July 28, 2014

Geek Den Review plus Lanyard GIVEAWAY!!!

Who wants a Lanyard?!?! Better yet, who wants a Disney-themed Lanyard??? Look no further than Geek Den. Jen Lai has some really cute and cool lanyards sure to please any child, teen or adult! Just check out the Disney and Star Wars-themed lanyards below!

Image provided by Geek Den
Did you notice they're embroidered with a Disney font? Yay! You've got to visit Geek Den on Etsy, because not pictured are the Toy Story Woody and Jessie lanyards, as well as the Chewbacca lanyard.

Review
I chose a "Tigger" lanyard for my son. Jen was very professional and helpful throughout the ordering process. The lanyard arrived about a week after I put in my order. It came packaged so cutely! Wrapped in matching ribbon, with a Mickey sticker - its arrival 'presentation' was such a treat. The lanyard itself is made with soft fabric and full of character! My son is going to love showing off his Disney pins while wearing this lanyard. Jen's lanyards cost $13 - and in my opinion are worth every penny as they're personalized, very durable and can be made to fit anyone!



GIVEAWAY!!
For a chance at winning your very own personalized Lanyard from Geek Den, enter using the Rafflecopter form below. One winner will be selected on Monday, Aug 4 (2014) and notified via email and given 48 hours to respond and claim their prize. Winner will be given their choice of one (1) lanyard plus their choice of name to be embroidered onto the lanyard. Open to Residents of the United States only. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: I received a free lanyard from Geek Den in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

July 24, 2014

Meet Morgan… the Magic behind Cover Bands, DVC Central and The Source!

Have you entered our Cover Band Giveaway yet? (It ends Sunday July 27th!) The creator of Cover Bands is Morgan Crutchfield, who also runs DVCCentral.com and is the Author and Editor of The Source eMagazine! She's got a lot on her plate, but thankfully she happily agreed to an interview so we can get a better look at all that she does! Enjoy!

WDW Hints: How did you come up with the idea to start DVC Central?

Morgan: Disney Vacation Club ownership is a great thing, but as a member I had a ton of questions and no really reliable source to go to when I needed quick answers. I started a Facebook group in 2012 to put together a group of awesome people who not only had questions of their own, but had a lot of experience in the Disney properties. As the group grew, I started answering questions not only about Disney Vacation Club, but about vacationing at Disney in general. In 2013 I decided to make a run at doing what I really love - helping people make the most out of their ownership and their trips. My group has been the foundation of everything Central has become and I’m so grateful for everyone who supports me.


WDW Hints: How long have you owned a piece of the Magic?

Morgan: I’ve been an owner since 2009.

WDW Hints: What's your favorite DVC property?

Morgan: I have always been so fond of the Boardwalk Villas. I grew up going to Boardwalk with my family and it holds so many special memories for me.

WDW Hints: How did you come up with the idea of Cover Bands?


Morgan: My son was a HUGE fan of the wrapped monorails and, honestly, I loved them too. As my friends began decorating their MagicBands with nail polish and storebought stickers and running into problems with getting stickers to stay and nail polish to look just right, I got in touch with a friend who owns a print shop and said, “If we can wrap a monorail, why can’t we wrap a wristband?” He said, “Well, we could,” and the rest is history.

WDW Hints: Which Cover Band is the most popular?

Morgan: It’s a tossup between the two Frozen-inspired designs and the Haunted Mansion issue. We’re getting ready to release some new designs on August 1 that I think may eclipse the popularity of our most loved designs now.

WDW Hints: How many team members help you run DVC Central and/or The Source?

Morgan: This is an answer I don’t let go of often, because it seems so cool to have a big team, but it’s actually just me. I am so fortunate to work with amazingly talented photographers who collaborate on my double-page spreads in The Source as well as an editor who keeps me correct, but everything else you see from photography to writing to social media is me.

WDW Hints: What made you start creating The Source?

Morgan: I love all of the ways that I can get information to people on social media platforms, but I realized in working with my group that people wanted something they could really look at and pour over when they weren’t at the parks. Lots of larger companies in media and other areas had moved to digital publishing, and a magazine that allowed me to put out incredible pictures as well as information just seemed like the natural next move. I’ve been through several changes since the first issue, but I think I’ve settled on a price (free) and a format (quarterly with mini issues in between) that work for everyone.

WDW Hints: Are there any other projects in the works?

Morgan: Always. I’m a little spazzy with my ideas. Just ask my friends.

WDW Hints: How often do you visit WDW?

