Friday, August 30, 2013

Wanna win a trip to Disneyland?? :)

I have teamed up with some amazing bloggers to bring you this magical giveaway!

This giveaway is brought to you by:

Love Our Disney, One Artsy Mama, MousekaTools, Capital B, The Benson Street, Maybe I Will, Cheerios and Lattes, Mouze Kateerz, 7Alive, Ginger Snap Crafts, Free Time Frolics, Brought To You by Mom, Mellywood's Mansion, The Bragging Mommy, Create & Babble, Real Moms Real Views, Crazy for Crust, Happy Go Lucky, Picturing Disney, and Rarely Tidy

The winner of the giveaway will get a 4 night hotel stay at a local Orange County hotel (a moderate hotel) and 2 3-day 1 Park/day Tickets to the Disneyland and Disney California Parks. Your hotel room can be booked for up to 4 people (so you can bring the kiddos along- you just need to cover the extra park tickets). If Disneyland isn't your thing, or the cost of transportation, food, etc makes that prize less appealing, the winner can opt for $600 in Disney or Visa gift cards.

When you enter, please read the official rules in the rafflecopter box regarding travel dates, blackout dates, and hotel location (item #12 covers most of this). Just to cover the basics- this giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 and older. Travel must occur on or before June 15, 2014 and black out dates may apply during November and December of 2013.

To enter simply use the rafflecopter box below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If for any reason the rafflecopter box does not appear on your screen please ****CLICK HERE***** to go directly to the rafflecopter site to enter.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Parks Inspired Etsy items 20% through September 1st!!!

While all over the country elementary, secondary, and colleges are back in session here in my neck of the woods the first official day with students isn't until September 9th.  I only have 1 working day next week and so it is officially the tail end of my summer.  While I start to think about the smell of freshly sharpened pencils, my "why I love history" speech to give my classes, and the crisp blue skies that come my way in the Fall, I wanted to try and give everyone a vacation-scented summer sendoff!

For the next week (through September 2nd) enjoy 20% off all items in my etsy shop on orders of $10! Simply enter code: GOODBYESUMMER at checkout for your discount! You will find Enchanted Tiki Room inspired handbags, Parks inspired candles, and some discounted print collections from the US Disney Parks!

Friday, August 23, 2013

$50 Disney Gift Card Giveaway!!

Thanks to our sponsor Lauren at Focus on the Mouse we are bringing you another great giveaway!
Be sure to get as many entries as you can below by using the rafflecopter widget-- contest ends Monday!

Here's to summer sunshine and vacation planning! :)

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Star Tours!

Star Tours is a must stop for most visitors of Disney's Hollywood Studios- and for good reason! The fun starts on line and as you enter the inside queue in pass lots of fun robots and droids and there are screens to pass the time.  Oh yeah, and at the end of the line you get to ride a new adventure (the ride was refurbished on both coasts in 2011).  I love Star Tours: The Adventure Continues and aspire to be "the rebel spy" or keep coming back to Disney until I do! ;)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Park Inspired Candle & Disney Gift Card Giveaway!

I have teamed up with Mouze Kateerz and some other fabulous bloggers for a gift card and candle giveaway!

Use the widget below to enter to win a $25 DISNEY GIFT CARD and my YACHT AND BEACH CLUB INSPIRED CANDLE JAR! Be sure to check out all the awesome Mouze articles and visit my etsy shop where you can find Polynesian Resort inspired, Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party inspired, Grand Floridian inspired, and other candles

Monday, August 19, 2013

How Adopting a Sea Turtle Nest was the best Disney Purchase I've Ever Made!

"Advice from a sea turtle: swim with the current, be a good navigator, stay calm under pressure, be well traveled, think long term, age gracefully, spend time at the beach." --Ilan Shamir

Even though I am 30 years old, I still play favorites and my favorite animal has always been turtles.  I love the Iroquois creation myth where the creatures of the world inhabited the back of a sea turtle (Turtle Island), I love the idea of flying through the water or meandering along, I love squirt from Finding Nemo, I even love the idea of being able to retreat into my shell every once in a while.  

