Magical Mouse Schoolhouse header

How Magical Mouse Schoolhouse Came to Be

Magical Mouse Schoolhouse header

{Editor’s Note: I am thrilled beyond measure to welcome my good great friend Jodi Whisenhunt from Magical Mouse Schoolhouse to join us today.  Jodi is a great writers, a great blogger, but even more, a great person, and it is my honor to have her on our site today.  Read more about her site, and please stop and thank her for taking the time to join us!}

I’m so excited to be your Guest today at My Dreams of Disney! Mike has graciously invited me to share a bit about Magical Mouse Schoolhouse and how the site got started. So, hi! For those who don’t know me, I am Jodi Whisenhunt, owner and feature writer of Magical Mouse Schoolhouse, a fan site that incorporates the magic of Walt Disney entertainment into homeschool lessons. I cover all the theme parks at both Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort in the United States, as well as the international resorts and Disney Cruise Line. Movies, music, and special events work their way in sometimes too, because there are infinite ways to learn while you play when Disney IS school!

The adventure began five years ago—no, let’s back that up a bit. Once upon a time…

I always loved Disney movies and entertainment, but I never visited any of the theme parks until I was in my 30s and married with children. My husband and I took our three children and my parents to Walt Disney World Resort in 2006 to attend the Ultimate Field Trip, a week of exciting events and activities onsite with hundreds of other homeschooling families from across the country. My kids were nine months, a month shy of three, and 11 years old at the time, and all but the youngest still remember that trip like it was yesterday. The thing all three agree on is that the magic is real! We dined with royalty at Cinderella Castle, took a private, after-hours safari and dinner at Animal Kingdom, and became totally immersed in the magic that IS Walt Disney World. The only thing that disappointed us was that there was no way to take it all in in that one week. Of course, that just meant we had to return again…and again…and again.

Cinderella Castle http://www.magicalmouseschoolhouse.com

A few years later, my friend Carol Beth Scott of 3D Travel Company, herself a veteran homeschooler and the creator of The Ultimate Field Trip, noticed that although she and I were already including Disney in our kids’ daily work, there were no resources on the web combining these two passions. She suggested I create a blog to stretch the boundaries of the home classroom. I didn’t want just a common, run-of-the-mill blog, though. That’s not the Disney way! The Walt Disney Company “plusses” everything they do; they take the standard and kick it up a notch. Likewise, with Magical Mouse Schoolhouse I strive to plus not only the homeschool experience, but also the Disney experience.

At Magical Mouse Schoolhouse, I publish fresh articles every Monday, covering a particular monthly theme. Each article uncovers educational tidbits that hide in Disney theme parks, Disney movies, Disney art, and more. You’ll learn about things like Epcot’s American Adventure Pavilion or Magic Kingdom’s Space Mountain, and at the end of each post you’ll see suggested homeschool activities that tie in to the subject being discussed. You’ll find assignments for various skill levels, from preschool through high school, in subjects such as physics, arts and crafts, and language arts.

Epcot American Adventure http://www.magicalmouseschoolhouse.com

Here’s a clip from a favorite post, “Magic Kingdom Park: Peter Pan’s Flight”:
Who hasn’t dreamed of flying? How often do your kids don a cape or fairy wings and pretend to soar? I mean, all it takes is a little faith, love, and pixie dust, right? Well, at Magic Kingdom Park, you can fly! You can fly! You can fly!

Peter Pan’s Flight takes Guests right into Walt Disney’s classic 1953 animated film, Peter Pan. Passengers board a colorful galleon and sail high into the London sky, glimpsing the Darling children’s nursery, flitting past Big Ben and Tower Bridge, veering toward the second star to the left, then straight on till morning…

Today’s Takeaway:
Look up! The weather van atop the Peter Pan’s Flight attraction was made to look like the pirate ship from the film Peter Pan. Weather vanes, in general, are instruments for showing the direction of the wind. Most are ornamental and usually include directional letters for north, south, east, and west.