Morgan: Before 2014, I visited WDW a few times a year. In early 2014 I packed up and moved down to make sure I was getting the best information and staying on top of the pulse here. It was really scary, but the best thing I’ve ever done. Now I’m in the parks several days a week.

WDW Hints: Can you tell us your WDW Disney favorites?

Morgan: Absolutely! I love the Magic Kingdom, It’s a Small World and the Rapunzel bathrooms (I know, I know, but I’m a Rapunzel NUT), breakfast at Boma, Cronuts and Artisans de Glaces Ice Cream, and (geeky confession) the Hall of Presidents.

WDW Hints: What is a favorite Hint (or lesser-known tip) you'd like to share with our readers?

Morgan: There are so many great sites like yours with awesome information so my biggest tip is to find us all! But I think my most useful hint is that getting a Red Card (debit or credit) at Target will allow you to save 5% instantly on Disney gift cards when you purchase them with your Red Card. We use gift cards for everything from paying our room balances to meals to merchandise. 5% doesn’t sound like much initially but it can really add up.

WDW Hints: Thanks so much for taking the time to answer our questions, Morgan!

Morgan: Thank you so much for these questions and I hope to see you all in the parks!

July 22, 2014

Baby Announcement Made on Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin!

Meet Catie… (she helps us with Graphics!)
My husband and I are self proclaimed Disney nerds. What started out in 2008 as a one day trip to Hollywood Studios escalated into 2 trips to DLR and 2 trips to WDW within the last calendar year. After numerous trips to Walt Disney World, we felt like we were home. We knew where we wanted to go, what we wanted to see, what we wanted to do, etc. On each trip, we kept looking for ways to set it apart from our previous trips. We began with the Quick Service dining plan. Then we tried the Table Service dining plan. Then we tried a couple different tours. Every time we fell in love with Disney that much more!

Heartbreaking News
Before continuing with our story, I want to share some more of our back story. During our previous WDW trip in November 2013, I thought I was pregnant the entire 2 week trip. We didn't rent a car and we couldn't find a pregnancy test on WDW property. When we got home I took a test that very faintly confirmed I was pregnant with our first baby! We were very excited to say the least, but sadly 6 days later we lost the baby. It was a very sad time for me and one of the things that took my mind off of our baby was our upcoming anniversary trip to WDW.

Anniversary Surprise!
We headed down to WDW April 29 - May 5 to celebrate our 4th wedding anniversary on May 1st. The timing couldn't have been more perfect. Hollywood Studios was also celebrating their 25th anniversary the same day, and it was the first park we had visited together. Disney magic was definitely in the air for us! I had began to feel the same pregnancy symptoms the week leading up to our trip, so I packed a few pregnancy tests just in case. I had taken a test the Saturday before our trip that was negative, but I just KNEW I was pregnant. So I "patiently" waited until the following Saturday (May 3rd) to test again and it was POSITIVE!

We were very very excited but also, scared to death!

While in Disney… Make it Magical!
While being at the most magical place on Earth we knew we had the perfect opportunity to find a way to share the news with our families. We began thinking of rides that offered ride photos so that we could hold some kind of sign sharing our news. We didn't like any of the ride options that immediately came to mind. However, Magic Kingdom would be open until 2 a.m. Sunday, May 4th and we were hoping for any opportunity to ride Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.

Around 1 a.m. we figured that all hope was lost for 7DMT so we went over to Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin and when we got to the ride photo we knew we had the perfect ride! It was slow moving, indoors and dry! We jumped off the ride and headed over to the gift shop and asked if they had a piece of paper and a marker. Once we told them what we had in mind they quickly helped us out! We rushed back over to Buzz and hopped on for our perfect ride photo! I quickly found the camera in the wall and knew exactly where to look into the camera, but I couldn't explain it well enough that hubby could find it too. So, after several attempts (6 to be exact!) he wasn't looking... or the sign was behind the joy stick... or we had weird looks on our faces.. or the camera just DIDN'T take our picture, it was nearing 2 a.m. and we knew we only had one more shot!

By this time, all the cast members working the attraction knew what we were trying to do and were cheering us on! We tried it one final time, knowing it was all or nothing! We stepped off the ride at 1:58 a.m. and even though hubby still wasn't looking at the camera we deemed it was as good as we were going to get! We headed over to the photo counter and told the young lady which ride photo we wanted. She gushed over our baby sign and showed all the other cast members in the area that didn't already know. She started quickly pushing buttons and adding photos of all sizes to our order. I thought it was a little strange because we never told her what sizes we wanted. I assumed it must be one of those package deals where they print the photo and ask if you want the bundle. 


