A Once Upon A Toy Rope Drop

Rope drop (verb) – to arrive on time or early to the opening of a specific location. “I can ride most of the rides in Fantasyland in one hour if I rope drop the Magic Kingdom.” 

Rope drop is a term that is used quite often in the Elrods Go Disney vocabulary. We are firm believers in rope dropping. We’ve visited Disney in busy times and down times and each time we have been able to accomplish much if we just get there on time! And that’s with three kids four and under.

Last September, we discovered a new spot to rope drop! The Once Upon A Toy store at the Marketplace in Downtown Disney.

IMG_6032We are obviously early-risers, considering the ages of our children, so we were up and at ’em, had eaten breakfast, and were at Downtown Disney before many of the stores were open. The weather was cool, the crowds were sparse, and for a melancholy me, it was the perfect peaceful morning; slowly strolling the streets of one of my most favorite places on Earth with my awesome ohana.

As we walked past Once Upon A Toy, the woman on the far left of this picture approached us and asked if we would like to be their family of the day {or something like that}. She said our picture would be posted somewhere online {I can’t remember where, we never did seek it out}, and our boys could do the honors of turning on the toys and trains for the day. We excitedly accepted. Duh!

Luckily, Tim captured the happy moment on his iPhone. After performing the store-opening duties, Jack and Cole each received a certificate and small toy for their job well done. So. fun. Check it out! {To see the whole WDW Trip 2013 video, click here.}

While there, the boys also spent their souvenir money from their great-grandmother, MeMama. They got the Walt Disney World Railroad model train. Can you say spoiled rotten?

IMG_5977I think our boys would agree that this was one rope drop that was well worth the trip. We hope to do it again someday!

With love, Malorie

Trip Report: Our Mornings in Magic Kingdom

On this trip, we spent many mornings at Magic Kingdom. At the ages and stages of our kids, this is our favorite park to be in, hands down. With meet ‘n greets of their favorite characters and gads of attractions they can enjoy, it is no mystery that when our kids think Disney World, they think Magic Kingdom.IMG_6061 IMG_6054 IMG_8726

This year we found a great groove for our rope drops {rope drop meaning arriving at park opening}, and were able to get tons accomplished before nap time. I made a map to show you our route. The yellow and blue routes were done on separate days. Screen Shot 2013-10-03 at 2.43.23 PM

Yellow Route: Fantasyland/Attraction Knock-Out

1. Peter Pan

2. Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid

3. Dumbo

4. The Barnstormer

5. Mad Tea Party

6. The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh

7. Prince Charming Regal Carrousel

8. Mickey’s Philharmagic

9. It’s a Small World

10. Haunted Mansion

11. Splash Mountain

12. Pirates of the Caribbean

13. Lunch at Casey’s Corner


Get there at park open, catch the opening performance, then hit the trail. We were able to knock out all of Fantasyland in just over an hour, but even during busy times, I can guarantee that if you get there on time and don’t lolly-gag in between, you can knock out these rides in swift order. We hit up potty breaks with our toddlers near Gaston’s Tavern after Peter Pan, and in the Tangled restrooms after It’s a Small World.IMG_8749 IMG_8760 IMG_5797 IMG_5864 IMG_5932 IMG_5867

Teal Route: Meet ‘n Greets

1a. Mickey Mouse at Town Square Theater

1b. Princesses at Princess Fairytale Hall

2. Enchanted Tales with Belle

3. Minnie, Daisy, Goofy, and Donald at Pete’s Silly Sideshow

The teal route knocked out our meet ‘n greets. Number 1 has an a. and a b. because we typically don’t see the princesses {although that will change with the arrival of our sweet Lorelai!}, so I would suggest doing either/or. However, doing both is always an option too! After meeting the characters we would suggest seeing Dream Along with Mickey. Otherwise, move along to some other attractions that you haven’t crossed off your list yet in Adventureland and Tomorrowland. IMG_8769 IMG_8776 IMG_8819 IMG_8675 IMG_6204 IMG_8828 IMG_5808 IMG_5804By the end of our trip we had gotten to do everything we wanted several times. Jack’s favorite ride was Haunted Mansion and Cole’s was…well just about everything. We were bummed that he was still too short to ride The Barnstormer, so our fingers are crossed for our trip in March.

Just this morning, Jack said to us {again!} at the breakfast table, “I wish we was in Disney World. I love Disney World. I thought we lived there.”

Ha! Someday he will realize that in the grand scheme of things, the fact that we have been blessed with the opportunity to go so often and make such wonderful family memories there is very rare, indeed. I am so incredibly thankful for that. With that in mind, I say to Jack, “We do live there, Buddy. We do.”

With love, Malorie

Trip Report: How the Elrods Go Disney

Every time we go to Disney, the Elrods start out our trip the same way.


Now, I was raised in a family where when it was vacation time, it was vacation time, so we would load up the car and hit the road by 6am, regardless of where we were going. The reasoning is really just not wanting to spend a whole day on traveling. We typically vacation in FL, be it Disney or Ft. Walton Beach, so we like to get to our destination by lunchtime so that we can have the rest of the day to kick back, relax, and feel like we’ve gained an extra day of vacation. Lucky for me, Tim likes to start out his vacations the same way.

In fact, he likes to start them out even earlier.

I’m not what you’d call a “morning person”. I don’t mind getting up early, and I actually prefer it to staying up late, however, I just love sleep and it takes me a while {and often times, several cups of coffee} to get myself up and running. Tim can pop out of bed and start getting stuff done, clarity of mind, right away. {It’s only a few hours into it that he gets grumpy if an iced coffee has not been included somewhere in the mix.}

This year, he had us up and out the door by 4:45am. Yes folks, you read that right. 4:45am. And yes, he is our resident driver, so if he’s willing to get behind the wheel that early, I’m willing to reap the benefits.

Here’s a silly little vlogging clip I made, explaining some parts of our travel mornings to WDW. 