When I first heard that you could support the Disney Conservation fund and adopt a sea turtle nest it was immediately on my Disney to-do list for our next trip.  When we arrived in Epcot for our March trip we made sure we stopped in the Seas to find that the nests are available mainly in summer months and cost $50 for the package.  Luckily, I got to make a return trip in June and headed straight for Epcot and even skipped the ride to head right into the shop to purchase my nest!!!

My husband knew how much I wanted to adopt a nest in March so he even gave me a gift card that would cover the cost before I left to make sure it was still a gift from him.  The adopt a nest program came with my own adoption certificate, a squirt plush keychain, conservation hero pin, and I got a unique nest number (the certificate even has the website url so you can easily check the status of your nest)! I was so excited for this bundle, and just knowing my money was helping my favorite creature! 

Every week I logged onto the website and checked for updates on my turtle nest.  Then the news came: my nest hatched on August 2nd, and of the 107 babies 101 made it into the ocean!!  If you can make out the text on the screenshot there is also a plethora of information about sea turtles and how they live.  I hope someday I can watch sea turtles hatch and see what looks like a "small volcano erupting as baby sea turtles make their way out of the next and take that long walk along the beach".  (I was very nervous about my babies making it after a documentary I saw on turtles!) Oh and these turtles nested right at Disney's Vero Beach Resort so if you will be there in the summer months and not in Epcot instead of adopting a nest maybe you can have the opportunity to see the volunteers in action or glimpse the babies head out to sea! 

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Main Street Electrical Parade

Sitting on the east side of main street, just as it opens into the hub, I nabbed this video while we watched the parade Spring Break 2013.  I hope you like it and it gives you the same nostalgic feeling it gives me. Come check out my YouTube channel for some more sweet vids! :)

Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Art of the Self Shot

We are all victims of it... whether in the park or at the bar or out and about.  With or without front facing cameras we stretch out or arms smile and hope that our self shot came out a self masterpiece.

I don't know if its my generation or my love of getting my own picture taken (I am such a ham) but I have perfected the self shot and with a few tips you can too!

1.  Get a front facing camera!!! lol! Obvious, I know, but I adore my Samsung TL225 and it has a tap on/tap off front facing camera just for such an occasion as do many smartphones today!

2.  Avoid the dreaded double chin! *Never* lean away from the camera when taking a self shot.  Actually they often come out best when you lean slightly towards the camera with your chin straight or slightly up.

3.  Stretch your arm out BUT point your camera lens towards the center of your focal area.  This seems like common sense but its something people don't always think about in the moment.

4.  Trying to catch a few friends in your picture? Have the tallest person take the pic... the taller you are the larger your wingspan is more than likely so you can get a better shot.

5.  Want the background in your picture? Aim your camera at the opposite shoulder of the hand you are  using so that you have a little rule of thirds action going on in your shot!

6.  Practice.  Take 5 pictures quick while everyone is smushed together instead of taking them 1 at a time and checking them.  You are bound to get it right if you are all together, leaning slightly in and pointing the camera at center.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Dream Disney Dreams with Dustys & Lulu!

After browsing through Etsy one night I discovered the adorable and fun printed pillowcases from Dustys & Lulu and was immediately smitten.  I love the idea of personalized "his" and "hers" pillows with a twist.  I did a quick search and then found many different versions of these cases around.  There was just something about Dustys & Lulu that kept my attention so I contacted the shop owner and I could not be happier! (Maybe it was their awesome slogan: Making Life Prettier!)

These adorable pillowcases are exactly what you would expect and the quality is great! I am so pleased and love the attention to detail! They are not even the only printed cases you can nab for your bed (Disney lovers can nab the "Prince" and "Princess" ones but they also carry everything from "Mr" & "Mrs" to "Spoon" & "Fork")! Plus that's not all you can find in their shop! They also carry printed tea towels and currently some adorable tees! And they have a larger website with lots of info you can visit! And while you are browsing around don't forget to go and LIKE their Facebook page!! Once they hit 750 fans they are having a giveaway! Trust me when I say not to hesitate checking out Dustys & Lulu-- I am obsessed with my pillowcases and love little touches like the shop having their own tags! I came home one afternoon to their arrival and by the time I got them open it was nearly midnight but I made my entire bed just to use them!

