Sunshine and Roses



Just wanted to let you know that things are not always sunshine and roses in the Elrod world.


IMG_6160This week has been no exception. Both boys have had some sort of stomach bug {no fever but yucky pants, if you know what I mean…TMI?} and I’ve just come out of four straight days of vertigo. Wee!

So as for trip reporting…well, we’ll get back to you on that here shortly.

Until then, here’s wishing you nothing but some lovely fall-scented sunshine and roses.

With love, Malorie

VIDEO: WDW Trip 2013

We’ve officially been home from WDW for a week, and I have only had one day where I wanted to cry.

I think that’s a success, yes?

Part of the reason I haven’t slunk into deep PDD {Post-Disney Depression} is because we are already planning and booking meal reservations for our trip in March. The other part is because I have been working on a video montage of our trip, and being able to look back on all of our fun times and live vicariously through our memories captured via iPhone has somehow curbed the pains of withdrawal. I finished it a couple of days ago, but because I am not very computer program and technology savvy, I had to seek help from Tim in figuring out how to export it. He finally found the time today, and I am so excited to share it with you.

I know it’s amateur, but I am still quite proud, considering this was my first time ever attempting a project such as this. I pretty obsessed with it and plan on making one for each trip now. So get ready for that.

Without further ado and rambling {for which I am infamous}, here is our WDW Trip 2013. 

With love, Malorie

{Almost} Wordless Wednesday: Disney Dads

This week’s theme over at Focused on the Magic is Disney Dads. If anyone is a Disney Dad, it’s Timothy Michael Elrod, my hubby of almost six years!DisneyDad

{left side top to bottom: Grand Floridian, Kona Cafe – right side top to bottom: Bay Lake Tower, EPCOT, DHS}

Good grief, I love that man.

Don’t forget to hop along to other Wordless Wednesday posts, leaving a trail of love and pixie dust along the way!

With love, Malorie

Focused on the Magic

May the 4th


May the 4th be with you!

Sorry, guys, just had to do it.

Admittedly, I am a Star Wars fan. I went through a phase somewhere in middle school. No, I can’t name and identify every droid and aircraft {only some}, but they are truly great films and I can’t wait to share them with the boys when they get a bit older.

And one day, regardless of the fanatic fan-filled crowds, we will go to Star Wars weekend in WDW.

So how about you? Are you a Star Wars fan? Have you attended Star Wars weekend before?

With love, Malorie

{Almost} Wordless Wednesday: Month of May

This week’s theme over at Focused on the Magic is May Calendar Shot – pictures that make you think of the month of May. Well, here in the south, May is pretty much the beginning of summer; and summer means ice cream! Here are some yummy frozen desserts from our trips to WDW.pizap.com13672606220311

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

With love, Malorie

Focused on the Magic

Sick. Just Sick.

Guys. I’m sick. Just sick.

Homesick, that is. We are still waiting on our membership number and packet in the mail. The boys are sleeping and I’m looking at old WDW pictures and listening to music loops from the parks. I’ve already listened to the MK loop, Illuminations, Muppet*Vision 3D queue, and now I’m riding Splash Mountain…well pretending to, anyway.

Since misery loves company, here’s some lots of pictures from previous trips to make you cry and wish you were there. Enjoy!


DSCF0983 DSCF1022 DSCF1075 DSCF1088 DSCF1134 DSCF1151 DSCF1162 DSCF1198 DSCF1241 DSCF1252 DSCF1256_2 IMG_3576 IMG_3629 IMG_1449 IMG_1577 IMG_1618IMG_0618 IMG_0627 IMG_0741 IMG_0812 IMG_0828 IMG_0857 IMG_0936 IMG_1019 IMG_1081 IMG_1128 IMG_1143 IMG_1227 IMG_1245 IMG_1394 IMG_1423 IMG_1432 IMG_1443 IMG_1584 IMG_1587 IMG_1649 IMG_1653 IMG_1678 IMG_1710 IMG_1717 IMG_1767 IMG_5593 IMG_5607 IMG_5613 IMG_5670 IMG_5721 IMG_5730 IMG_4341 IMG_5903 IMG_5927 IMG_5954 IMG_5978 IMG_5991 IMG_6009 IMG_6030 IMG_6162 IMG_6173 IMG_6192 IMG_4360 IMG_6198 IMG_6272 IMG_6284 247995_10151225432075630_383336801_nAre you just sick?

