How to Handle Grief on a Disney Vacation

Have you ever been on a magical vacation and received not so great news? Did you receive bad news before said vacation and decide to travel anyway? It happens more often than we think. This is a personal story from our very own Meredith about her real life situation. Read her take on how she handles grief on a Disney vacation.

How to Handle Grief on a Disney Vacation

To begin, I never set out to write this as a blog post. I just needed to edit my travel photos from a year ago and couldn’t bring myself to do it. I just sat down, and something compelled me to login here and write. You see, most of what we write here on The Mouse and the Monorail is informational or instructional in some way because we love to help you all get the most out of your Disney vacations.

However, this post is going to be different. Let’s talk about something entirely different. Let’s break the blog post mold today. Don’t worry, it’ll be okay. Buckle up, this may be a bit heavy both with subject matter and number of photos. You’ve been warned.

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Grief is Part of Life

We’ve all heard of the story of little Lane Graves and how a family vacation changed that family forever. Just the other day I read of another family who had a Make A Wish trip and lost their sweet little girl on their day at Walt Disney World. How magical and incredibly sad all at once! My heart goes out to all those who’ve experienced some sort of loss while vacationing.Sidenote: Did you know they’ve erected a memorial for Lane? Note to self: visit at the Grand Floridian next time I’m there.

Okay, so it’s not what you were expecting on a happy and fun blog about all things Disney, right? The thing is, though, life still happens regardless of when and where you are. It often happens in the moments you weren’t expecting. While many people see Disney parks as the happiest and most magical places on earth, there are many others out there who have experienced sadness there as well. Here I am trying my best to not cry with one of my favorite Princesses, Tiana.

Unexpected News on a Disney Vacation

My experience is a little more drawn out than most. You see, it all started last summer when Sarah, Amy, and I decided we’d like to plan a Mouse and Monorail squad trip to Walt Disney World. It coincided with training Amy and I were doing and was a perfect time to have fun on a ladies only getaway. I couldn’t wait to go and come back to share all the wonderful things we got to experience. We were going to report on how amazing it is to travel sans kids. We were going to cover Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party and talk about experiencing a passholder preview. I even happily snapped photos of the poinsettias and giant Christmas tree Disney had on display as they were my grandmother’s favorites during Christmastime.

It’s Not Always Magical

But then, like a Disney villain coming to pop our overpriced Mickey balloons on Main Street, life came knocking. Three out of the seven of us got calls during that week that our grandmothers weren’t doing well. Sarah and Jennifer are cousins, and I’m glad they had each other when finding out their news. My call came later in the week, during Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. How am I supposed to enjoy myself here at the Magic Kingdom and celebrate Christmas when my elderly grandmother is being admitted to the hospital?

Coping with Grief on Vacation

I managed. That’s the short version of the story. In my own head though? I was a mess! The party was still nice and I would definitely attend it again. I was glad, though, that we were heading home the next day. Things didn’t get better for my grandmother, and she remained in the hospital before passing away on November 19, 2017. We attended the November 9th party and she was gone in ten days. Everything stopped for me. That’s it, I thought. No more grandparents left. It’s a hard pill to swallow if you’ve lived to be 36 years old with at least one living grandparent. Unfortunately, Sarah and Jennifer were in for a similar fate as they too lost their grandmother in the coming days.

The Magic of Friendship

What I didn’t expect out of this trip was that I found a group of ladies that were there for me at just the right time. I couldn’t have asked for better women to be surrounded by during this time, even after we were back at home in various parts of the country. Not only had we all met in a single location and enjoyed a wonderful trip, we had gained true friends. To my squad ladies specifically, you will never know how much your kind words meant and still mean to me. I’m forever grateful.

Meredith’s Background

As an aside, before setting out to become a Disney blogger and travel agent, I was a photographer specializing in portraiture, but loved photographing anything and everything. I even went crazy one year and completed a full 365 day photo blog project with a friend. I still love photography and very much enjoy photographing my travels and experiences. I’ll be sharing more over our on Instagram account if you’d like to follow along.