"This One's on the Mouse!"
She came over with our prints (1- 8x10, 2-5x7's, and 4 wallets AND the digital rights to print more photos!) and told us to have a magical night! We tried to ask her how much we owed for them, but she told us this one was on The Mouse! She said it was a "Disney Magical Moment!" Indeed it was! Bringing home a baby was the best souvenir we could have gotten! 

Here we are several months later and I am happy to announce that I am 15 weeks pregnant with our baby boy!  ~Catie


Editor's Note: A great big CONGRATULATIONS to our team member, Catie!! We're so thrilled for this news and look forward to the arrival of this Blessing in January!

July 20, 2014

Cover Band Review and GIVEAWAY!!!

Have you been wanting to dress up your MagicBands but not necessarily with the bulk of Disney's Magic Bandits? Then you've got to try Cover Bands made by Morgan of DVC Central!

Cover Bands are vinyl decals meant to add some personality to your MagicBand! Cover Bands are water-proof and can be removed (although not reapplied.)

We tried out a Cover Band and it worked wonderfully! It was easy to apply, has stayed affixed to my daughter's MagicBand, and it certainly 'Cinderella-fied' her pink Magic Band.


If you somehow ended up with a Grey MagicBand and want to dress it up a bit, or if you just want to add more Character to your colored band - then you've got to give Cover Bands a try!! Be sure to view all Cover Band designs right here!

Giveaway!
Guess what?!?! We're debuting Cover Bands latest set right here, right now on WDW Hints! Check out these brand new Peter Pan designs! Even better news is that we'll be giving away one of these Peter Pan sets to one of our lucky readers!! Enter now through the Rafflecopter widget below!

Peter Pan Cover Band Set: Hook, Smee, Pan, Tink & Wendy
Photo courtesy of Morgan from DVC Central/Cover Bands
Our giveaway of this Peter Pan Cover Band set (5 cover bands) begins Monday, July 21st (2014) at 12:01 a.m. (eastern) and concludes Sunday, July 27 at 11:59 p.m. Winner will be notified Monday, July 28th and will have 48 hours to claim their prize. This giveaway is open to everyone Worldwide! Good luck!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

July 19, 2014

Become the Artist of the Day at Olivia's Cafe!

Have you ever been chosen to do something special or have you been honored in some way at Walt Disney World? Perhaps your family has opened up the Magic Kingdom, or maybe your child was selected to Throw the First Pitch at Casey's Corner. If you visit Olivia's Cafe at Disney's Old Key West - you just might be selected as the Artist of the Day!


On every table in Olivia's Cafe, you'll find jars of crayons. The hostess will automatically give children a Disney coloring page, but adults can participate too - just ask! While waiting for your meal, have your child color to their best ability… as the Hostess walks around, she'll keep an eye on everybody's artwork.

At some point during your meal, you may hear a loud gong! This usually produces a hush around the restaurant and the Hostess will then give a magical little speech and make her way over to the chosen Artist of the Day and award them with a Disney balloon and certificate! It's a complete surprise to the recipient, but one that's sure to make a memory.


Even if you aren't selected as the Artist of the Day, at Olivia's Cafe you'll experience great food, wonderful service and get to take your very own artwork back home with you - a fun souvenir!

Have you or your child ever been selected as the Artist of the Day? Feel free to share your magical moment in the comments below!
~Terri

July 17, 2014

Movie Review: Disney's Planes Fire & Rescue

As with most movie sequels, many people claim that the first movie is always best. In my opinion though, Disney's Planes: Fire & Rescue is better than the first. There is much more of a storyline, a better climax, and the message of the movie is wonderful.


The movie begins with Dusty Crophopper still flying as a World Champion Racer. However, during a practice flight, his engine has some trouble and he's diagnosed with a bad gear box. He is told he can't fly competitively again until it's replaced. Unfortunately the specific gear box he has is no longer in production… so his friends begin searching high and low for a replacement. In the meantime, Dusty realizes that although he can't race, he can still fly, and Dusty chooses to serve others by becoming a Firefighter. He trains with a crew to become a certified aerial Firefighter and learns that the real heroes are those that put their lives at risk to save others.



We viewed this movie in Real 3D which made for wonderful graphics and added to the 'feel' of flying. The storyline, in my opinion, held my attention more than the original Planes movie. The kids that I viewed this with (ages 3 - 6) said they liked the first Planes movie better because they liked the racing aspect. I believe adults will enjoy this 2nd movie better, as Firefighters everywhere are honored, and the message of real heroism is told. The kids certainly enjoyed Fire & Rescue - they enjoyed Dusty's new look and how he 'scooped' up water. As with the original Planes movie, the adult humor returns… humorous jokes that adults will catch but will fly over little ones heads. Entertainment for everyone is included!

