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

S2E12: Top Five Disney Villains

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podcast


Season 2: Episode 12

Top Five Disney Villains

Although Sarah and Amy are out today, Meredith is having a bit of fun with Amanda and Ashlee – our Disneyland blog contributors and resident Disneyland Annual Passholders. That’s right, it’s time to rate the baddest of the baddies! Who’s on your Top Five Villains list?

 

As always, please share with us if you’ve got something to add to our discussion! Did we miss something? Please share your story with us! Post to our facebook page or tag us on instagram!


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.

DIY Glow Ears

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diy glow ears

DIY Glow Ears

Today I’ve got a simple and easy DIY for you! Although this one’s great for the Mickey’s Halloween parties, they’ll also be great for trick-or-treating in your own neighborhood. What makes this DIY glow Ears project so fantastic you ask? This diy is super easy and is great for anyone going to the parks year-round! Save big bucks on glowing Mickey ears and make these simple, re-useable glow ears instead!diy glow ears

Gather Supplies

•Headband
•Glow Stick Bracelets (2)
•Glow Stick Bracelet Connectors (2)
•Glue Gun
•Glow-in-the-dark Glue Sticks
•Tulip Glow-in-the-dark Paint

Assemble

Start by cutting the little bracelet connector piece in two and gluing the piece to the headband with the glow-in-the-dark glue sticks. There’s no exact science to this so don’t stress about the precise location of each one. This is supposed to be fun!diy glow earsStart with the top piece and once it has cooled, place the glow stick into that connector and curl it down to decide where the bottom connector piece should go. Mark the spot with a little dab of glue. Then proceed to glue that piece down. Pro tip: make a ring of glue around the entire headband so that the glue holding the connector piece won’t be pulled off once you place the glowstick. Repeat with both on the other side.diy glow ears

Make It Really Glow

By now, the headband has two ears that can be replaced with new glow sticks nightly. No need to make multiple headbands!! Just toss them nightly and get a fresh glow stick the next evening.diy glow earsWho wants to stop at just glow sticks though?! Starting at the base of the headband, run a line of glow glue around the edges of the headband. Repeat on the opposite side. This is also where you can use the hot end of your glue gun to help shape the already-cooled glue on the headband both around the connector pieces as well as under the headband (where the headband will sit against your head). Smooth it to your liking and you’re done! Or not…

Add Hidden Mickeys

If you’re a true Disney parks fan, you’ll want to add some hidden Mickeys too! Using the fine tip of a tulip glow-in-the-dark fabric paint bottle, squirt one larger and two smaller circles in the shape of Mickey on the top of the headband. For the next Mickey, turn it in the opposite direction and continue the pattern across the entire top portion of the headband.diy glow ears

Show It Off

Now that you’ve got some spiffy new diy glow ears, be sure to get out and show them off!! Mickey’s Halloween party at Disneyland and Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween parties would be fantastic for this! Here’s all our spooky fun!Don't buy your Mickey Ears, make them! We've got a simple tutorial that shows you how. These DIY Glow Ears are so easy to make, and they're cute. Make yours before your next Disney vacation!

These fun and simple ears will also look amazing in any park areas that feature black lights (think dark rides and Pandora) since the glow glue reacts really well with black lights! Be sure to share a photo of your diy glow ears on one of our socials if you decide to make some!  ~Meredith °o°

Seashell Picture Frame

DIY Seashell Picture Frame

Seashell Picture Frame

It’s finally summer and family vacations, including beach trips, are in full swing. And I’m so excited to be back today to show you all how to make this fabulous little Seashell Picture Frame. This frame will be perfect to help commemorate your favorite beach memories! I used a photo from our cruise aboard the Disney Dream and just love it! So let’s quit stalling and get started!

