Disney Sidekicks

Wordless Wednesday – Disney Sidekicks

Disney Sidekicks

In this photo, Donald Duck is the sidekick to Sophie!

Hello everyone, and welcome to this week’s Wordless Wednesday post! My friend Deb from Focused on the Magic has come up with a great theme this week, titled “Disney Sidekicks”, so let’s get right to it!  In the first picture at the beginning of this post, you see Sophie dancing with Donald Duck!  Since Sophie started dancing first from excitement, that makes Donald Duck her sidekick!

Disney Sidekicks

Rover lays down by his Human’s side in this scene from the Carousel of Progress!

In this next shot, Rover (do I have it right — for some reason my brain is drawing a blank this time!) is part of the scene from the 20s.  I would say that he is definitely the Disney sidekick this time!

Disney Sidekicks

Sophie sits on Goofy’s lap outside of Tony’s Town Square Restaurant!

This picture is one of the first pictures from our stay in 2007, right after we had eaten at Tony’s Town Square restaurant!  Sophie climbed right up into Goofy’s lap, so I think that makes her Goofy’s sidekick!

Disney Sidekicks

Sophie is MY Disney Sidekick for almost all things Disney!

Last, but certainly not least, I share this photo of Sophie near Cinderella Castle.  In almost all things Disney, Sophie is my Disney Sidekick!  She has written on the blog, she helps plan the trips, she tells everyone about my travel agent gig, and most of all, she helps Cindy and I have as much fun at Disney as we possibly can.

Thank you for stopping by tonight, now please, click on the button below to see the rest of the great entries, and thanks!

Focused on the Magic

Prayers for the Week – Relaxation

seek God-002

 

Hello my friends, and welcome to this week’s Prayer for the Week post!  Today, as we close down our Christmas week, one of the biggest blessings I experienced this week was the ability to just relax.  It is a shame that we all aren’t able to do that — my wife, for example, only had Christmas day off — and it is equally a shame that we don’t all choose to relax when we are given the opportunity to do so.  For me, though, relaxation is a true gift that I hope I never take for granted.  We have some serious prayer requests, so let’s get right to them, shall we?

Prayer Requests

  • Please pray for my friend Deb and her husband. Here is what she wrote on Facebook:
    Heading back to ICU to see hubby. Praying for some good news today…

    Here’s an update from Deb:Oh thank you Mike! He’s had surgery to stop the internal bleeding so prayers for healing would be greatly appreciated. His heart is showing signs of needing another stint (sp) so healing there too. His spirits are great though and have been throughout. We could use some peace of mind! Thank you so much!

    Please pray with me:

    Father God, we come to you to pray for your servant Deb and her husband. You know all of the health issues that he is going through, and we know that through You, all things are possible. Please lift up Your Servant so that he may feel the healing power of Your love, and please grant them all of the comfort and strength they need to get through this ordeal. Lord, aside from healing, perhaps the most important thing that we can grant to them is Your Peace to descend on them so they may feel Your presence in their lives. We ask for these things in the name of Your Son Jesus, who lovingly gave of Himself so that we might have Eternal life. It is in His name that we pray with Thanksgiving. Amen!

  • My friend Melissa has a prayer request for her dog. Here is what she wrote on Facebook:Mike, my dog Liam is dying. And he’s me and husbands best friend. I would really appreciate your prayers.
  • My friend Donna left this comment on Facebook.I’m not a Christian, but if you could aim your energy so that my 7 weeks of Unemployment checks that have been held up finally get released to me I would be grateful!

    Please pray for those that are saved and unsaved, so that they may know the true Peace of God in their lives. Thanks!

  • My Dreams of Disney reader Becky wrote this comment about Christmas, and how so many people suffer during this time of year. Please remember them in your prayers also.I know so many this year who are struggling with severe health, financial, or relationship problems. Holiday time seems to make struggling with these issues even harder. We must continue to pray throughout each day that they will feel and see God’s presence, peace, joy, and love in their lives, and be blessed with strength. Thank you for your page that reflects this.
  • My friend Catherine posted this on Facebook. Please pray for her Mom:Just to let those of you who know my mom she fell last night in our garage around 11pm & the garage was open & I didn’t find her until 630. She is at baptist health on warmers. Her internal temp was 89 degrees when she got here.
    Please say prayers that there are no long term effects.
  • My friend Brenda is left a prayer request on Facebook.  Here is what she wrote:

    To all my friends who are faithful believers in the one true God, please join me in praying for this precious family. Beth and Chris are newlyweds. They have a sweet little boy and so much love for one another it warms your heart. They have just found out that Chris has Stage IV cancer. They are keeping the faith and keeping their attitudes positive but I know the power of prayer and that this is what they need more than anything else. Won’t you please join me in lifting up this sweet family? I sure would appreciate it and I know they will too! Thank you!!

