Archive for the Trip Reports Category

2011 Spring Road Trip to Walt Disney World – Day 2

Posted in Trip Reports with tags , , on May 27, 2011 by Lucinda

As usual, I was out of bed before anyone else. I gathered our belongings and repacked the van. I let my family sleep while I showered, then tended to social media obligations.

It was late morning when I finally pushed them out of bed. We missed the free hotel breakfast and grabbed something quick from McDonald’s instead. It was time to head back to the interstate.

On the road again…destination Walt Disney World. Just over 400 miles ahead meant six to seven more hours of driving. We continued to allow the Garmin guide us.

It was early evening when we reached Lake Buena Vista Palace Hotel and Spa. It was easy to find, but we arrived with a serious mechanical issue. An awful odor filled the air and my front left wheel was smoking. Not good. Afraid that it might catch fire, I threw water on the hub. It sizzled and steamed.

I started to stress…but wanted more than anything to get parked, into my room and unpacked. I moved into a parking spot and decided the problem could be handled after I checked into my room. Just didn’t want to deal with it at that very moment…so I didn’t.

The lobby of Lake Buena Vista was classy and inviting. A helpful, friendly staff greeted us and showed us our way. Front desk checked us in and offered recommendations for area mechanics. We grabbed our stuff and began to settle in.

We were assigned adjoining water view rooms facing east. They were spacious and clean, modern and beautiful. The beds were perfectly comfy. Roomy balconies provided a welcome seating area with a wonderful calming view.

A storm was rolling in so I sat on the balcony to watch the rain and the lightning for a while…then jumped on my laptop to try and solve my vehicular issue. After some research, I joined the others in slumber. The solution would wait until morning.

Previous Day

2011 Spring Road Trip to Walt Disney World – Day 1

Posted in Trip Reports with tags on May 26, 2011 by Lucinda

I was up very late the night before departure, my usual method of operation. Because of several unplanned visits to the mechanic and other minor emergencies, I was behind with my “to do” list. I stayed up to clean the van and pack my bags.

I woke up early regardless, and began loading the van as soon as I was dressed. I hoped we could leave by 9:00 A.M. or even 10…but was happy enough we were out of the driveway around 11.

We decided to let the Garmin choose our route…a slight deviation from our normal path. I enjoyed the new scenery…lots and lots of trees. Skies were overcast most of the day but our moods were sunny.

I started watching forecasts for our travel route several days before we left. A line of strong storms would be crossing our path. I was hoping the nasty weather would stay ahead of us.

It was close to midnight when we caught up to the storms in southern Alabama. The light show was amazing and several lightning strikes gained well-deserved ooos and aahs from me and my passengers. It was really spectacular and I wished I weren’t driving so I could sit and photograph it.

Then we hit the rain. It was torrential and visibility became extremely poor. It was also very late, so we decided to stop for the night. Unable to find a hotel at our first stop, we waited a bit for the storm to move on and then cautiously followed behind.

We finally ended our night around 3:00 A.M. with an overnight stop in Dothan. The hotel was nothing fancy, but it was clean and served its purpose. We showered and slept there.

Next Day

Without a Care in the World – Disney Impromptu

Posted in Trip Reports with tags , on May 15, 2011 by Lucinda

I have been aching badly for a return to Walt Disney World. My last trip was more than a year ago and that’s just waaay too long for me.

I’ve been trying to put something together for months. Looking for an opportunity for that next trip. It just wasn’t coming together though. Each time I thought a vacation might materialize…it didn’t.

But then it happened. Everything fell into place…telling me…now is the time. And when I say now…I mean NOW. I check-in in just two weeks. Exciting…yes!!! Nerve-wracking…um…yes! Doable…yes.

So begins my standard trip check lists. What’s on yours?

Trip Must-dos:
1. Reservations – check-double check!
2. Pack
–a. Suitcases – clothes
–b. Travel bags – toiletries
–c. Backpacks – toys, books, games
–d. Cooler – groceries
–e. Bags – groceries
3. Vehicle ready –
–a. Service-replace right tie rod end
–b. Clean outdump recycling & vacuum
–c. Gas up
–d. Pack
4. Tickets
5. Spending $
–a. Notify credit card company
–b. Coinage for tolls and misc.
–c. Monies transferred from savings to checking
–d. Gift cards, cash and credit cards all accounted for (don’t forget possible valid ticket)
6. Shopping
–a. Groceries

Home Must-dos:
1. Instructions for house/pet sitter
2. Garden planted salsa bed planted Done! June 08, 2011
3. Bathroom remodeled start 2nd bathroom remodel
4. Garage Sale Never mind. This can wait.
5. House cleaned

There are two more lists that I need to put together before I go or to make on the drive down. I need to have a list of souvenirs I intend to buy and a list of photos I intend to take. How many lists and/or spreadsheets do you make for your Disney trips?

