Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Hogwarts Happiness

 I adore walking through the castle and the ride you can find inside and I can't wait for what's to come with the new expansion.  Although I know Disney has my heart Universal has now, with the Wizarding World, cemented my return every few years to enjoy stepping into Rowling magical world. 
Happy Birthday, Harry Potter & Neville Longbottom!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Shopping at Hogsmeade Village

 Shopping in Hogsmeade is as much fun as the rides and attractions (and food and drink). 
 The shops are so well created and filled with exclusive merchandise that any Potter fan will love!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Drinks from the Wizarding World

 Butterbeer is one of my favorite theme park drinks of all time and what I love about the set up of the Wizarding World is how the Hog's Head is connected to Three Broomsticks.  The food is quite good (I have had the Shepard's Pie and the Fish & Chips) and the drinks are divine.  Want to make your own Butterbeer with a little something extra in it for adults? Check back tomorrow for a great recipe!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Exciting News & Harry Potter Giveaway from Second Star Studios!

 As you know from past reviews and posts I love Second Star Studios on Etsy and they have a really awesome new project! They are running a Disney World Scavenger Hunt to help raise money for charity AND you don't even need park tickets to paritcipate!! Find the complete details and purchase registration here.

Adventure awaits you at our Disney Resort Charity Scavenger Hunt. To register for the event purchase a button for EACH member of your team. Buttons will be distributed at the event along with your clue sheet.
The event takes place September 28th, 2013 from 10am-4pm and will take you throughout Downtown Disney, the Polynesian, Contemporary, Art of Animation, and Pop Century Resorts.
50% of your purchase will be donated to the Ronal McDonald House Charities.
25% will be used for prizes such as shirts, prints, and Disney gift cards.

As another awesome giveaway for our Disney-Potterhead crew! Just check out this amazing bag and enter using the Rafflecopter below!! This coming week I will be featuring some great pics of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter on the blog in honor of the two fabulous Gryffindors whose birthdays are this week- Harry Potter himself and Neville Longbottom! Enjoy this great kickstart to Harry Potter week! :)


Friday, July 26, 2013

All Aboard the Hogwart's Express!

For the next few days we will be switching gears to another Orlando theme park: Universal's Islands of Adventure.  What better way to start a few days of posts from the Wizarding World of Harry Potter than with the Hogwart's Express itself.

 When will you be headed to the station to board the train?

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Beautiful Disney Jewelry and More from the Bradford Exchange!

When I was first contacted about the Bradford Exchange website I started browsing through their Disney merchandise and was pleasantly surprised by all the beautiful and original items available through their website.  As someone who doesn't really love to shop unless its for Disney merchandise I was shocked I had never realized what a variety of items they had here: home decor, jewelry, accessories, holiday decorations, figures... so many choices like this adorable desktop fan! Then as I started to explore the site some more I realized that I had already had an amazing experience ordering from this site! When they were still known primarily as Collectibles Today I ordered a monthly subscription to a Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer Christmas village.  And when I was browsing in that section of the site I found both a Nightmare Before Christmas AND Muppets village!

I received a Disney Princess Pearl and Diamond necklace from Bradford and it is beautiful.  I get so many compliments on its simple elegance and I like the fact that its got a hidden Disney magic since there is nothing out in the open with mickey ears or a crown or anything on it.  The Princess Pearl and Diamond necklace came in a soft velvet bag, and gift box, inside the box was a small cute little art card with some Disney princess sketches (this is about the size of the top of the gift box, I would say maybe 2"x3").  My favorite finishing touch is the clasp which has a small charm with "A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes" engraved on a heart and clasps shut over a heart shaped loop.  For once when the clasp of my necklace spins to the front of my necklace it still looks pretty. :)

This necklace is beautiful, I have worn it multiple days in a row, including once overnight when I forgot to take it off.  It is high quality and worth every penny.  The Disney jewelry on this site is gorgeous! It also can be purchased, like many other products on their website using a monthly payment plan!

Next time you are doing some Disney shopping, head on over to the Disney section on the Bradford Exchange for some adorable and unique items every Disney fan in your life will love!