Dusty & LuLus sent these items to me for review. 

Monday, August 12, 2013

Echo Lake

Be prepared to spend a lot of time exploring this area! there are some great attractions and great snack stops as well as some of my favorite views of the park!

Attraction Highlights:
Star Tours
Indian Jones Stunt Specatacular
American Idol Experience
Sounds Dangerous

Dining Highlights:
50's Prime Time
Hollywood & Vine
Oasis Canteen
Min & Bill's Dockside Diner
Backlot Express
Peevy's Polar Pipeline
Tune-In Lounge

Commissary Lane

This little street is home to two eateries (my favorite counterservice and sit down restaurants in the park actually).  I couldn't find a way to easily group Commissary Lane with another area so this little strip is home to: Sci Fi Dine-In and ABC Commisary! Both are worth a try! ABC features extended previews and posters from your favorite ABC shows with a menu whose names often change to be named after shows or characters currently in the ABC lineup.  Sci Fi takes you outside while you are inside to a 50s style drive in complete with black and white cheesy horror movie clips running on the drive in screen! Both feature all american meal choices!

Pixar Place & Mickey Avenue

Pixar Place tends to be most families first stop as an attempt to nab some fast passes or a shorter line to Toy Story Midway Mania! The addition of this 3D shooting game style attraction brought the new name to the area complete with a sign that looks just like California's Pixar Studios sign.  Right near the attraction you can grab a snack at Hey Howdy Hey Takeaway- the only place to grab a bite in this small area.  Adjacent to Pixar Place (which is why I have combined them here) is Mickey Avenue.  Here you will find the attraction that used to house Journey into Narnia is now Legend of Jack Sparrow and my favorite attraction is also located here: Walt Disney One Man's Dream! 

Animation Courtyard

I can't bring myself to spend the day in the Studios without a stop at Animation Courtyard! Inside the animation pavilion is one of my favorite activities: Animation Academy! Here you will get step by step instructions for creating your own Disney character drawing from an artist! There is lots more to see and do here like character meet and greets while you wait for your group animation lesson to start!

Voyage of the Little Mermaid
Magic of Disney Animation
Disney Junior Live on Stage

Streets of America

The Streets of America is an area but an attraction unto itself.  Here you can walk down the "Streets of America" quite literally.  You will find New York City and San Francisco streets that make great photo ops and where you can frequently find character meet and greets.  Once you head to the end of the street you will come to the Backlot where you can find more fun! If you are visiting during the holidays you must come here at night for the fantastical Osborne Lights display!

Attraction Highlights:
Honey I shrunk the kids! Play Area
AFI Showcase
Muppetvision 3D
Backlot Tour
Lights! Motors! Action! Stunt Show

Dining Highlights:
Mama Melrose's Italian Ristorante (sit down dining)
Pizza Planet Arcade
Studio Catering Company
High Octane Refreshments
Writer's Stop

Sunset Boulevard

Sunset Blvd is a fan favorite because of the corridor of quick stops and the two major park attractions here! Be prepared for some thrills and then relax after you have worked up an appetite and check out the Beauty & the Beast show around the corner!

Attraction Highlights:
Rock 'N Rollercoaster starring Aerosmith
Tower of Terror
Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage
(Be sure to Fast Pass both rides and check the times guide for the show.  Tower of Terror and Rock 'N Rollercoaster are both fast paced thrill rides- the coaster is inside with blacklighting and has a few corkscrew spins while the tower is a multiple fast dropping elevator ride.)