Looks like there won’t be  much time for blogging these next couple of weeks. Hopefully, I’ll have time for a few live posts while I’m down there though.

Dang! I’m excited!!!!

Disney Blog Hop – How Did I Get Here & Where Am I Going?

Posted in Mickey Moms, Thoughts & Opinions, Trip Reports with tags , , on April 28, 2011 by Lucinda

This week’s theme on the Disney Blog Hop (hosted by Babes in Disneyland), is “why you started your blog and…anything special you have going on in regards to it”. There is a real danger here of this running too long. I’ll type very carefully…

I’ve always been inclined to write ever since I learned how. I’ve kept daily journals and dream logs. I wrote lengthy notes to classmates and 10-page letters to distant family.

I’ve always been a writer…I always will be.

After becoming a member of DVC in spring of 2007, I discovered my first Disney fan site, Tagrel.com and was introduced to the concept of a trip report. I knew immediately that I wanted to write one of my own.

On my next vacation, I tried my hand at it, but failed. It was much harder than I anticipated. I refused to give up…I knew I would try again.

In September 2008, I completed my first full Walt Disney World trip report. I wrote a detailed account and included lots of fun photos. I was so proud of what I created and I still am.

Day One – Follow the Magic
Day Two – We Arrive
Day Three – First Park
Day Four – Magic Kingdom at Last
Day Five – Hello to Disney’s Hollywood
Day Six – EPCOT Revisited
Day Seven – A Little Bit of This and a Little Bit of That
Day Eight – Return to the Studios

I started actual blogging on myspace. I wrote about Disney and I wrote about dreams. I wrote about my mother’s cancer and her dying.

I wrote about whatever would cross my mind…with no particular audience in mind. I assumed no one was reading anyway. I wrote just to write. I was totally surprised by the number of views my posts received…which inspired me to write more.

My attempts to obtain a seat on the Walt Disney World Moms Panel motivated me to go further with my blog. I moved from myspace to free blog services. I published on blogger, live journal and wordpress…settling in finally with wordpress for aesthetic reasons. I found it easier to format and I really liked the way it looked.

After that…came the 2010 Disney’s Social Media Moms Celebration. It was my first ever blogging conference and what an eye-opening experience it was! I had no idea how big blogging was until then. It’s amazing…astounding really, how many bloggers are out there. And with so many different kinds of blogs. This is not going to go away…and I hope to continue with it as it grows.

As for the future of my blog…I have no long term expectations for it. I am currently working on a series of how-to posts that involve some vlogging. This is a big deal for me because I am somewhat TERRIFIED of speaking on camera and sharing what I’m saying with the world. I want to get over this, so I’m forcing myself through it.

Moving forward…I think I can.

Let’s Celebrate – Wrapping Up

Posted in Trip Reports with tags on September 20, 2010 by Lucinda

I proudly donned my new pink jacket and headed next door for lunch. I caught up to J.L. Knopp and walked over with her.

I first met J.L. in person during Wednesday’s tailgate party but met her online several months earlier during the application process for the 2010 Walt Disney World Moms Panel. I enjoyed reading about her journey past round two on DISboards, twitter and on her blog, The Disney Driven Life.

I told J.L. how I was able to match most of the real life Disney blogger/tweeters to their avatars with the exception of Debbie Hudson. Debbie was responsible for my awareness of Disney’s Social Media Moms Celebration and I wanted to meet her.

J.L. introduced me to Debbie and the entire table of Disney bloggers. I was happy to finally meet them all. They asked me to join them for lunch and I gladly accepted the invitation. It was comforting to be sitting among other enamored fans. Not everyone I travel with is as infatuated with Disney as I am.

I enjoyed the food and loved the company. We discussed blogging and networking and Disney, of course. I was fascinated and full. We finished our tiny cheesecakes, then headed back to Ballroom B. All bloggers returned to their seats and it was back to business.