Animal Kingdom is going to have an INCREDIBLE summer!Usually returning home from Disney means time to have fun editing all the photos. This time, however, I just couldn’t bring myself to even look at how happy I was. I didn’t want to revisit it because I knew it would stir emotions in me. I didn’t want to revisit the sadness. Even if I did get them edited, I didn’t want to share them because it would look like I was happy to everyone when, really, I was hurting. Insert more life stuff happening and it soon became a matter of time as well. I had so many things going on, I just couldn’t squeeze it in.

Sailing Away with Disney Cruise Line

Fast forward to April, and I set sail with my family and extended families (both sides!) on the Disney Fantasy. We enjoyed the Western Caribbean itinerary and loved our Star Wars Day at Sea.Upon returning home, it was back to normal life. I was already so far behind with editing the squad trip photos that I didn’t edit the cruise photos either. Don’t get me wrong, I shared some. The cruise was a much needed break from reality and was a wonderful way to have my own moment to say goodbye to my grandmother. She was fortunate enough to be able to sail with us in 2016 and made our Castaway Cay day quite memorable.

It was bittersweet for me revisiting Disney’s magical island. I cried on my own and had a moment to reflect on all that we were able to do with her. I also grieved the fact that my uncle wasn’t with us. He passed before we set sail and making the phone call to remove him from the reservation was rough! That said, I’m so grateful to have had that cruise with my family, including my Aunt who still came along with us despite her loss.

What’s So Special About Disney Anyway?

Traveling with loved ones is something that I hope all of you are fortunate enough to experience. For a long time, I didn’t want to edit the photos because I didn’t want to feel those emotions again. In short, I didn’t want to end up crying at my desk. Last night, I sat down and began to finally cull through the thousands of photos I shot. What I found was all the joy I felt while experiencing it all. It’s okay to be happy in the moment! What’s more is that it’s okay to be happy remembering those happy moments too!To those who say to “put your phones down and just enjoy the moment” are oversimplifying things. While I agree we should live in the moment with those that we’re with, we should also take care to capture the moments we don’t ever want to forget. If that means having the phone up because it’s also conveniently a camera, then so be it! Record and capture it all! I promise you’ll want to look back on that experience one day.

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After editing a half days’ worth of photos and enjoying all that we did just on the first day, I took a break. I began to browse through the past vacations we’ve taken through the years. My grandmother went with us on many of those trips and I’m so thankful we were able to experience those moments with her. I’ll always cherish this photo of her and my oldest daughter enjoying the soon to be extinct Illuminations show at Epcot. There are many more of her enjoying all that Disney had to offer back then. Each one of them a snippet of time that I hold I precious. 

Why We Go Back to Disney

Many people ask why we love to go back to Disney time and time again. It’s so absurd to them to be the first in line at rope drop only to wait hours and hours for a ride later. Why on earth would we want to go see the same show over and over again? That’s okay though. I get it. Disney is not for everybody.Revisiting Disney destinations time and time again means holding on to the magic with your loved ones for as long as you can. It means squeezing every bit of baby, toddler, preschooler, elementary school, middle, high school, college, and every moment in between with our babies. It also means being able to reflect on past visits with those that are no longer with us. Somehow, it allows us to enjoy the current visit knowing that they’re there with you in your heart because you’re been there together before. We go back to hold those memories precious and near to our hearts. My grandmother had the most wonderful times at Walt Disney World and on the Disney Dream with us and those times will be near and dear to our hearts always.