The movie opens with a dedication to all Firefighters, and closes with recognizing many firefighters that helped them out with the production of Planes: Fire & Rescue. HINT: Be sure to stay through the credits in order to see what becomes of the Secretary of the Interior!

Will Dusty get his gear box replaced? Or will he accept his new life as a Firefighter? Find out when Disney's Planes: Fire & Rescue hits theaters, tomorrow - July 18!!


Disclaimer: I was provided with complimentary tickets to see an advanced screening of Disney's Planes: Fire & Rescue. All opinions expressed here are my own.

July 10, 2014

Five Things Every Nanny Should Know Before Taking the Kids to Disneyland


If there's one thing I could write a book about, it's how to be a successful nanny. I've been babysitting since I was twelve, was a live-in nanny for a summer, and have pretty much perfected the art of bribing children into JUSTBRUSHINGTHEIRTEETHBEFOREBEDGOSHDARNIT. But the one thing that ALL of this preparation never even came close to preparing me for was my first Disneyland day with the children that I watch two days a week. Bless those children for still loving me after my planning frenzy and the very quiet, very serious drive home, because I don’t think that child-Grace would have been cool with the grown-up, super-anxious, plan-centric Grace that came out for that trip. And even though I planned every detail, things strayed from the original agenda… as they tend to when you take a six year old boy and an eight year old girl to Disneyland. Here are five things I learned from that 105 degree day in Anaheim: 

1. Never underestimate the power of agenda.
I know I just told you that my plan didn’t go exactly how I wanted it to go, BUT every minute I spent planning TOTALLY paid off, because, as I’m sure any reader with kids can predict, children are masters of “I want to do this, and because I want to do this, that means that NOW is the perfect time to do this, no matter what time it is or what anybody else is doing.” It’s adorable. Right? …RIGHT? Totally. So cute. But, AWESOME as that phenomenon is, it can be advantageous to have a general outline of attractions you plan to visit that day: (“OHMYGOSHCANWEPLEASERIDEASTROBLASTERSPLEASEPLEASEPLEASE!” “[Insert child’s name], I know you want to ride Astro Blasters, but remember when I told you that we were going to tackle the Fantasy Land rides first, and you told me how excited you were to ride Peter Pan? Let’s stick to that super-fun plan we made, and I promise we’ll get to everything you want to do today.”)

I did this by giving the kids a list of all the rides in the park and telling each of them to circle three rides that they COULD NOT live without riding in red marker, then circling two more that they really wanted to ride, but less so, with blue marker. Ideally, we could ride every ride any day we went, but Disneyland in summer is NO JOKE with respect to the crowds, people. NO. JOKE. We were lucky to get onto as many as we did (thanks to my epic planning).

2. More than one kid? Just do one park!
Siblings (or friends, let’s be honest) are going to bicker about what they want to eat, where they want to sit on rides, which rides to ride, etc. etc. I wish there were some way to avoid this, and I know I’m preaching to the choir here when I say that IT’S AWFUL AND TERRIBLE, especially when it’s hot (LIKEONEHUNDREDANDFIVEDEGREESHOTAAHHHH), which is why you should just make your life a little easier by minimizing the number of attractions available to you on a given day. If you are taking more than one kid, JUST DO ONE PARK. Don’t park-hop. Just don’t. You will hate everyone and everything and the happiest place on Earth will just not mean anything good to you anymore. Which...think about that: that’s sad.

3. Mid-day ice cream is a MUST.
It’s hot during the summer in SoCal. There is just no way of getting around that, no matter how short your shorts are or how small your shirt. In the words of Aziz Ansari: TREAT YO’SELF. Do not worry about carbs today. About half way through the day, STOP and EAT A TEN DOLLAR ICE CREAM in the shade. I promise, it is the best way to keep spirits high when you are IN THE THICK OF THE CHILDCARE TRENCHES. If you take only one piece of my advice, let it be lucky number 3.