Yeah…me too.

With love, Malorie

Here’s What We Think: Our WDW Favorites

This is a post for all of the people that ask us, “It’s our first time going to to WDW! What’s your favorite restaurant?” or “Where’s your favorite place to stay?” At which point Tim and I look at each other and shrug. That is such a hard question for us because we tend to want to answer according to your needs; like those annoying teachers that would answer your questions by asking you another question.

“Well…..what price point are you looking at? Are you asking us what our favorite value resort is or our favorite deluxe resort? What kind of food are you looking for? Are you asking us what our favorite sit down restaurant is, or do you want only quick meals?”

In essence, we try to answer people’s Disney questions by probing to find out what is going to be perfect for them for their trip, and we end up not answering the original question that they asked at all! What is our favorite? So here it is. Everything posted here is our own official Elrod opinion. These are our favorites when it comes to resorts and restaurants. Take it or leave it.

Our Favorite Resort

The Wilderness Lodge.

Our favorite Restaurant

This is where it gets tricky. This is where it get choppy. Let’s break it down.

By Location

Magic Kingdom: Table service – Liberty Tree Tavern  Quick service – Casey’s Corner  Snack – Main Street Bakery

EPCOT: Table service – Via Napoli  Quick service – Cantina de San Angel  Countries to get a snack – Germany and Japan

Hollywood Studios: Table service – Mama Melrose  Quick Service – ABC Commissary  Snack – The Writer’s Shop

Animal Kingdom: We mainly just eat snacks – Harambe Fruit Market

Downtown Disney/Marketplace: Table service – T-Rex  Quick service – Earl of Sandwich  Snack – Ghirardelli Soda Fountain & Chocolate Shop

Breaking it down a bit further for resorts


Table service: – Boma at Animal Kingdom Lodge, Kona at the Polynesian, & The Wave at the Contemporary

Quick service: Roaring Fork at the Wilderness Lodge


Table service: Chef Mickey’s at the Contemporary

Quick service: Roaring Fork at the Wilderness Lodge, the Mara at Animal Kingdom Lodge, & surprisingly the All-Stars for their variety and nacho bars

And there you have it! Easy as that. We still have many places we’d like to try that we never have before, so these may change. We’ll keep ya on the up ‘n up if they do.

With love, Malorie

Trip Report 2012: Day 5

Day 5! Day 5, Day 5, Day 5!

Day 5 started out much the same as every other. After completing our NMR and grabbing a quick bite to eat {I’m pretty sure I had another cream cheese danish}, we headed to Disney’s Hollywood Studios!

Personally, I love DHS. The performer in me loves seeing all of the shows, with a Disneyfied snack in hand; all of them are great in their own way. I also love the rides that DHS has to offer. If Tim and I were still a kidless couple, I could probably spend a whole day there, taking a good hour somewhere in the middle to sit back and relax in the Writers Shop over a cup of coffee and oversized muffin. However, with two kids two and under, sitting and watching show after show is not necessarily a personal interest of theirs. Although the Animation Courtyard {the area where the Disney Jr. show is} is a big hit, it can be done very quickly, leaving only the Honey I Shrunk the Kids playground, Muppet Vision 3D show, and Toy Story Mania to peak their interest. Until the kids get a little older, Tim and I have decided to keep DHS a half-day park for us.

We beat down the gate of DHS at 9:00am, and ran straight back with everyone else to Toy Story Mania. Man this ride is popular! I got the whole family FASTPASSES, while a cast member standing in the distribution center yelled out over the crowd like it was the end of the world. “Be sure to LOOK at the time on your FASTPASS! You will NOT be permitted to ride Toy Story Mania outside of that time window! Not one minute before, not one minute after. Think ahead to any meal reservations you may have. I repeat! You will not be able to ride the ride outside of the time printed on your FASTPASS!…”

Geez louise.