IMG_8485 IMG_8476 IMG_8481 IMG_8482

This year, during our breakfast stop in Tifton, we surprised the boys with a new DVD to watch on the remainder of the ride down. It was fun! We are thinking of making it a little Elrod tradition. “Which Disney movie is Mom gonna surprise us with this year?”

Oh, and the sheriff badges Jack and Cole are wearing? A small group of officers were having breakfast at Chick-fil-a while we were there. They thought our kids were cute, so one gave them badges to wear. It’s amazing the free stuff my kids get for being cute. I need to be cuter.

IMG_8477 IMG_8487 IMG_8483So here are the official Elrod WDW Tips for traveling by car:

1. Leave early. As early as you can get your family up and going. Pack the car the night before, so all you have to throw in the next morning are bodies and maybe a bathroom bag or two.

2. Pre-plan your stops. Our stops are exit 62 in Tifton GA, and a good gas station before we get on the FL Turnpike. This trip we found Loves on exit 358 in FL.

3. Make check-in easier by doing online check-in before you leave!

We have several friends in WDW right now, and many more leaving in just a couple weeks for the school break in October; so drive safe and happy travels!

With love, Malorie

Pre-Buy for Disney 2013

Any entries posted between September 5th – 12th were composed prior to our trip. To follow along with us in our current WDW adventures, follow us on Twitter: malyourpal and timelrod or on Instagram: malyourpal.


Who has two thumbs and has been having a blast pre-buying for Disney? This girl.Photo on 8-30-13 at 3.58 PM #4

That’s right. The one crawling with toddlers, humming the Dinosaur Train theme song… {Yes, this is how I blog most days; with one or more kids in my lap.}

As you know, we are fans of the “Buy Now, Save Later” principle. Especially when it comes to WDW souvenirs. Here are some things we snagged this year.

IMG_8464 We got this whole lot at Target about a week before we left. The two Planes shirts were $8 apiece at regular price. {Oh Target, how I love thee!} The toucan outfit was $9 for the whole shebang; MK gear for Cole. Sometimes we buy clothes that aren’t necessarily Disney, but are themed towards a specific part or park. ie. This reminded us of Adventureland and the Tiki Room, so we bought it. The Mickey shirt was the cheapest of all {I can’t remember the price} because it is obviously a 4th of July shirt. However, we figured it would work great for Jack in EPCOT!

Get it? America? World Showcase?? I’m really hoping we catch the Spirit of America Fife and Drum Corps while we are there. Jack and Cole would love that.

Another thing we always make sure to pre-purchase is any glow item the boys may want. This year we scored glow bracelets for 98 cents at Walmart and two glow necklaces for $2 a pop at Party City! $5 and both boys will be decked out. I’m pretty sure that not a single item on that glow cart they break out at dusk before the Main Street Electrical Parade is $5 or less. IMG_8463While at Party City, I spotted those Lightening McQueen bubble necklaces, as well. I got one for Jack, Cole, and their friend Jacob who will be tagging along this trip. I thought they’d be good entertainment for any lines we may encounter in the parks.

Who Can Blow the Most Bubble’s in their Brother’s Face. Sounds like a fun game to me…

With love, Malorie

Making the Most of Magic Kingdom with Young Kids

A common question we are asked is how we make the most of our time in Magic Kingdom, having two kiddos, a double stroller, and still “claiming” to take breaks and maintain the nap and eating schedule they keep while at home. It is an art that we have mastered through trial and error, and one that admittedly comes with some sacrifice.DSCF1198

{Our one year anniversary dinner at the Crystal Palace in MK}

Tim and I have taken many, many trips in our young adult lives without kids, so we have done every thrilling ride WDW has to offer, that is mostly off limits to children below a certain height or thrill level. {My sister is 13 and still prefers to sit out the thrill rides…so sometimes the ability to ride everything with ease as a parent does not come with height or even age.} This is the reason that Tim and I urge adults without kids to take a WDW vacation before their parenting years. We hear so often, “Yeah, Disney World will be nice when we have kids. Isn’t it pretty much a kiddie park, anyway? I don’t care to meet Mickey Mouse.”


And the experience you have without children is so incredibly different than the one you will have with them. Both are amazing. Actually, Tim and I now prefer WDW with our kids, because there is nothing like experiencing everything brand new through them. Seeing them so happy and amazed, believing their favorite dream worlds into reality…I’d say that anyone is hard pressed to not shed an emotional tear or two when feeling the joy of experiencing WDW through the eyes of their child.

That being said, this is how we do a typical day in Magic Kingdom with our kids. You will not see Space Mountain or Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in our day anywhere because unless we are there with family that is willing to watch the kids while we do such rides, they are not worth the time and switch-off for the thrill. Been there, done those, we have more fun doing the “experiences” Disney has to offer than being raced around a track in the dark over and over. If you want to ride the thrill rides again and again, maxing out your FastPass potential and by-passing parades and shows, go without young kids; because trying to do both produces angry adults that don’t think it’s worth the ticket price, and cranky kids that are hot and tired of waiting on Daddy to ride that “big” ride again. Believe me, we’ve been there.

So without further ado, this is how the Elrod’s make the most of Magic Kingdom with young Kids:IMG_5594

Step 1: Be there early. 

Like, at least 15 minutes early. Remember to calculate in transportation times. If you are coming from a resort by bus, I’d suggest being at your MK bus stop 45 minutes to an hour before the park open. Most bus rides to MK will take longer than other parks because MK is kind of set apart, being surrounded by the Seven Seas Lagoon and Bay Lake. We notice the bus ride takes anywhere from 20-30 minutes depending on your driver and traffic, etc. Don’t fool yourself. Just because it’s WDW transportation, doesn’t mean it runs on pixie dust and gets you there at the speed of Lightening McQueen.

If you are coming via boat, give yourself a good 30-45 minutes, and monorail a hair less. Obviously monorail is most timely, however, it can make some long stops if there is a hold up.

If you are driving to MK, bless you. Give yourself a solid hour to hour and a half, please. You will have to stop at the gate to pay for parking {or present your parking pass if you are staying on property}, find a parking spot, and hopefully be close enough to not have to take a tram to the ticket and transportation center. Hop on one if you aren’t, though. Save those feetsies for all of the walking you will have to do in the park. Don’t burn out energy here.

