Monday, September 30, 2013

Best Halloween Memory at Disney

Welcome to those of you joining me from The Disney Kids and those of you just hopping aboard. I am the 3rd stop on our Magical Blogorail. Today we are sharing our favorite Halloween memories!

A few years ago my husband and two of our best friends headed down to the world to celebrate Halloween Disney style, enjoy some Food & Wine Festival and just escape for a little while to the Boardwalk! We started our trip by heading into Epcot for some beer and lunch. Then we headed back to our room at Boardwalk Inn to get ready for all of our first visits to the wonderful Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween party. I can not recommend this extra-ticketed part event more! I love Disney all times of year but Halloween holds a special place in my heart because of the love cinnamon pumpkin smells wafting through Magic Kingdom and the awesome decorations.

While we did not partake in Disney style trick or treating, we did make sure we hit all the best photo ops, took spins on our fave rides, and obviously enjoyed some burgers and fixins at Pecos Bills! Then we headed on over to watch the fireworks and see the parade (we opted for the second showing of the parade so we could nab seats up at the Main Street Train Station). I think Hallowishes was the most magical part of our evening. Even though we are technically adults all four of us (and by the four of us I mean Hermione Granger, Cinderella after her dress was torn apart, and two New York Giants fans) stood near the castle hub starring up in awe as the end of October sky was lit up with magical dancing 
sparks as the ghostly and fantastical music filled the Florida air.


Thank you for joining me today. Your next stop on the Magical Blogorail Loop is Disney in Our Blood.

1st Stop ~ Can Do It Mom AKA Mouse Fan Diane
2nd Stop ~ The Disney Kids
3rd Stop ~ Picturing Disney
4th Stop ~ Disney in Our Blood

Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Decision to Make the Jump

Gus (my husband) and I live in Miami, Florida; a tropical paradise in its own right. We also live 4 hours away from Walt Disney World. You would think that would be enough for us, but, alas, no. Like Carl and Ellie from the Pixar film UP, everyone plans a once in a lifetime adventure. Ours was to go to California. My main focus was to get to Disneyland.

We decided in December of 2012 that we would begin planning the trip. What really drove us to finally make this adventure a reality was in a sense something similar to what drove Ellie and Carl to reach Paradise Falls. Life throws you curve balls and although you do not have all the answers as to why something unexpected happens and leaves devastation in its wake, you only have one option. You have to try to turn lemons into lemonade or, in this case, make the impossible possible.

The first step was to weigh out our options. After talking to a Disney travel agent, I realized something quickly. In order to get us to California and back without breaking the bank, I was going to have to research everything. Air flights, hotel stays, park tickets: you name it. One thing I wish I had was someone to guide my way. If you are in the same boat, have no fear. I’m going to help you make the same jump we made step by step. Be warned: many bumps and great moments are on the way. Keep up with me as I tell you the marvelous tale about how Gus and Monique finally got to Disneyland.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

"A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes"

From the time I was a young child I occasionally had this wonderful dream that I was in an open airplane with my father. My older brother, sister, and mother were sitting just behind us, in another colorful plane. The plane was unusual, because there were no controls. It was painted bright colors and was partially open. Swoosh! We dipped a little and took off. We flew over an enchanted city of twinkling lights. My stomach always tightened a little in the beginning of the dream. My mind raced with excitement, after all, it’s not every day a little girl flies through the air into a magical world of lights. Then my father whispered, “It’s ok baby girl, just look at the lights. Isn’t this fantastic? Don’t worry, I’m right here.” In the dream I pushed right up against his side and held his hand tightly – my eyes wide trying to catch every twinkle and my mouth gaping open in awe.

This enchanted dream followed me through out my early life. It would resurface during stressful times like on the first day of a new school. When I needed courage and happiness I could count on that dream. I would wake up exhilarated and unafraid, ready to tackle what came next. I chalked it up to my mind’s way of giving me comfort and happy thoughts.

In the early 90s I took a trip to Disney World with my best friend. We were in our early twenties. I had not been there since I was 5 years old. We checked into our hotel and the next day hit the parks.

First stop - Magic Kingdom. We were determined to hit every ride. The Haunted Mansion, Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Peter Pan’s Flight… and that’s when it happened. We boarded Peter Pan’s flight and as soon as the flying pirate ship took off I was back there as a five-year-old. It was not a dream! It was this ride! It was an amazing adventure to my five-year-old self and I sat stunned as memories rushed. The twinkling lights, the glowing characters, even the feeling of adventure! I felt so much bigger, as if I were in the same dream, only this time I was a giant over a tiny country.

