Episode 50: Unique Experiences

podcast

It’s time for another top 10! This time it’s full of unique experiences at Disney. What is a unique experience, you ask? Well, we’re here to answer that for you! So, please help us celebrate 50 episodes of the Mouse and Monorail Podcast by enjoying our Top 10 Unique Experiences at Walt Disney World. ~Meredith ºoº

104 days of Summer Reading List

Hey howdy hey everyone! I can’t believe it but it’s finally SUMMER! Well, almost. One of my girls gets out this week and the other finishes on Tuesday. There’s 104 days of summer vacation and Hey Ferb, I know what we’re gonna do today! Read!! (If you don’t get that reference, go listen to the Phineas and Ferb theme song).

Summerreadinglist

Okay, if I’m honest I listen to audiobooks via my audible account and app because with three kids I wouldn’t be able to read on my own. At least not long enough to enjoy whatever it is I’m reading! (Let’s just say I’m a “One more chapter” kind of girl). I’ve enjoyed loads of great Disney books and thought you all might like to give them a read. And while I’ve read most all of these, I haven’t read them all. Amy and Sarah have included their favorites too!

 

Historical/Biographical:

Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination by Neal Gabler

This book is a fantastic and in-depth, albeit long, look into Walt’s life. From his very early days right up to his death, this book covers it all. This one actually earned me the Mount Everest badge in the audible app for listening to a title longer than 20 hours (It’s 33hrs 24min!) so don’t pick this book if you’re looking for a quick read. Very good though!

 

How To Be Like Walt by Pat Williams & Jim Denny

This book is a great “quick read” and is a must-read for anyone wishing to know why the “Disney way” is often the most happy and magical way. You’ll learn Walt’s character traits as well as how he managed people so efficiently. This is a great read to cheer you up and make you feel like you can take on the world!

 

DisneyWar by James Stewart

This book. Oh man, this book! Whew! I’ll start by saying that at the time all of this book’s events were happening is the time that I was barely double digits and loving every minute of The Little Mermaid and Aladdin. Blissfully oblivious. I had NO idea that this much drama (often melodrama on Eisner’s part) happened during the modern Disney renaissance period. If you’re wondering how things really went down and how Iger came to power er, I mean became CEO, well this is the book for you. I was on the fence about this one but I’m so glad I read it. I found myself googling the people’s photos just so I could have a mental image of what they looked like to go along with the insanity that was unfolding. Highly recommend.

 

How Star Wars Conquered the Universe by Chris Taylor

This book is a super interesting read for any Star Wars fan from the most ignorant to the most dedicated. And if you’re not a Star Wars fan but have ever wondered why Star Wars has such a strong presence in popular culture, then this is also the book for you!  More comprehensive and detailed than I could’ve imagined, this book will definitely fill you in on how the Star Wars franchise was conceived, created, and eventually how it became even bigger than its creator. With the added popularity of the new Star Wars movies, this book proves that Star Wars isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

 

Universal Versus Disney by Sam Gennawey

This book was one that I was excited to read (and don’t get me wrong, I’m glad I did) but I was a little disappointed that it focused more on Unviersal and how they did and didn’t aim to be like Disney more than actually telling their respective stories alongside each other. Having said that however, this book was very interesting and informative. While I agree with most everything he cites as Universal’s flaws, what I most enjoyed from reading this book is the appreciation I got for the Disney parks after learning about how another company tried to compete. And while this rivalry is still very much alive today, it’s a fun read to learn about how the rivalry began. It starts much earlier than you might think!

 

The Disneyland Story: The Unofficial Guide to the Evolution of Walt Disney’s Dream by Sam Gennawey

This is one of my very favorites off of this list. I can’t say enough good things about it! Its highly detailed stories about how one of America’s most iconic landmarks came into existence will leave you astounded at how they actually made the park a reality. This is hands-down a must0read for anyone who loves Disney parks.