We snagged our FASTPASSES and then hopped in line since the wait had only gotten up to twenty minutes in the five minutes the park had been opened. {Did I mention that people were running frantically like it was the end times and Toy Story Mania was the only safe haven?}

The twenty minute wait went by very quickly. It honestly wasn’t that long. I love how Disney does that. Over guesstimate. Under promise, over deliver. This is a motto other {ahem! Universal! What?} theme parks could benefit from following. Under promise. Over deliver. Not visa versa.

Tim rode with Cole, I rode with Jack. Jack enjoyed it mildly. I think it was a little too jerky for him, and since he is at an age where he doesn’t dig wearing 3D glasses, the screens just looked blurry to him and shooting the targets wasn’t as cool. Tim said Cole cried off and on. Our little scaredy cat, Cole.

After comparing scores, and Tim justifying that I only beat him because he had Cole in his lap {which, let’s face it, is probably true}, we headed over to Animation Courtyard to catch the Disney Jr. show. Jack, of course, loved it. Cole liked it too!

So…incase you hadn’t caught it yet, my kids are eighteen months apart. That means that over a twenty seven month period, I was pregnant eighteen of them! That being said, our past few Disney trips I have been pregnant, or in the case of right after Jack was born, I was healing from a broken tailbone. Eck! Thus, I was unable to partake in a few rides; one of those being Star Tours, which I happen to love. Even worse! I was pregnant during the time that they made all of the updates {it’s now 3D and has a variety of scenarios so that you can ride it several times and it never be the same}!

I know. So sad. But this year I was not pregnant, so I was set on getting my Star Tours fix! {Fun Fact: I went through a Star Wars addiction somewhere during my middle school years. I read through books 7, 8, and 9, could identify droids, and knew every word to Weird Al’s “The Saga Begins”.} After the Disney Jr. show, my dad and I decided that we would run over to Star Tours while my mom and sis did the Voyage of the Little Mermaid show, and while Tim and Jack met Jake and Handy Manny. Tim and my mom get motion sickness really easily, so they weren’t interested, and Hannah…well, we already covered her distaste for thrill rides.

{Another kid wearing the same pre-bought Target Disney shirt! They must have read our Buy Now, Save Later post! Heh. Right!}

Star Tours was awesome. The wait was a whopping zero minutes {I guess the world was still ending over in Pixar Place}, so we actually got to ride it twice! The first time I was pegged as the “spy onboard” {they take a picture of a random rider and it pops up on the screen!} and we flew through a pod race on Tatooine in a malfunctioning ship. The second time around, Darth Vader tried to stop our ship before take off, ordering us to release the “spy” to him. We escaped, but that just spurred on a lightspeed chase through space, ending in a rocky landing and run-in with another aircraft.

I would have totally ridden it a third time, but we were getting calls by then from the rest of the fam wondering what was next. We met them back in the Animation Courtyard at The Magic of Disney Animation. Tim and Jack were just about to the front of the line at a Winnie the Pooh meet ‘n greet, so I joined in the fun. {Sidenote on the cowboy boots: I, in true girly-girl fashion, packed a few pairs of shoes, including my “walking” shoes. However, my trusty cowboy boots turned out to be more comfortable than my made-for-walkin’ “walking” shoes! I guess the cowboys that wear them all day working in the fields wear them for a reason, eh? Go figure.}

After snuggling that silly ol’ bear, we doodled around on an animation computer while my sister finished up a drawing class. She drew Stitch and did a really great job! She really enjoyed the class and said the teacher was actually the original creator of the Stitch character. Cool, huh?

At this point, the boys in our party were getting hungry. On our way to get food we looked down at our Toy Story Mania FASTPASSES and realized that we had approximately two minutes to get to that line! A familiar screaming voice filled my mind, “I repeat! You will not be able to ride the ride outside of the time printed on your FASTPASS!…” 

My sister and I looked at each other, grabbed up two FASTPASSES and took off in a sprint toward Pixar Place. “Waaaaaaait!!” yelled Tim, “You don’t have your phone!”

Ugh! Story of my life. I hate that thing.

A hand-off worthy of an Olympic relay race took place, and Hannah and I continued to book it. She said I sounded like a horse running in my cowboy boots, and she was right. People were staring. BUT DIDN’T THEY KNOW!?! ONE MINUTE LATE AND THE WORLD WOULD END!! TOY STORY MANIA IS THE ONLY SAFE PLACE!!!