Stepping off of the ride was like stepping out of my own dream. I was stunned and speechless. It really was magic. It really was a dream come true. I remembered that trip from my childhood years – I remembered Dumbo, and Cinderella’s Castle and the Haunted Mansion. Only Peter Pan’s Flight seemed like a dream. I can only imagine that all those years ago, in the early 1970s, as that little wide-eyed girl held her daddy’s hand and her mouth gaped open in wondrous amazement, some pixie dust made it’s way in.  When I stepped off that ride, I left Never Land, and it became a dream.

It had not dawned on me that as young as I was, this ride made such an impression, but seemed so highly unlikely to be real, it became a wonderful dream. Leave it to Disney – that’s the psychology of happiness I suppose, when it’s that spectacular, even if you are too young to organize your memory, you hold on tight to the happiness.

You know that place between sleep and awake? That place where you still remember dreaming? That's where I'll always love you... Peter Pan. That's where I'll be waiting.”

Contributed by Judy Dulberg

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Disney Cruise Line: The Disney Magic Reimagined

When the reimagined Disney Magic® launches this fall, you will enjoy some splashtacular new features on the upper decks of the ship, including a thrilling new waterslide and interactive play areas for the whole family. Get a sneak peek in this video

Now is a great time to book a cruise aboard any of the amazing Disney ships. 
Contact Amanda at It's All About the Mouse Travel for all of your Disney travel needs. 
Phone: 908-917-8180

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Want to be a writer/contributor to Picturing Disney?!?

Hi all!

I am looking for some unique perspectives to add to the Picturing Disney family.  Since I have been a 1-woman-show up until now I would like to add some fun new voices to the site.  I would like to expand the "Disney Parks Style" and the "Disney World Guide" sections of the site as well as add any unique article perspectives.  Ideally I would like to find 2-3 writers to start and would expect 1-2 articles per week!

Please note that I do not wish to become affiliated with a travel agency as I like to base my recommendations on experience rather than push sales on readers.

Please email me with some background information if you are interested: PicturingDisney(at)!

Good Luck and Much Disney Love,
Melissa :)

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Picturing Disney iPhone-ography Guide!

Now that I have become more acclimated with using my cell phone for taking pictures in the Disney Parks and regularly post on Instagram I feel like I have been asked more and more "what app did you use for that?" or "how did you get that effect?" so I decided to put together a little app guide for what I use on my iPhone 5 for taking taking and editing pictures.  I have left out the obvious iPhone app: iPhoto because I would like this to be a brand ambiguous as possible (nearly every app I list can be purchased on other phones) and Instagram because it is so user friendly!

1.  PicLab 

This is a great multi-purpose app because you can create unique quotation images, work with images you have, and you can spend hours working on fun and creative incarnations of your work. In particular I get a lot of comments about adding multi-font multi-color quotes and Disney-isms. 
Like this:
And the app works like this:

Crop your image to a square.  Then your screen will look like screen shot 1.  Next you enter your text, with up to 4 individual lines which can each have different fonts and colors.  For example, if you look at the middle screen shot you will see I have 2 lines (notice numbers to the top left- the "+" lets you add a new line).  Once you are done you click the blue box with the white check mark.  This brings you to the final menu.  As you can see in the 3rd image, you complete your project by clicking the orange check in the white circle which leads you to the save/share menu. :)

2. Rhonna Designs
While many other apps (like PicLab) can be used for adding texts I specifically like the pre-programmed uplifting and fun sayings on this app and the ability to "mask".
Here is an example of that feature (and the picture that spurred me to write this article): 

Once you open the app it is rather simple.
Choose the image you want and crop it to a square (see 1st image). Then choose the star symbol to add pre-made text (or the "T" to add your own text). Click "done" on top when you have positioned your text as you would like (2nd image).  Then choose the menu on the right and click "Mask" (3rd image).  Turn mask to on and change the opacity to your liking (4th image).  When you are done click done and save! 

3.  PicStitch & InstaCollage
I use these two collage apps when I am creating photo collages.  They have different strengths: Pic Stitch has the best square collages and InstaCollage the best unique collage shapes.  They both save high quality photos and have great free versions.

4.  PicFX
Although, it may be hard to see the filter differences between this app and Instagram itself, it features bokeh light filters. Here are some examples.  Its easy peasy to use this: crop your image to a square and scroll through the filters until you are happy.  You can even choose multiple layers of color, light, frame filters. 