At the transportation center choose either boat or monorail {we suggest monorail} and then you will finally arrive at the gates of MK. Next is bag check. Parents, tag team it here. One take the stroller and bags through check while the other takes the kids into the park and finds a spot for the opening ceremonies. Remember: The park has not yet opened! If you are on track, it is only 8:45am at the latest.


The best spot to see the opening ceremonies is obviously the center, although there is not really a bad spot, since they are up so high. We have a double stroller that is difficult to maneuver through crowds, so sometimes one of us stays center with the kids while the other takes a spot near the right hand {if you are looking at the park with your back to bag check} entrance. This is because we like to do “the slink ‘n slide”.

The Slink ‘n Slide – a strategical move mastered by the Elrods to maintain better positioning upon opening of the park to ensure being one of the first guests in.


Step 2: Enjoy the opening ceremonies! 

“Good morning, good moooorning!…” Main Street citizens will perform, the train will come around the track, filled with all of your kid’s favorite Disney characters, a little more song and dance will ensue, and then they will introduce the Family of the Day. When you hear this, shift gears and begin the first steps of The Slink ‘n Slide. Move quietly, stealthily, and hey, graciously {“Excuse us. Oh, sorry! Excuse me, just trying to get to my pregnant wife, right there…”} toward the right-hand entrance of the park. Right-hand entrance is key. By now they should be counting it down. 5 – 4 – 3 – 2 – 1! Aaaaand you are officially allowed to enter the gates.

Welcome to the Magic Kingdom!IMG_5650_2

Step 3: Let your kids meet Mickey. {note: if you are going to MK several days of your trip, only do this step one of the days. Getting a family picture with Mickey is on our yearly check-list, not something we do over and over again. If you want to see Mickey again, we suggest doing a character meal with him! Yummy and fun!}

One of you take the kids straight inside Town Square Theater on your immediate right while the other parks that dang stroller {notice your kids have really yet to be in the stroller, but believe me, if you have children our kids’ ages or a little older, it will come in handy sooner than later!}. Inside Town Square Theater, a Cast Member will already be directing other wise park guests where to go. Right now, you are able to choose between a Magician Mickey and Minnie meet ‘n greet, or a meet ‘n greet of some big name Princesses. However, at some point in fall 2013, the Princesses are getting their own royal treatment for meet ‘n greets back in New Fantasyland called Princess Fairytale Hall.

You will be shuffled through a short line of ropes, and into a claustrophobic holding room. When Mickey is ready, you will be escorted by another Cast Member to the Main Mouse, himself! Since lines are not long, we aren’t usually rushed through our time with Mickey. Cole {or the baby} always gets a game of pee-a-boo from Minnie while Jack starts the tally on his high-five meter for the day. Fun times. Get a Cast Member to take pictures with your camera, take the PhotoPass card from the other Cast Member, and you are on your way! Your kids have met Mickey and Minnie and the park has only been open about 10 minutes! Yesss!


Step 4: Take in the castle.

Strap those kiddos in the stroller, it’s time to move, move, move! At a slightly slower pace than speed walking, get thyself right-ith down the center of Main Street {watch out for the horse-drawn trolley!}, gawking at the castle and letting the kiddos take it in. {note: I DIDN’T say stop for a picture. You’ve got things to check off your to-do list, and believe me, this is not the best time. With the position of the sun, you will either all be wearing sunglasses or making the angry-squinty-face. Pictures in front of the castle turn out much better in the evening!} Push forward and up, going straight through the castle, taking a moment to check out the mosaic story of Cinderella in the walls if you never have before {skip it, if you have, you’ve got places to be!}, and come out of the other side into Fanstasyland!


Step 5: Fantasyland 

Spend the next hour to hour and a half running going back and forth between rides. Make sure you put Peter Pan’s Flight, Dumbo, Winnie the Pooh, Journey of the Little Mermaid, and Enchanted Tales with Belle at the top of that list, those are the ones that get the longest lines later in the day. Mark them off your list early. The Barnstormer is one of Jack’s favorite rides, and both boys tend to zone out in over-stimulated bliss in It’s a Small World. Do not bypass Mickey’s Philharmagic! No, it’s not a ride, but I just love it. A must do, for sure. Last year Jack was so concerned about Donald being blown into the wall at the end, he talked about him the whole trip; asking if he was still stuck. So. Cute. Then of course there’s the Tea Cups and Carrousel….Just look at wait times {download the App for your phone! Yes, there’s an App for that!} and try to hit up as many as you can before lunch. Often times, because we go in the off-season, we are able to do almost all of them.


Step 6: Move on to phase two rides. 

If you still have some time before lunch, or there are some rides you skipped back in Fantasyland due to lack of interest, move on to phase two rides. We usually take the path by It’s a Small World and Peter Pan’s Flight to Liberty Square, Frontierland, and then slip into Adventureland from the backside, coming in beside Pirates of the Caribbean. Rides we take advantage of are Haunted Mansion {yes, we take our kids on that}, Splash Mountain {Sorry, Tim and I just have a hard time passing up this “big” ride because it’s our favorite. However, I’m usually pregnant, so he’s the only one that can ride. We are hoping Jack meets the height requirement this year. We are wanting to desensitize him early, so he will always want to ride.}, and Pirates of the Caribbean {yes, we take our kids on that, too. Both of our boys took their first ride on it before they were a year old.}. If time permits, you can scamper across to Buzz Lightyear’s Space Spin, but we usually save Tomorrowland for post-naps.


Step 7: Dream Along with Mickey

We always make sure to see Dream Along with Mickey before/right at lunchtime. Check your times guide for showtimes and get there a hair early so your kids can have a good spot to see. My kids adore this show, and that’s probably an understatement. We like to see it before naps to get it out of the way and to avoid the blaring midday heat.


Step 8: Lunch.