 

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

But wait, you say, Steve Jobs was the Apple guy, not Disney! Ah, but I found this book most interesting because I had no idea just how much Pixar background is in it! Nor did I realize just how much Steve influenced Pixar. Furthermore, I had no idea that if it weren’t for Steve, Pixar might not exist as we know it today. This is a very good read and I now appreciate the connection that he and John Lasseter had. While this one may not be exclusively about Disney or a Disney franchise, this one will definitely give you some good insight into how Disney now owns Pixar.

 

For the Parks:

 

The Hidden Magic of Walt Disney World by Susan Veness

This is a super fun and easy read that can be enjoyed almost anywhere and is an easy to put down and pick right back up kind of book. We first read this one 4 or 5 years ago and enjoyed all the little tid-bits of magic we hadn’t never even considered. This is one you’ll want to read and enjoy with your family before you next trip!

 

Amy’s Pick: The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World by Bob Selhinger

 

Sarah’s Pick: Hidden Mickeys by Stephen Barrett

 

For The Kids:

The Kingdom Keepers series by Ridley Pearson

This series is great for kids who have been to the parks because all of the fantastic things that happen to Finn and his friends happen inside the Disney parks after hours!

 

Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty

I’m only on chapter 7 but this book, set in the Biltmore estate, is a thrilling mystery that’ll intrigue and keep you coming back to figure out who the man in the black cloak is!

 

The Never Girls Collection by Kiki Thorpe

 

What if real girls could go to Neverland? Check out these books and enjoy Never Land in a whole new way!

 

 

And what’s on my own to-read list?? Well, here’s a few that I’ve had my eyes on:

John Lasseter: The Whiz Who Made Pixar King by Jeff Lenburg

One Little Spark!: Mickey’s Ten Commandments and the Road to Imagineering by Marty Sklar

 

 

So that’s it!! What do you all think? What Disney books are your favorite that I missed? Please share with us and stay tuned for more summer fun in the days to come! ~Meredith ºoº

Get Ready: Cruise Planning and Early Packing

Get Ready: Cruise Planning and Early Packing

amys-dream

Hey howdy hey guys, guess what today is! Go ahead… If you guessed the anniversary of the Disney Dream’s maiden voyage, then you’d be absolutely right! And that couldn’t be more relevant for me because I am in full-on planning and packing mode. I’ve got just a few days before we head out for our whirlwind few days at WDW and MK and our much-anticipated Disney cruise aboard the Disney Dream. I can’t wait to share all the fun once we leave on our socials (facebook, instagram, twitter, & periscope) since I won’t be able to share here on the blog until I return. You can find us on periscope by searching for “mouse and monorail” in your app.

Join Me on My First Cruise

First things first. Come follow us on all our socials before I leave! I plan to do some fun periscopes around the Wilderness Lodge on Saturday night and may even broadcast some of the “peaceful serenity” that is Whispering Canyon. Haha!! (If you don’t know what I’m laughing at, go check out what the Whispering Canyon is all about here). I’ll be broadcasting via periscope as much as service will allow on Sunday in the Magic Kingdom so be sure to follow us ahead of time to get the notifications on your device! Additionally, I’m going to periscope as much as I can on the ship Monday and possibly our Castaway Cay day (Wednesday). SO don’t miss out!! Speaking of watching live, did you know that you can watch Port Canaveral live via their webcam? Yep, come watch me sail away!! Haha!

FE Sneak Peek!

Cruise Planning

Finally to cruise packing. Now, don’t go throwing your favorite swimsuit and sandals in the suitcase just yet! There are things that can and should be done well in advance of a few weeks (or less than a week in my case) of your sail date. And for me, this has been the most fun Disney trip I’ve ever planned. From meeting people who we’ll be cruising with online months in advance via fb, to creating unique gifts to exchange through the fish extenders, to planning the ultimate “best friends” day at the Magic Kingdom for my kids and their best friends (who just so happen to be going with us! Whoo hoo!!) I can hardly contain my excitement!!