Bradford Exchange sent me this item for review.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Seller Beware! My Not-So-Magical Ebay Story!

Not too long ago I shared my story about a really crappy experience I had with a Disney World shopper site. Well, as (un)luck would have it I had another situation happen recently in which I felt I should share in order to help you avoid the same fate.

There are lots of things to be weary about when buying Disney items on eBay, most notably that there are a lot of fake pins and vinyls being sold as the real thing. However, I had my first bad experience selling on eBay and I know a lot of honest people like to use eBay to buy and sell collectibles so I wanted to share once again, the lessons I learned so you don't have to learn the hard way.   Let me start by saying I have bought and sold on eBay multiple times, with no issue and 100% positive feedback (even through the transaction I am going to share).

I put some collectibles up on eBay which I didn't have room for in my closet (obviously I had some Disneyana overflow if I had these guys tucked away). I sold everything in 3-5 day auctions and everything seemed to go well. I had a little extra pocket money and people got the collectibles they wanted without paying full price (I even included Picturing Disney cards and magnets for most of them).

This one Jim Shore collectible was a hot item. Less than a day after I listed it there were bids and questions. The first question asked if I had the original box so I posted the question to the listing because I did not. 3 days into the listing the first person who bid messaged me and asked if she could purchase for the Buy It Now price, I informed her that since she chose to bid on it Buy It Now was no longer an option. She ended up winning it for $22 over the original Buy It Now cost.

(If you are unfamiliar with eBay when I listed the item I put it up for $35 starting auction but $50 Buy It Now- if someone was willing to and did not want to deal with the auction Buy It Now gives you the immediate purchase at usually a decent price.)

The buyer did not pay after I sent an invoice. I messaged her after 2 days. Finally after 4 days I heard from her saying she was having issues with logging into PayPal and she would resolve it by calling on Monday. I didn't hear from her Monday and messaged her, then Tuesday I resent the invoice and told her if I did not hear from her I would file with eBay an unpaid item notice. Finally after 10 days I filed with eBay only to receive my payment moments after I filed it. I was very skeptical about this whole ordeal after this.

But my first mistake came here: I shipped it anyway. If I ever had this issue again I would file with eBay and refund the money. I should not have completed the transaction with someone who strung me along with poor communication.

Then came my second mistake: I spent additional money on bubble wrap- 2 rolls at $2.99 each to wrap this figure up nice and neatly. Then I spent $5 and change on a new thick box to ship in. I packed lots of shopping bags all around the bubble wrapped figure and mailed him out.

Mistake number 3: I did not use insurance. I was already skeptical and had ALREADY spent extra money this $3 would've saved me a headache.

Once the item arrived the Buyer claimed her item came broken and emailed me pictures of a broken figure and an unopened box that looked as though it had been mishandled in transit.  I offered a full refund if she shipped the item back to me and a partial shipping refund so she was not stuck paying shipping twice on the item she was returning. She agreed.

Seems like this isn't so bad, right? Disappointing and time consuming but really just a broken figure that had been in my closet, right? Nope. She filed an "Item Not As Described" dispute with PayPal/eBay claiming I sent her a broken figure, wrapped it poorly, and did not state in listing it didn't come with original box. And THEN she sent me an email directly asking me to eat the cost of all the shipping.

At this point I told her email communication was inappropriate any longer since she filed the claim and I sent all the evidence I had to PayPal with a description of the whole ordeal (her claims were unwarranted).  She then began messaging me through eBay in what were short, clearly quickly written, and somewhat rude responses as if I was a horrible human being for asking someone to return an item they wanted a refund on.  Eventually I had to also say 'Enough is enough' through this communication as well.  