Usually Casey’s Corner. C’mon. We are suckers for a good chili-cheese dog and cheese fries with a side of cheese…haha! So we splurge a bit on the diet when we are in WDW, who doesn’t? And we like Casey’s Corner because it’s right on Main Street, which makes for an easy out for naps. We like to traipse through the Main Street Emporium on our way out. We can usually make it out without actually buying something. Other options we enjoy are Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe or just hitting up the turkey leg stand. Or hey, maybe your way would be whipping out the pre-packed PB&J during Dream Along with Mickey. We’ve done that before too, and it’s definitely more cost efficient.


Step 9: Naptime.

Our kids go down for naps between noon and 1:00pm. Keep your kids on whatever schedule they’re used to, adjusting rides and shows accordingly. Just don’t run them ragged, especially if you are there for 5-7 days. By day three they will be fit to be tied, and you will wonder why you didn’t “wait until they were older”. {Another common misconception: You can’t have fun in WDW with kids until they are older. The youngest we’ve take our kids to WDW is three-months-old. We’ve gone at least once a year since then, mostly twice. You just have to know how to do it!}

We hope for you, at this point, that you are staying at a deluxe resort nearby. The best vacations we’ve taken with kids, by far, have been when we stayed at Bay Lake Tower in 2010 with a three-month-old Jack, and at the Wilderness Lodge in 2012 with Jack {then freshly turned two} and Cole {eight-months-old at the time}. Being able to walk or take a boat back to the resort for naps, without having to fold up the stroller and ride on a bus was…well, magic. We’ve done nap times at the value resorts, and though it was do-able, it was a lot more work for a less enjoyable experience. You don’t have a balcony at the values, so one or both of us were stuck inside of a dark room with our slumbering toddler, waiting it out, listening to the muffled sound of pool-side games and dance parties.IMG_5824

{View from our balcony at the Wilderness Lodge. So peaceful. A great break from the hustle and bustle of MK, even for adults!}

At the deluxe we were able to go out on our balcony, kick our feet up with a cup of midday coffee, and chill. It was great bonding time for Tim and I too, and turned out to be some of our favorite memories together. We would sit out there playing board games and DVC dreaming, and now a year later, here we are about to go on our very first trip as members! Yay! God is good!


Step 10: Wake up and go!

After the kiddos get their snooze on with a side of “happy heart”, as we like to call it, lace those shoes back up and get ready for the rest of your full day of MK fun. Fill up that refillable mug on your way out, if it suits your fancy, and catch your mode of transportation. When you get back to the park, I’d still suggest one parent hitting up bag check while the other takes the kids on through. It’s always easier on the nerves to have the kids wait as little as possible.


Step 11: Phase three rides. 

Whip out that handy-dandy App and check out your wait times. Rides we generally hit up in the evening are Buzz Lightyear’s Space Spin, The PeopleMover {more than once, actually. If you can hit it right at sunset too, you’re in for a treat! We just love it.}, Magic Carpets of Aladdin, The Jungle Cruise, round two of Pirates of the Caribbean or another of the kids’ Fantasyland favorites, or a ride around the park on the Walt Disney World Railroad.


Step 12: Parades and fireworks.

Make sure you know when the parades start and get to a good spot {we almost always go with the curb on Main Street, although Frontierland and Liberty Square are another great option} 30-45 minutes beforehand. A good solution to doing this with young kids is giving in to that sweet treat, so sitting will not be as torturous, or have one parent hold down the fort while the other takes the kids on a brows through the gift shop or a ride with a walk-on wait time. Switch off, if necessary.

Do the same with fireworks, only get there an hour to an hour and a half before it starts, depending on the time of year you go. I know, sounds extreme. But believe me, if you want a good spot {we suggest the top or bottom of Main Street} you need to do this. And it’s worth the wait. I promise. Wishes it so worth it. I cry almost always. Okay. Always. I just can’t take that darn Jiminy Cricket telling me that all my dreams can come true, as I’m standing there next to the man of my dreams that has provided and loved and cared for me in every way possible, and our two gorgeous sons who make me laugh everyday because they are just like us in so many ways…Ek! Okay, I’ll stop being so mushy. {Elrod WDW Tip: If you can get a spot at the bottom center of Main Street, this is ideal for fireworks viewing with toddlers and babies. The thunder of the fireworks is not quite as loud, and it is an easy out after it’s over, since you are right near the exits. Let the kids watch from the stroller, if they can see well from there, so you can just kick the break and high-tail it outta there after the show. Be the first to catch that bus, boat, or monorail!}

{another side note: we generally only do the fireworks at MK one night of each trip, usually close to the end. Makes it special. All of the other nights we try to get the boys in bed as close to their 8:00 bedtime as possible.}

And that’s it! Your 12 Step process to doing MK with young kids!

Other handy tips:


~ Get your castle pictures in the late afternoon/early evening, 4:00pm-6:00pm. Also remember there are some great spots for pictures without being front and center on Main Street. There are PhotoPass photographers that can get your whole family to the left and right, near the entrances of Tomorrowland and Liberty Square.

~ Utilize the Baby Care Center behind Crystal Palace. I always prefer changing diapers in there, as opposed to the restrooms, if we are nearby. Baby Care Centers usually have cute little toddler-sized potties too.

~ Don’t stress if you don’t get to everything. MK is a big park! Here is a list of rides we often skip without stressing:

Jungle Cruise {Okay, WDW guru’s–just hush. I get it. But our kids don’t.}

Magic Carpets of Aladdin {especially if you’ve already done Dumbo}

Tomorrowland Speedway

Astro Orbiter {see Magic Carpets of Aladdin}

Stitch’s Great Escape {please, for heaven’s sake ALWAYS SKIP THIS!}

The Carrousel

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

Space Mountain

Swiss Family Tree House

Tom Sawyer Island

~ Shows are great if you have the time and your kids have the attention span. Jack claims to love the Tiki Room, but we’ve only done it with him once. For young kids, it’s probably best to steer clear of The Hall of Presidents {although I love it and get choked up with American pride every time} and The Carrousel of Progress {that one hurts to type out. Again, I love it! But my boys would run amok in that thing. Or cry. It’s long.}. Safe tries would be the Tiki Room, Monster’s Inc. Laugh Floor, and of course Mickey’s Philharmagic.


