and stressful but it all helps to keep the countdown flying by.n the

Our balance is due for paying on the 2nd so we need a trip to the bank to move the savings around and then it's just the park tickets and esta's to sort.

Tickets wise we've decided on the 14 day ultimate and 2 park bonus tickets to get us started and we'll see how the saving goes (with Christmas being in the way of saving) and add in Seaworld. We've considered Legoland too but when we look on their schedule it looks like not much will be open!

Then I'll have to start a list of all the restaurant offers and new places to try... must try one of those donut burgers from the Teak Neighbourhood Grill

Where would you recommend?

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

A very brief update

Wow, it's been a few weeks since I last posted, sorry about that but it's been all kinds of crazy here!

I've had my birthday and this added a couple more Jim Shore Disney Traditions to my collection, ever growing and I may need more space for them soon, rather than one place they may end up all around the house.
And, I've just had an English Language end of module exam, thought it went well but who knows...

So, we're down to 106 days today and our payment deadline is looming, obviously we are starving ourselves and have given up on life completely in order to pay this off - well not quite but we would if we hadn't already got it all organised.

That's about it for now, a very brief update.... but as always I'm always planning, and now have 2015 firmly in my sights

Friday, 28 September 2012

A 3 day extension

So I rang the travel agents to try and extend our 14 day trip to 16 as with almost 2 days of traveling it seems like a 12 day holiday. Problem being, that I hadn't realised that it would mean arriving in London on a Sunday and this would mean less connections available to bring us back up home. 8 hours in Gatwick, jetlagged and with 2 kids was a no no, but rather than just make do with the 14 nights we've ended up with 17! This will of course mean saying offsite for those 3 extra nights, but we found a really good price for the Holiday Inn Resort LBV, and means having to juggle our 14 day expiry park tickets but who cares, an extra 3 nights away from a dreary and frozen Britain and I'm sold.

So we now have 7 nights in Jambo House at the Animal Kingdom Villas, 7 nights on The Boardwalk and 3 nights at the Holiday Inn in LBV.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Updates you don't like?

This morning I have the Tiki Room song stuck in my head... 'all the birds sing words and the flowers croon, in the tiki tiki tiki tiki tiki room' and this got me thinking. The first time we visited WDW was in 2005, and at this time it was The Enchanted Tiki Room Under New Management. As a family we loved the Tiki Room attraction and Zazu and Iago but now Disney have returned it to it's original show and we've been left very disappointed by it. An attraction that was a must do on our list is now way less entertaining.

What update or change of attraction has left you, let's say underwhelmed?

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

If I was an imagineer...

Today the idea of a Monsters inc themed hotel came to mind. Now if I was an Imagineer they wouldn't be looking to me for drawings of anything, so don't laugh!

For some reason even though the image is saved as landscape it puts it in here in portrait!

Anyway, as you can see by my very talented picture, ha... this would be the lobby, this is as far as I got. As you can see the idea is very much multicoloured, all railings and decor are a mix of colour and varying textures. The check-in desk is Sully based with blue and purple fur, and the seating areas are monster based with textures and toenails/ claws which provide extensions to the seats themselves.
The elevators would be open for viewing and the actual lift would resemble the scream collection pods. Rooms would all have different door designs and be highly colourful. Fun, fun, fun

Have you had any ideas? if you were an Imagineer what would you propose?

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Always thinking of the next trip

We've just had a birthday in our house and this left me with the empty cardboard wrapping paper tubes. This gave me a new idea for saving, yes we all by the penny jars and savings tins but I though why not use these. So I've taped up the end of the tube and have begun collecting £1 coins left from that day, I think I'll also go to the bank and change whatever I make from eBay sales, clothing weigh-in's like the 'enviro-clothes' places etc into £1's and pop them in here, eventually it'll add up and you can get a hell of a lot of coins in one of those tubes.... the cheap or even free savings jar and easily decorated with some leftover paper. Previously I had done this using the giant cordial bottles that Robinson's used to sell but with change. This will add up and unless I start and think now about how we'd afford another trip I fear it may never happen

Here's a few of the places I've managed to make money from:

  • Envirophone - exchanging old phones for cash (also linked with quidco cashback)
  • Music Magpie - exchanging cds, dvds, bluray and games (also linked with quidco)
  • - recommended on theDIBB, I've just ordered my bag to try them out
  • Ebay and Gumtree - easy way to have a clear out, gumtree has free listing too
  • Ramsdens/ Tesco Gold? Hatten Garden metals - old jewellery sales, but do check prices online first

Please, please if you know of anywhere to make cash easily add it as a note and I'll add it to the list

Thanks for reading and I look forward to your suggestions and success stories

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Thought's on Hollywood Studios aka MGM

So, the latest DIBBcast (podcast found in itunes) asked a few questions that got me thinking... 1. which character are you most like? 2. If you could choose one attraction to get rid of which would it be, and what would you replace it with?

Which character am I most like? - that's simple right, head always in a book (currently Wuthering Heights) or singing, I love singing, so it'd have to be Belle. It's quite fitting really as Beauty and the Beast is my all time favourite Disney movie.

The other question that really got me thinking was getting rid of an attraction, and it's replacement. Now during the show most said they'd get replace the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular and I'm very tempted to agree. We've been visiting WDW since 2005 and having seen the show then I can say it hasn't changed one bit, having seen the show every single trip as it's something the kids always want to see I sadly begrudge having to sit through it, if there were back rests I have a nap. It's old, only funny the first time you see it, and the 'stunts' are pretty lame and performed during our last trip half-heartedly. I get that Indiana Jones has been a big seller and has a place in movie history but why not replace it with something more exciting, if they insist on keeping it then why on earth have they not changed it or updated it with parts of another of the collection. Nevertheless each and every time we visit the stadium is always packed, these must all be first timers and I'll be doing my best to avoid it next time we go!

But the other thing I find lame is the Lights, Motors, Action show which as a bit of a petrolhead is a pathetic car show, ruined even more by them telling you that the shell is on the car backwards and thus it has taken zero skill whatsoever to perform the 'stunts'!

For me, despite Rockin' Rollercoaster and Toy Story Mania, the Hollywood Studios or MGM as it will remain to me, is my least favourite of the parks, and one that we can completely finish in just a morning. The studios are definitely lacking the variety and number of attractions that the other parks have, with the rumoured opening of a Pirates of the Caribbean attraction, I'm praying some sort of Monsters Inc simulator/ coaster ride.. oh, and I'm convinced the appearance of a Carsland like Anahiem, I wait with bated breath for a reason to spend a full day in Disney's Hollywood Studios.

Check out for friendly advice on planning your trip to the mouse and find the DIBBcast on iTunes

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Under which roof?

In my previous posting I mentioned where we were staying on our up coming trip, we've been going to Florida since 2005 and though we do tend to stick with what we know, we have tried out a few different resorts.

So, as I've already said we'll be spending this trip between Animal Kingdom Lodge Jambo House and The Boardwalk, our absolute favourite resorts...

Before buying into DVC we had stayed mainly offsite with both International Drive and Lake Buena Vista, Hotel Plaza Boulevard. Now if you cannot afford to stay onsite at Disney, then Hotel Plaza Boulevard is the answer for you, it's positioned along Downtown Disney making it walkable within 10 minutes max from each resort along the road. Most Downtown Disney hotels are also listed as Disney's good neighbour hotels and so provide complimentary (though the drivers do have a tips box) shuttles to the parks throughout the day, and a bus to the Downtown Disney area after 6pm.
Also, in 2006 we stayed at Disney's All-star Music resort and loved the place, having stayed at many cheap motel/ hotels I was very impressed with Disney's cleanliness, this for me is an absolute must for accommodation - add this to Disney's 'Mickey' carpets and I'm perfectly satisfied.

Since buying into DVC we've begun trying out the different resorts though we absolutely must stay at 'home' AKL on each and every trip. So we've stayed in Jambo house, The Boardwalk, Saratoga Springs and Old Key West - we have tried for Wilderness lodge before but for those that understand how DVC works our waitlist didn't come through, for those that don't get it - essentially Wilderness Lodge was booked out during our dates. Currently, the Yacht and Beach club doesn't appeal to me, I'd rather stay on the Boardwalk though I guess as the boys get older and can go in the pool without us then Stormalong Bay will become a must do...