As you can see with these prayer requests, there is anything but relaxation going on for the families of these prayer requests.  The biggest thing that I think we, as Christians, can pray for is for us to be able to let go of our problems and let God take over.  When we do that, truly my friends, that is when it feels like the Peace of God pours down on us, and we really have a sense of calm about us.  So, my friends, pray, of course, for healing, comfort, strength, and all of the other things that our prayer requests need; but, on top of all of that, pray earnestly for God’s Peace to descend upon those that are suffering, so that they may know that sense of calm that will see them through the trials and tribulations that they are going through.

Praises!

  • My Dreams of Disney reader Vickie left us a prayer request last week about her jaw.  Here is her update, so give thanks to God for helping her out!  Here is what she wrote:
    Merry Christmas to you and your family! Love the pocket watch.Just wanted to thank you for your prayers. Doctors finally got me back up and running with a round of antibiotics and a root canal. I also received my Disney Magic+ flash drive today. Not really sure what it is for as I already had My Disney Experience on my home page, but it sure looks cool.

    Wishing you a blessed New Year,
    Vickie Kearns

    Vickie, thank you for your words, and we are glad that you are doing better!  I found out that you can use the flash drive just like a normal flash drive, so use it with pride!  It’s really cool to me to have a great flash drive like that!  I hope you have a Happy New Year, Vickie!  Thanks for stopping by!

Thank you everyone for stopping by and contributing to our post — and most importantly, thank you for praying for our requests!  Together, we can make a difference, simply by being the prayer warriors that God wants us to be.  Have a great week, everyone, and we’ll talk to you later!

Eight Weeks

Our Favorite Disney Memories – 2000

Walt Disney World welcomes you -- and I welcome you to share in our Favorite Disney Memories!

Walt Disney World welcomes you — and I welcome you to share in our Favorite Disney Memories!

Hello everyone, and thank you for coming by as we start our new series focusing on our Favorite Disney Memories!  Yesterday we kicked off the series, so today, we are taking a look at the first time I went to Walt Disney World with who would become my wife Cindy.  That year was 2000, the dates were July 3rd and 4th, and we went to the Magic Kingdom and Epcot on our short little getaway.  Here are our favorite Disney memories, both mine and Cindy’s.  Enjoy!

Cindy’s Favorite Disney Memory

When I asked Cindy about this trip back in 2000, she made a note that we have been going to Walt Disney World together for 13 years now!  It seems incredible that it was so long ago that Cindy and I went on that trip — we had travelled with my parents to my grandparents house so that Cindy could meet them — and they could meet her — so while we were there we decided to take time to spend a couple of days at Walt Disney World.  Believe it or not, this was Cindy’s very first trip to Disney — and as she told me the other day, the thing that really stood out to her is how incredible it all was.  She knew all about the Magic Kingdom, of course — to those that have never been before, quite often they think Walt Disney World is the Magic Kingdom and nothing else!  What she didn’t know, though, was that Epcot was a separate park, and that it was so cool!

We reflected on the time that day when we were in line for Test Track, and this Mom and her two kids were in line with us.  We had been waiting and waiting, and it was finally almost our turn, when all of a sudden one of the kids had to go to the bathroom really badly.  Since we had been talking, and they had gotten to know us, the Mom asked us if we would take her son on the ride with us while she took her daughter to the bathroom.  We did that, met up with them afterwards, and her son had the best time riding Test Track that day.

In the end, Cindy’s memory from that trip comes down to that Test Track ride, soaking in all that we could of Walt Disney World, and learning that I am terrified of the sound of fireworks — something I have learned to overcome with ear plugs!

Mike’s Favorite Disney Memory

Thinking back over the 13 years since that trip, the thing that stands out most of all for me from that trip is being able to share with the love of my life all that Walt Disney World has to offer, and explaining all the nuances that make up the Magic Kingdom and Epcot.  While we didn’t spend time in every park, we did hit the big two, and for me, my favorite at the time was definitely Epcot.  I loved walking through World Showcase with her, I loved experiencing all these things through her eyes, and lastly, I loved how the Disney Magic was in full swing because, despite it being July 3rd and 4th, 2000 — the first July 4th in the new millennia — the parks weren’t really all that busy!  Walt knew I had someone special with me on that trip, and he was determined to make sure that Cindy would enjoy that first trip as much as possible!