Please let me know if I skipped anything. I will be happy to answer questions in the comment section!

With love, Malorie

Here’s What We Think: Rapid Fill

Remember those refillable mugs I mentioned in previous posts? Well Disney is crackin’ down. IMG_3555

See, not only were those mugs a good deal while you were staying on WDW property, they were a great deal when regular WDW goers {like ourselves} figured out the loop hole of bringing their mug back year and after year instead of paying for a new one each trip. There were two sides to that debate. Half of the people were outraged with the immoral beings that would dare to bring back a cup from a previous trip in the name of free drinks, and the other half said, “If Disney really cared that we brought back our mug, they’d find a way to stop us from doing it.” As for us Elrods, we fell somewhere in the middle. We never really had to deal with the issue since we tend to go during the off-season and get the free dining plan {our dining plans would come with a refillable mug}. However, on some of our short trips, we definitely fell into the scum-of-the-earth category by bringing back our used and abused mugs.

Well, it turns out Disney did care. Does care. Whatever. Their solution? Rapid Fill.

Rapid Fill – a new system being put into place starting in the value resorts at the end of July 2013 in which refillable mugs come equipped with a hand-dandy RFID chip that allows guests to refill their mugs for free for a certain time period based on price. After that window of time is up, the chip will deactivate and free refills will no longer be available. Prices are as follows:

$8.99 for 1 day

$11.99 for 2 days

$14.99 for 3 days

$17.99 for length of stay

{Elrod WDW Tip: Days are counted as calendar days, not 24 hour periods, so consider buying your mug on your first morning there if you arrive late in the afternoon your first day.}

Once again, the Disney community is in an uproar of opinions. Usually, we keep our opinions to ourselves, but I thought we’d turn that around and start adding a new facet to our blog entitled Here’s What We Think. So in reference to Rapid Fill, Here’s What We Think:

The Pros:  We don’t hate the idea. Yes, getting free drinks at Disney for years and years is dishonest and dirty. We agree that there should be a higher standard to keep visitors from doing so. And honestly, for all of those moral people out there, Rapid Fill will save them money on their shorter trips, since they won’t have to purchase a one-size-fits-all mug if they are only going to be there for two days. As for the price increase on the length of stay mug, it’s only a couple of bucks, and no matter how you spin it, spending $18 on the front end is always going to be be cheaper than paying the high prices for drinks at each meal. It’s probably even cheaper than bringing your own bottled waters and sodas from home for your length of stay! Especially if you suck down a soda at the speed of my hubby!DSCF1088

{Blondie days! Kinda miss those days…}

The Cons:  Here’s where we take issue. We already have about eight or nine of those bright and gaudy mugs in our cabinet right now. I don’t like that I am now forced to buy the same stupid mug every. time. we. go. all in the name of saving money. Can Disney please come up with a variety of new looks for the mugs {and I don’t just mean different colored lids and handles}? Remember the old resort themed mugs? So cute! Or mugs with logos of the different parks, attractions, or classic characters. Good grief, they probably could have made a killing with a stupid 2013 “Monster Summer” Mike and Sully mug. We’ve seen the holiday themed mugs for the parks, lets just elaborate on that idea so the loyal Disney goers don’t grow cold and hateful toward the idea of playing by the rules. It could even be a new collectors item type of souvenir that people actually look forward to buying each stay, instead of feeling obligated.

Another solution to the con could be charging a lower price to re-activate a “recycled” mug. Bring back your old mug and pay the old $15-and-some-change price to be able to reuse it. C’mon guys, it’s green!…because I can promise you that if I have to buy another one of those hot pink, beachy mugs, old ones will begin to make their way to the trash dump!IMG_5589

Issue number two {mainly with Tim}, is the fact that with the introduction of the chip, you will no longer be able to microwave your mug. This is a thumbs down to folks with toddlers whose coffee tends to go cold before you drink it all, so reheating it in the microwave is a common practice.

So where do you stand? Even if you are not a regular Disney goer, will this new system keep you from or encourage you in purchasing a refillable mug?

Elrods Go Disney is excited to be joining in the Disney community debates! Keep an eye out for more Here’s What We Think posts in the future!

With love, Malorie

{Almost} Wordless Wednesday: The Disney Days of Summer

This week’s theme at Focused on the Magic is The Disney Days of Summer. Summer in WDW is hot. Summer in WDW is crowded. Summer in WDW? The official Elrod WDW Tip: unless you know how to do Disney…avoid it like the plague. {Although, we will admit, any day in Disney is better than a day at home.}

I love this picture of my miserable and sweaty sister on the steps outside of Splash Mountain’s entrance. Don’t let this be you this summer! Get to the parks at rope drop, hit popular rides first, utilize your FASTPASSES wisely, and when the crowds pick up, head back to your resort for some pool time and a “fancy drink”. And when all else fails, beat the heat in a shaded seat with a frozen Mickey treat!

IMG_3730Don’t forget to hop along to other Wordless Wednesday posts, leaving a trail of love and pixie dust behind you!

With love, Malorie

Five Things To Do on a Rainy Day in WDW

My oh my, what a wonderful day! Plenty of sunshine, just as the song says, is streaming through our living room window and the warmth it brings is a marvelous thing. We couldn’t say so a week ago. For about a week and a half we were all but drowning here in the south Atlanta burbs. And the wind! And the cold! Awful. It definitely didn’t feel like your typical Georgia May weather.

I’m really glad we are on an upswing, but all that dreary rain did was keep us longing for our trips to Disney. One morning, Tim and I even discussed our favorite things to do in WDW on a rainy day. “That,” I thought, “is a good thing to post about.” Especially for people that would not call themselves Disney goers, and would think it’s a waste of a day to have rain in Disney World.

