Have Heart, Will Travel

Disney

Visit Watto's Grotto at Disneyworld for all THIS Star Wars gear!

Disney, Star WarsNancy Powell4 Comments

If there are two things in the field of entertainment that this family LOVES, they are Disney World and Star Wars.  You may have heard, but they've joined forces.

See what I did there?

During our visit in November, we got to check out the new store Watto's Grotto, where you can choose all kinds of rare goods.  Wait until you see the video below of the most impressive thing I found!

There were all kinds of clothes there that went way beyond a logo t-shirt and well into the costume territory.

 I'm actually kind of digging that outfit on the left.

I'm actually kind of digging that outfit on the left.

Overall, I think women had the cooler options.

 I liked this shirt because HOPE is one of my favorite words!

I liked this shirt because HOPE is one of my favorite words!

You could almost feel like you were on set. Or another planet.

Have a sweet little girl who insists on pink, but still wants Star Wars clothes? They've got you covered.

And of course this is where I learned about BB-8.

But my FAVORITE?

Definitely the Lightsaber boots!  The Lightsaber boots with light-up heels!

 

They were so fun to wear for 30 seconds.

 Business in the front.

Business in the front.

 Party in the back.

Party in the back.

If you can't make it to Watto's Grotto anytime soon, check here, here or here for something you might like. There's some pretty astounding boots...I can't promise light-up heels, though.

We had such a fabulous time with all we got to see and do during our most recent trip to Disney World!  I am almost finished narrowing down our Top 10 favorite experiences and will do a blog series on them soon. I am looking forward to reliving those moments and sharing them with you!

3 things you may not know about Disney's Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights

Disney, FloridaNancy Powell1 Comment

We just (reluctantly) finished another magical trip to the Happiest Place on Earth.  Our family loves Disney World! We all have our favorite things there--the rides, the characters, the unique shopping, and the ambience.  Even when you've been there a few times, there is always something new to see or do!

One thing we got to experience this time that we had never seen before was the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights at Disney Hollywood Studios.  

I thought our first post-Disney blog should be about the Osborne Lights, because it is time sensitive, as you will see.  

Here are 3 things you may not know about the Spectacle of Dancing Lights that you want to know if you have plans to see them.

1. First, and most important, this is the last year that Disney will be hosting the Osborne Family lights!

Hollywood Studios has plans for that area of the park. Right now the lights are hosted in the Streets of America section.  Coming soon, supposedly, is a lot more Star Wars-themed attractions.  So, if you want to see the lights, you must get there by January 3, 2016.

 Beautiful!

Beautiful!

2. Even though you may choose to spend a lot of time enjoying the sensory feast of color and sound, you don't have to set aside a large chunk of time to enjoy the spectacle.

The day I got introduced to the lights, we were enjoying the Disney parks and area with a large group of family. We spent the daytime at another park, left and met our parents for dinner at their hotel, and then decided to go catch the lights. By the time we were arriving at the park, it was 30 minutes before closing time.

We headed straight back to the right area of the park and immediately were ensconced in twinkling, jumping, magical lights, Christmas carols, and happy people.  We had plenty of time to walk around, take it all in, take our pictures and video, and exchange smiles with each other as we pointed out "hidden mickeys" and other fun details in the lights.

And 30 minutes later? Well, no one was getting rushed out of the park.  With people in lines for their rides and finishing their dinners at the restaurants, no Disney park closes exactly at closing time. We were well past the official closing time before we even realized it. I think we walked out about 30 minutes "late", having enjoyed the lights spectacle for almost an hour.

The other benefit of doing it this way is that, as we were entering Hollywood Studios and walking back toward the lights, many people were headed the opposite way and streaming out of the park, so the crowds were a little lower by the time we got back there.

 A pink house and a pink hidden Mickey!

A pink house and a pink hidden Mickey!

 Did you notice the Dalmatians in the picture above? Aren't they cute?

Did you notice the Dalmatians in the picture above? Aren't they cute?

Speaking of people streaming out of the park leads me to the 3rd thing you may not know.

3. Even with large crowds, it is easy to enjoy the dancing lights!

Yes, we were happy that the crowd was lessening (who wouldn't be?) but the fact is that the vast majority of what you're enjoying is UP! The lights are above your head, you can hear the music everywhere, and (spoiler alert!) the SNOW COMES FROM ABOVE!  Yes, when you attend this extravaganza, you get snow in Florida!

As you can see in the pictures, there are details all over, so you'll want to look down and around, too. But if you have patience and don't mind either taking your time or staying a little late, you can enjoy all there is to offer, even with a few thousand of your nearest friends.

Clearly, at times when the crowds are highest, like the week after Christmas, I'm sure it's more difficult to maneuver. On those times, please take an extra dose of patience, or enjoy the pictures and video here and other places online instead, if you really don't like large crowds.

 Do you see the hidden Mickey in the tree?

Do you see the hidden Mickey in the tree?

I am happy we got to experience the Osborne Lights on this trip. It's the only time we've seen them in their 20 years, and I know they will be missed by many people. Disney always has wonderful surprises for its guests, though, so here's to a magical future!