On the first day of Disney’s Social Media Moms Celebration, I noticed a tweet about Kathy Ireland. I don’t remember who it came from, but it mentioned that Kathy would be at the conference. The rumor was finally confirmed as CEO of Kathy Ireland Worldwide was introduced as our next speaker. I was star-struck. I’ve always thought her to be one of the most beautiful women in the world…and now she was here in person.

Kathy talked about motherhood, overcoming stereotypes and perseverance. It was great to hear her praise mothers and revere motherhood. I appreciated the validation. Mothers are pretty awesome…but you can never hear it enough.

Chris Brogan was next to the stage. Many of the bloggers were looking forward to his presentation but I’d never heard of him before and had no clue what he might talk about. Turns out, Chris is a marketing specialist, social media expert, public speaker, and author of a best-seller. His talk was informative and entertaining. He gave advice on relationships with sponsors and community and tips on producing better content. Perhaps his most helpful piece of advice, was for us to be helpful to one another.

After a short break, we returned to find savory snacks at our tables and bartenders offering tasty vodka lemonade punch. I was getting used to the spoiling at this point and indulged in every crumb on my plate, every drop in my glass. I knew we were coming to the close of the conference so I savored the final moments.

Mary Ellen Hooper was the perfect final act. She went very well with my vodka lemonade and truly made me laugh out loud. Mary Ellen points out the humor in being a woman–a daughter, a wife, a mother. She’s a very funny gal with a somewhat wearied, but entirely humorous perspective. Check her out! You can learn about her and hear some of her comedy online at, MaryEllenHooper.com and also at Stinky Flowers.

Even though I didn’t win the night in the Castle Suite, I walked away from the conference a winner. Aside from the tangibles and the family vacation experience, I walked away enriched, inspired and motivated. I gained a tremendous knowledge of social media and networked with enthusiastic like-minded individuals. I secured confidence in myself and felt a restored sense of self. I have many memories to cherish and many more ideas to put to use. I’m sincerely grateful for all of it.

Many thank yous go out to Walt Disney World, 5 Minutes for Mom, Resourceful Mommy Media, Mom Bloggers Club and Mom Select for including family in a unique conference experience. I would not have been able to attend otherwise.

Disclosure

Let’s Celebrate ME!!

Posted in Trip Reports with tags , on July 30, 2010 by Lucinda

Finally, conference day arrived! We began bright and early with breakfast at the Contemporary. Fresh fruit, pastries, potatoes, eggs and sausage were placed in front of me, so I ate them. I ate them all.

I felt pampered again. Disney’s Social Media Moms Celebration spoiled me with yummy meals I didn’t have to prepare, lush tropical deluxe accommodations, and instant FASTPASSes at all the parks. I was in my otherworld.

Throw in exclusive events, private parties and celebrity entertainment and it’s very hard to feel anything but special. I was completely spoiled by all the time focused on me. As a mother, my needs are often over-looked, my wants put on the back burner. My face was filled with smile. I was a VIP.

Tweeter sisters, Robin and Jay were our lively and comical emcees. A dynamic twitter duo, they even had their own theme song. The Tweeters introduced our speakers, directed our attention and kept the show rolling with door prizes!

A lot of very nice items were given away throughout the morning, but I was particularly interested in just one of them. A night in Cinderella’s castle was up for grabs. I was feeling lucky and thought I might actually win. I wished for it deeply.

Meg Crofton, President of Walt Disney World Resort, once again graced us with her presence. She welcomed us to the first ever Social Media Moms Celebration and introduced our first speaker.

Maxine Clark, president and founder of Build-a-Bear spoke of inspiration and collaboration. She emphasized the importance of caring when building and conducting a business. Chief Executive Bear lives her imagination and made her dreams come true! She thinks I can too.

Maxine brought Disney Princess Bears to share with us. Each table in the conference room was adorned with a centerpiece bear and one lucky blogger per table would be the recipient of their table’s bear.

I sat at an Aurora table with hopes of winning. The sweet little princess bear would perfectly match the dress I’d laid out for my 5yo princess that day. I visualized Miss Ivanka’s face when I presented her with the adorable Aurora Bear and my eyes started to well with tears.

Sadly, there was no winning sticker under my chair. I did however, manage to peel off the manufacturer’s label in desperate hope. This still makes me laugh.