Whew. We made it. And Hannah still had her shorts on. She’s always pulling on those things. Somebody get that girl a belt! And somebody get this girl a trophy! I beat her hiney by a few thousand points. [Dusts off shoulder] I’m still getting muscle cramps in my right forearm from the epicness that ensued.

Once we were done gaming it up, we called the rest of the party to see where they decided to eat lunch. I guess the phone did come in handy. They had decided on the ABC Commissary. We had hamburgers and chicken fingers and all things American.

Yawn. Stretch. Pitch a fit. Take your pick. It was time for a nap. The Elrods loaded up and headed out while the Burketts stayed behind. The boys slept, we rested. It was nice. Afterward, the boys and I headed to Downtown Disney to waste a little time before our dinner reservations at Olivia’s. This actually ended up being a life saver because due to the crowds in Pixar Place at DHS, we were unable to meet ‘n greet Buzz and Woody. The line to just get a quick hug and a picture was forty minutes, for crying out loud! BUT! Downtown Disney just happens to have a life-sized Buzz statue right outside of the toy store.

Sneaky, sneaky! Two-year-olds don’t know the difference! Even better, there was a family taking their picture with him in front of us, so we even had to “wait in line” to meet him. I know it wasn’t the same, but honestly, I don’t think he really noticed the difference. Well, we browsed Once Upon a Toy {Jack ended up entertaining a cast member that was demonstrating a remote-controlled car by chasing it around the store as she drove it}, smelled lots of soaps in Basin, got spit on by Stitch outside of World of Disney, and rode the train by Disney Pin Traders. Yes, we squeezed in tons of fun before heading over to Old Key West for dinner.

We met my parents and sister at the resort. We still had some time to kill before dinner, so we went into one of their activity centers and talked to the cast members about why they love DVC while Hannah colored and Jack played. They were super nice and had been DVC members, as well as cast members, for twenty years. Pretty much since inception. So cool. I’m sure they’ve definitely gotten their money’s worth. Ha!

Finally it was time for dinner. YUM! We had a fantastic waitress, who was honest with us in her opinions about the food {we always appreciate that; Tim likes to ask waiters for suggestions}, and the food lived up to our expectations. Even though appetizers were not included in the free meal plan we were on, Tim had read that the onion ring appetizer was great, so we splurged and got them. They were quite yummy! The kicker was really the dipping sauces. The rings were served with a mango ketchup and a key lime mustard. I liked them both, but the key lime mustard was the unanimous favorite of the table.

While waiting for our entrées, Tim decided to entertain himself by taking terrible pictures of us. Here are just a few.As far as food goes, he got the ribs while I got the pork chop.

Next was dessert!…everyone’s favorite part of a meal. I got the lemon pound cake and Tim reverted back to his childlike self and got vanilla ice cream again. Only this time, they did him up right! Sprinkles, chocolate sauce, and M&M’s!Although being at Old Key West didn’t make us want to necessarily buy in or stay there, it did give us a confirmation in our soul about our future as DVC members. How dramatic of a statement is that? Ha!

Look. We just love WDW. It’s a place where we can always count on having a great time while making the best memories with our family. Memories we will treasure for a lifetime. Memories that bring us closer as a family unit; and to us, that means so much. 

With love, Malorie


WDW Backstage Magic Tour – Guest post from Tim!

This past weekend, I was lucky enough to be able to take the Backstage Magic Tour at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fl. I work in production at our church, and we took a trip to learn from the best, Disney! The majority of our trip was spent in Gainesville, Fl, but on Monday, we headed out to Disney. We left our hotel at 6:00am and arrived to EPCOT Center at 8:15am. As soon as we got there, I got that feeling. You know, the one where you are home? My wife and I often talk about retiring in Orlando and getting jobs working at Disney World. Her dream job? Be a face character. Mine? Drumming for the jazz band inside of the Grand Floridian. You can always dream, right?

