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

Derailed by DVC: Bringing Food from Home

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.

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So, as you know, this is our first trip as DVC members. We are so, so excited and hopefully having an amazing time right now as you read this. But I have to admit, preparing and packing as DVC members has really been a switch in gears for us. We have been derailed by DVC, when it comes to meal planning in WDW.

For the past five years, we have been riding the free dining plan promo that Disney has offered each fall. Initially, our dining plan {even when we were staying at the All-Star resorts} included one table service meal {which included an appetizer, entree, dessert, and non-alcholic beverage}, one counter service meal {which included an entree, dessert, and drink} and a snack {almost anything $5 and under} a day. PLUS a free refillable mug, PLUS gratuity was included!

Y’all that is what you call a free dining plan.

Over the years, Disney has been slowly trimming back what is included in the free dining plan. First, gratuity and appetizers were no longer included. Next, they scaled back the dining plans based on resorts, so value resorts were no longer offered the basic dining plan, but the quick service plan. In that plan, you get two counter service meals and one snack a day, along with a free refillable mug. To get the plan that included sit down meals, you had to be staying in a moderate or deluxe resort.

When Tim and I realized that becoming DVC members we would no longer be getting the free dining plan, we were a little bummed, but not much. We are grateful for the opportunity to have had it for the past five years because it allowed us to try restaurants we would have never have considered if we were paying out of pocket, and it essentially turned us into WDW foodies that love to try new restaurants and cuisines. However, we are also looking forward to a new world of being able to think outside of the “meal credits” and see what else Disney has to offer.

That being said, this trip we are trying to budget hard, so we knew splurging on a ton of meals just wasn’t going to happen. After all, we are still on the making-our-money-back end of the DVC buy-in {we just wrote that hefty check in April}, and we have a baby coming in just three months!

Crunch time!

So we hit Walmart hard last week, and tried to find some cheaper meal options that we can make and enjoy right in our DVC room. Here are some things we came up with.IMG_8467IMG_8470 IMG_8472 IMG_8471For breakfasts we plan on oatmeal {my boys love it and could eat it every day, thank goodness}, fruit, toast, and croissants. Lunches, and on a rare occasion dinners, are going to consist of microwavable meals, peanut butter and honey sandwiches, or yes, even a Lunchable or two by the pool. For snacks, we have both healthy and unhealthy options like mini rice cakes, fruit chews, chips, cheese and more fruit, and even the occasional gummy worm.

We plan on eating quick service meals to supplement and we have dining reservations at Via Napoli for lunch {which you’ve hopefully already read about!}, Whispering Canyon Cafe for breakfast, and Hollywood and Vine for lunch.

Honestly, we have no idea if we are doing this right. Please, any current DVC members, give us advice on how you dine in WDW! We may like the way we are doing things this year, or we may look back on this trip and think, “We were crazy. We had no idea what we were doing.”

Either way, I know that there is no chance of us starving in WDW. Busting the budget? Maybe. Starving? No.

I can’t wait to get back and share all of our stories and what we’ve learned!

With love, Malorie

Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party “Costumes”

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.

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We are super excited because tonight we are attending Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party! We have no idea how late the boys are going to be able to swing it, but we are still looking forward to seeing them enjoy some Halloween fun in WDW.

In lieu of fancy costumes {Jack initially told me he wanted to be Capt’ Hook or Woody}, we decided to take the cheaper {and honestly, more comfortable} route of getting “costumes” instead of costumes.

The boys are going to be wearing these matching Super Mickey shirts, which they were super stoked about when they saw they came with capes! [Cue running really fast, looking backward to see if the cape is flying up.]IMG_8465Tim and I mulled over and over what we wanted to be. After deciding to embrace my big belly full of Lorelai and be a pumpkin, Tim decided he would be the same, just for the ease of it. We both picked out bright orange shirts, I whipped out some fabric paint, and voila! Pumpkins.pumpkinOkay, so maybe we won’t be the most creative or best dressed family at MNSSHP, but we don’t care. All we care about is trick-or-treating, seeing the Headless Horseman and some not-so-scary shows and fireworks, and getting our bellies full of terrible, awful, sugar-loaded candy.

I’m getting a sugar rush just talking about it.

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.

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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

Here’s What We Think: Via Napoli Review

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.