5. Olloclip
Now this isn't an app, but instead a clip-on lens for iPhones.  Other brands exist as I am sure clip-on lenses for other phones, but this is the one I have so therefore I feel like its the only one I can justifiably discuss.  I have the Olloclip for iPhone 5 and it runs around $70.  Once you snap it on your phone, depending on which direction it is facing over the lens you either add a wide-angle or fish-eye lens.  The wide angle lens is only so-so in my opinion (and I have a wide-angle for my DSLR) so I rarely use it.  I do frequently use the fish-eye and think it's amazing! The iPhone 5 takes such good pictures that its totally justifiable for me to shell out $70 for a lens for it rather than 5x that for a fish-eye for my Sony Nex.  Here are a couple pics that you, my lovely readers, have given me great feedback on using the lens.  I like how I can tweak the amount of bending and the fact that the lens comes with a carry case so I can keep it in my bag at all times. 

Use multiple apps! I frequently use a filter from PicFX, then collage my pictures with InstaCollage or PicStitch, then add text with Rhonna or PicLab.  

Take your time! I see a lot of Instagram pics that people rush through.  Post your pics filterless if you are out and about and excited and go back to them later to app-ify them.

Use all the features on Instagram! The only app I didn't mention here is the most widely used one which has become the standard for social media sharing but people simply take their app-ified pictures add a filter and are done with it.  Use the focus area option (teardrop) to make a circular or horizontal area of your picture in focus and the rest defocus, or the brightness/clarity (sun) to really add highlights to your image.

What is your favorite photo-editing app? Did it make my cut?

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Last Chance to enter the Disneyland giveaway!!!!

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

This giveaway is brought to you by:

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.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Don't Miss Out on the Unbirthday Wonderland Giveaway!

Have you submitted your Unbirthday picture for a chance to win this great Alice inspired apron?
Only a short time remains to send me your best unbirthday celebration pic through Instagram or Email! 
Contest ends midnight on September 15, 2013!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

I love Mr. Toad

Mr. Toad's Wild Ride is one of my favorite Disneyland rides and I am so glad it still exists since I missed its days in Disney World and I am an east coast girl! I love how it feels nostalgic even though I've only ridden it half a dozen times! I hope everyone perusing this gets a chance to ride someday! Check out this link for your chance to WIN a trip to Disneyland (or a huge score of Disney gift cards)!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Let the Memories Begin at Sunset :)

On my first trip to Disneyland I couldn't get over how close DCA and Disneyland are and I loved the little photo ops like this sign! Be sure to enter to win a Disneyland stay!!!

To enter simply use the rafflecopter box below! & for more details visit this post!

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.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Mad Hatter Tea Party Shower!

In the first post in this series I put the above picture collage from the most awesome Disney-themed party I've ever had.  However, I had no hand in throwing it since it was my Bridal Shower! Instead of bugging my sister, mother, and the other shower-planning helpers about where they found all the elements that they created for my special day I thought a picture tour would be the most fun! :)

First, the big goofy classic Bridal Party chair was placed at the head of the table for me (here I am with my sister and niece, June 2009). 

As you can see in the original collage pic, the drinks (iced teas of course) that were served while everyone waited for me with their noshies had "Drink Me" signs on them.  And the cupcakes read "Eat Me".  My mom created a topsy turvy cupcake stand with paper mache, paint, and her creative magic.  She put fondant flowers atop each cupcake as they would around the stand and on the table. 

Sometimes food really can be a work of art! The party was held outside in my grandparents' backyard for a garden party feel.  There was a big white tend set up and everything was in bloom thanks to the time of year.

Some of the most notable parts of the decorations were the hanging paper lanterns and pop up bells.  There was also a large Mad Hatter hat (which you can see the top 80% of in the above pic), and lots of colored buckets as vases for bright colored gerber daisies and big handmade paper flowers!

The tables were set up in a small "T" with the guests sitting down the long end and my chair at the head of the top. My bridal party sat with me at the ends. The colors popped so much agains the green grass and table cloths! And the mismatched heights and multi colored decorations added to the whimsy. 

The tablewear featured some mad mis-matched plated and bright colors favor cups! The cups includes crazy straws, tea candies, and some tea-- even a personalized tea bag featuring Alice & the Hatter with a cute saying. :)

Besides both hot and cold tea they served cocktails (we're all mad here) all in awesome cups and mugs.  And there were teapots spotted around on the table and even the watermelon was cut into one for the fruit salad. Here (above) is my Grandma taking a sip for no other reason than that I love and miss her. 

And from this glimpse of the table you can catch some of the finger foods that were served.  Lots of really adorable apps and finger sandwiches (you can check out a closer pic of the sandwiches in the collage pic).  We had real tea party with a nice Disney twist.  The tea party food and drink, the outside setting, and the great decorations made this Mad Tea Party one of the most amazing and love-filled parties anyone has every thrown for me. :)

How do you celebrate your unbirthday with a Disney twist? Don't forget about the unbirthday contest running through September 15, 2013.