I don't know the outcome yet but I still would like to think that PayPal or eBay or whoever makes the decision will say "hey this lady is willing to go ahead and give a refund if item is returned so that's what the buyer needs to do". Who knows? What I do know and want to share with you is this:

Tips for Selling on EBay

  1. 1.  Always add the cost of insurance into your shipping cost as well as the cost of shipping supplies you must pay for into your auction price. (If you go to the MyEbay section under applications I have learned if you ship through eBay you can get pretty cheap insurance through ShipSaver.)
  2. 2.  In your listing state that buyers have X amount of days to pay or they will be reported to eBay as unpaid. (Buyers have 4 additional days to pay AFTER you file with eBay!)
  3. 3.  Take pictures of fragile items after you have wrapped them and your box after its all sealed up with label visible. (I wish so much I had done this!)
  4. 4.  If it waddles like a duck and quacks like a duck, its probably a duck. I doubted my own instincts and this turned out bad.  I should have filed the claim earlier or attempted to cancel this transaction and pass on to next highest bidder.  I just had a bad feeling about this and I convinced myself it would all work out and it didn't.
  5. 5.  Remember even though eBay doesn't seem Seller friendly you can report Buyer abuse as well!
  6. 6.  Stay positive on the internet and in life.  I am choosing to rise above the personal feelings of skepticism I have here.  It probably seems naive because there are a lot of scammers on the Internet today but it seems like the only high road I can take.  I am going to assume that this package was accidentally damaged by the post office and that this buyer didn't really know how to properly return something through eBay. Why? Because thinking someone is trying to screw me out of money and a Disney collectible is hard for me to swallow right now. 
Be wary and be careful but also be honest and optimistic as much as you can.

UPDATE: After this whole fiasco was resolved (buyer shipped item back to me, I marked it returned in the false PayPal claim while noting the entire time that this was damaged in shipping and was exactly as described in the listing) it turned out that I was still liable for my seller fees through eBay.  Since this buyer filed a case as "item not as described" and we closed it through PayPal I was not allowed to cancel the transaction after she returned the item since a case was opened and closed in regards to this item already.  The buyer was fully refunded and I got Peter with a broken arm and an $8.11 bill from eBay.  It sure feels like I paid someone over $8 to break one of my collectibles.  
Lesson learned: Never Grow Up!

Friday, July 19, 2013

My Free Trip to Disney and How You Can Earn One Too!

To fill you on if this is the first time you are reading this column, I have decided that my next trip to Walt Disney World will be free.  I want to earn as many points as I can across credit card bonuses and basically stay as long as we can which will probably dictate when we end up going as I am resigned to a school year calendar as a teacher.  Originally I wanted to try and do a long weekend at Christmas and then I waffled back and forth with maybe next summer so the "when" is still up in the air.

I started this credit card savings journey back in February. Starwood Hotels owns Swan and Dolphin and I got a Starwoods Rewards American Express to earn for the hotel plus we always fly Jet Blue so it was a no brainer since I already have a JB AmEx as well.  Plus, I am earning double points as I upgraded to the Premiere Disney Rewards Visa and I will rack up some paypal fundage for gift cards using some couponing apps and my Etsy shop when we get closer.

In any case, its been a while since I checked in here so I thought I would do a Summer update.  I spent alll of my Disney Rewards when I was down in Orlando last month so that portion is reset completely but still hoping to start racking up points again soon!

Here is an update on my point earnings:

1.  Disney Visa Rewards Card 
Goal: Pay for our park tickets plus possible water parks upgrade or tours $700
Current Earnings: $0
Still need:$700

2.  Starwood Rewards American Express Card 
Goal: Cover our stay at the Swan and Dolphin at approx 10,000 points per night.
Current Earnings: 15,040-- 5,040 points were earned through spending and the card offers a  bonus 10k points after first purchase.  I will also have a credit of another 15k for reaching the 5k spending goal in the first 6 months (we used this for expenses like groceries and gifts and then paid off at the end of each month). So my REAL total will be 30,040 which is THREE NIGHTS AT SWAN OR DOLPHIN! Yay!!

3.  Jet Blue American Express Card 
Goal: Pay for our flights roundtrip- roughly 40,000 points
Current Earnings: 26,100-- this is a big jump since the last check in because not only did I fly round trip to Florida but my husband gifted me his 6,000 points since his expire and mine don't because I have the AmEx through Jet Blue.  This cost us $75 but that will mean our flights will eventually cost us only $85 total for two adults roundtrip so we are cool with that! ;)  Additionally, I signed up for Jet Blue True Blue Badges and earned nearly 2k points! Right now we can both FLY TO FLORIDA USING POINTS for free! We just need to earn enough to get back home! (:
Still Need: 13,900 points

Basically, I am going to try and keep with what I have been doing and use these cards as I would usually use my debit card, then pay them off at the end of each pay cycle.  It hasn't cost me money yet and I would consider myself over halfway there in 5 months.