It’s always going to be a bit sad, but we can make the best of those moments too! So next time I’m revisiting Disney without my Grandmother, I’ll be looking for all the little things she used to love and point out. Her favorite were always the flowers, and every time I snap another flower photo at Disney, I’ll have her with me. I’ll choose to let it make me happy to remember her and have her with me in that way. We carry our loved ones with us always and Disney can help us recall some of the happiest times together. I will always cherish the moments I’m able to travel with my loved ones! ~Meredith º0º

Episode 85: Disney’s Disability Access Service and Rider Switch

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Disney’s Disability Access Service and Rider Switch

Ever wondered how the Disability Access Service, or DAS works at Walt Disney World? Wondering if it might be right for you or one of your friends and/family? Well fear not! We’re back to discuss how the service works. And we’re not stopping there either! Have you ever wondered about the Rider Switch service too? We’ll also be talking about how it works and who’s eligible for it! And as always, please share with us if you’ve got something to add to our discussion! For more info on Disney’s Disability Access Service, click here. For more info on Disney’s Rider switch, click here.


If you’ve enjoyed this episode, please let us know. For more Disney tips, tricks, tutorials, packing lists, dos and don’ts… Okay, you get the picture. We’ve got a blog! www.mouseandmonorail.com You can also find us on the following socials: FacebookTwitterPinterestInstagram, & YouTube.

Last Minute DIY Halloween Costumes!

It’s almost Halloween and you still haven’t got a costume. Your kids aren’t helping because they can’t make up their minds either. Fear not! Our newest Mouse and Monorail contributor has the perfect DIY Halloween costumes for you.  Thanks to Beth (Paper Angels Vlog) for this super cute tutorial!

DIY Halloween Costumes

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Hi guys! I’m Beth from Paper Angels Vlog. I am so excited to be guest posting on the Mouse and the Monorail. If you watch our channel, then you know that we are HUGE Disney lovers.
Recently we shared how we made our Incredibles Halloween costumes. When the kids were trying to decide on what they wanted to be for Halloween, I figured it would be a princess, pokemon, or maybe someone from Star Wars. I have a 8 year old boy, 7 year old girl, and 5 month old boy for those that don’t know. The whole Incredibles set, right?! When I made that remark to the kids, they were on board to be the Incredibles for Halloween. Yay!

This is a perfect last minute costume idea. Head on over to Walmart (or a local thrift store) to pick up your red shirt. You will also need some felt. That is it! You can keep it simple with just the shirt or go all out with red pants/leggings, black shorts, black boots, black masks, and yellow ribbon around the waist. We are keeping it simple with just the shirts and masks. Walmart has the masks for around $2.

Watch the video to see exactly how we made ours. Enjoy!

Let us know if you are making an Incredibles costume, and look for more guest posts from us in the future! Thanks for watching! ~Beth ºoº

Thanks again, Beth, for contributing your awesome talents! Stay tuned for more new contributors to the Mouse and the Monorail!

4 Ways to Find Cute Disney Shirts

Hey howdy hey everyone! I’m here to share all about those cute Disney shirts you always see people wearing while at Disney. I’m also here to share some exciting news: We’re having another giveaway!

 

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Hold up though, let’s backtrack for a moment. Last week I had the pleasure of heading back down to Walt Disney World and enjoying a couple nights with my best friend. And while we didn’t actually visit the parks (heaven forbid! haha) we had a great time exploring the resort areas and dining experiences. Our main park day was spent at the Universal parks (yeah, I said it) while our resort stay was at WDW. Simplify the combo of our resort stay and our parks experience into terms like “mouse” and “patronus” and combine it with our excitement of planning a super last-minute trip and what do you get? My DIY heat-transfer “My Patronus is a Mouse” design of course! And while there are lots of great places online to choose from, I knew that because we were so last-minute I’d have to make ours instead of ordering online.

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To start, be sure you’re following Sarah, Amy, and I over on our instagram account! I posted the below photo last week while we were there and it got some good love both from instagram as well as people actually at the parks and the entire Disney resort. But, that story will have to wait til the podcast, (yeah, I’m gonna plug it too) next week! So if you love Disney AND Harry Potter, that is the episode for you!