I'll give you my very brief opinions on each resort, these are just my opinions and are not meant to cause any offense or make you think twice about staying at a specific resort, after all this is Disney, they don't do things by half!

The Boardwalk, the absolute appeal of this place is the night time entertainment, the resort is so relaxed throughout the day but at night it completely comes alive, and it's fantastic if after a whole day in the parks you want to relax at tea time and then wander along to Epcot to watch Illuminations before crawling into bed. The decor is nice, don't get me wrong and I know it has theming but to me - it's just not themed... this is maybe because this is what I love about the Animal Kingdom Lodge...

The Animal Kingdom Lodge with it's African theming is just amazing! You're surrounded by animals whether you've paid for the savannah view or not (something we've only ever done once) as there are viewing platforms and windows all around the resort, including the night vision - you've guessed it, at night. Around tea time cast members begin telling stories and playing games with the kids, teaching them tribal songs and dancing. The resort has 3 restaurants, Boma a buffet restaurant that I must say we've only tried for breakfast - every trip, Jiko a more formal place with dress code which, having 2 young boys we've never had the opportunity to try, and the Mara, downstairs by the pool is a counter service diner where I've always been happy with the prices and the number of options throughout the day, you can also take your meal back up to your room which is very handy with the boys when they're tired and whingy.

Saratoga Springs resort, the bonus of this place was that we could walk to Downtown Disney in minutes, but we chose our location that way. We used this resort when we first purchased DVC and having received the previous years we opted for the 1-bed size room. The 1-bed comes with a kingsize bedroom with jacuzzi bath and a sleeper in the lounge, while this room size does come with full kitchen and laundry facilities I found that it wasn't good use of our points as we'd much rather eat out while on holiday, and members have free use of DVC laundry. We probably wont stay in anything other than a studio again, and save the points for further trips.
Our choice of room was miles away from anything else, we found that with the kids we had to take the car across to the dining and stores, however this was our choice of location and is not the case for the entire resort. I did also find the decor a bit plain here. The counter service restaurant was all that we tried here and with a family of fussy eaters there were fewer options here than an other resort counter service we've tried. I didn't hate this resort, I just didn't love it... however, I'd pick it over Old Key West...

Old Key West, I was begrudged to book this place but when we booked I needed 2 studios for a full week at a time and there just wasn't the availability at other resorts I had enough points to book. I know many owners at Old Key West but I just don't like the look of the place, for me it was just like a non-Disney apartment complex, it had no Disney feel that I've grown to love. Having requested to be close to the boat jetty and store we couldn't be placed further away, I asked again at check-in only to be told that was the only place that had space, though the resort didn't look too busy to me!
Our rooms was shabby, I thought they'd finished refurbing this place but our room must have been one of the few that hadn't been done. We were right out next to the freeway so at night found it to be noisy, this wasn't helped by the fact that our balcony door didn't close tight. Our balcony opened onto the aircon fans and this added additional noise but the foliage was so overgrown that no light came through the canopy, no sun on our balcony - might as well have not had one! the room wasn't filthy but it could have been cleaner and the bathroom was incredibly dated. I was not happy staying here at all and I wouldn't be happy to stay here again, the only way I will is if we cannot get a booking elsewhere. But, like I say I know many who stay here over and over and love it

One thing I can say about every resort we've stayed in is that if you have a door adjoining to the next room along your neighbours may drive you nuts. Now being in a hotel I do my best to keep my boys quiet, not silent but just not screaming at the top of their lungs - we've found that others are not so considerate and we have had kids waking us up morning and night with no sound of an adult telling them to keep the noise down!

Richard, my husband would love to try Baylake Towers, he loves the look of it, but the only appeal for me is having a view of the fireworks at night, I'd much rather stay in the main part of the Contemporary Resort. I'd like to try the Wilderness Lodge too - for no other reason that I like the look of it from the pictures I've seen, we've never been in but we do have a dining reservation at the Whispering Canyon for our upcoming trip.