If you are interested in more details on how I organized myself check out these other posts which had more thoughts on each earning potential and my goals.  They may help you figure out how to earn a free trip yourself! :)
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Living the Dream: A Wedding Website for Disney Lovers

When any Disney lover gets engaged they immediately think about all the ways to incorporate their Disney way of life into their special day.  Many even opt for the amazing option of having their wedding IN Walt Disney World! Here on Picturing Disney I have featured some great ideas from my own nuptials including a Mad Tea Party Bridal Shower, the Cinderella touches at my own wedding, and some of the Disney table numbers I created.  I have also featured the magical moments of friends who were engaged at Disney and Disney-fied their wedding vows.  But what about planning a wedding at Disney?? I don't know the first thing about how I would begin! I am a planner at heart and loved every minute of wedding planning as I love every minute of vacation planning... but combining them?? So many choices and opinions-- where do you even start???

Lucky for everyone the site to start at now exists!!!

Enter Amanda.  A Disney world bride, Disney lover, and Disney travel agent! Amanda has worked in the parks, vacationed at the parks, and was married at Disney's wedding pavilion (followed by a reception at the Conservation Station)! Amanda has shared not only her own wedding details and pictures (which are FABULOUS) but she has also created a website that is going to grow into a resource for any and all Disney brides! Even if you are not getting married AT a Disney resort the sheer number of questions that need to be asked and different ideas and ways to incorporate your favorites can be found here.  Her site Living the Dream Happily Ever After launched on her 3rd wedding anniversary on March 3rd 2013 and is sure to grow!

Best of all you can contact her anytime with the easy to fill out form on her Mouseketrips page plus she has a Facebook page you can check out! There are so many fine details and a lot of headache and heartache that can go into wedding planning if you don't know where to begin.  Lucky for me I had friends and family to point me towards the best wedding planners and guides and lucky for YOU that you have ME to point you towards Amanda for planning your magical Disney Wedding. 

Remember, happily ever after is now. <3

Wednesday, July 17, 2013


Fantasyland is quintessential Disney.  
It is most families first and last stop of the day and thanks to the glorious expansion you can spend nearly your entire day here! 

Liberty Square

Liberty Square can be often overlooked because it is so often used as a means to an end.  So many people walk though this area to get to the adjacent lands (Fantasy, Frontier, Adventure, and even Main St) that its prime location sometimes undermines its beauty.  Not only can you find some nice nods to American history here but there are some fun rides and plenty of places to eat and shop at!

  • The replica Liberty Bell and "two if by sea" lights in an upstairs window are my favorite parts of this land
  • The Haunted Mansion is located here as well as Hall of Presidents and Liberty Square Riverboat
  • Liberty Tree Tavern is the only sit down restaurant in this area and reservations here don't fill up as quick as other Magic Kingdom spots
  • You can grab a quick meal or snack at Columbia Harbor House, Sleepy Hollow, Liberty Square Market, and seasonally Diamond Horseshoe
  • There is a lovely Christmas shop located here that personalizes ornaments and has a great selection of holiday decor all year 


There is a farmiliar nostalgia as you step into the future as you enter Tomorrowland and the layout is so easy especially thanks to the People Mover which is a brief continuous loading ride that takes you around the area and introduces you to everything you can see there. 

Attraction Highlights:

Dining Highlights:
  • Tomorrowland also only features quick service dining and snacks but the options are plentiful.  The 3 quick service locations are Cosmic Ray's Starlight Cafe, Tomorrowland Terrace, and The Lunch Pad
  • Auntie Gravity's Galactic Goodies is a favorite of me and my husband for ice cream treats!


 Howdy Partners! Here's a great overview of my favorite land in Magic Kingdom! Filled with frontier-style fun for all ages you will surely find something for everyone in your gang!

