Happy Thanksgiving from My Dreams of Disney

On this Thanksgiving Day, 2012, here at My Dreams of Disney we would like to take a few minutes and wish you and your family a wonderful, safe, and happy Thanksgiving!  We have so many blessings that God has bestowed upon us, one of the best is in this first picture — my daughter Sophie reading a book with her Great Grandpa, my Grandpa, the man she called “Poppy.”

My Grandpa isn’t with us any more, but these pictures are, and it is wonderful that I’m able to pull them up and look at them, remember the time it was taken, and give thanks to God for the blessing.  Not everyone is as fortunate in this regard as I am — I know many people that never knew their Grandma or Grandpa, or for that matter, even their own parents — so as I move on in years, I find myself realizing more and more just how blessed a person I am.

In the next pictures, I would like to share with you some of the pictures that I have taken or had taken, both inside and outside of Walt Disney World, that show how thankful I am for all of the blessings I have.  I hope you enjoy!

I am thankful for my wife Cindy — who loves me, even though I had socks on with sandals.

I am thankful to this rose, for allowing the hopeless romantic that I am to share a special moment with my wife Cindy as we passed through the lobby of Kidani Village.

I am thankful for Will, who not only was my best friend and roommate, but also my best man, and Sophie’s Godfather. He loves her like he would his own child.

I am thankful to my friend Amanda, who is a nut, but reminds me daily how to live life, and to take pleasure in the simple pleasures!

I am thankful to Kerry and Monica, especially Kerry, for showing that look of abject horror on her face so perfectly!

I am thankful to Kyle (left) and Shane (right), two brothers who walk with the Lord, but still know how to have fun, and remember the kid inside of them!

I am thankful for Shane and Stephanie, two souls that God brought together, and who are now on their own life journey together!

I know that these pictures do not even begin to do justice for all of the things that I am thankful for, but in the end, I guess what it comes down to is this:

I am thankful to my God for giving me the gift of love, in such abundant quantities, that I am able to love all of these people, plus the hundreds of people that I haven’t mentioned here.  While I haven’t posted a picture of them, they know who they are, and they know that I love them also.

I hope that you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving celebration, that you spend some great quality time with your families, whomever that may be, and that you are able to take a break from the hustle and bustle of this world, and for this day, at least, slow down, live, love, and laugh together with those you love.

Walt Disney World – Staying On Property vs. Off Property.

By Theresa.

Hello everyone, one of the first decisions to be made when planning a Walt Disney World vacation is whether or not to stay on Disney property. There are many factors to consider.  I will start off by telling you that personally, I prefer to stay at Disney hotels but will stay off property as well.

The first question is what do you want to see? Now if this is your first trip to Orlando, I will usually follow-up this question quickly with who is making the trip with you. This is important because while younger children will be easily entertained by visiting the Disney parks, older children and teens may want the added amusements of Universal Orlando parks and/or Sea World. However, I will usually suggest that a first trip be “strictly” Disney as it’s exhausting trying to fit Disney and Universal into the same trip if you have not been to either and want to see everything.

The next question is have you thought about transportation in Orlando? Disney does a great job of moving their guests around beginning with the journey from the airport. Disney resort guests can use Disney’s “Magical Express” which takes you from the airport to your hotel. My favorite feature about this service is that not only are they moving you but they move your luggage for you; in fact you don’t even need to hit baggage claim when you land. The only downfall to that is that typically your luggage arrives in your room a while after you actually check in.  However, this can be remedied by putting your most pressing necessities into your carry-on luggage. This also works in reverse as Disney resorts have an airline check in counter near their bell services site so that you check in for your flight, give your luggage to the staff and you needn’t worry about your luggage until you collect it at baggage claim when you land at your destination airport. This is also a great feature if you have a later flight and you want to hit your favorite park or do some shopping before you head home, just remember that you won’t be able to access your luggage so place any needed items into a small backpack or a purse. Disney also runs buses/boats and the Disney monorail to transport guests from their hotel to the parks. Off property guest transportation options are to rent a car (remember that there is a fee to park at both Disney and Universal Orlando) or use the hotel shuttle network. Mears Transportation can move you between your hotel and the airport (for a fee) and most hotels offer schedules shuttle service.

More importantly, Disney offers many perks to their on-site guests that I think make up for the higher room costs. A great perk are the “Extra Magic” hours. Each day a Disney park opens an hour early or stays open later. This reduces the number of guests in the park and cuts down on ride waits. Another extra is that rather than carry your purchases around with you throughout the day, you can have items delivered to your hotel room (it can take up to 24 hours for the delivery so you don’t want to use this perk on your last day). Hotel guests can also package their hotel stay with park tickets and even meals which are then added to your room key creating a lot less items that you need to carry and keep track of. Lastly, Disney hotels are clean, comfortable and themed. You will find that the many small details at each hotel will keep you interested and alert.

Let us know if there is something you’d like to know that we haven’t covered! Enjoy your Disney dreams and keep thinking of your next vacation!