So here are the Elrods’ top five things to do if it rains in WDW:

5. Stay in the parks! If you’ve got the proper gear {i.e.. warm jacket if it’s chilly, a raincoat/poncho, and shoes that can withstand the wetness}, and the gung-ho to stick it out, I say do it! The rain clouds will send the crowds a-runnin’ for gift shops and the transporation center, leaving lines short for the taking. And since many attractions are indoors {as are many of the queues}, the fun doesn’t shut down just because of a little precipitation. The show must go on! 25057_10151360525690630_1488896517_n

4. Try out Disney Quest. Personally, we have never gone to Disney Quest, but one of my besties just got back from a WDW vacation this March and she and her husband had great things to say about. Lots to do, tons of entertainment, and every single bit of it indoors!

3. Catch a movie. I know it may not be something special that you can only do in Disney, but when you’re stuck indoors, why not catch a flick? I saw a movie there when I was a teen with my other best friend, Stacey. It was a great theater. It has since been updated and even offers some Fork & Screen showings, as well. Check it out.

2. Go bowling! Aw man, we haven’t bowled a game there yet, but the new Splitsville is amazing. Tim and I gave it a walk-through when we were there in December and really wished that the wait time for a lane wasn’t so long. Which brings me to a heads up! You may want to call ahead to see if you can reserve a lane or get on a waiting list, because when it rains, this may be a popular destination. But once you’re there, you’re sure to have a fun distraction from the lousy weather. 553533_10151358694775630_567034760_n 188733_10151358694615630_1410275144_n

1. Enjoy. Your. Resort. I don’t think I can reiterate this enough. Enjoy. Your. Resort! Even if you are staying at an All-Star. Look, Tim and I know as well as anybody that staying on property at a WDW resort is expensive. That’s why we made the jump to Disney’s DVC. But we truly believe it is worth the price, because the resorts are nice and there are plenty of activities right there to keep you busy and making memories.

At the All-Stars, we have had many a fun night in, ordering pizza, sitting in the food court playing board games and dominos, while my dad and sister got filthy rich in yellow, paper tickets from the arcade. Some of those memories have bonded us the most. I’ll never forget playing dominos with my folks in the food court of Pop Century, when up walked Tim to surprise me. I had tagged along spontaneously with my parents on their quick-trip February getaway. Tim surprised me by taking a couple days off work and drove down to be with us. These were our kid-free days. Wow, to only imagine being so spontaneous these days. Ha!329_41522195629_7908_n 329_41766850629_1147_n

During these past few days of pouring down rain, Tim and I would daydream about being back at our beloved Wilderness Lodge, sitting in rocking chairs in front of the gigantic fireplace, watching the rain come down outside. All of the deluxe resorts have children and recreation rooms. Tim borrowed a board game from the Cubs Den at the Wilderness Lodge that we enjoyed, my sister and I colored and made refrigerator magnets at Bay Lake Tower, and the boys colored pictures while my sister made a drawstring backpack at Old Key West!  No, these aren’t considered five star entertainment ideas, but they are fun and relaxing, and a great alternative to sitting in your room, imitating Grumpy while you wish the rain away. However, if you do choose to sit cooped up in your room, at least turn on Stacey! There isn’t a trip where we don’t have on our list of things to do – Watch Stacey’s Top 7 Must See’s and her WDW “Must Do’s” from top to bottom at least one time through! {Elrod WDW Tip: This is the perfect thing to have on the TV while you’re unpacking to get you super excited that you’ve finally arrived!}IMG_4365

Well, there you go! Don’t be a downer if the rain sets in, try one of our five ideas to weather the storms in WDW. And hey, fellow Disney goers, what are some of your favorite ways to beat the rain?

With love, Malorie

Trip Report: Christmas Surprise Day 1

Ooo! Look at that! Another post that took me days to write to completion! You might want to refresh yourself on the backstory of this trip. All caught up? Okay great, let’s begin.

Well, Thursday rolled around very quickly. With Christmas being booked full of our usual family parties and traditions, we were left with only Wednesday to prepare for our trip. We went last minute shopping to make sure we had the house stocked with diapers and food for the boys, and bottled water, snacks, and the like to take with us on our trip.

We’ve got leaving for WDW down pat. It’s like a well-oiled machine.

Night before departure:

Fill up gas tank. Load the car of all luggage, minus the bathroom bag {we do still take the time to brush away our dragon breath in the morning}. Pre-set coffee maker. Set alarm for 4:30am, at the latest.

Morning of departure:

Tim’s alarm goes off. He jumps out of bed and readies himself. I roll around and moan, but not for as long as usual since we are going to WDW. After Tim finishes up his quick morning routine, I mosey to the bathroom and make myself presentable while he gathers last minute items {phone chargers, pillows, etc.} and pours our mugs of coffee. By the time he’s done, I’m done. And voila! {Wow. When I tell that story I sound like a real slug. And my husband sounds like a superhero. Eh. I guess that’s pretty accurate.}

Usually we have the boys to get up, as well, which we usually do last minute to encourage continued sleeping in the car {just change their diaper and carry them across the house in their jams to the carseat like you are carrying an egg on a spoon}, but this morning was nice because it was just the two of us. We were up and out of there in no time!

We arrived at our destination at about 11:30am. We unloaded the car, changed out of our comfy travel clothes and put on something a little more Date-Day worthy. Tim had Downtown Disney and resort hopping on the agenda for the day.

