Why We Go To Walt Disney World

Sophie with her Meemaw, August, 2006

When I first started going to Disney World, little did I know that I would end up taking my family there year after year after year.  The first time I went to Disney, my Mom and my sister and my Grandparents took me, and it was a lot of fun.  But over the years of visiting my Grandparents in Disney during my teenage years, I ended up going to Disney World just three times — and one of those times I went by myself.

It’s funny, but I really don’t think that I got what the whole Disney experience was about until the time that I took Cindy, the lady that would become my wife, to Disney over July 3rd and 4th, 2000.  Cindy had never been to Disney before, so I was able to show her the parks (we went to Magic Kingdom and Epcot on that trip) and help her to explore Disney World, and discover her own Disney Magic.  We were getting married the following month, so in some ways this was our honeymoon before the wedding, and we had so much fun that trip.

Our next trip just happened to be the following January!  We were pregnant with Sophie, our daughter, and had a long weekend, so we decided that we should take the time to spend a long weekend at Disney World.  It was during that trip that we saw a wedding party being transported by way of Cinderella’s Royal Coach over at the Wedding Pavilion, and I told Cindy that if Sophie wanted to get married at Disney World, well, that was all right with me!  Since we were pregnant, we were unable to ride the big thrill rides like we normally would have, so that was the trip where we ate our way through Disney, and enjoyed every minute of it, I might add!

After that trip, our Disney adventures slowed down a bit, but that doesn’t mean that the Disney Magic wore off!  Even though we didn’t take our next trip until Sophie was four, we were still indoctrinating her in the classic Disney Magic through movies, pictures, and books.  We bought Sophie’s first movie, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, before she was born, in part because with the purchase we would receive a set of four lithograph prints, which are still in her room to this day.

Our next trip to Disney (and Sophie’s first trip) was when she was four years old.  We were invited to go to Florida with some of our friends, and we ended up spending three days at the parks.  We saw Magic Kingdom, a little bit of Epcot (for a character breakfast at Akershus), and Animal Kingdom.  We were staying off property, but we had the best time with our friends.  Despite the fact that Sophie was just four, she remembers it to this day, and looks forward to the next time that we are able take vacation with her friend Riley again.

Beginning with our trip in 2005, we started taking annual trips to Disney World for at least one day.  In 2006 we took my Mom with us for a day, as she was staying with my Grandparents for the summer and we came down to visit them.  It was a fun time, and yielded some of the following pictures from that day.

Sophie & Mickey

In 2007 we started spending our vacations at Disney World and also started staying on property at one of the Disney resorts.  The first two years we stayed at Coronado Springs Resort, and in 2009 and 2010 we stayed at Port Orleans French Quarter.  In all of those visits, we have not had a bad experience at any of them.  The benefits of staying on property versus staying off property are significant in my opinion.  I think I’ll save that discussion for another day!

However, I still haven’t answered the question of “Why we go to Disney World”.  The answer, really, is simple: because it is the best place that we have found to leave life behind for a while, to explore the Magic that is Disney, to remember days gone by when the world moved at a slower pace, and to remember what it feels like to be a kid.  Just take a look at some of the priceless shots I’ve gotten of Sophie in her favorite moments!

Sophie’s Painted Face at Animal Kingdom
Sophie and her BFF Riley
One of my favorites — Sophie was so excited!

So there you have it — some of my reasons why we go to Walt Disney World.  Why do you go to Walt Disney World or Disneyland?  Why not tell me in the comments, and thanks!

Enter to win a $150 Disney Gift Card!

Disney Gift Card

My friends from My Dreams of Disney, “Mouse”cation, Mouse and Memos, Mousekejournals, and other great blogs are having a terrific contest that you should check out!  In it, they are giving away a $150 Disney Gift Card and a customizable Disney tote bag to one lucky winner!