Dining Highlights:
Quick service dining is available in a market style strip.
You can stop at:
Rosie's All American Cafe
Fairfax Fare
Toluca Legs Turkey Company
Catalina Eddies
Hollywood Scoops
Anaheim Produce
Tower of Terror Coffee

Hollywood Boulevard

Hooray for Hollywood! The street you enter on when hitting Hollywood Studios is fittingly named after Hollywood Blvd.  Here you will be able to enjoy some fabulous shopping as both sides of the street have some great stores as well as hitting up this area's attraction: The Great Movie Ride.  You can also stop at Starring Rolls bakery for a quick bite to eat or sit down at the signature dining restaurant Hollywood Brown Derby which mimics the famous eatery's namesake. Don't forget to pose for some pictures with the park's icon: the huge Sorcerer Hat which can be found at the end of the street!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Tomorrowland D23 app: a (free) must for every Disney fan!

So you couldn't be at the D23 conference this weekend? Well, the hidden gem I have found only among comments on other blogs is the Tomorrowland D23 app which I believe was coupled with the display presentation you could visit at the conference.  This app is free to download and gives detailed descriptions and accounts of various artifacts found within the mythical box Brad Bird has discussed in reference to what inspired the upcoming film.

In the app you will get to look at pictures (double click to enlarge), read text, and listen to narratives surrounding the artifacts that inspired the film.  Below I made a quick screen shot collage of some of the coolest scenes from the apps. Of course, in my personal eternal optimism I would like to think that this is all real and authentic but I can respect the skepticism surrounding this being movie props and a ploy to draw hype.  Either way Disney had my money for movie tickets but I have great fun seeing the pictures, hearing about hoaxes, and even the hidden ride within a ride which was in the original blue prints for It's a Small World (seriously, mind blown on that one)!

If you can't get the app because you don't have an iOS device here is my favorite piece, from the last artifact (#13) which was a letter Walt is said to have written which was put in a 1956 time capsule opened in 2006.  Titled "Prediction of Entertainment in the World 50 Years From Now" the most beautiful and poignant part comes nearly dead center when Walt says: "Humanity, as history informs us, changes very slowly in character and basic interests.  People need play as much as they need toil.  They never cease to be fascinated by their own powers and passions, their base or noble emotions, their faiths and struggles and triumphs against handicap-- all the things that make them laugh and week and comfort one another in love and sacrifice out of the deeps of their being." 

Friday, August 9, 2013

Free Shipping on Disney Inspired Tiki Handbags on Etsy!

As many of you know I love crafting and creating (and especially Disney crafts) and my latest endeavor has been finding a use for this amazing Tiki fabric I found last month! It is so reminiscent of the Disney Tikis you can find in Adventureland, the Enchanted Tiki Room, the Polynesian Resort and Tangoroa Terrace and Trader Sam's at the Disneyland Hotel! I just adore it and when I found a bag pattern I loved I knew it would be the perfect match!

What was the verdict? You tell me! What do you think of the bags I made? I love these open top soft bags and even made interior pockets (one horizontal and one cell phone size).  Oh and by the way-- since you know I love ya enjoy FREE SHIPPING on tiki bags this weekend only if you order from my etsy shop! :)

Enchanted Tales with Belle: Fun For ALL Ages!

Enchanted Tales with Belle was always something we had skipped in it's old location.  It was clearly geared towards children and although I love Belle it didn't seem like fun for just me and my husband.  However, once Maurice's cottage became the setting I knew I had to try it out!  I know I would love it from the moment that I saw all the small touches when you enter Belle's home! The books, the pictures, the little hidden treasure (like the nod to Mrs. Potts and Chip below).... it was so well done! And without giving many spoilers-- it does not disappoint!  You enter and get to check out the cottage before being transported via a magic mirror (of course) into Beast's Castle! There is a castmember to lead the way and help choose who will partake in the fun! 

I couldn't snap a great pic of Lumiere because of my spot in the audience (and my husband was cast as a knight so I was preoccupied) but from stat to finish it is fun for all so don't miss it on your next trip and keep your eyes open for all the little touches that make it so enchanting!! ;)

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Disney magic at home!