Cruise Packing Preview

Early Packing

But planning and packing isn’t always easy and some things that need to be done can get overlooked until it’s too late. And with a Disney cruise specifically, there are certain things you’ll want to do well in advance of your sail date. After booking, you can decide if you’d like to participate in Fish Extenders, and if so find your sail date group on fb and sign up. Check out Sarah’s amazing post on 5 things to know before you go for help on familiarizing yourself on what you’ll need to do to be prepared. Other items like passports, car maintenance services (in case you’re driving), scheduling your flights and auto rentals, and making boarding/other arrangements for your pets should all be done earlier rather than later.

Don’t Forget Documentation

Passports can take several weeks to come back and if there’s a particular hold-up on getting yours, it could be delayed even longer. A car servicing can also be beneficial to get done earlier in case something needs repairing so that you’re not forking out a huge chunk of change on your car RIGHT before you head out on your trip. And if you haven’t researched a bit about keeping your devices charged while on vacation, earlier is definitely better! Check out my post all about that very topic here.

Organize Your Packing

2016-01-23 21.30.44

The photo above shows my own (insane, I know. There’s five of us now) list of stuff to pack and whether you use a crazy looking app like me (which totally works beautifully for me 🙂 ) or a good ‘ole pen and paper, keeping a list is a great way to ensure that you’re on track. And while making your own personal list is key, you’d be missing out if you didn’t check out Amy’s Cruise packing list and Sarah’s WDW packing list! Both of them are great place to start and are printable so you can print whenever and even have copies for family members so big kids can help pack too!

 

Hooked on DCL design by Mouse and Monorail

 

Fish Extenders

I’m now a week out and have begun to pack starting with our fish extender and gifts. They’re all done and packed in a small separate suitcase. (Eeek! So excited to give them out and even more excited to share about them after I get back!!) This serves the purpose of ensuring that they all stay together, can be easily checked, and the suitcase space will be available to bring home our own fish extender gifts we receive. I’m updating my Hooked on DCL decal to include a silhouette cameo cutter file as well as a printable for instructions on how to apply the decal should you decide to make and give them as gifts for your own fish extenders! So exciting! Right click on the image to below to download the decal application instructions and be sure to check out the original Hooked on DCL post that has been updated with the additional file.

Decal Application Instructions

And packing early isn’t all about fish extenders! There’s extra space in our suitcase, so I’m adding in items that I can easily pack early like suction cup hooks for hanging swimsuits (we won’t have a verandah), door magnets, and our dry-erase magnetic board where we can write and encourage fun messages to people onboard. Pretty much anything else that we can deal without having until our luggage is brought to our room will go in here as well.

It’s Almost Time!

I’ve printed and gathered our signed cruise docs/signature pages from our online check-in, and placed them in my carry-on (yeah, that totally rad Disney Dream Inaugural bag my brother got me for Christmas!) since I’ll need those items to board.  That’s all the time I have for now since I’ve got to get back to packing!! And don’t forget to stay tuned for my live posts from WDW and the Bahamas this coming weekend and next week! ~Meredith ºoº

10 DIY Disney Ornament Ideas

Remember last week’s podcast where both Amy and I mention ornaments on our Top 10 Parks Souvenirs? Well, I’ll be sharing the parks maps ornament tutorial that I mentioned tomorrow. But for today I thought it’d be fun to take a look at some of the great ideas for DIY Disney ornaments on pinterest. Here are some of my favorites!IMG_1058_MickeyOrnaments

DIY Disney Ornament Ideas

1.Create your own magic band keepsake! Sorry folks, this one isn’t a tutorial since it’s just a photo uploaded by a user, but it’s great inspiration!2. This one looks super simple and I’m going to HAVE to do it since I know for a fact we have one of these little stars in our Disney memory box!