Today, follow this tutorial from WikiHow to create either a decorative paper wind vane or a permanent wooden one…

SCHOOL SUBJECT: Meteorology, Arts & Crafts
SKILL LEVEL: Elementary

(Click here to read the article in its entirety.)

Weekly features include Wordless Wednesday and Tiggerific Tuesday Disney trivia, which until recently was a bloghop co-hosted by Mike here at My Dreams of Disney. Although no longer in linky form, we still enjoy our trivial Disney tidbits. You’ll find giveaways, product reviews, press releases, and other Disney entertainment information throughout each week. I also offer a FREE monthly educational incentive program called Earn Your E.A.R.S. (Enriching Academic Reward Series), in which students who complete each assignment receive a small reward for actively participating in their education.

In 2012 I converted blog to book with the publication of MAGICAL MOUSE SCHOOLHOUSE: Learn While You Play at Walt Disney World Resort (on sale for $11.31 at Amazon). The book has been a big success, and a subsequent Disneyland edition is currently in the works. I have found that although the site and book were originally geared toward home educators, anyone with kids in their lives can benefit from what is offered. Parents whose children are in traditional schools tell me they do the assignments to keep their kids from stagnating over the summer. Public school teachers have told me they’ve used some ideas to supplement activities in the classroom. Aunts and uncles and grandparents say they like to pull the book off the shelf to entertain visiting nieces, nephews, and grandkids. As I said before, when Disney IS school, there are no limits on ways to learn while you play!

Thanks, again, for letting us visit today! See ya at the Schoolhouse!

Keep up with Magical Mouse Schoolhouse’s current events on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and Vine.

How runDisney isn’t as bad as you think…

Welcome to the first stop aboard Magical Blogorail. Enjoy the ride as we share our experiences, tips, and info to help you runDisney.

Image ©Disney

Image ©Disney

The Princess 5K.  My daughter and I are going to be running in the Princess 5K on February 20, 2015.  We did much of our training for the race during the summer/early fall, and now need to do a quick recap of the training in the month before our big event.  As we contemplated doing this, one thing that we both started thinking about was how crazy it seems to be going to Disney to do a race. What were we thinking?!

After a brief moment of panic — and I mean very brief — we both stopped and regrouped to get our bearings.  The first thing that I reminded Sophie about was that we weren’t doing a marathon or a half marathon — we were simply doing the Princess 5K.  The 5K is just 3.1 miles.  No sweat.  I’ve run 5Ks before, and when we visit the parks, we easily walk upwards of 10 miles in a day, so there isn’t any reason why we couldn’t do the runDisney Princess 5K.

In addition, I told myself that doing this event isn’t just about doing the run.  This is a moment when my daughter and I can connect on something that just she and I are doing.  Sophie is a typical 13 year old teenager — so if you are a parent of one that age, you know that the days when your baby wants to hang out with you and do things that you like to do together are starting to be few and far between.  This race has been a great way for the two of us to spend more time together, to do the things together and to extend that bond longer.

Also, the race is Frozen themed — and we all loved seeing Frozen so much that we saw it more times in the theater than I think we ever saw any other movie.

Lastly, when you do the race, you’ll receive one of these special medals — depending on which race you are doing:

Image ©Disney

Image ©Disney

So, in the end, the takeaway I have with the runDisney experience will be this (I hope):

runDisney: It isn’t as bad as you think!

What do you think?  Have you ever done a runDisney 5K or some other runDisney race?  What did you think of it?  Let me know in the comments, please, and thanks for stopping by!

Thank you for joining me today. Your next stop on the Magical Blogorail Loop is Home is Where the Mouse is.

Why Updating the Site will Change Your Life

cropped-cropped-My-Dreams-of-Disney-Header-1368x240.jpg

Well, okay, maybe my title goes a little far — perhaps it won’t change your life, but updating My Dreams of Disney may very well change my life!  Today, my friends and readers, I’m embarking on wholesale changes to the site.  The purpose is to serve you better, to give the site a brand new look and feel, and to explore where my crazy imagination will take me!