We started out with resort hopping. Since we are planning on buying in to DVC within the next few months, Animal Kingdom Lodge and Saratoga Springs were on the top of our list to visit because those are the only two DVC resorts we had yet to see. {Clarification: we have been to Animal Kingdom Lodge several times, but had never been over to Kidani Village to see the DVC area.}29601_10151358696410630_648119087_n 15427_10151358696300630_963819966_nWe started out there because we were hungry for lunch and decided a stop by The Mara at the Jambo House for a yummy bite to eat. We ordered the half chicken dinner with cous cous and vegetable stew to share. The veggie stew was sooo yummy. I could have just eaten a big bowl of that over cous cous and been perfectly happy. 530349_10151358918230630_239533904_nAfter eating, we headed over to Kidani Village to look around. We loved it. It was gorgeous; a little mini-Jambo House, with great views of the Savannah. We also browsed the gift shop {I picked up some trading pins for my little sister’s 13th birthday}, and stepped inside Sanaa for a sniff and peek. Consensus: smelled and looked good!525977_10151358696090630_589001126_n 407434_10151358695835630_609078105_n

We really enjoyed what little time we spent at Kidani Village, but we came to the conclusion that although the atmosphere is top notch and the boys would love it, we think the Animal Kingdom Lodge is going to remain a fun place to visit instead of a place to stay. Since staying at Bay Lake Tower and Wilderness Lodge, we have become the biggest of snobs when it comes to location. At this age and stage of our lives, Magic Kingdom is just the place we want to be, so staying close and at a resort that provides better transportation than lugging a double stroller and two kids two and under on to a lengthy bus ride is the way we want to go. So sorry, AKL. We love your restaurants and sweeping Savannah views, but as far the Elrods go, that’s probably the deepest we’ll venture into the South African wildlife.

Next we hit up the Art of Animation. Although, we know we will most likely never stay there either, we have been really excited to just take a look around. It was so great! Colorful, bright, excellently themed, and perfect for families with little ones that don’t fit the standard family-o-four room. Tim and I had fun just walking around, so I can’t imagine how excited Jack and Cole would be there. The food court was also pretty cool, and had many options that the other value resorts don’t offer. We were pretty tempted by a few items, but decided to save our snacketite for later. 1532_10151358695620630_183500229_n164675_10151358695720630_1159742274_n282923_10151358695250630_1464492533_n734638_10151358695115630_2125760763_n

Later turned out to be the next stop, which was Saratoga Springs. We walked through the main lobby, made the quick walk-through the gift shop/quick service stop {the set up there was a bit confusing to us…}, admired a mug we were tempted to buy, and grabbed an order of their house-made potato chips. Elrod WDW Tip: Those house-made chips {that you can get at several resorts and locations} taste super yummy dipped in ranch dressing or BBQ sauce. Just sayin’. 397589_10151358694990630_405584907_n400150_10151358919320630_224195795_n564768_10151358694845630_1487085791_n

Incase you haven’t noticed the poor quality of these pictures yet, the reason why they look so pixely is because we decided that on this trip we were going to have fun focusing on us. Each other. So we left the fancy-schmancy camera home and took what we felt compelled to capture via our crack-screened iPhone 4’s.

We had a nice time bumming around Saratoga Springs. We sat in the quick-service area for a while, dreaming and talking about DVC and missing our boys but not missing our boys all at the same time. We also at that time came to the conclusion that we felt similar feelings toward Saratoga Springs as we did toward AKL. Nice, but not our “home”. We definitely felt the lead to buy in at the Wilderness Lodge and make the “seven month switch” to Bay Lake Tower some years, if it’s available. DVC insiders, you know what we mean.

That being decided, we stood up, dusted the last few chip crumbs from our laps, and headed to Downtown Disney, feeling better bonded and more lovey-dovey than we had in a while. Dreaming with your spouse will do that to you. We are definitely advocates of spousal future dreaming.

Due to the fact that it was two days after Christmas, Downtown Disney was crowded! We had a little bit of trouble finding parking, but eventually found a place near Planet Hollywood. It was pretty tough getting around, but we were in heaven simply because we didn’t have a double stroller to, “Excuse me, excuse meeee..” through. We kept commenting to each other how we didn’t even care it was crowded because we didn’t have the boys to worry about. We were like two little mice, slipping in and out of flocks of strangers. We know where everything is and even short cuts here and there, so were unaffected by how many people were there.

We went in shops, got a mocha and biscotti from Ghirardelli, and snooped around the brand-spanking-new Splitsville. And let me just say, for those of you who rolled your eyes at the thought of a bowling alley in WDW, I say “Bah humbug!” That place was amazing! We are totally looking forward to knocking down some pins there in the near future.430804_10151358694435630_1846793425_n553533_10151358694775630_567034760_nAfter a while wandering around Downtown Disney, we were beat. Although adrenaline goes a long way, waking up at 4:30am can still take it’s toll on a body. We headed back to our place of stay, the same we stayed at on our Christmas trip in 2010, owned by an amazing and generous family we are blessed to know. Get this guys. We. took. a. nap!

Whaaa? I know. Two adults that have two toddlers got to take a nap. And it was glorious. One of those naps where you sleep so hard you don’t move so you wake up with lines imprinted on your face and arms. Yeah. So good.

We woke up, stretched, and surveyed the time. Late. Way past our dinnertime. Like 6:00! Woah!

Hey. We eat on toddler time. Dinner occurs in our house between 4:30 and 5:00 everyday. The fact that we wouldn’t eat dinner until 7:00ish made us feel even more footloose and fancy-free. We were walking on the wild side, I tell ya!

We chose Chevy’s. We had eaten there a couple years back with some of our best friends on a Braves Spring Training trip, and Tim had been salivating over the potential of eating there again ever since. Since we weren’t staying on property, it was an excellent opportunity. 557424_10151358918145630_1466200092_n

Once we’d finished our tacos and licked the cheese dip bowl clean, we did what all old farts do; headed back to the town home to turn in early. Ahhhh….Tim and I are going to make the best old people. And I can’t wait. But to our credit, we did want to get in bed on time because the next day was our one and only day in Magic Kingdom and we wanted to give it all we had.

Eeee! Just saying, “day in Magic Kingdom” gets me giddy. A sure sign of a Disney maniac, yes?

With love, Malorie


Trip Report 2012: Day 7

Day 7. Boo hoo hoooo! And want to know something else? My mom and Hannah are back in WDW right now. As I type this. In Mk. About to have dinner at Liberty Tree Tavern.

Booo hooo hooooooooo!

So. Jealous.

Well Day 7 was our last day. We always spend our last day in MK. It’s like eating your favorite food last. You want the last taste in your mouth to be the best. Or something like that.