3. This is another one on my to-do MUST-do list! We’ve got lots of celebrating buttons from our previous trips. Love this. 🙂

4. Here’s one that’s perfectly timed for the release of the Force Awakens: Star Wars popsicle stick ornaments! These look like they’d be fun to make with the kiddos.5. Who’s got Disney pins? This one’s for you! Disney Trading pins ornaments6. Too many toys in your house? Why not make some of them into ornaments? And bonus, these won’t break and you can actually let the kiddos play with them! Disney toy ornaments7. On a scale of 1 to 10, I give this Baymax ornament idea a perfect 10! Super simple, and so cute.8. For those of you who love the classic Mickey and Minnie look, this is for you!

9. Here’s another sparkly version of the classic Mickey ears design.

10. And finally, this little Olaf-inspired ornament will melt your heart.And there you have it! Have you found any great DIY Disney ornament ideas? Let us know! And be sure to check back tomorrow for my very own Mickey ears Park Map DIY ornament tutorial!!! ~Meredith ºoº

Episode 16: Our Top 5 Animated Disney Movies

podcast

Today we’re staying out of the parks (awful, I know!) and talking all about our own Top Five Disney Animated Movies! Starting from Snow White in 1937, we list out our own favorites and why. So, happy listening and please share with us on our social accounts what your favorite animated Disney movies are!

Disney’s 2015 Blu-ray movie releases

Hey there! It’s now October and that means that people will soon begin their holiday shopping. Today I’ve got a list for you of all the Disney blu-ray releases for this year so finding a great stocking stuffer will be a breeze.

 

2015-10-07 10.52.19

 

Avengers: Age of Ultron was just released last week, on October 2nd.

 

Aladdin is finally set to be released on blu-ray on October 13th.

 

Tomorrowland is also set to be released on October 13th.

•On November 3rd, Inside Out will finally be available. (Yes, I can’t wait for this one!!)

•November 3rd will also see the release of Toy Story That Time Forgot.

•And just in time for Christmas, Marvel’s Ant-Man will be released December 2nd.

 

 

 

 

Other titles released earlier this year and are still available for your gift list include:

 

 

For a full list of Disney movies currently available for purchase select the movies tab in your Disney Movies Anywhere app (App Store or Playstore) or try searching amazon. Not sure what the Disney Movies Anywhere app is? Check out my post here for more info.

2015-10-07 10.07.52

 

Well, that’s all for now. What movies are on your wish list? ~Meredith ºoº

 

Episode 11: All About Packing

podcast

Today’s podcast is all about packing for Walt Disney World trips. We are breaking down Sarah’s packing list for Walt Disney World, and just for good measure, I’m throwing in my packing list for Disney cruises. Neither of these lists are going to cover the obvious things like socks and underwear, but we do have some great tips on what you need to take with you! And don’t forget that part of packing is preparing your devices! We mention Meredith’s  posts on how to take better WDW photos and you can find them here and here. Go check it out! ~Amy ºoº

Top 11 Most-Used Excuses for Not Taking a Disney Vacation

Hey howdy hey it’s Saturday! Today I’m going to take a moment to discuss something that we MMMs feel very strongly about. You see, we all know that everyone knows we love Disney and probably a bit too much. But I’d like to discuss exactly WHY we love all things Disney, especially vacationing at Walt Disney World.

 

If you’re reading this, chances are you’re the type that loves to vacation at Disney as well, but I’d really like to address the folks that always have a reason to not go. We’ve heard a million different excuses over the years, and I’d like to discuss the main ones that always seem to come up. So here it is: my top 11 (yes 11, because there were just that many that we felt really needed addressing) list of WDW excuses.

2014-10-04 10.07.10

1- Its too expensive. Let’s just get this one over because it’s definitely one of the most over-used reasons for not planning a family vacation to WDW. And truth is, yeah it DOES cost money. I’m not going to sugar-coat this fact. It’s not a cheap vacation, but neither are most all other vacations. And to be honest, as our MMM fans have stated, there are plenty of ways to go and save money. Do a little research and find deals for room and dining discounts. I promise there are deals out there, and they can save you enough money that your kid’s dream Disney vacation might actually cost less than that fancy cruise you’ve been wanting to go on. Check out our FB fan page, and don’t be afraid to ask questions if you want some help finding these deals! Part of the Disney magic is everyone helping spread the pixie dust around!