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The worst part of any Disney trip is the walk of shame to the front of your building to check out.  It starts as a little ping in your chest when your eviction notice is slipped under your door and by the time you load your bags onto the Magical Express bus or into your car your heart feels heavy.  Its not until you get moving and start reliving the memories in your head that you are suddenly back in your happiest of happy places.

So how do you keep that Disney magic at home?
  • Start a collection! Trip after trip you can fill your collection and each piece will be memorable and fun! I have so many collections myself, here are some examples: vinylmations, pins, crushed pennies, ornaments, stuffed animals (I buy a new little stuftee every year myself!)
  • Keep mementos as you would pictures.  We keep all of our park tickets lined up across the top of our bulletin board side of our fridge, I created magnets out of my conservation fund donation pins, and we have pictures everywhere!
  • Make an album or scrapbook of your trip!
  • Join a Disney World forum and create a play by play trip report
  • Recreate meals at home from your favorite Disney parks restaurants and eateries!
  • Drink out of your refill mugs each morning (We have one from every trip and I switch off on them for my coffee each week! Im looking forward to the new bright summer one making my winter in New York feel like summer in the Sunshine State)!
  • No matter what STUFF you use to help you remember your Disney trips remember that Disney is about more than that! Disney is that feeling.  And sure, some people don’t get it, I know that as well as the next person.  It doesn’t matter though, because we Disney World lovers know how important it is to create magic everyday and keep our imaginations alive! 
What are some of the things you do to celebrate the magic at home? Let me know in the comment box below!!


Monday, August 5, 2013

The Disney Attraction I Love to Hate

Welcome to the first stop aboard Magical Blogorail Peach! Enjoy the ride as we share the Disney attraction we love to hate!

I am going to start us off with a ride that I think may just be on most people's "must" list: Space Mountain! I abhor this ride! Each time I have ridden it (a total of 3 times, twice in Disney World and once in Disneyland) I have had an irrational fear that my husband was going to be decapitated by the metal which I felt like was closing in on us surrounding the track. I have just NEVER EVER been able to enjoy the scenic tour through the stars that brings everyone else back here over and over.

However, for a very personal reason I now feel like I can't wait to get back to the park so that I can try it again and try my best to channel my Grandma and ride it fearlessly. My Grandma was one of those magical people who made me smile just coming in a door. She had a sing-songy way of saying "Hello" when she entered a house or a room and we shared a trait of being kids at heart. When my Grandma had a stroke in February I never let myself lose hope and when she lost her battle earlier this month I felt my heart break in a way that I wasn't sure how to put it back together. Day by day I have been reminding myself that she is free of pain and with my Nana Rose and Grandpa Fred now (her parents) shining down on us. Every day I try to remember that if I hold on to memories she will always be with me no matter how much I wish I could see her again. I have taught myself to sew on her sewing machine using her sewing kit and I try to write down special memories when I think of them so I won't ever forget. I have visited my Grandpa with my sister and mom just spending time with him or helping him go through old cabinets and books. The thing I never realized about losing someone so important to you is that its not a process that gets "easier every day" like people say but instead you start to make personal revelations in which you realize that death changes your life because that important person was so much of who you are and that you are a new person after the metamorphosis.

My Grandma and Grandpa bought a condo on Anna Maria Island when I was little. For most of my life I remember them going down to Florida for nearly all of November and on one of their first trips they visited Magic Kingdom. My Grandma always loved when I would send her pictures of me and my husband from our Disney trips and we always tried to bring something back for my grandparents too. We would talk about their trip and even watched my Grandpa's full ride video of It's A Small World (I guess the acorn doesn't fall very far from the tree with all the pictures and vids I have of that ride). One of my favorite stories is how my Grandma really wanted to ride the People Mover. However, she couldn't find the line so they walked along the perimeter where the track was only to come to the Space Mountain line... it was the longest so they determined it would make sense that it was for the cart that takes you all the way around Tomorrowland. Not only did my Grandma wait on the line (which was only 10-15 minutes long according to their story) for Space Mountain but she didn't realize it wasn't the People Mover until she was about to board and at that point figured, "What the hell?" and rode! 