When we walked up to guest relations one of our tour guides, Monica, immediately spotted our group of eight and said, “You must be the last of our group!” Now honestly, I had no idea what to expect. We didn’t know if we would be the only group on the tour, or if there would be other groups. In fact, there was about twenty two other people on our tour, mostly made up of older couples on vacation. This was a bit odd to me. I assumed that there would be other business type groups there to learn from the Disney Institute like we were there to do, but most of these people were there on vacation just wanting a little more magic.
As soon as they checked our government issued ID’s and passed out our Backstage Magic badges, we were off to load up on the Mears bus. They handed us radio packs and ear pieces so we could hear our guide well all throughout the tour without having to be in a tight circle around one person yelling out facts while people whisper to their neighbor, “What did she say?”  They also passed out safety goggles that we would be required to wear in some of the places we would visit. Then, we drove out of EPCOT Center and around to the back entrance, backstage behind the World Showcase. It was interesting to see the countries from their backsides. When you are in the park, you imagine the buildings looking the same all the way around, but it’s not so. Once the buildings are out of eyesight of in-park visitors, they all just look like regular warehouse buildings. Nothing fancy.

We entered on the side where Mexico starts, and drove all the way around to America. Once we unloaded off of the bus, we entered the backstage area of American Adventure. The amount of audio/video and technical gear that was backstage in order to run the show was astounding. All of the animatronics are attached to a huge chassis that moves throughout the auditorium during the show to make it happen. This chassis that it moved on was about the size of two tractor-trailer beds, and was completely silent when it moved. It was amazing! We also got to see one of the faces of Thomas Jefferson and the real hair wigs that they use on the animatronics. This attraction and the Hall of Presidents in Magic Kingdom are the only two in all of WDW that use real hair on their animatronics. It crazy how real they look, and I have to admit it was borderline creepy seeing a very life-like head of a deceased president looking back at me.
We then moved outside to the front of the American pavilion and talked about the forced perspective they had to use in order to make the building not look as big as it actually is. The building is five stories tall to hold all of the show features, but from the front it looks as though it is only three stories. At this point, we were instructed that we were only allowed to take pictures on this trip when we could see “babies in strollers”, or in other owrds, only when we were out in the park when it was operational. The World Showcase doesn’t open until 11:00am, so there were work trucks out pressure washing and people getting it show ready. It was pretty weird seeing it with no guests.

After EPCOT, we loaded up the bus and headed to Hollywood studios. Once there, we arrived at the shops where they make all of the costumes for WDW. The amount of detail that goes into developing costumes for cast members and characters is out of this world. We even got to see a costume being made that had been commissioned by a third party. Someone had asked Disney to make a full, fur costume for a party they are having. I can’t even imagine how much that would cost! There is a part of the Studio Backlot Tour attraction in Hollywood Studios that passes by the costume shops where riders can see seamstresses working on costumes. While we were there, each time a tram rode by with park guests, cast members would cover up that costume that was being made for the third party. Super secret, and sort of strange all at the same time. We also got to see the new technology they are using to take cast member’s measurements for costumes. They are now using a computer that takes the measurements via lasers instead of using a typical tape measure.
After walking through there, we loaded up and drove around behind the Tower of Terror. We got to walk under the tower, and stand next to one of the ride cars. Then they told us the story of how Disney developed the ride, and how it has been through different phases of drops. It started out having only one drop. Then, it moved to phase two with two to three drops. They are now in phase four which allows a computer to randomly pick the drops, so technically, no two rides are ever the same. Also, a fun little fact. The small Tower of Terror model that is out on Disney property to advertise the ride has the number four on the tower, which changes to coincide with which phase of the ride they are currently in. Interesting!

The next place we visited was the Disney garden and nursery, where Disney grows everything from trees to plants to flowers. It was a pretty cool place, but nothing jaw dropping. They did, however, have a bunch of old topiaries that were dying off. We saw an old Pirates of the Caribbean Mickey Mouse, which got nicknamed Zombie Mickey by our group.