 

2- I can only go if I pay it off first. This one is very close to the first. But here’s the thing, as my fabulous MMM fans have said over in our private group (send us a pm if you’d like to join!), there will always be financial problems and honestly, your kids will only be kids for so long. I’ve known several parents to say that they regret not taking their kids when they were kids because they just couldn’t at the time. Truth is, where there’s a will there’s a way. If you’re wanting your family to have an amazing Disney vacation, just book it! Somehow things will come together and even if you don’t end up at every fancy restaurant or do every extra park perk, you’ll still have a magical vacation filled with loads of lifelong memories. I promise! We had a MMM fan suggest doing the Disney Visa card with 0% interest and paying as you can. That’s much easier than paying all out of pocket and much more fun the completely missing out because you think there’s just no way to do it.

rockyourDisneysideIMG_0736

3- I’m too old. Okay seriously?! This one makes me laugh so hard! I realize I’m not “old, old” (I’m 33) but I’m old enough to know that being “old” is completely irrelevant when it comes to WDW. One of the beautiful things about Disney parks is that Walt himself set out on a mission to create a park that was fun for everyone, not just the kids. The very idea for Disneyland actually came while he was sitting on a park bench eating peanuts and watching his girls on a carousel. His dream was to have everyone involved in the magic, and boy did he succeed!! Even if you don’t ride the attractions, there’s plenty to see and do to keep everyone in your family happy. Believe me, I’ve traveled with my family and our ages ranged from 11mos to 84!! And you better believe that my grandmother had just as much fun as my kids did!

roo

4- My kids are too young. Okay, this one is a personal pet peeve of mine. I’m not going to lie and say that taking a baby anywhere at all is easy, but the benefits and memories far outweigh the hassles of bringing your baby. Personally, I don’t believe there’s any age that’s too young. And even better, if they’re under three, they get in for free and can still ride, see, and do loads of things!! Most of the rides have no height requirement and even if you’ve got your infant there, baby can ride too! And the characters and Cast Members love seeing little ones there and make an effort to make things easy for both babies and parents. Each park even has its own baby center stocked with everything any parent would need as well as luxurious changing stations and a play/rest area for Moms and little ones who need a break from the heat outside.

firstvisit

5- My kids will never remember it since they’re too young. This one stems from the last one and honestly is just as absurd. First, if you think you’re going strictly for them, well then loosen up and make things fun for yourself too. Because honestly, taking a small baby or toddler is actually MORE fun for the parent because, even if they don’t remember it, you will!!! I have the best memories of both my girls as toddlers waving their fat little hands to the characters as they rode past at the (now retired) “Celebrate the Magic” parade. And all the little smiles and excitement when they saw Mickey, Minnie, and all his pals. It makes my heart melt just thinking about it. So, come on now, do it for yourself!! Furthermore, you’ll leave with loads of photos that will be so fun to share with them when they’re old enough to know what you did to make them happy even before they could remember it. Lastly, I know several people personally who have taken their 2yos and those 2yos could tell you every detail about their favorite parts of the trip. My 3yo knows not only what rides were her favorites, but can even sing the songs associated with them!