I hope you have enjoyed my trip down memory lane as we explored our favorite Disney memories from the year 2000.  Next week, we are going to take a look at January, 2001 — just six months later, when, as a newly married and pregnant couple, we would spend a weekend at Disney eating our way around Disney!  I hope you’ll come back and enjoy my memories from that trip as well!

Have a wonderful day, and until next week, please, take a few moments and tell me your favorite Disney memory from any trip you want to recall!  Just leave it in the comments, and thanks!

Is the Disney Dining Plan worth it?

Disney Dining Plan

By Mike Ellis.  The Disney Dining Plan is often a subject of great debate between Disney fans.  Some people swear by the Disney Dining Plan, insisting that they do not experience their vacation fully without adding the Disney Dining Plan — or getting it for free through a Disney promotion.  Others insist that the Disney Dining Plan isn’t worth the money you spend, that you end up overeating, not enjoying yourselves as much, and that the resort drink mug you get with your plan just isn’t worth it.

So where does the truth lay?  I’m betting that it is somewhere in the middle…

In this post, I’m going to take an in-depth look at the Disney Dining Plan and help you discover if it is worth it for your family, and if it isn’t, I’m going to also explore some options that may be a better fit for you.  As always, I invite you to comment and let me know your thoughts, and tell me — do my points make good sense or do you think I’m full of it?

Disney Dining Plan Options

There are three different Disney Dining Plan options.  Here they are, along with a quick description of what each plan offers you:

  1. Quick Service Dining — The Quick Service Dining plan will give each person in the travel party aged three and up two counter service meals per night of stay, plus one snack, along with a refillable resort drink mug.  The Quick Service Dining plan is the least expensive option.
  2. Plus Dining — The “Plus” Dining plan option is the one most people go for — it includes one table service meal, one counter service meal, and one snack per person, per night of stay, for everyone aged three and up.  It also includes the refillable resort drink mug.
  3. Deluxe Dining — The Deluxe Dining plan option gives each person in the travel party aged three and up three meals per night and two snacks per night of travel, along with the refillable resort drink mug.  The three meals can be any combination of table service and counter service meals.

Five reasons for the “Plus” Disney Dining Plan

For the purposes of this article, I am going to really focus on the most common option that people go for with the Disney Dining Plan — the “Plus” Dining option.  Here are my top five reasons why we love the Disney Dining Plan:

  1. I like the idea of having my vacation expenses already taken care of as much as possible before my vacation.  By ordering the Disney Dining Plan, I already know that I have my dining taken care of except for any alcoholic beverages (which are really few and far between) and gratuities to our wait staff.
  2. I am a person that likes to eat.  As a result, I like being able to try out restaurants that offer food that I won’t normally experience when I’m back home.  It is for this reason that I really enjoy Akershus Royal Banquet Hall in Norway.  The food is authentic, and is something I just won’t experience back in North Carolina!
  3. One thing we like to reserve is character dining restaurants.  By doing so, we are filling our bodies with energy during our meal, and we’re also taking care of a large number of our character pictures and autographs that we want to get as well!
  4. As you all probably know, one of the biggest things that I love about our Disney vacations is the Disney Magic and special Memories that we have experienced.  Many of them have happened during our table service meals, and I don’t want to miss those opportunities!
  5. Lastly, while there are a great number of incredible counter service restaurants — for my top ten, just click here — eating the Disney equivalent of fast food does get old after a while, and I don’t think that it is nearly as healthy as a good, relaxing, sit down meal at a table service restaurant.  For these reasons, I really enjoy the Disney Dining Plan.

Five reasons against the “Plus” Disney Dining Plan

Now, in comparison, let’s take a look at five reasons why the Disney Dining Plan may not be the best option for you.

  1. Expense.  The Disney Dining Plan is not cheap — in fact, for a family of four (two adults and two children aged eight and five) that is going to Walt Disney World in late June for six nights and seven days, the cost of their dining plan comes out to $930.48!  That is a huge expense.  For a family on a budget, that is potentially a big savings, depending on how they plan to take care of their meals while they are there.
  2. Picky/small eaters.  In many cases, guests that travel to Walt Disney World are either very picky when it comes to the food they like, or don’t eat a whole lot.  In either case, if you are making one table service reservation after another for your stay, you may find yourself or your kids not eating very much, and definitely not getting your money’s worth with regards to what you are paying for the plan.
  3. Your family is always on the go.  If your family is the type of family that is always on the go, wanting to get to the next attraction and the next show and on and on and on, the Disney Dining Plan may not be for you because you might not want to take time away from your time enjoying the great attractions and shows.  In a case like this, the Quick-Service Dining Plan might be a good alternative for you.
  4. “Scheduling your vacation.”  In many cases, people don’t like to go for the Disney Dining Plan because they don’t like having to make reservations for restaurants — they feel like they are planning every minute of their vacation because of the reservation times for their table service restaurants.  In cases like this, the Disney Dining Plan is probably not for you.
  5. Lastly, if you are not staying on Disney property for your resort stay, you can not participate in the Disney Dining Plan.