The contest started on Monday, December 10, 2012, and continues until Tuesday, December 18, 2012 at 11:59PM, so there is plenty of time to enter, but don’t delay!  You can receive entries for liking Facebook pages, following some Twitter accounts, and sharing the contest, tweeting about the contest, and leaving a blog post comment.  Sharing the contest and tweeting about it can be done once per day, so there are entries you can get for each day!

What would you do if you won the $150 Disney Gift Card contest?  Would you spend it on Christmas presents?  Save it for your next Disney vacation?  Or, would you do something totally crazy with it?  Tell us in the comments below and let us know!

To enter the contest, head on over to My Dreams of Disney and follow the requirements in the Rafflecopter code in the post.  Good luck everyone!

The Disney Photopass System — Is it worth the cost?

During our last trip to Disney World, one thing my sister-in-law and I decided was that we were going to pre-order the Disney Photopass CD and load up on pictures taken by the Photopass photographers at the parks!

Disney does a great job of having Disney Photopass photographers at all of the popular photo locations.  Some of the prime locations, of course, include in front of all of the main “iconic” features at every park, along with some of the top ride locations.  However, you can also find them in some great out-of-the-way locations, such as this shot we had over at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

The borders in those pictures above are a neat thing that you can do with Disney Photopass pictures.  There are a ton of great borders and other items to add to the photos, and Disney does a great job in showing you specific borders based on the setting. 

The key to the whole system is the Disney Photopass card.  It looks like this:

These cards all have a unique code on the back, and it’s okay, you can have multiple cards.  Disney also has a special pre-order option that you can use if you know you want to get the Photopass CD.  By pre-ordering before your trip starts, you can save yourself $50 and then have a credit in your photopass account to order the CD with when you are ready.  Follow these steps first to get going if you are interested in this option:

  1. Go to the Disney Photopass website and create an account if you don’t already have one.
  2. Disney has a special link for pre-ordering the CD, which will save you a good bit of money!  They also offer the Ultimate Memory Book, which is something you should look at if you are interested in going all out — but beware, it is pricey!
  3. The key is that your Photopass CD will only include the pictures that you take after you purchase the credit, that is why you should purchase it before you go.
  4. The nice thing is that you can have as many of the Photopass cards as you need.  If you have a large group, it can be a good idea (especially if you split up) to give each person a card to carry with them.
  5. After you get home, add the cards to the account that has the Photopass CD credit on it, and at that point, you can start adding borders to the photos you like.  You can add multiple borders per picture, and they are each saved as a new version, so you get multiple copies of the same picture, each with it’s own border, and the original that is untouched.  Keep in mind though that the pictures expire in 30 days unless you purchase extra time, so don’t delay!
  6. Lastly, the Photopass CD credit is good for as many pictures as you have taken on the cards, so if you have 2,000 pictures, then you’ll get the number of CDs you need to fit all the pictures on there.  And you’ll also get some bonus pictures with various characters also!

For our family, we ended up with 229 photos on our photopass CD.  While we didn’t get as many pictures as we originally thought we would, we did get some truly memorable pictures, especially the ones from Bibbidi Bobbiti Boutique, so I think it was worth the investment.

I don’t think the Photopass CD is something that I need to do on every trip, but it is something that I will consider doing when we have special trips that include a large group of people that we don’t normally get to have vacation with very often.

Dining at the Liberty Tree Tavern

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Liberty Tree Tavern is a one table-service credit restaurant on the Disney Dining Plan, and reservations for this restaurant are recommended.  When we last ate at the Liberty Tree Tavern, it was way back on Sophie’s birthday, June 19, 2008, and it was a character dining location.  Minnie Mouse, Pluto, Chip & Dale came to meet us, and it was a wonderful setting for a character meal.

Liberty Tree Tavern is no longer a character meal, but I’m betting that the food is as delicious as ever!  Themed much like the land that is occupies, Liberty Square, the food is based on what you would find during the Colonial Days, when the United States was in it’s infancy.  Here is the dinner menu, the kids menu, and the lunch menu for you to peruse at your leisure.