After this stop, we were off to lunch! If you know me, you know that meal times are a big favorite of mine, but it was especially awesome that day! We were scheduled to eat at the Whispering Canyon Café at the Wilderness Lodge. Although I have been to the Wilderness Lodge many times before, I have never actually stayed there. But we are booked there this coming September, so I was excited to get another look at it before our trip. Lunch was awesome! Since I had eaten there once before, I knew all of the little fun tricks about it. When it came time to order our drinks, I told our waitress I was soooooooo thirsty and wanted the biggest Coke Zero they had. She then proceeded to bring me a mason jar the size of my right leg. It was huge, and our group had some fun laughs about it. We were served the Canyon Skillet, which is served all-you-care-to-eat style and comes with smoked pork ribs, oven-roasted chicken, and pork sausage served with cowboy beans, corn on the cob, creamy coleslaw, mashed potatoes, and fresh-baked cornbread. Needless to say, we were all ready for a nap afterwards.

From the Wilderness Lodge we trekked over to The Animal Kingdom. We proceeded backstage to the big warehouse where they store all of the cars and puppets for Mickey’s Jamming Jungle Parade. It was pretty amazing. Did you know, the huge hand puppets that the cast members pull in this parade were made by the same person who made the puppets for the opening ceremonies for the 2008 Olympics? I didn’t either! Also, this parade is unlike the parades in the other parks when it comes to sound. In the other parks, speakers are located throughout the parade route. In The Animal Kingdom, they weren’t able to do that because of the nature and animals, so there are speakers hidden on each float covered in wire mesh that are triggered by sensors along the parade route as they go by. Pretty neat!
Next we proceeded to Central Shops, which is located right behind the Magic Kingdom. This building is where they refurbish all of the ride cars in WDW, paint buses, make name tags, test out prototypes…it was INCREDIBLE. We absolutely were not allowed to take any pictures in there. We saw the whole set of new Dumbo ride cars painted and ready to be installed on the second spinner, a complete car set for the new Goofini roller coaster still in plastic wrapping, a HUGE Ariel sculpture ready to be installed at the new Art of Animation hotel, and a statue of Beauty and the Beast dancing that was taller than me being painted for the new Fantasyland expansion.
Our final stop on our journey was, yes, The Magic Kingdom. As soon as we arrived we walked through the backstage area, through some secret doors, and right onto Main Street U.S.A as the 3:00pm parade was starting. They let us just be “guests” and observe the parade. It was so neat. After spending all morning seeing all of the work and detail that goes into all of the costumes and floats, learning how the floats work, learning about forced perspective and noticing it on the buildings of Main Street; it all just kind of culminated and was amazing. After watching the parade, we headed through another set of secret doors, down some steps, and suddenly, we were below Main Street. Some people call them tunnels, but to cast members they are known as the utilidors. In Florida you can’t dig too far underground because of the water table,spo they are actually on ground level and are the first “floor” of the Magic Kingdom. To alleviate many of the problems experienced in Disneyland, Walt decided that they would build “underground tunnels” that the staff could move around the park in, so guests would never see cast members “going to work”. It drove Walt nuts see a cast member in a Frontierland costume walking through Tomorrowland. It is pretty amazing under there. It’s like a small city.

After exiting the utilidors, we handed over our gear and goggles, and loaded up the buses to head back to EPCOT where we started our tour. Our group decided that even though we got to see some of the magic during the parade, we really wanted to go into a park to better observe the results of all of the work Disney does behind the scenes. We decided to purchase tickets to Magic Kingdom since it was having extra magic hours that night and would be open until 11:00pm. We rode rides, saw shows, and watched Wishes. It was a pretty amazing day. There were so many facts and knowledge to absorb, I have to admit that at the end of the day I felt a little mentally drained. Disney does everything with excellence in mind, which is a good model to follow in anything you do. If you ever get the chance, I would highly recommend taking the tour. It definitely exceeded my expectations. Now my wife wants to do it, so I’m sure I’ll be taking it again one day.

Below are some pictures from our time at the Magic Kingdom that night.
Thanks for reading along!

Photo Report Teaser: Backstage Magic

Well, Tim has had a wonderful day!! I’ve had…a day…and all throughout, Tim has been letting me live semi-vicariously through him by sending me pictures through text message. At 8:00 a.m. this morning he started his Backstage Magic tour. Unfortunately, he wasn’t allowed to actually take pictures in backstage areas, but he has agreed to tell us all about it when he gets back! For now, here’s a little photo report teaser of his day. Look for better pictures taken with a real camera soon!












So how did your Monday measure up?

Yeah…mine too.

With love, Malorie