This is a long term project, but don’t worry — a lot of the content that you look for at My Dreams of Disney will continue on.  We’ll still have our weekly Prayers for the Week posts, we’ll still have our Magical Blogorail posts, and we’ll still have great Disney content spanning the globe.  Content such as my favorite Magic Kingdom restaurants, which pavilion at Epcot is my favorite, why I like Disneyland better than Walt Disney World (and vice versa), and what great Disney movies are worth seeing.

Have any questions?  Feel free to leave them as a comment, or shoot me an email at mickey@mydreamsofdisney.com.  Or, write on our Facebook Page or shoot us a Tweet.  Of course, don’t forget to check out our Pinterest boards for some great pictures for your planning ideas!

Speaking of planning, don’t forget that I’m a part time travel agent with the great company Pixie Vacations.  If I can be of any service in helping you plan and enjoy your next Disney vacation, do not hesitate to reach out to me.  Just click this link to fill out a quote request, or shoot me an email at Mike@PixieVacations.com.

Thanks, everyone, for your continue support of our site.  It means a great deal to me to know that I’m helping you, whether it is just for a quick Disney fix or for something more in-depth.  Have a great week, and I’ll talk to you later!

Your Pal,

Mickey

PS.  We’re going to keep the site name as My Dreams of Disney, but don’t forget we can help you make My Dreams of Disney into Your Dreams of Disney!

Magical Blogorail – Dreaming of a Disney Christmas

MB-Green-Logo

Welcome to the first stop aboard Magical Blogorail Green. Enjoy the ride as we discuss Dreaming of a Disney Christmas.

Walt Disney World at Christmas

Image courtesy and ©WDW Shutterbug

Image courtesy and ©WDW Shutterbug

For so many people, Walt Disney World at Christmas is the perfect time to visit.  Since I’ve not been fortunate yet to be able to visit during the Christmas season, I’m dreaming of a Disney Christmas — and perhaps adding a few touches here at home to allow my family to have a bit of a Disney Christmas without leaving home!

My friend Andy is the creator of the Facebook Page WDW Shutterbug, and it is thanks to his wonderful talent and generosity that I’m able to share with you many of the sites that I could picture in my minds eye, even before he sent me these photos.  At the top is one of my favorite pictures of all time, featuring Cinderella Castle nestled at the end of a lit up Main Street, U.S.A.  For this post, I’m going to share with you some of the wonderful scenes you will be able to enjoy when you visit Walt Disney World during the Christmas season!

Magic Kingdom

Image courtesy and ©WDW Shutterbug

Image courtesy and ©WDW Shutterbug

Cinderella Castle is all decked out in twinkling lights. This year, they have added a Frozen motif to it, and it looks incredible.  The picture above is from last year, but is still just as incredible to me.

Image courtesy and ©WDW Shutterbug

Image courtesy and ©WDW Shutterbug

One of my favorite ways to take photos at Walt Disney World is by including the reflection in the water in the shot, as my friend Andy did here.  Stunning, that’s all I can say about this shot…

Image courtesy and ©WDW Shutterbug

Image courtesy and ©WDW Shutterbug

As you can see, it’s not all Christmas lights at the Magic Kingdom.  Here, a Toy Soldier is proudly on display among all the great Christmas decorations on Main Street, U.S.A.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Image courtesy and ©WDW Shutterbug

Image courtesy and ©WDW Shutterbug

The Christmas Magic isn’t limited to just the Magic Kingdom, though.  Here, you see part of the scenery for The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights!  What an incredible display of scenes to capture the imagination with!

Image courtesy and ©WDW Shutterbug

Image courtesy and ©WDW Shutterbug

The picture of the Nativity Scene is, to me, what Christmas is all about, and I really like this picture.