The dinner menu is served family style, with wonderful dishes, I remember how good it all was when we last ate there!  The lunch menu is ordered off the menu, and features such dishes as pot roast, pasta, and other great dishes.

During our most recent visit, we invited along Sophie’s best friend Riley to join us.  It was Sophie’s birthday, and the two of them had so much fun all day long at the Magic Kingdom!  It was during this dining experience that I was able to get these pictures.  I love the way that Minnie Mouse is all decked out in period clothing!

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Riley (left), Minnie Mouse, and Sophie (right)
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Sophie loves to kiss the noses of the characters!  I’m not sure why…
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Riley and Sophie with Dale!

The are two reasons that we stopped going to Liberty Tree Tavern.  The first is because they changed it out of being a Character dining location.  We really enjoy our interaction with characters, and have always enjoyed being able to do that while eating, and not have to wait in line to see them.  So when they stopped it being a character location, it kind of lost a little bit of it’s appeal to us.  I know, that seems kind of a lame excuse, and it is, but it’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it!  The second reason is because we actually ate at Liberty Tree Tavern two years in a row, both 2007 and 2008, and we wanted to try out other restaurants.

When we are a little older, I can see us coming back to Liberty Tree Tavern to have a meal there again.  It is a wonderful atmosphere, with wonderful food and theming, and in 2007, when we had finished having lunch there, we just happened to have some Disney Magic on our side, and we walked out of the restaurant just in time to see one of the parades come right by!  I was able to snag these and other photos from our viewing location!

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Chip on Parade!
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Donald Duck and Pluto!
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Minnie Mouse!
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She has that float all to herself!

I really enjoyed Liberty Tree Tavern the times that we ate there, and will give it a try again in the future.  Although we haven’t been there for a number of years, I still have fond memories of the restaurant, including when Cindy and I ate there when we ate our way around Disney.  It was then that Cindy claims that she “got the goods” on me and my “crush” on Minnie Mouse.  I keep telling her we’re just friends, but she’s not buying it!  Still, I think Cindy likes eating there also, so we’ll be back again, I think.

Have you eaten at the Liberty Tree Tavern?  What are your impressions of it?  Please tell me in the comments, and thanks for stopping by today!

My Dreams of Disney is just that…My Dreams of my absolute favorite place in the World! Stop by and share your Dreams too! Check us out on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+, and check out our special pages on the Lands of the Magic Kingdom, the countries of Epcot’s World Showcase, and our new Disney Planning Resource pages!

What Could You Do With A FREE $100 Disney Gift Card? Here’s How to Win!

The Disney Moms, that fabulous group of writers that help you plan your Disney family vacations, are giving away a $1oo Disney Gift Card. Woohoo!!

Disney gift card, disney world gift card, free disney, free disney gift card

What could you do with $100? At Disney World, you could buy nearly 20 cupcakes.

Disney Cupcake

You could bring home 10 small Mickey or Minnie dolls for all your friends.

Minnie Mouse doll

Or you could buy five Mickey Mouse hats, one for each day of the work week. This would make you a real hit at the office.

Mickey Mouse hat

Yup, you would indeed look great in that hat.

There are just two days left to enter, and you can’t win it, if you’re not in it! Do your friends a favor, and let them know about the contest as well.

The contest ends Monday, April 16th, 2012 at 12:01 a.m., and the winner must meet all the contest requirements to be eligible.

To enter the contest, click here to access the entry page, and good luck everyone!

While you’re here, how about reading some Disney articles…

Important Life Lessons Kids Can Learn from a Disney Vacation

The Disney Princess and Her Jewelry: Silver and Bold

The Disney Princess: The Big Secret of a Little Store Called Basin

The Disney Princess: Three Affordable Gifts Your Little Valentine Will Love

Planning Your 1st Trip to Disney World? Use This to Get You Started…

Lovin’ Some Disney World Snacks, Only This Time, They’re Drinks!