Attraction Highlights:

Dining Highlights:
  • Here you will find only quick service dining options including my favorite Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe, as well as Golden Oak Outpost and Westward Ho Snacks 
  • Snack carts (and shopping stops) can also often be found along the main walkway (as is the case in all the MK lands)



 Adventureland is a fun and, well, adventure-filled area in Magic Kingdom.
Some of the most beloved attractions can be found here and once you stop and slow down from the hustle and bustle there are great theme notes and hidden treasures here too!

Attraction Highlights:

Dining Highlights:
  • Aloha Isle (home of the famous Dole Whip)
  • Sunshine Tree Terrace (home of the famous Orange Bird)
  • Tortuga Tavern (quick stop dining and a personal favorite)

Main Street USA

When you enter Magic Kingdom part you have stepped back in time to a lighter time filled with happy songs and horse drawn carriages. As you walk up the street you will be delighted by great places to shop, dine, and stop for a bit of coffee.

  • City Hall which houses guest relations for the park and the Lost & Found
  • Harmony Barber Shop (popular for children's first haircuts)
  • Chamber of Commerce shop which also houses Package Pickup
  • Emporium (SHOPPING!!)
  • Entertainment via various singers and other streetmosphere
  • Character Dining locations at Cinderella's Royal Table and The Crystal Palace (here you meet Winnie the Pooh characters while you dine).  Both are sit down restaurants and require reservations.
  • Tony's Town Square Restaurant (modeled after Tony's from Lady & the Tramp) is another sit down dining location on Main St.
  • The Plaza Restaurant and Casey's Corner offer great quick stop dining locations (and their is an Ice Cream Parlor adjacent to the Plaza)
  • Main Street Bakery by Starbucks for all your caffeination needs!

When you reach the hub by the state of Walt and Mickey you will find yourself again in a different world.  Here you can follow your heart and your feet into the 5 magical worlds of wonder that make up the Magic Kingdom!
One of the only attractions to be found here (besides the Walt Disney World Railroad) is the Character Meet & Greets house in the Times Square Theater (just as you enter on the right).  Here you can meet Mickey mouse himself via one line and the Disney Storybook Princesses via another (you should note the princess line is usually substantially longer and when I was here I met Aurora, Cinderella, and Belle)!


Sunday, July 14, 2013

New Disney Parks Inspired Items on Etsy!

As many of my regular readers, fans who found my site from Etsy, and regular visitors to my Facebook and Instagram pages know I love being crafty and when I need to pass the time or if I want to keep my mind off of something I like to find a project. 

This week I crafted some new items for the Etsy shop. If you are new here I upcycle Disney World inspired scents (my two anchor scents in the past have been Mickey Waffles and Polynesian Resort with Poly being the most popular of all).  

Recently added items and changes include:

(I only have 1 green and 1 blue available)

(featuring the Cinnamon Roll at its new location in Gaston's)

 Harry Potter inspired and Walt Disney Inspired Illuminated Candle Holders

Come by, check it out and be sure to enter in the Gift Card Giveaway while you are browsing around my sites! :)

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Want to win a $100 Disney Gift Card?!


You know I love some free Disney money so I could not resist participating in this contest! I have teamed up with some awesome Disney bloggers to share with you the opportunity to win this amazing prize- a $100 Disney Gift Card! Yay!

Bookmark this page or come back at midnight tonight- then use the widget below to enter (there are daily extra entries for sharing the contest)! Comment below and let me know what you would spend your winnings on? I would buy some cute baby clothes for my new nephew! ;)

Friday, July 5, 2013

I heart Spaceship Earth!

I know I have made my love of this ride clear in the past but every once in a while I must write another love letter to this amazing attraction and centerpiece of all of Epcot.  

(That is me Spaceship Earth excited!)

I teach 9th Grade Social Studies in New York which is the first part of a two-year World History survey course.  I cover human history from Prehistory through the French Revolution and this ride runs through all the most amazing human achievements of my curriculum and it does so wonderfully thematically! I tell my students all the time how I wish I could just take them all on a ride for a sweet review lesson! Even the corny parts are fun and exciting! The ride vehicles, voice over, animatronics, and scenes are amazing! I love so much about this ride through human history and feel empowered every time I ride.