Memory Monday: Celebrating with joy!

Disney, Florida, Memory MondayNancy2 Comments

Isn't it awesome when you don't have to tell others you're having a great time because it's just. so. obvious.

Exhibit 1:

Jimmy wedding funThat fun-loving guy between Mark and I is our friend Jimmy, and it was to attend his wedding that we traveled to Florida, the trip which has been the subject of the last few blog posts.  It seemed fitting to wrap up this little series with an actual picture of the celebration!

Every part of that vacation, while a short one, was a blast for our whole family!

You will not be surprised, by now, to hear me say this, but go!  If you are invited to a wedding, a reunion, a celebration and it is within possibility for you to go....do it!  Yes, life is made up of the ordinary, everyday moments for which we're grateful, but these special celebration moments are the icing on the cake that is life!

I never hear of anyone who has regretted traveling.  I know lots of people who have regretted purchases. Many who have regretted not traveling.

If possible, use the trick we did here of adding a day and a half onto a trip we were already making to really add zing! Is there something fun to see or experience within a reasonable drive to where you're going?  Petunia only knew we were going to "Uncle" Jimmy's wedding.  She didn't know that we were going to Disney World until we drove through the gates!

Happy (almost) 4th anniversary to Jimmy and his beautiful bride, Nicole!

Disneyworld Jimmy wedding Oct 2011 672

5 reasons to attend Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party at Disneyworld!

DisneyNancy7 Comments

I am kind of shocked that I have written as many posts as I have and this is my first one about Disney, because I LOVE Disney trips! Please feel free to be skeptical about how great they are or even to think I'm a little odd, because I thought both those things about my friends who, as adults, loved their Disney trips so much. Until I went for the first time as an adult seven years ago, that is.

Apparently, I drank the Disney kool-aid, because I have been back several times and, am so excited to say I am pretty sure I see a Disney trip on the horizon for 2015!

Let me take you with me to our most recent trip a few years ago. We were actually headed to Florida to be in a dear friend's wedding, but knowing that Petunia was 6 (such a perfect age for the MAGIC of Disney, although there's not a bad age!) I had to find a way to squeeze just a little bit of Disney into our long weekend.

We did not have much time for the Disney part of the trip, only the half day that we arrived and then one full day, so we had to pick our favorites.  As this was in the fall, I wondered if it would be a good use of our limited time to attend the famous Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, which is a special event requiring it's own ticket.  We had never been and I had some questions.

We were not going to be there that whole day and the party starts at 7 p.m.  Would we have to buy a regular ticket to Magic Kingdom and then another ticket to the party?  That would be expensive, and unreasonably expensive if we were not even going to have the whole day at the park.  I did some research and found out that if we were only going to be going to the party, we only needed to buy a ticket to the party.  Given our half-day in the area, that was going to work for us.

We had a wonderful day all around!  Let me explain why, including my top 5 reasons I recommend you consider attending the MNSSHP if you ever get the chance.

1. You have time to do non-park things at Disney!

I know a lot of people take time out of their days to do non-park things at Disney, but our family does not take much.  Why? We have paid dearly to be in the parks and those are truly the things that we cannot experience when we are back at home.

I understand some families must go take naps, but we never had to. Other families take time to swim in the afternoons. We have once or twice. But, we can nap and swim at home! We are often park openers and closers. Not every single day, of course. And we do make special dinner reservations that sometimes take us to other resorts, but we spend the vast majority of our time in the parks.

That is why having an event ticket that was not good for all day gave us the opportunity to slow down our pace and explore a few things we may not have done as thoroughly and it was fun!

Enjoying the fun of Pop Century Resort

One of those things was walking around our resort, Pop Century, and taking pictures with some of the gigantic icons of the different decades. We really soaked up all the theming and had plenty of time to take all the pictures we wanted or stop and play.

We also took extra time at our late lunch that afternoon.  We had a reservation for Sanaa at the Animal Kingdom Lodge and it was delicious!  We have made lunch or dinner reservations a time to sit down and relax our legs before, but we truly took our time, not only over the meal, but looking around the resort, too.

Nancy at African restaurant hhwt

In the picture above, you can see the "Salad Sampler"--Choice of Three Salads: Chickpeas with Cucumber and Tomato; Watermelon, Cucumber and Fennel; Kachumbari; Mango; or Bhel Puri

Such interesting and complex flavor choices. Yummo!

2. Take advantage of the party and dress up in costume to add to the fun!

Ainsley as Jasmine HHWT

Petunia had chosen that she wanted to dress up as Jasmine for Halloween that year.  I took her to the Disney store and let her pick whatever she wanted.  I was kind of surprised to learn of her pick, but she was sure!  I let her get it and she was thrilled! At the time, she only thought she was picking out her Halloween costume because we kept the day and a half Disney trip a surprise until we were driving onto the Disney World property!

In our family, Petunia is the only one who dressed up in costume, but we saw many full families, couples, and adults all in costume having a ball!