The moment we decided we’d be heading down, we hit pinterest to get some ideas for planning our shirts. Since it would be just us two adults, we wanted something fun that combined the two well. We found and pinned lots of things but they were mostly one or the other (the mouse or the wizard) and I only found one that really had both. And while it’s super cute and I’ll always sigh after seeing the word always when referenced with Harry Potter imagery, but for us the phrase needed to match both the mouse and the wizard.

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I liked the idea of the deathly hallows symbol with the mouse ears like above, but just couldn’t find anything that worked with it. Or made sense with it. So then I started searching Harry Potter quotes and phrases and it hit me after seeing someone else’s design with “My Patronus is a flamingo.” My Patronus is a Mouse!! It’s perfect and with a little help from Sarah and Amy on design details (mostly what to edit out, I may post my edit on Instagram.) it was done and ready to be cut with my silhouette cameo machine.

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The black glitter design looked great on both our grey and coral colored shirts and would look equally great on most any shirt color. If you’re like a few of my friends who just had to have one, well then you’re in luck because here it is: the big giveaway! Since I’ll be cutting the decals myself, I’m going to give the winners (yep, gonna give THREE away!) a choice of car decal, iron-on decal, or nail decals! Yes, you read that right! I also made nail decals and while they don’t feature the patronus phrase, they’re still super cute!

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If you’d like a chance to win, then be sure you’re following us on instagram and are a part of our private fb group. If you’d like to be added, just search mouse and monorail on fb and click join. I’ll be posting instructions on both instagram and in our fb group so as long as you’re following and have joined the group, you’re ready to play for your chance to win! The first game will be on instagram tomorrow, Friday 11 March to give you all time to join our fb group. The fb games will begin on Monday of this next week. And if participation goes well, I may even give more away leading up to the Harry Potter podcast episode!

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Okay, so what if you’re not into the whole Harry Potter thing and want to go full-on Disney for those super cute matching Disney shirts? Fear not because there are lots of great places to look!! Here’s 4 ways you can score those super cute Disney shirts:

1.The most obvious here is the Disney store online and the shop Disney parks app both have a good selection of apparel that will keep your Disney look sharp and fresh as they have a good bit of the latest trending looks. With this option you can snag fun shirts that are specific to the parks, however you won’t be able to get them all matching for your family since some styles are only available in certain sizes.

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2. There’s other websites to order from too! Don’t forget places like Redbubble and Zazzle!! Redbubble features plenty of fun Disney looks from dinglehoppers to snarfblats, there’s a little bit of everything! Amy got her little mermaid inspired shirts from Redbubble and Sarah found her super cute Starbucks and Disney tee at happily ever tees.

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And don’t miss out on our own exclusive merchandise over on Zazzle!! You can find our shop here.

3.Buy from a local Mom who makes custom stuff!! You can get exactly what you want when you order from someone local and it’s a great way to support local businesses. We have several friends that make custom shirts and while I’m definitely going to give them a shoutout, you can always ask around in your own community to see who might make custom Disney shirts as well.

Sarah’s instagram friend @HadleyKateDesigns made these adorable cruise shirts and I’m sure they looked fantastic aboard the Magic.

My friend Jennifer makes some super cute monogrammed stuff over at her shop The Peppermint Pig. (And isn’t her logo just the cutest?! Not like I designed it or anything.. 😉 )

 

And my friend Kim at Stitches etc by Kim can work with you to create just about any look you’d like!

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4. DIY. Seriously! You don’t have to be super crafty to come up with some fun shirts! To start, check out my post with easy instructions on how to create your own tie-dye Mickey ears. This project is great for kids (if you do the setup work) and my kids LOVE that they actually added the color to their own shirts!

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Because I have a silhouette cutting machine, I was able to make our mouse patronus shirts pretty easily, but if you don’t have one there’s a way to create a stencil using freezer paper! No really!! Go search Pinterest for freezer paper stencil. You can do lots with it! I had a blast making these best friends shirts for my kids and their bff’s. You can also join groups on fb like “Disney silhouette crafters” to find project ideas, exchange tips, and even download shared files! Have fun with it and search for easy DIY projects for ideas to jumpstart your project. Most of all, believe in yourself and just go for it!!