Seeing Wishes at Magic Kingdom definitely leaves a good taste in your mouth the night before you have to go home.

So we got up nice and early, raced through out NMR, and made it to the gates in time to see the train comin’ down the tracks! My folks met us there. We rode so many rides that morning I don’t even remember what we hit up first or in what order we went. We just went. We did get pictures of Jack loving The Great Goofini over and over. I think he rode it three times in a row. The wait was walk-on.

{Please note my son riding next to his Grandma with his hands in the air while Hannah Banana holds on screaming for dear life. Haha! She makes me giggle. I’m next to Hannah and my dad is in the back in green.}

 {My little tummy sleeper did so well. He actually fell asleep in my lap on Pirates of the Carribbean {how did he manage that?}, so we laid him down and he slept the remainder of his nap in the stroller.}

We knocked out a fair amount of the park by noon. We hit up Casey’s Corner for another chilli-cheese dog for lunch, then headed back to the Wilderness Lodge for naps and pool time.

Remember our initial pool slide experience? Well, Jack asked to do it again while we were swimming after his nap. I was really nervous to concede, but I really don’t want to turn into one of those over-protective mommies, so I nodded yes while Tim shrugged his shoulders, “Sure, buddy, if you want to…”

“Yeah, I go down slide. Das fuuun, Daddy.”

Ooookay. Tim took him to the top and I did the catchin’. He came down spinning just as before. I caught hold of him {or did he catch hold of me?}, and I waited for a reaction.

“I do again?”

Whaaa? Yes. My little roller coaster, Pirates of the Carribbean, two-year-old thrill seeker decided he enjoyed the pool slide and went down at least five more times. I’m pretty sure my dad did a little happy dance when we weren’t looking, to celebrate the promise of a future wild-ride companion.

After Cole woke up and splashed around the pool for a second, we all got dressed again and headed over to the Contemporary Resort for our dinner reservations at Chef Mickey’s. 

We really like Chef Mickey’s. We have suggested it to many friends that have booked trips with kids. We love that you can meet ‘n greet Mickey and the gang during your meal, so you don’t have to waste time standing in lines in the parks to see them. Also, we have unanimously decided that Chef Mickey’s has the best food of any of the other character buffets. It is all around just really good!

Our reservation was right at the opening time of the restaurant so we were one of the first to be seated, one of the first to meet the characters, and we were leading the charge down the fresh, steaming-hot line of food.

{Every so often they have a restaurant-wide celebration where you are invited to get up, dance, and swing your napkin with the gang. How much fun is that for a little sanguine child? I’ll answer that: tons.}

The dessert bar at Chef Mickey’s is by far the best of any character buffet, as well. Soft serve ice cream with all the fixings, cakes, cookies, Mickey mousse domes, rice crispy treats, fruits…and it’a all fantastic!

After filling our tummies and our huggin’ love-tanks, we headed back to MK to enjoy our last evening in the park and see the Main Street Electrical Parade and Wishes. We stopped first to get our picture in front of the castle.

Elrod WDW Tip: Wait to get your group picture in front of the castle in the afternoon/early evening. The placement of the sun tends to cause squinting in the morning; and nobody like squinty pictures of themselves because the sun was in their eyes. Also, utilize the Photopass cast members instead of asking a stranger to take your group picture. Getting a Photopass card doesn’t mean you are obligated to buy the pictures, and they will always take a shot with your personal camera, as well. Photopass photographers do a better job than Joe Shmoe walking the park because they know how to operate most cameras, and they know the best angles to get a great picture the first time.No matter what time of day, you will most likely have other guests in the background of your picture, but hey, that’s kind of fun too! I just love this story of a couple that realized, while looking through old family photos, that they were both at WDW in the same picture when they were toddlers! Check out the whole story here. So cute!

We had a blast during our last few hours in MK. So much so, that we totally forgot to stake out a spot for the Main Street Electrical Parade! [slaps forehead] Ugh! So stupid!

Elrod WDW Tip: For a good viewing spot for parades, shows, and fireworks, it is wise to save your spot at least forty-five minutes beforehand. If it is a seasonal show or it is a particularly crowded day at the park, I’d recommend getting your spot one to one and a half hours beforehand. Grab a snack and take turns saving the spot while the rest of the group browses gift shops or visits attractions.

Luckily Tim was able to find a spot just big enough for himself, Jack, and Hannah behind a rope on Main Street. I’ve seen the parade many, many times, so I was not concerned with having the best view. I just wanted Jack to experience it. My mom, dad, Cole, and I strolled up and down the Main Street Emporium while the rest enjoyed the parade. Tim snapped some shots with his iphone.After the parade, I headed to the baby care station to warm Cole’s nighttime bottle and feed him in the quiet, nursing mother’s room. The rest of the family migrated into the middle of Main Street to claim a spot for Wishes. Once I finished feeding Cole, I met back up with them. They had gotten a great spot in the middle of Main Street right outside of Casey’s Corner.

Jack loved Wishes {“I see Tinka Bell flyyy!”}, and surprisingly, so did Cole! No tears at all. I just love my boys. They know Disney Magic when they see it. Jack also had a great time playing with all of the glow toys we had brought along.

Elrod WDW Tip: There are lots of glow vendors during nighttime shows, parades, and firework displays. To cut back on souvenir costs, buy glow items before you go. We got rings, bracelets, necklaces, and a sword from the party section at Walmart before we left for about 97 cents apiece! I didn’t show them to Jack until that night once the vendors starting coming out and he never knew the difference. They were new, they were glowing, they were fun! He didn’t care that they were cheap!

I just love Wishes. I’m such a sap that I usually end up tearing up atleast once. There is just something about the music and the beautiful fireworks and being surrounded {nice and close because of crowds!} by the ones you love most. It just feels like a little piece of Heaven on Earth. We’re all together. Everyone is happy. Life is good.

Life is good. And I’m thankful for that. I’m thankful that the Lord has given my family the opportunity to make these type of bond-strengthening memories. These are the best days of our lives, and we don’t even know it.

With love, Malorie