My Dreams of Disney REALLY Came True!

The shot right before the Proposal!

Hello, my name is Shane and for those who have not read this post, my fiancée and I got engaged down in Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida and I would like to recount the events leading up to one of the happiest moments of my life up until this point.

Myself, Stephanie (my fiancée), and Kyle (my brother) had the opportunity to visit Disney World this year by the generosity of the writer of this blog, who happens to be Stephanie’s Uncle Mikey. The week up until the proposal was a particularly stressful yet remarkably enjoyable time of preparation for the perfect moment that was a surprise for Stephanie. I shared with her uncle my plan to propose in Disney and we decided that a night while in the Magic Kingdom during Magic Hours would be best. Magic Hours, for those of you who do not know, is a special time that the park opens either late at night or earlier in the morning for people who stay at the resorts. This afforded me a little more privacy in the proposal but as you will see also made it special for Stephanie!

Before making our trip, I had been asked almost as many questions as conceivable by my fiancée, Stephanie, about the proposal. She asked if I had a plan, if I had talked with her dad and if I would give her any clues. Fortunately, I did not break! We arranged for Stephanie to stay with her uncle at the Animal Kingdom Lodge while my brother and I would stay at the Pop Century Resort. We arrived down at Disney World and being confident in my plan we made our way to the day of the proposal without incident. Whew!

Kyle, Stephanie, and I spent the morning of the proposal in Animal Kingdom riding several of the rides and seeing the shows. We attended the magnificent Tusker House for lunch and had pictures taken with several of the Disney characters such as Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, and Goofy. After lunch, we returned to the Animal Kingdom Lodge because Stephanie had some homework to finish.

After spending time at the Animal Kingdom Lodge, I left to retrieve the ring from our room at Pop Century Resort and pick up some grocery items. This marked the onset of my nerves because I needed to convince Stephanie that I should go by myself (so she wouldn’t see the ring of course) and she should stay there to finish her homework. I was able to convince her and left with butterflies in my stomach. I retrieved the ring, stored it safely and secretly in the water storage part of my Camelbak, a place I knew she would never check, and made my way to the store. While in route, a terrible storm began rolling in and I was hoping to collect everything from the store quickly and beat the storm back to the park. Unfortunately, I did not make it out of the store long before walls of rain began beating the car and blocking my view. I ended up getting lost which added to the amount of time it took me to return.

Back at the lodge, Stephanie, my brother and her uncle and his family and friends were waiting patiently at the lodge for the storm to pass before being able to enter the parks again that evening. Stephanie had not been feeling well, was trying to finish homework, and was worried about my whereabouts. (What a day for a proposal huh?)

I finally returned to the lodge with the ring in my possession and the items from the store. I spent some time consoling my fiancée about the homework she had left (its not like I had anything important going on that evening, right?) and encouraging her to diligently get it done and praying the storm would pass so we could return to the park so that my plan would be a success.

Good news!…the storm passed, she finished her homework and Stephanie, my brother, her uncle, his family and myself began to make our way into the park. With my nerves growing, we took a ride on the ferry to Magic Kingdom for Magic Hours. My heart was pounding so hard I thought people around me were going to turn and look at me! We reached the park without incident and I visited the restroom to double check that the ring was still in my backpack. It was, of course, and we proceeded into the park. We made our way up Main Street, U.S.A. at the Magic Kingdom and to the bridge just before Cinderella’s castle. We ran into a photographer and all of us had our picture taken there on the bridge. I began to think to myself, “Should I do it here and now? I could have a professional picture of our engagement, right?” But I decided to wait and mentioned that I wanted to get a picture closer to the castle.

We made our way up to the front of the castle and Stephanie and I had a couple of pictures taken right in front of the castle by her uncle and my brother before entering into the proposal.

The Wedding Proposal

Get ready, here it comes….
My Dreams of Disney, Disney In Pictures, Cinderella Castle I took off my backpack and kept it in my hands as I began:

“So, you wanted a couple of clues right? Well I talked with your dad, I bought a ring, my brother knows about the proposal, your uncle knows about the proposal….”

I reached into my bag and pulled out the ring box. (Is the suspense killing you?! It was certainly getting to me!)

While getting down on one knee I asked, “Stephanie, will you marry me?”

Her tears began to flow as she nodded her head and said yes! She couldn’t believe it! She thought for sure that I would not do it at Disney and she was so surprised that she was nearly speechless. We received hugs from my brother and her uncle and his family and congratulations from several other people that were around us watching. She was grinning from ear to ear and it was truly wonderful! I will never forget that early morning on June 11, 2012, when my dreams of Disney really did come true!

P.S. She was so excited that the castle was purple when I proposed!

{Editor’s Note: As you can see, the story was not complete — until November 3, 2012, that is, when these two shining lights, pledged themselves and their love to one another, for all time.  Special thanks to Kara Smith Photography for being so gracious in allowing me to use this image!}

Image Courtesy and ©Kara Smith Photography