That leads me to my next post I guess, dining that we've tried and want to try... you don't have to break the bank eating when in Orlando, we tend to stick to what we know but I'll give a post a go

Thanks for reading, and happy planning

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Disney planning

As all who've visited Orlando before will tell you the thoughts, dreams and plans for a 'once in a lifetime' or 'never go anywhere else' holiday are truly never ending. As DVC members the accommodation has been sorted for ages..

1st week at Animal Kingdom Lodge - Jambo House. We own at AKL but have only ever stayed at Jambo House (I'll save the Kidani Village discussion for a likes and dislikes post). I'm going to wander off track a moment while I explain our buying into DVC...

So before we bought into DVC I'd always dreamed of staying in Jambo House, what's not to love, it's amazingly themed throughout and is surrounded by animals. Yes, it's a little further out than the other resorts but with free Disney transport and free park parking when you're staying onsite how can anyone grumble (I've heard people grumble!). Some say it has dark decor but it's themed that way with an African feel. Anyway, we were staying at the Boardwalk using a fellow DIBBer's points and out of curiosity had a look around the bigger size villas, got chatting and fancied doing the tour, again out of curiosity - we loved the tour (we toured the DVC place at Saratoga Springs Resort), AMAZING! I loved the storybook room that you enter pretty early on in the tour, I wonder if they've kept this the same? as it really got my attention. Disney never fail to get my attention...
Anyway, so the tour came to an end and we went into a room with our tour guide - Darren from Ireland, very handy to have a guide from the UK as when you start talking money they actually know what you're on about... So as the talks of money begin I feign interest while un-beknowst to me my husband has started working out if we can afford it! Cue childish grin and pure delight when he agrees to it and begins signing all the paperwork!! Wow, were DVC owners and our home resort is my absolute favourite place in the world, I get so emotional when we walk in for the first time each trip - for me this comes so close to entering the Magic Kingdom, the sounds, the smells, the view!!

Back to the planning part, and our 2nd week will be spent at our very close favourite resort, the Boardwalk. We've stayed at the Boardwalk only once before but visit every single we spend hours just watching the world go by. Our boys love the magicians and other acts that are on each night and I must confess we are pizza lovers and so the hatch is a must for us. To make the most of our points we only ever book a standard view and a studio which as a family of 4 with 2 still young boys is ample room. We have tried out other resorts and on one occasion even a bigger room too but I'll leave that discussion for another day...

Today I've started looking into the ticket options and each year I become more disheartened by the increases in prices, I can see why so many people have been priced out of Florida - even though it's way more value for money than a European summer holiday and even Butlins (we've priced up so many other holidays but when it comes to the final costs it still works out better for us to go to Florida off-peak). My husband would like to try out Busch gardens and Legoland this trip as well as the compulsory Walt Disney World, Universal studios/ Islands of Adventure and occasional Seaworld and this has sent costs soaring, so we may later be discussing what we can do without, cue my worried face :( ... dare I say I'm leaning towards talking him out of Busch gardens, somewhere we've never been and suggesting a future trip that doesn't include Disney!!!

Is it wrong to base family planning on the increasing costs of a Florida holiday?!

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

The countdown to 'D'-isney Day

Today our countdown is 156 days, I know this thanks to 2 things; the countdown chart the kids and I made, and the countdown tool on the DIBB forums.

Even though our countdown to d day began more than 100 days before I made the chart, we didn't start the chart until 200 days. Our chart is drawn out on an A2 and although I've previously used coloured paper I had recently bought a giant sketch pad and so used that instead. I simply drew out a 20 x 10 grid and wrote out each single day from 200 down to 1 so the boys had a visual understanding of how far away their holiday is (I find it works wonders as they start asking over and over as soon as you tell them you've booked). 

As we now have a grid ready this is where the kids joined in, they have loads of Disney and Marvel sticker books, stampers, etc to use so they always enjoy decorating the charts - and the stickers used to fill in the days come from the packs I've bought specially from Hobbycraft - they have loads to choose from but we have gone for  the Sandylion sticker designs of Marvel heroes to denote Universal and the Disney ones, well for obvious reasons... but they do also have princesses, etc. I can't remember how much exactly we paid for them but it wouldn't have been more than £2 each and you get 100 stickers in each of varied designs. However, if one of the kids comes home from school with a sticker we use that on the chart either for decoration or in the countdown - the boys love to look back and recall what their sticker was for. Each day a different family member puts the sticker on, so we're all involved.