Janine from Twofer Mom won the bear at our table. But there was a problem. She’s the mother of twins…and Aurora was only one bear. When Janine stated that she couldn’t take the bear…I shamelessly, suggested that she could give it to me. She agreed and being the total mush, that I am, I cried as I thanked her.

Our next speaker was Marissa Jaret Winokur. I knew her as the girl from Hairspray, Tracy Turnblad. She’s warm and down-to-earth, energetic and motivated. She encouraged us to follow our dreams, to do what we love and put ourselves out there…to network and to share.

…and this just must be said: She had on some very awesome shoes!

Then came the time to draw the Castle Suite winner. Fingers crossed, I held my breath…but my name was not called. Cecelia Mecca of Double Duty Divas was the name on the winning slip of paper. What a lucky duck! I can only imagine what a thrill that must have been for her group.

The morning had really flown by. My brain was fueled and my motivation was on fire. It was time to break for lunch and fill my tummy.

Disclosure

Celebrate Friends for Change – Project Green

Posted in Trip Reports with tags , , on June 21, 2010 by Lucinda

I was anxious to get back to the bloggers and volunteer families at EPCOT. I didn’t want to miss anything but we arrived a tiny bit late for our private party. I was annoyed by our tardiness, but didn’t complain or grumble. It’s my job to keep our WDW trips on the positive path…and it was probably my fault we were behind anyway.

As per our usual routine, we headed straight for Club Cool. We displayed our credentials to a small group of cast members nearby and they directed us to the other side of the fountain. At the party entrance we were each handed a really great LED glowstick/whistle. I love useful free stuff and these lights were very cool! Thankfully the kids didn’t discover the whistle feature of the light until later in the evening.

The party extended from the Fountain of Nations all the way back through Showcase Plaza. Tables and chairs were set up along the perimeter, with a large cluster of them in the center near the front of the stage. Food and beverage stations were dispersed throughout.

Hosts and hostesses tried to talk us into seats near the entrance, but I was going to take my chance on spotting an open table up closer to the stage in the midst of it all. Mostly I wanted to walk around and see everything first.

After a once through, we ended up back where we started. I claimed a table by Mouse Gear (my favorite WDW store!) and we began filling ourselves with our delicious dinner food.

We shared a table with a sweet family from Atlanta. I sat near Akilah earlier at World Showplace but didn’t get a chance to speak during the presentation. Sitting together stuffing our faces with scrumptious warm brownie tortes was much more conducive to conversation.

Akilah, of Execumama.com is friendly and obviously intelligent with the most beautiful eyes and smile I’ve ever seen. She was so easy and fun to talk with. I truly enjoyed getting to meet her and enjoyed the grocery store adventure she shared with me.

There were numerous different food items to choose from and I couldn’t wait to fill my plate. I loved everything that I was able to try, but didn’t even get close to sampling it all. Some of the menu selections at our buffet-style dinner included:

* Traditional Cobb Salad with Foccacia Stick
* Fire-roasted Heirloom Tomato Soup with Basil Foam and Tiger Shrimp
* Mid-western Beef and Pennsylvania Mushroom Pie
* Maine Lobster and Atlantic Seafood Fisherman’s Pie (pictured above)
* Wilted Greens with Barbeque Braised Beef Shortrib and Cornbread Button (pictured below)
* Mickey-roni and Sharp Cheddar with Spiced Barbeque Pork Belly and Beer Bread Crisp
* Stiry Fry Vegetable Lo Mein with Cilantro
* Grilled Free Range Chicken Fried Rice with Edamame
* Cheesecake Push-up
* Warm Brownie Torte

On stage, an entertaining and inspirational video played on a large screen. Disney Channel stars talked and sang about Disney Friends for Change — Project Green. Project Green inspires and challenges the youth of America to make change happen, to be a friend to their planet. A live performance of “Make a Wave” by Demi Lovato and Joe Jonas followed the video presentation and topped off the evening.

I didn’t get to enjoy the show much as a primary focus due to continuing efforts to keep my youngsters corralled and I had to leave before it was even over. I thoroughly delighted in it as the background to what I was experiencing though–EPCOT privately with my family, Disney channel stars in person, well-prepared yummy fresh food, being surrounded by interesting, creative and motivated people…I was very privileged, thankful to have been invited. Still thankful, in fact!

Disclosure

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