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Disney’s Hollywood Studios

The last of the four Walt Disney World parks is Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and I realize it’s cliched to say it, but while it’s the last it’s not the least.  Hollywood Studios is AMAZING!  I’ve already shared the photos from the girl’s Jedi Training School experience, which was totally incredible and jealousy inducing, but that was just one small part of our day.

There are just a TON of character meets at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and the lines were minimal compared to many of the other parks.  There’s a bunch to do, yet this park doesn’t feel quite as overwhelming as the others (of course, by this point we had our system pretty much perfected – which really helps).  And it’s not totally kid-centric either, which was great.  This park definitely had the broadest appeal, with everything from Star Wars to the Muppets to Phineas and Ferb to Pixar’s greatest hits to classic Disney as well.  We loved everything about this one.  It was fabulous!

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Disney’s Magic Kingdom

This truly is THE park.  When people who have never been to Walt Disney World talk about Disney World, THIS is the park they are usually talking about.  It really is quintessential Disney.

When you are planning your WDW vacation plant to spend at least two days at the Magic Kingdom.  There is so much here that really shouldn’t be missed, and even with two days devoted to this park there are things you’ll have to skip.  I promise to go into the rides and shows in more detail on another post – listing the must dos and the must avoids.  But for now?  After such a long day?  I’m going to jump right into the photos.  After all, that’s really what you want to see, isn’t it?  😉

Doing Disney the Smith Family Way

I’m a planner.  I like to know what’s going to happen and when.  It takes away the chaos that is present in so many activities when you have an AD/HD family, and just ups the enjoyment factor immensely.  So it wasn’t long into our Walt Disney World trip that I developed my own way of doing things.  And as promised, I’m going to reveal a few tips and tricks to make your Disney trip stress-free and a whole lot more enjoyable too.

I’m all about keeping things simple, easy, and stress-free.  Thus my tips are all about doing just that.  And one of the BIGGEST helpers are those kitchy little maps they have for all the Disney parks.  GRAB THOSE MAPS!

The night before you head to a park, sit down with the map and figure out your MUST HIT attractions, character meets, rides, and dining experiences:

Our must do list for day two at the Magic Kingdom park.

Our must do list for day two at the Magic Kingdom park.

I just laid on the bed in our Finding Nemo room at the Art of Animation resort, and using one of the pens from our room sketched little brackets around everything that we really wanted to do that second day in the park.  We had already spent one day there, so it a lot of our must do’s, but there were still a lot left on our list.  I tossed in a question mark on any attraction that we really wanted to do, but that wasn’t a top priority.

Then I went through the map, and drew stars beside each of the must do rides/attractions/events/dining spots, and a question mark on the want to do ones:

The Disney map, with all my notations on it.

The Disney map, with all my notations on it.

Lastly, but SUPER important not to miss, go through and mark an FP on all the places you’ve marked so far that offer a fast pass.  Using the fast pass system makes your life SOOO much easier.  So be sure to take note of which spots actually offer them and mark them on your map.  You can see them on the map above, but here’s a close up of Fantasyland and New Fantasyland:

Here you can see we have three attractions marked - two with Fast Pass.

Here you can see we have three attractions marked – two with Fast Pass.

When you first hit the park, go directly to the closest area and get your first fast pass.  Take note of what time you need to be back there, and then decide to do the remaining STAR attractions/rides now or closer to when you need to redeem your fast pass.  You can only get a new fast pass once every hour, so once you’ve gotten one, then hit some of your starred rides and attractions that don’t offer fast pass while you wait until enough time has passed to get your next one.

Having these maps, and your choices charted out on them, really is a small thing.  And honestly?  It only takes about twenty minutes to do – and is a great relaxing activity for the adults in your party to tackle after any younglings are asleep.  It’s a small thing that makes a BIG impact on your park experience.  So take that little bit of time the night before each park visit.  It saved my sanity and made our trip SOOO much more enjoyable.

Reflection

We are now one week away from our trip to WDW.  Time to get all the detail work done in preparation for TEN DAYS away.  Time to pack, and see if there’s anything else we need to pick up before going.  Time to write up info sheets on each member of our animal family for Riki and Kate (who will be staying here, and watching over them all).  Time to buy food and meds, enough to last all the dogs/cat/parrot.  Time to prepare games, and activities, and toys for two days of sitting around in airports.  Time to decide on our budget, and to get some American money.  Time to decide what things will have priority and what will be an “if we can work it out” thing.  Time to get everything in order.  Time to finish sewing, time to put away other projects, time to admit I didn’t get everything done that I’d hoped to…  time to start getting excited as our trip is really just around the corner.

I’ve never been to Disney World, but I did go to Disneyland when I was nine – with Gramma, Grampa Bear, and Devan.  And I’ll be honest, with my memory issues I don’t remember hardly any of it.  I wish I did.  I was old enough that I should remember it…  but there really are so few moments that made it into my emotional memory that it’s barely a blip.  That makes me sad.  This trip though?  Even with my terrible memory, I’m sure will be one I keep with me for the rest of my days.

While the girl was at school this afternoon, Damon and I headed out to visit with Karla – our travel agent.  We talked over a few things.  And she put my mind at ease over a couple things I was unsure of.  After hanging out in her office for about an hour and a half I really do feel set to go.  Now it’s just a matter of getting all the little details arranged, then we’ll be off.

So, with that on my mind, here’s my challenge shot for today:

jan21

With the challenge being “reflection” I could have gone a few different directions… I thought about taking another snapshot of Kid Kid – and talking about how our children reflect what we put into them.  But then I thought about the huge number of photos I already have on this blog of her.  LOL  So it occurred to me (after changing into my pjs) that I could go completely literal.  So I grabbed the mirror that belonged to my paternal Grandmother, who passed when I was too young to really know her, and photographed the reflection of it’s reflection.  I love this little mirror.  It feels like I’ve always had it, and I always feel beautiful when I look into it – even with pjs, chipped nail polish, and damp hair.  😉

photo a day challenge for january

Off to Meeting Lake!

In a happy turn of events, we’ll now be heading out to the lake tomorrow morning!  yay!

We haven’t been out to the cabin as a family since Lily-Ann was a wee thing, so this is a treat.  We’ll be loading all the dogs up, and packing Midge (our wagon) to the brim.  And then we’ll squeeze in even more as we head over to pick up my youngest sister, Jewles.

The plan is to head out for three days/two nights.  And if we have space, I’m going to pack all my camera equipment…  I’m really hoping we’ll have space.  I’d love to find the time to head out with my long range zoom and get some wildlife captures.  I’m not going to hold my breath, but I am crossing my fingers.

The point of this post?  I may or may not be posting while we’re away.  There’s no internet up at the little beach where my parent’s cabin is located.  It’s lovely and relatively secluded – so we’ll be pretty cut off up there…  which is also part of the attraction.  So, if nothing else?  I’ll see y’all when we get back.  🙂

Happy Weekend!

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