4. Backpack essentials.
I was debating putting this in here. And then I thought about how much I love making lists. Use this checklist for your backpack next time you take the kids to Disney, and you will be just fine. (This list omits obvious things like wallet and sunglasses, but INCLUDES snarky comments.) (This list also assumes that your kids are past stroller age.)
  • EXTRA water bottles. The small ones. I had two kids with me, and also cared about hydrating myself, so I brought six. Just line the bottom of your backpack with them. (This WILL be a heavy backpack. You are going to WAR here, soldier! Get used to hauling around the supplies!) (I mean Disneyland…you’re going to Disneyland.)
  • As many kinds of sunscreen as you can while still feeling like a sane person. If those kids—your beautiful, sun-crazed, precious cargo—get sunburned…it’s your fault, and they will make sure you know this. Sunscreen application should be happening more than just regularly.
  • Baby wipes. A travel-sized pack from a drug store will do. Have the kids use them to wash their hands before and after eating, to clean off tables you plan to sit at...well, basically anything. (As a nanny, you should never really be without these, anyway.)
  • Hand sanitizer. Bath & Body Works sells nice-smelling ones for about a dollar a piece.
  • Snackage. This is “officially” frowned upon, but I’ve brought full-on Lean Cuisines into Disneyland in Tupperware containers before. Nobody cares. I’m not saying bring Lean Cuisines, but, like, Goldfish are good. You know. Line food.
  • Band-Aids. This should be another thing you always have on you, but...just in case. Obvious reasons.
  • Hair elastics and clips. For you, if you have long hair, as well as if any of the kids have long hair. Hot days plus long hair equals sweaty necks, and equally uncomfortable kids, and equally uncomfortable nannies.
  • LIGHT (VERY LIGHT) sweaters for the kids if you plan to stay for fireworks or Fantasmic. Never a bad idea. Also, if you find yourself forced onto It’s A Small World: first, good luck; and second, for whatever reason, it is COLD in there!
  • Tie two shoelaces together into a large loop for playing Cat's Cradle with. This sounds stupid, but trust me: it's the best way to get through a long line in the sun.
[My list was far longer, but I realize that not everybody likes to carry a backpack big enough to hold a grown man around Disneyland, so I pared this down to what I consider to be the most important things.]

5. Try not to sweat it if the kids are going bananas.
The last thing I will leave you with is something I struggle with: just chilling out. Honestly, things will not go according to plan, you’re going to get tired, and then you will become irritated. But remember: these kids that you’re watching? They look up to you, and they are so happy to be spending the day at such a magical place with you. Try not to ruin it for them by being a grump. Me, with my Type A personality…I have issues with this. But I have been so lucky to spend so much time around kids—they truly teach you the value of stepping outside of your perfect agenda when it is appropriate. Remember that Disneyland really is a magical place, and it’s magical for EVERYONE, not just the kids you’re taking care of. You really can have a good time waiting in hour-long lines with these kids, as long as you're willing to let them show you how.

Hopefully the snarky comments didn't mislead you—I love children. Working with them brings me indescribable joy. And these kids that I’m watching this summer? They are beautiful, brilliant kids with so much to admire. For all the moments we spend as caregivers being irritated, emotional, or otherwise not stoked, any nanny can tell you how rewarding an experience it is the first time a kid tells you that they love you, or that they are going to miss you. Because, not so secretly, even though you get mad, you love them, too, and you miss them when they’re not around. Try to remember how sweet and lovely they usually are while you're sugaring them up and letting them run around a 105 degree theme park on a crowded day, while you chase after them half-heartedly, being sad and wondering where your life is headed.

~Grace

July 9, 2014

The Great Movie Ride… Have You Experienced the Western Scene?


One of the main attractions for family members of all ages at Disney’s Hollywood Studios is the Great Movie ride. The exterior fa├žade reminds guests of the Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, CA. Once inside guests board a ride vehicle with bench theater style seating. As their journey begins guests are taken through an animatronic tour of the movies.


Most guests just board whichever ride vehicle they are directed to. However, if you ride during the day, there are two different stories to experience. One ride vehicle will take you to a gangster scene while the other will take you to a western scene. In the western scene there is a large explosion at the bank and lots of fire. This western scene is only offered during the day and can be requested by guests when they reach the first cast member.


The ride also features one other hidden gem. There is a hidden Minnie and Daisy on the left just before the pyramid scene.

Next time your family visits Disney’s Hollywood Studios be sure to check out the Great Movie Ride’s western route and the hidden Minnie and Daisy!



Kristin Zarchan is a travel agent for Pixie Vacations. She is the mom to three wonderful children including a special needs son. She has traveled to either Disney World or Disneyland once a year for the past 20 years. She fell in love with Epcot when a friend’s family took her to Disney for the first time when she was 14. Her favorite ride both then and now is the Haunted Mansion. You can follow Kristin on twitter or Facebook.