What You’ll Need:

  • Old picture frame
  • Hot glue gun and glue sticks
  • Brown and tan acrylic craft paints
  • Paint brush (sponge or brush)
  • Shells (please purchase from a craft store rather than taking directly from the beach)

Shell Picture Frame DIY

Decide where you want your shells to go BEFORE you glue them. Move them around until you have the best fit and the majority of the old frame is covered. You may also want to paint the entire frame your brown color before you glue if your picture frame is a bright or dark color. I didn’t with mine since it was so similar in color to my shells.

Once you’ve finished gluing your shells, give the inside and entire outer edge a coat of brown paint. Let dry.

You can use your paint drying time to warm up your glue gun. Once it’s dry and using your glue gun, squirt on glue to create a textured surface to the frame edges. This will eventually have a coral-like look! There’s no right or wrong way to do this. I just did little squiggles all around and made sure to not let it glob up too much in any one section.

Go ahead and give it a second coat of brown paint at this point to cover all the plastic-looking glue texture onto your Seashell Picture Frame.

Once it’s dry again, use your tan to lightly brush or sponge-paint the raised areas of the frame’s edges. (The texture you created with the glue gun). Once that’s dry, you’re done!

Seashell Picture Frame

And that’s it! Super simple and quick project that has a BIG impact. Please share with us if you make one too!! ~Meredith ºoº

 

Meredith’s Trip Report Part 2

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Hey howdy hey, its Friday again! And I’m super excited to share with you all more of our Rock Your #Disneyside day. Yep, I’m finally getting around to pt2 of my trip report!! If you missed the first report, you can check that out here.

rockyourDisneysideIMG_5079After lunch, and a little playtime with our friends, we headed back to Main Street for some ice cream and the Festival of Fantasy parade. I was super excited to try out the new (not even officially on the menu yet) Kitchen Sink from the Plaza Ice Cream Parlor. And although there was no way I could possibly finish this scrumptious treat, I still just HAD to get one. They’re priced at around $15, but there’s enough to feed four easily. Not that you’d want to share, but still. ^_^

rockyourDisneysideIMG_5119We scoped out a shady spot in front of Casey’s Corner  to park the girls (they were both napping in the double stroller at this point) and enjoyed the ice cream. I had a lovely chat with a lady who just happened to be one of our rivals (yes, she was an Alabama fan and you can check it out on my ig) and then enjoyed WDW’s most fantastical AND fantastic parade that I’ve ever had the pleasure to experience. The Festival of Fantasy parade boasts some of the most beautifully designed parade floats and costumes. It also brings a much-needed update to more currently known and celebrated Disney characters while continuing to celebrate some of WDW’s most beloved characters.

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You’ll see Anna and Elsa without waiting 300+ minutes as well as the likes of Captain Hook, the magnificent Maleficent in dragon form,  and a very spunky Tinkerbell. The Frozen sisters join Belle and the Beast, Tiana and Naveen, and Cinderella and Prince charming on a ginormous float that leads the parade. Other floats feature the Tangled gang, the crew from Neverland, the Little Mermaid, Brave, and Sleeping Beauty. The parade finishes with a beautifully-detailed float featuring those classic Disney characters that made the Disney name so iconic. You can check out my full gallery of photos here.

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I have to say, Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather were so unexpectedly cool! They’re actually on some sort of, what I can only imagine as a kind of roomba-type platform, but man! They whizz around and they’re just so much fun to see in person. But for all it’s grandeur, the stars of this parade are actually the costume designers and cast members wearing said costumes. So good are they, that I’d dare say that Disney actually has designers from the Capitol working for them because they so brightly and accurately portray the floats and stories they’re accompanying. All of this combined, make this parade a MUST see for anyone and everyone who hasn’t had the pleasure. It definitely added a fun new thing to experience for those of us who have been in recent years and are looking for something new and magical to do.

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Aaaaaaaand, I’m going to pause there for now, more to come soon!! And if you’d like to watch the full parade video now, you can watch the video here. ~M °o°

Have any of you experienced the Festival of Fantasy parade? Where in the park did you watch from and what did you think of it?