So, yeah, I hate Space Mountain. I have always hated it for every trip we have ever taken and all the times I attempted it. I actually cried on it the first time we rode. BUT, it is a fan favorite and I do love a rollercoaster so I figure I should give it another try. Why? Because: What the hell? Maybe it will turn out to be one of my favorites since it can bring me closer to one of my favorite people in the world who I miss dearly and who hopped right on and rode. ;)

Thank you for joining me today. Your next stop on the Magical Blogorail Loop is Disney in Our Blood.
Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail should you happen to have to make a stop along the way and want to reboard:
1st Stop ~ Picturing Disney

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Big White Yeti Animal Kingdom Inspired Giveaway & Review!

As most of you know I have been working my tail off trying to get a Disney World Guide up and ready for you here on Picturing Disney.  If you toggle to the guide tab above you can read up on Planning your trip, Resort Hotels, and find index pages for each park! The Magic Kingdom page went live 2 weeks ago with links to help you explore and plan your visit to each land.  I am pleased to announce that the Animal Kingdom section is also now complete! And to kick off I have an awesome giveaway and coupon code from an adorable etsy shop!

Big White Yeti is an etsy shop dedicated to hand poured soy candles (as you can guess I love everything about this since I love making candles myself)! They have scented candles and citronella and their name and adorable mascot remind me of everyone's favorite yeti adventure: Expedition Everest!

When I was talking to owner Katie about EE she has this to say:
"The last time I was at Disney was the summer of 2007 when Expedition Everest was still pretty new. I remember waiting in a HUGE line for that ride and I distinctly remember the terrifying yeti at the top of the ride! This was years before we started our candle company, but I can say with pretty good certainly, that ride probably had some bearing on the naming of Big White Yeti."
From their signature fragrance Yeti Breath to the summer scent I got Sugar Magnolia.  There is something for every Yeti-lover to help enhance their home and relax them. You can find Big White Yeti online via their website, etsy shop, and Facebook page. 

And whatsmore, I have TWO awesome Yeti treats for you from Big White Yet!!!
First- ALL Picturing Disney followers can use coupon code PICTURINGDISNEY and get 10% off all orders through August 31st! 
Second- You can win your own candle tin of Big White Yeti's Sugar Magnolia and an Animal Kingdom Conservation Hero pin by entering using the rafflecopter form below!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Enjoy & Beware of Yetis!

Saturday, August 3, 2013


In my opinion Asia is both one of the most unique and beautiful areas of theming in this park (and often overlooked in the rush) and the area with the best attractions (which often makes it the busiest).


  • Both Expedition Everest which is the only single rider line attraction in this park (and a fan and personal favorite) as well as Kali River Rapids which is a water raft ride are in this area as well as the animal trail Maharajah Jungle Trek. 
  • The Flights of Wonder bird show can also be found here (check times guide for daily times)
  • Dine at Yak and Yeti which both has a quick service window and sit down location

Friday, August 2, 2013

Rafiki's Planet Watch

Although there are rumors that this area will be lost or shrunk down a bit if the Avatarland plan ever comes to fruition, this is a fun and educational area of the park that I think can often get forgotten!


  • You get to take the Wildlife Express Train out to reach Rafiki's Planet Watch
  • Petting area in the Afection Section and Habitat Habitat 
  • Learn about conservation at the Conservation Station
  • Meet and Greets with Rafiki (check daily times guide)

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Camp Minnie-Mickey

Camp Minnie-Mickey is a great stop if you are looking for some character meet and greets because there are some awesome character trails featuring fan favorites here (check the daily times guide for more info)! It has a lot more to offer than just photo ops tho!


  • Character Trails
  • Live Entertainment from Gi-Tar Dan
  • Festival of the Lion King-- my FAVORITE stage show! This is amazing and worth going to see each trip!