Epcot

Image courtesy and ©Denny

Image courtesy and ©Denny

In many ways, though, I think the true Spirit of Christmas is on display over at Epcot with the Candlelight Processional that is performed throughout the Christmas season.  Each night, a celebrity guest tells the Christmas story with the help of musicians.  I think that this will be my favorite part of Christmas at Disney when we are able to experience it for ourselves.  Special thanks goes out to my friend Denny for sharing this picture with me.

Back at Home

Of course, a Disney Christmas doesn’t have to be spent at Disney — although, that’s the way I want to do it one year.  For us, since that isn’t in the cards this year, we have decided to add a little Disney right here at home.  My neighborhood is big on Christmas lights and decorations, so we have added two significant Disney characters to our “blow-up” collection.  Here are pictures of them for you to enjoy!

Minnie adorns our front yard this Christmas!

Minnie adorns our front yard this Christmas!

Olaf is one of the ways we celebrate a Disney Christmas -- at home!

Olaf is one of the ways we celebrate a Disney Christmas — at home!

His name is Olaf, and he likes Warm Hugs!  It’s not like being at Walt Disney World, but my neighbor Harry told me that Olaf is the talk of the neighborhood!  What is your favorite way to celebrate a Disney Christmas?

Thank you for joining me today. Your next stop on the Magical Blogorail Loop is Heidi’s Head.

Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail should you happen to have to make a stop along the way and want to reboard:

1st Stop ~ My Dream’s of Disney – Dreaming of a Disney Christmas
2nd Stop ~ Heidi’s Head – Dreaming of a Disneyland Christmas
3rd Stop ~ Mommy To All Girls – Dreaming of a DCL Christmas
4th Stop ~ Frugal Mouse – Dreaming of a Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party
Final Stop ~ Superheroes and Teacups – My Dream Christmas Trip to the Walt Disney World Parks

High Disney Expectations Can Make or Break Your Vacation

You’ve dreamed of it for years. You’ve planned it out for months. You’ve been packing for days. Now it is time. Your trip to a Disney Theme Park is about to begin!

Will it live up to your expectations? (Photo from Disney PhotoPass CD)

Disney is probably one of the most talked about, and hyped, vacation destinations of all time. We all know someone who has been. We have all seen advertisements for the latest promotions. In one way or another, we have all built up a bias as to what we expect.

Is this true of you?

If so, perhaps you were influenced by the Internet. It is filled with Trip Reports. This is when a person visits one of the Disney Theme Parks and then takes the time to tell the world how it all went. They list what they liked. And they list what they didn’t like.

One Trip Report that was posted on the MSN homepage did just that. But what stood out to me was one assessment about a certain attraction. It is called Soarin’, and is found in EPCOT at Walt Disney World. This ride simulates hang gliding over California. They said, basically, that it was a disappointment because their children thought that they would be really flying. When it turned out to be only a simulation, they called it lame.

And therein lies the problem with basing our perception of a Disney Park on what other people experienced: their experience was tainted by expectation. Would we fail to enjoy Soarin’ too because it is a simulation, and not the real thing? Possibly. And yet Soarin’ remains one of EPCOT’s most popular rides. So who is right? It is impossible to say.

What we can say is that we are more likely to enjoy our visit to The Happiest Place on Earth if we just go and take it for what it is, and not what someone else expected it to be. A Disney Park offers something for everyone. Yes, you may not enjoy Soarin’, but you will definitely enjoy some other ride. Overall, you will have things that you liked, and things that you didn’t like. Just like everyone else.

Does this mean that we shouldn’t read Trip Reports? Of course not! These can sometimes be informative, and provide a basic guideline for planning our trip. But should they be used to make a final decision about a ride, attraction, or Park? By no means.

I had just one expectation when I planned to visit Walt Disney World back in 2005. I expected to have fun. And I did! Some things weren’t what I thought they’d be. Other things were. Did this make or ruin my trip? No!

The point: Don’t expect your expectations to turn out the way you expected! But of course, that’s just my opinion.