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With several options to choose from, whether you make them yourself or purchase them online, you’ll be decked out in no time for your next Disney vacation!

Be sure to share your Disney shirts with us either over on our Facebook page or tag us on Twitter and Instagram! We’d love to see your Disney look! And be looking for my first giveaway game on instagram tomorrow!! ~Meredith °o°

Featured Family: Beth

Welcome everyone! I just have to start by saying thanks to everyone who liked and shared my tie dye Mickey ears post yesterday. I couldn’t believe how much love it got! Truly, thank you!!
And now to feature the sweet family who had fun making the Mickey tie dye with us. Thanks to Beth for sharing her family and experience with us all.
1. Tell us a little about your family.
I am a photographer and work from home mom. I have a husband and two beautiful little kiddos, M&M.Beth32. What made you decide to go to WDW?

My youngest had to have a minor medical procedure, and we already had vacation time lined up, so we decided to go as a fun thing for her (and all of us!) before the procedure. It was the perfect thing to calm frazzled nerves.
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3. Was it your first time going to WDW?

I went one time when I was very little. My only memory from that trip was Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (or “fast train” as I called it) so that was definitely something I wanted to do this trip. Now I remember why I loved it so much! This was my husband and kids first trip.

4. What did you enjoy most about your trip?

That is such a difficult question because I honestly enjoyed every single second. Even the rain on our parade (literally) didn’t ruin the fun. I enjoyed every single smile and giggle from M&M and there were a ton!
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5. Did you have anything magical unexpectedly happen while there?

Princess Anna not only picked out my little one in her Princess Anna dress during the parade at Hollywood Studios, but she spotted her on the second parade, and called out “I remember you!”  It made my girl’s day. What may be the most magical thing, though, is my husband was never a huge Disney fan, but he told me that he’s officially a “Disney person” now!
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6. What was your favorite restaurant/food/snack? What was your kids’ favorite restaurant/food/snack?

M&M loved the slushie with Mickey straw from the Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn & Cafe.  Mine and my husband’s favorite was the pot roast mac n’ cheese from the Friar’s Nook.  I wasn’t sure about it at first, but after I tried it, we actually wound up going back to get more. I do have to mention that the breakfast at Ohana was amazing too, and the perfect last bit of magic on the morning we left for home.
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7. What was your favorite attraction or show? What was your kids favorite attractions or show?

My baby girl loved the Dumbo ride and the Frozen singalong show. The Frozen singalong was my favorite too. I know that a lot of people are getting tired of the Frozen songs but this show is worth it. (I personally still love all the songs though!) I watched the show with my daughter while the boys watched the Indiana Jones show but we HAD to see it again with them. It is something the whole family will enjoy. My son picked the Indiana Jones stunt show and everything Star Wars as his favorites. I loved watching him at Jedi Training Academy! My hubby’s favorite thing was the Laugh Floor.
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8. Would you go back?

YES! My husband and I were talking on the drive home about when our next opportunity would be, and are already planning it.  (Don’t tell M&M!)

9. If so, what did you miss that you have to go back for?

We focused more on the characters this time around, next time I think we will aim to hit more of the rides; especially the big thrilling ones.
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10. What’s one piece of advice for first timers?

Don’t expect to do it all, it’s just not possible.  But it’s okay, because there’s just that much magic to experience. I have to also mention that if you have been thinking/talking about going to WDW but are worried about finances or time or any other excuse, just go! The magic and memories are worth it.

 

Thanks Beth!! It looks like you all had an amazing time! I love all of your photos, but I think my favorite just has to be the one with Sulley. Her sweet little face just barely peeking through all that fur is just precious! If you’d like to be featured on our blog, please contact us at mouseandmonorail@gmail.com. We’d love sharing real families’ experiences with everyone.

 

And be sure to check back tomorrow as we’ll have part 2 of our Fastpass+ podcast! Thanks! ~M ºoº