2014-04-18 03.02.22

6- My kids are already too old. On the flip side of the last one, I assure you that this one is just as nonsense. I wasn’t able to go to WDW for the first time until I was 20 and I went with my parents. And while I wasn’t a kid anymore, it didn’t make it any less magical. It just made me want to go back more to experience more of what I had never seen before. Like I said earlier, there are loads of things to do for all age groups and older kids will find just as much joy as the littles will. Don’t miss out just because you think that it’s just for 5yo’s! (And yes that’s me at 20 with my future husband! Wow, now I really do feel old!)

rockyourDisneyside403-838IMG024

2014-04-10 10.23.35

7- I went 30 years ago and hated it so I’m never going back. One of the things that Walt enjoyed most about building Disneyland was the fact that, unlike his animations, if there was something he didn’t like, he could always change it. (Which is one of the reasons he became obsessed with the park and really became detached from animation because once a movie was completed and released, he still saw things that he could improve, but could no longer go back and fix). Just because you may not have enjoyed it way back when does not mean you won’t now. There’s a lot that’s changed in the 43 years that the Magic Kingdom has been open. The New Fantasyland area actually just opened it’s final attraction earlier this year, and they are constantly adding more and taking things away that are no longer enjoyable/relevant. Give Disney a chance again! Especially if you’re a food lover. I love the attractions, etc but I go for the food! And I’m almost positive it’s way better than it was 30+ years ago. Additionally, you know what you like. Do a little research on our blog as well as Disney’s website to seek out the things that will excite you most and make it a point to do those things. Don’t just go with no idea of what to do and say you hated it just because you had no idea what to do or where to go. And ask us questions! We’ll be glad to answer any you might have to the best of our ability.

rockyourDisneysideIMG_5236

8- I hate amusement parks/rides. Alright, hmm, how to tackle this one. Honestly, this is the one that most people will fight the worst no matter what you say. To be straight, the Disney parks are (like I’ve stated above) created for everyone. They are in no way like Six Flags or other thrill ride parks. There really is something to see and do for everyone regardless if you like rides or not. Also, it is not a carnival. You will not have to use tickets to ride all the rides or play all the games. Your park admission includes almost everything. And if you book with free dining, even your food is covered! There are shows, games (and not like rigged carnival games), and much more to explore and enjoy. So, get out of your comfort zone a bit and open yourself up to a most magical experience. If you do, you’ll finally understand why so many people love Disney parks.

BooAK-10-03-10.31.12

9- Florida is too hot! Really folks? Though it may not be a wintry wonderland like Walt’s hometown of Marcilene, MO, Florida has seasons as well, and the fall and winter months are great times to go. Not only do those months provide cooler weather, but they’re usually lower crowds (aside from Thanksgiving and Christmas/New Years weeks) but they also provide super fun experiences like Mickeys Not So Scary Halloween Party, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, and the Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights. They even make it snow on Main Street!!

 

10- This one’s for military families specifically: I’ve heard it’s impossible to get into Shades of Green (the military resort) so we’ve just never gone. Not only is it not difficult to get in, but even if there isn’t availability for when you want to go, don’t miss out on an amazing family vacation because of one resort being full. The value resorts offer everything you’d need at reasonable rates and are on property with included transportation to and from the parks.

IMG_2307

11- Disney World/Land is too far away. This one is just laughable because if this is your excuse for not taking an awesome vacation, then chances are you’ve never traveled anywhere outside your home state. And if you have traveled outside your home state and are still using this excuse, then just go ahead and explain to your kids that you don’t really want to go to Disney and just don’t have a better excuse. Truth is, traveling anywhere for an amazing vacation is going to take either a long drive (ours is 8 hrs to WDW) or a flight. I totally get that long car rides can be rough with kids, but with a little planning it’ll be no problem! We’ve even driven there overnight and let the kids sleep the whole time and then magically wake up at WDW! If you have to drive during the day though, just pick up some fun Disney activity books and check Pinterest for fun ways to make the time pass. There are loads of road trip games that can be Disney themed to make them extra fun and build the anticipation without fighting and screaming the whole way there. And don’t sweat the stops! If you have to stop for potty breaks, then just stop! It doesn’t have to be a hassle! It’s all about your own attitude. The kids will be happy if you’re happy.

 

So, there you have it. My list of the top 11 most-used excuses for not going to Disney parks. So quit making excuses and book your family a most magical Disney vacation now!! ~M °o°