Think You’re Ready for a Disney Vacation? Here’s a Mileage Tip You Seriously Need to Know

The next Disney Mom’s Contest: A $100 Disney Gift Card!

Did you have as much fun as we did with our last big giveaway, when we had a contest to give away a Dooney & Bourke Purse?! Well then, we’re in for a surprise for you — or maybe not, based on a poll we ran earlier in the month!

The readers have spoken with their mice, and starting in six hours, at 12:01AM on Sunday, April 1st, 2012 — and this is NO April Fools Joke — we will be giving away one $100 Disney Gift Card to a very lucky fan! The contest will run until Monday, April 16th, 2012 at 12:01AM. Your authors debated running it until April 15th, 2012 — the traditional Tax Day in the United States — but decided to run it until April 16th so that you could have that mad rush of getting your entries in at the last minute on April 15th, just like many of us used to do when we mailed our tax returns to the IRS at the last possible moment!

To enter the contest, click here to access the entry page, and good luck everyone!

Meeting Your Friends at Disney!

My Dreams of Disney

Cindy, Sophie and I have been going to Walt Disney every year since 2005.  In 2005 we went with some of our best friends, whose daughter is Sophie’s BFF.  In 2006 we took my Mom for the day, and starting in 2007 we started going on our own, until 2010 when my niece Stephanie came with us.  In 2011 my sister-in-law and her family came, and we had a great time.  However, for all of those trips, it wasn’t until the trip we took in October to celebrate the Magic Kingdom’s 40th Anniversary that I finally met some of the people that I have relied on nearly since the beginning of my hobby as a Disney blogger.  This post is special in that it tells what these incredible people mean to me!

One of the biggest highlights of our trip was meeting my Sister-in-Christ Brenda.  She joined Chip & Company some months ago, and we immediately struck up a great friendship because both of us love the history of Walt Disney.  So when I found out that she was going to be there, I knew that we had to meet!

The funny thing is, when I met Brenda in person, it really felt like I had known her for years!  Brenda has a genuine personality that loves to laugh, have fun, and enjoy visiting Walt Disney World.  We had our picture taken in front of the big Troll in Norway; we all rode Maelstrom together; and we cemented a friendship that had begun online and continues to this day.

My Dreams of Disney

In addition to meeting Brenda, we also met quite a few of the great travel agents from Pixie Vacations!  For starters, we met my good friend Chris, who is hysterically funny.  Surprisingly, Chris lives in the town next to mine, yet we had never met until we met at Walt Disney World.  I also met Natalie from West Virginia, Lisa and Steve the owners of Pixie Vacations, and Bob, another of the Pixie Vacations gang.  What is really cool about all of them is that they also were part of the Mouse Chat Podcast, one of the funniest and best Disney podcasts on the Internet.  Since I met them, I had to get a picture of them all, so here it is!

My Dreams of Disney

Adults From L-R, Lisa, Brenda, Mike, Bob, Chris, Natalie, Stephanie, and Steve

In addition to meeting all of these great people, I also met George.  Unfortunately I don’t have a picture of George, but let me just say that I don’t know that I’ve ever met a bigger Disney nerd then George, and I mean that in the best possible way.  George is the creator of Imaginerding.  On top of all that, when it comes to Disney, George is, to put it mildly, cool.  I know it seems like an oxymoron to be both nerdy and cool at the same time, but somehow, George pulls it off.  Check out his site and you’ll understand what I mean, I think.

I hope you have enjoyed my post!  Have you ever met friends at Walt Disney World?  Tell me all about it in the comments!

Why You’ll Love Animal Kingdom’s Finding Nemo: The Musical

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Every photo has a story.