Disneyworld Jimmy wedding Oct 2011 027Disneyworld Jimmy wedding Oct 2011 007

Eventually, it was time for us to head to the party.Mark and A in front of Magic Kingdom hhwt

Oh yeah! Ready to get this party started!

You may notice that it does not look like 7:00 p.m. outside, which leads me to one of my favorite reasons for the party:

3. You can enter the park 3 hours early for free!

The tickets for Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party officially start at 7.  You will not see anything else officially advertised, but I had heard from a few sources that you could enter the park at 4:00 p.m. with your party ticket, so we decided to try it.  It was true!  While the party hadn't yet started (at 7:00 the park is closed to regular guests and only ticket-holding guests can stay) you can enter and do a few regular Magic Kingdom attractions before the party.  For me, this value really helped me decide to go.  With the park being open until midnight, I knew we would have 8 solid hours in the park! FUN!

From what I read and hear these days, the same is still true this year.

Nancy and A not so scary party entrance hhwt

We took our princess in to meet some other princesses since we had all the "extra" time! Princess Aurora not only signed Petunia's autograph book, but also sealed it with a kiss!

A and sleeping beauty hhwt kissmark from aurora hhwt

 

Disneyworld Jimmy wedding Oct 2011 071

We love Belle!

 

Ok, this encounter below is one of my favorite Disney memories!  Besides Jasmine, Tinker Bell and the Peter Pan crew were Petunia's favorites at the time. She would even go flying with them at night, as she regularly told us. Be.still.my.heart.

She wanted to be able to fly during the day, however, so she needed Pixie Dust.  This had proven to be a big problem for Petunia. We could not find it anywhere. She had asked Santa for it for Christmas the winter before, but he told her there was a shortage and he needed all he had to help his reindeer fly.

So, this was her chance! As you can see, she straight up asked Tinker Bell how she could get her hands on some pixie dust.

Disneyworld Jimmy wedding Oct 2011 096

And this mama held her breath.

What would be the reply?

They talked for a bit and then Petunia walked over to a table with her. What were they doing?

A getting pixie dust hhwt close up of pixie dust hhwt

When she returned to us, Petunia told us that Tinker Bell had explained that in the humid Florida air, the tiny, tiny pieces of Pixie Dust came together in these Mickey shapes, which were about 1000 pieces each. She had received several thousand pieces of Pixie Dust from Tinker Bell!

(The ensuing weeks involved various attempts at dissolving them to turn them back into flight-enabling dust particles, to no avail.  Petunia said that next time she was in conversation with Tinker Bell she would have to get specific instructions.)

4. See characters and objects not normally seen!

The special events at Disney bring out characters that are not present during normal days and this helps make the parties special, even for people who come regularly to the parks.

For example, while Snow White is regularly in the parks, her Dwarves are not!  They are very popular and the line to see them was always long.  Since they are cute, but not a favorite, we chose to spend our party time doing other things than waiting in line to meet them, but it was still fun to see them and I snapped a couple pics.

A rare experience!

 Above is the picture of Petunia with Princess Aurora that we got when we entered the Magic Kingdom early, but here is the picture with Prince Phillip, too!  Another one of the treats for the party is that the princesses are out and about with their princes!

Disneyworld Jimmy wedding Oct 2011 154

 Of course, while all these special things are taking place, you can still enjoy all the normal treats!

Disneyworld Jimmy wedding Oct 2011 111

Disneyworld Jimmy wedding Oct 2011 133Disneyworld Jimmy wedding Oct 2011 115

The sweetest face ever!

Here is another sweet moment that comes from taking advantage of dressing up!  On the left, Petunia got to wait in line to meet Aladdin and Abu.  On the right, however, Petunia got a spontaneous greeting from Aladdin in his Princely garb when he spotted her in the crowd during the parade and came over to greet his princess! How special is that?!

A and Aladdin Abu hhwtAladdin talking to A in parade hhwt

5. Mickey's Boo to You Halloween Parade is fun and fantastic!

Let me first acknowledge that all of Disney's parades are great and worth seeing...even over and over.  They are also updated regularly, so there is fresh theming and costumes.  With all of that, however, the Boo to You parade is a fan favorite and with good reason!

One of the most fun things is that the start of the parade is preceded by the headless horseman riding through the streets.  Ok, a little creepy, but very cool! You have to see it!

Disneyworld Jimmy wedding Oct 2011 183This parade features characters that are not normally seen while the regulars are in costume!

 Disneyworld Jimmy wedding Oct 2011 185

Eeyore as a clown! Too fun!

Disneyworld Jimmy wedding Oct 2011 197Disneyworld Jimmy wedding Oct 2011 187

Here are some more pictures of the parade taken by someone who loves it and has taken some great shots to share!

Well, those are my top 5 reasons to attend MNSSHP, but I have a bonus one with which to end.

Create memories like this.

A memory for life!

 For her memory and ours. Believe me, it's worth it.

----

Next, I will be sharing what we did for day 2 of the 2 day trip to Disney.  Please do hit the follow button and make sure you are getting all the posts from Have Heart Will Travel. Some exciting things, including giveaways for blog followers, are coming up in the near future. Thank you!