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Have you ever enjoyed a meal at Via Napoli in the World Showcase at EPCOT? We have. Twice. And as a matter of fact, we are eating there for our third time today! [insert giddy girl dance]IMG_5991 Via Napoli is tucked into the very back of the Italy pavilion and is in my humble, untravelled opinion, a very attractive facade. IMG_1660Inside the atmosphere is nice without feeling fancy, and I like that. I’m a dress-for-the-occasion kind of girl, so I always feel awkward dining in really nice places in shorts and a tank top with my hair in a sweaty ponytail. Via Napoli definitely doesn’t give off that vibe. IMG_5989 IMG_1635My favorite part of the restaurant is the wall of three wood burning fireplaces where they cook their authentic Italian pizzas. They are named after the three active volcanoes in Italy; Stromboli, Vesuvio, and Etna.

On top of having really great food, we have to admit that one of the main reasons we keep returning to Via Napoli time after time is because of the wonderful service. Both times we have dined there, we have had amazing waiters that were willing to take the time to explain menu items, tell us about their homeland {yes, the waitstaff is comprised of Italian citizens working for a stint in America}, and go above and beyond to meet our needs. When Cole was still taking a bottle, our waiter brought us hot water to heat it and asked many times throughout the meal if I needed anything else for my baby.

Even though we have visited twice, pizza was what we ordered off the menu both times. Why not? It is made from authentic Italian ingredients, including water and flour flown in from Italy for the dough! Tim loves the piccante, while I’ve had both the pepperoni and quattro formaggi. IMG_1647 IMG_1645 IMG_1644 I mean, look at that! That is a pizza! Yum-my!IMG_1642For dessert we have sampled pretty much everything on the menu; perks of riding on the free dining plan. We all order something different and then share. Tim is a fan of the Tiramisu. I love the Coppa dii Brutti Ma Buon and my parents had only good things to say about the Zeppole di Caterina. And the coffee? Well, you know the Elrods love a good cup of coffee and Via Napoli did not let us down. IMG_1651 IMG_1653 IMG_1649 IMG_1650Over all, the Elrods rate Via Napoli:ElrodRatingEars copy 3 We have never {in our whopping two times} walked away hungry or disappointed. We are not anticipating today to be any different, but if it is, you are sure to hear about it. [wink wink]

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.”

NO!

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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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:

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~ 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.

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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

{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

Less Than 100 Days!

Oh man alive, this has been a week of ups and downs for us…especially the last couple of days. House stuff.

Being a grown up is no fun sometimes.

In an attempt to be positive today, I’m celebrating the fact that we have less than 100 days until we leave for WDW!

photo{Our chalkboard countdown.}

We are even more excited about this trip than normal. Here’s a few reasons why:

1. It’s our first trip as DVC Members! “Welcome home, Elrod Family!”

2. We are staying another full week at the Wilderness Lodge. That means endless BBQ sandwiches from the Roaring Fork, surrey rides, pool time, and kickin’ it on the balcony with coffee and my love.

3. My parents are staying at the Wilderness Lodge, as well. It’s their first time since I was probably fourteen that they’ve stayed at a Deluxe. I think they are going to be hooked, like they used to be.

4. My friend Stacey is staying at the Wilderness Lodge the same week, too! Stacey and I have been friends since sixth grade. We used to lay in piles of blankets at teenagers on sleepovers, dreaming of getting married to hot guys and having kids at the same time and taking family vacations together… Well, dreams do come true! Jack is excited  because Stacey’s son, Jacob {who is 8 months older than Jack}, just happens to be his best friend, too. I see fun times ahead!

5. We will most likely be annual pass holders. Endless and unlimited entry to all four parks all week year long. ‘Nuff said.

6. We’re still planning on doing Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. Candy! Rides! Parades! Shows! Jack said he wants to dress up like Woody or Captain Hook. He can’t make up his mind…

Honorable mentions: Watching Dream Along with Mickey live again, knowing all of the songs and most of the dance moves. Mickey waffles. Jalapeño cheese stuffed pretzels. Did I mention BBQ sandwiches from the Roaring Fork? Breakfast at Whispering Canyon Cafe. Wishes. The People Mover. The People Mover lots of times. Buying the car decal for our third child, knowing their gender! Buying official DVC merchandise, just because. Taking the boys’ Wilderness Lodge totem pole “growth chart” picture.

There is so much we are looking forward to, I could go on and on. And I’ve got to admit, thinking about these things has really lifted my spirits.

Less than 100 days to go. Whoopieee!

With love, Malorie