When it comes to Disney’s Animal Kingdom, one thing that stands out in my mind as much as anything is the quality of the shows that you can experience at the park.  In my opinion, Disney has three live shows that are as good as any I’ve seen — and could compete against some of the best Broadway musicals — and Animal Kingdom has two of them on display every day for you to enjoy.  Today I’m going to talk about Finding Nemo: The Musical. [Read more…]

Our First Walt Disney World Resort

Our First Disney Resort

In August of 2007, Cindy and I decided to take Walt Disney up on its offer, and stay at the parks for a longer period of time than just a day or two.  We had been the previous year with Meemaw, and the year before with Leigh Ann and Riley (and family), and seeing how much fun it was with them just fueled our need for more Disney Magic!

So Cindy and I decided to take the plunge and book a resort to stay at.  We had always assumed (somewhat incorrectly, I might add) that staying on property was 1) for those with more money than sense, and 2) really, really expensive, so when we looked into the idea, I know that I was thinking we weren’t going to be able to swing it.

Boy, was I ever wrong!  Have you ever stayed at Disney World on property before?  If you haven’t, I really suggest that you take a look at it.  Not only are there all sorts of different themed hotels for you to choose from, there are also several different levels that you can stay at depending on your budget!

For those with large parties, or smaller budgets, there are the Walt Disney World Value Resorts to choose from.  They include the following resorts:

  1. Disney’s All Star Movies Resort
  2. Disney’s All Star Music Resort
  3. Disney’s All Star Sports Resort
  4. Disney’s Pop Century Resort
  5. and, coming in Summer 2012, Disney’s Art of Animation Resort.

These resorts are all classified as value resorts, which means that they are the least expensive of the Disney resorts.  In many cases, though, they can be worth it if you have large parties because some of these resorts offer rooms that can sleep more than 5 people.

Cindy and I felt that, after researching all the properties, and also speaking with some of our friends, that the value resorts were more like “hotels” and less like “resorts”, so we decided not to do any of the value resorts.  After that, we looked at the Moderate Resorts.  They include:

  1. The Cabins at Fort Wilderness Resort
  2. Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort
  3. Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort
  4. Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter
  5. Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside

We looked at a lot of them, but in this instance choose Coronado Springs Resort.  We liked the Aztec influence in the decor, we thought that the big pool looked really neat from Google Earth and the website, and the color scheme chosen for the buildings was really quite nice.  We enjoyed it a great deal!  For this first year, we booked our trip directly from the Disney World website.  The special that year was the free dining plan.  Book a stay at a Disney resort, stay a certain number of days, and you will get the Disney Dining Plan for free.  That means that one snack, one quick service meal, and one table service meal per person per day is already paid for!  Doing the dining plan for us meant that we were able to go to a lot of restaurants that we wouldn’t normally go to, which meant that we could choose character places so Sophie could get a ton of autographs, and we wouldn’t have to pay for a lot of food while we were at the parks!


Hello, My Name is Mike

Hello, my name is Mike, and I am the creator of the Disney Blog My Dreams of Disney. I have been helping Amanda out with her blog, helping her get it going, and I am proud to say that I am going to be writing for her on a monthly basis!

I took my first trip to Disney with my Mom, sister, and Grandparents in 1979, and I remember the feeling that I had as I walked down Main Street, U.S.A. for the first time. I liked it so much that I wrote about that experience as part of the 40 Days to 40 Years project over at DISTherapy.com.

In June 2010 we took my niece Stephanie with us to Disney World, and after that trip, I decided that a Disney blog was needed as a way for me to document all of our memories of our trips to Disney World. After I started the blog, all sorts of other Disney angles started opening up. I started My Dreams of Disney on September 8, 2010, and by Thanksgiving I was writing for Chip over at Chip & Company. Then, in February 2011, I started writing as part of the Magical Blogorail, and then in November, based on some of the relationships I developed through Chip & Company and the Magical Blogorail, I became the “Disney Dad” on the new site The Disney Moms!

I have been extremely fortunate in the friendships that I have established since I started my Disney Blog, and I look forward to cultivating more relationships.  Thank you for stopping by, and I’ll talk to you more later!