So I must confess that we do leave the house sometimes for days at a time and this can lead to confusion as to what number we should be at, this time to prevent the confusion I've also pencilled in the dates for easy catch up, and unless you look up close you can't see it anyway.

Now the other great thing about the countdown calendar is that you can see exactly when it's your 180 day for making Advanced Dining Reservations, and if you're Disney Vacation Club members then it's great for keeping stock of 11 and 7 month tweeking windows - I'll tell you our plans so far next time...

And, once you've finished with your countdown calendar, well it's no use to use as a countdown again then why not use it as decoration for your new savings tub... because everyone who's been to Disney knows that you get the buzz and will want to go time and time again!

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

My first day as a blogger....

Today my best friend Sarah and I took our 2 7/8 yr olds to see Disney's Brave. I can say I'm glad to not have taken our 3 yr old as quite simply he'd have been terrified of the dark moments with the witch and the bear, now I wont say anymore on what happens as I don't want to give it away.

i have read mixed reviews on the movie but I and Sarah thoroughly enjoyed it, as did the boys though I doubt they actually understood what the story was about, I'd say family loyalty, though if this isn't the whole point then someone please enlighten me.

As usual Disney have the soundtrack spot on and it's definitely something I'd listen to again. Merida is not your usual girly princess and it was definitely more of an action type, humourous animation than a sing-a-long type love story. There was some magic but not the creepy voodoo that put me right off The Princess and the Frog.

 On another note, husband just arrived home with a kfc, including 'cream balls'... these look amazing...

And, just to demonstrate how much the Disney magic has taken hold of our lives, our 7 yr old manages to spill his gravy after just a few dips and discovers this... good enough for us

We've had so many totally random hidden Mickeys I'll have to hunt for the pics from bruises to eyes on a potato! Where have you found Mickeys?

My 1st post as Disney.On.My.Mind

So I've often thought of starting a blog but never actually know what to write about so when a fellow DIBBer (I'll explain this in a mo) suggested this morning I should write a blog I decided to rise to the challenge.

A little about me then... I'm in my late 20's, and married with 2 boys and our house is essentially Disney mad, you'd be hard pushed to walk in to our house and not notice this fact - the pictures on the walls, the ornaments, bathroom toiletries and even kitchen utensils... oh and the fact that we talk Disney a lot! If I'm not speaking it out loud then I'm on my favourite Disney forum ( reading and discussing it.

Our first trip to Disney World was in 2005 when our eldest was just 14 months and we have been trying to go every year since, having also bought into the Disney Vacation Club it's almost become a necessity but for us simply is our 'Happiest Place on Earth'... As I write our next trip is exactly 161 days, 17 hours and 58 minutes away.

But, I'm not just a Disney geek I have other interests too but these are indeed overshadowed by my need for a little more Disney magic.
I'm currently studying with the Open University attaining my BA Hons degree in English Literature and Language - making me also a bit of a bookworm. I'll read most things though being a huge Bones fan I also love reading Kathy Reichs novels, sadly she doesn't write as quickly as I read and so over the last 2 days have demolished her newly released 'Bones are Forever'. This was made easier by my latest gadgety present from my husband, a Kindle. Now I always refused to have a kindle as I love to have a book in my hand but the fact that we don't have a decent bookshop within at least 15 miles means I have had to go without a book for what seems like eons. So as I sat with my new kindle in my hand, down came Bones are Forever and within a day and a half (along with a busy household to tend) that was that finished with and a need for something else to read, this is where I decided to be a good girl and start on my next module's set books and so have set about Oroonoko by Aphra Behn, which having read all the pre-story bits (which takes up 30ish % of the kindle book) I'm finally ready to begin properly.

I'm writing on a new laptop, freshly delivered due to Dicky breaking yet another (one of his many talents) so I need to transfer my photos across to be able to use them, but watch this space and in following pages they may just begin to appear

If you're still here then thanks for reading, I'm a pretty straight forward kind of person so should be easy to follow. I will warn you I'm prone to rambling though... this is your only warning!