Tables in Wonderland

Tables in Wonderland vs. Disney Dining Plan

So, if you are leaning in the “against” group when it comes to the Disney Dining Plan, it’s okay — you can still take advantage of the great Disney table-service restaurants to enjoy.  If you have a big enough party size, one option that may be of interest to you is the Tables in Wonderland card.  This special dining card — which, by the way, is only available to Florida Residents, member of the Disney Vacation Club, or Annual Passholders — offers 20% off dining costs at over 100 Walt Disney World restaurants, and is good for the cardholder and up to 10 additional guests.  The cost of the card is $100, and the card is good for one year from time of purchase.  However, if you use the Tables in Wonderland card, you will automatically be charged an 18% gratuity, so keep that in mind when using it.  There are cases where I don’t think the Tables in Wonderland card is going to result in savings.

I hope that this article has helped you in your understanding of the Disney Dining Plan, and whether or not it is right for you and your family.  If you are interested in a quote for travel of your own, click on the image at the bottom of this post or on my sidebar on the right.  Each will take you to my quote page where you can fill in your information and generate an email to me for requesting a quote.  Also, if you have any other questions, please feel free to leave them in the comments, or email me at Mike@PixieVacations.com.  Lastly, let me know — do you like the Disney Dining Plan, or do you do without it?  Let me know in the comments as well, and thanks for stopping by!

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A Magic Kingdom Virtual Christmas Tour

Image courtesy and ©WDW Shutterbug

Image courtesy and ©WDW Shutterbug

My friends, many of you — like me, I might add — have never been to Walt Disney World during the Christmas season.  This is a bucket list of mine, that is for sure, but to date, I have not been able to experience the beauty, the majesty, and the fun of being able to take my family on that trip.  One day that will change, but today, I’ve got a very special treat for you.  My friend Andy — the creator of the Facebook page WDW Shutterbug, and a photographer on par or better than Tom Bricker, in my opinion, agreed to take some photos of the Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and perhaps even Epcot and the resorts — time permitting — so that I could share his work with you, and hopefully bring the Disney Magic home to you so that you can imagine, just for a while, what your experience might be like when you make it to Walt Disney World for Christmas.

If you have been to the Magic Kingdom during this time of the year, I hope you enjoyed it, and that you make it a regular point to get back there.  But, if you have never been before, well, this post is for you, and I hope you enjoy the Disney Magic that Andy’s pictures bring to your home, wherever that may be.  Now, sit back, relax, and enjoy our virtual look at the Magic Kingdom through the work of our friends at the WDW Shutterbug!

Image courtesy and ©WDW Shutterbug

Image courtesy and ©WDW Shutterbug

Image courtesy and ©WDW Shutterbug

Image courtesy and ©WDW Shutterbug

Image courtesy and ©WDW Shutterbug

Image courtesy and ©WDW Shutterbug

Image courtesy and ©WDW Shutterbug

Image courtesy and ©WDW Shutterbug

Image courtesy and ©WDW Shutterbug

Image courtesy and ©WDW Shutterbug

Image courtesy and ©WDW Shutterbug

Image courtesy and ©WDW Shutterbug

Image courtesy and ©WDW Shutterbug

Image courtesy and ©WDW Shutterbug

Image courtesy and ©WDW Shutterbug

Image courtesy and ©WDW Shutterbug

Image courtesy and ©WDW Shutterbug

Image courtesy and ©WDW Shutterbug

Image courtesy and ©WDW Shutterbug

Image courtesy and ©WDW Shutterbug

Image courtesy and ©WDW Shutterbug

Image courtesy and ©WDW Shutterbug

Image courtesy and ©WDW Shutterbug

Image courtesy and ©WDW Shutterbug

This is just a taste of what you can experience at Walt Disney World during the Christmas season.  Of all of these photos, my friends, tell me, which is your favorite picture?  Please let me know, and if you have a moment, click on over to Andy’s page and thank him for sharing his love of Disney with all of us!

Stay tuned for more pictures as we explore other areas of Walt Disney World!

Special thanks goes out to my friend Deb from Focused on the Magic, for hosting the Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop!  To see all the entries (including my first entry), click on the button below!

Focused on the Magic