Wednesday, November 27, 2013


Welcome to Mission:SPACE - you are about to experience take-off, journey and a visit to Mars!

Buckle up! There is no reason not to have an outer space experience. Leave it to Disney to realize that not all of us can handle G-Force acceleration and the tilting and twisting of a rocket ship… For those of you who need something milder, welcome to Team Green, a scaled down version which still simulates a space experience, without the extreme realism of the harsh forces of being propelled into outer space. Still this experience is exhilarating and memorable, but if you’re prone to motion sickness, or timid about the real deal of a space ship launch this option is for you.

For those of you who want that no-holds-barred experience of a space launch and the real world propulsion that goes with it– Welcome to Team Orange. Mission: SPACE in EPCOT offers Space Cadets (I got the irony) a chance to feel the centrifugal, G-force, real-life feel of a trip to space.

Either way – you don’t have to promise away the rest of your life to experience a launch, trip, and return to earth from Mars! You can enjoy the red planet and still get home without signing on forever!

Pre-trip you will go through Planetary Plaza. There are several quotes from space legends, which will whet your appetite for what’s ahead. Next, onward to the simulation room, and command station… then…. TO THE RIDE!

For those who are still unsure, there is an easy exit into a Mission:SPACE play area. Gotta love Disney for recognizing those who might a little skiddish about the unknown and giving them another option! The best part of a Disney vacation and also the chance to go, or not go to Mars – No regrets!

Team Green or Team Orange or just a supportive space fan looking to play some space games – head over to Mission:SPACE. You won’t be disappointed.

Contributed by Judy Dulberg

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Epcot World Tour: Italy Pavilion!

Beautiful sounds and sights come up as you approach the Italian Pavilion in EPCOT. Most known for the tall, decadent buildings and replicas of famous statues, this pavilion also has a great selection of what Italy is known for: Pizza, Pasta, Wine, and Gelato!

  • Streetmosphere from Sergio and The Ziti Sisters
  • Via Napoli Ristorante e Pizzeria (Sit Down Dining Service)
  • Tutto Gusto Wine Cellar (Quick Service & Sit Down Dining Service)
  • Tutto Italia Ristorante (Sit Down Dining Service)
  • Gelati (Counter Service)
  • Streetmosphere from Sergio and The Ziti Sisters
  • Marketplace shopping at La Bottega Italiana 
  • Exquisite Italian specialty shopping at Il Bel Cristallo
  • Shopping for Fine Jewelry and the like at La Gemma Elegante
Streetmosphere with The Ziti Sisters
With its rustic and authentic feeling, it would be shame to miss! Ciao!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Walt Disney wasn't racist, he was just more awesome than you.

Recently, someone made a joke to me and I did a quick courtesy laugh and moved on.  The joke was about how I shouldn't keep too much of a Walt Disney mindset because, after all, he was a nazi-sympathizing, jew-hating, communist.  This got me thinking... why has this become the norm? Why is it that so many people of my generation and younger mention this hate-filled persona than anything else?  Why do I hear so many people (outside of Disney fanatics like ourselves) acting like Walt was an out-for-the-money capitalist who should be associated with these horrible groups?

I did some internet research (albeit it started with a google search it ended on CNN and some really great news blogs) and realized that there were some facts about Walt I didn't know (and some I forgot I knew) that I could actually use as retort the next time someone throws a Family Guy reference out as fact.

The best article I found was over on a site called Cartoon Brew and I learned tons! Walt Disney actually was anti-communist at a time when it would have been easy in Hollywood for him to be pro-communist.  According to "he was called before the House Unamerican Activities Committee as a friendly witness, naming names of suspected communists in Hollywood." And this is corroborated across many articles and blogs, I can't find the link now but if you spend some time searching you can find the transcript on CNN.  Additionally, the cartoon where Donald is found in Nazi garb, The Fuhrer's Face was actually a pro-American anti-Nazi propaganda film (I used to show this in my classes when I taught a 'World History from 1800' course).  I think the only rumors to be spun after looking at the facts are that like many Americans and American filmmakers of his time there does seem to be an occasional racist undertone, not in humiliating Jews, blacks, Asians, or Native Americans, but in the portrayal as a little exaggerated.  In truth, these can't be attributed to Walt being racist in any more than him seeing them and approving them as he did not draw each cell and create each character.  (If you have ever seen the propaganda films you can see this.)

So whats the deal? Why are people so quick to make the anti-Jew, pro-Nazi jokes that are clearly not true of the man that shut down his work on current features to create propaganda films? Why are people willing to paint a picture of a racist, communist supporter if he was a mere product of the American sentiment at the time? Why? Why? Why?

I can only come to one conclusion.  By knocking others down it temporarily raises people up.  If Walt was the man who created the Disney company and all its many branches, including the #1 vacation destination in the world... and all you have done today is make a giant poop and sneak into work on time then maybe by belittling him you start to feel a little better. You may say: "Walt may have  built a whole new kingdom right in California but he was a communist Jew-hater." but what you are really saying is: "Walt made his dreams come true and empowered others through his actions and I forgot what my dream was and am too lazy to reach for it anyway".  

I know this may be lost on my audience since so many of you appreciate the imagination and genius of the man who transports us from a pirate's lair, to a flying ship above London, to a space shuttle launching into the stars, to tavern out of a fairytale, and then a runaway train on the American frontier all in one afternoon... but I think we have all been there.  Frozen and smiling and nodding, by the new popular opinion of the man who brought his dreams to life and with it a fun adventure every trip that can only be described as magic.  Next time you are privy to a comment quoting an episode of Family Guy instead of anything that really happened remember that the best way to combat that is to remember that wherever that idea got started (maybe the person is just trying to bring you down for your Disney love? or maybe they are just regurgitating a joke they heard recently?) it began far far away from anything Walt's actions and words gave the world.

And if someone is trying to bring you down? They don't deserve your reaction.  They don't deserve the moments time it would take you to teach them about the real man that Walt was because they don't value that.  They may be like some of my friends and colleagues, products of the awesome and fabulous 1980s but in all the wrong ways (I like to think I am a product of it in all the right ways ;) where they act entitled and spiteful if they see someone who is living their dream because they can't stop thinking about themselves long enough to be proud or happy for others. And in their intimidation they bring you down.... but only if you let them.  So next time smile, nod, remember this article and walk away.  Then imagine what they would look like if they got a Rapunzel frying pan to the face. (Just kidding!!!)

Keep dreaming big and making your dreams come true!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Why We Keep Going to Disney

An Open Letter to Anyone Who Has Ever Asked Me "Why Do You Keep Going Back to Disney?":
Let me preface this by saying I am not ranting.  This is not some kind of initiated response because someone was snide, rude, or ridiculous.  I just got to thinking- what if I could explain it perfectly every time? What if I had some perfect answer that could possibly make the non-Disney people in my life “get it”?  Then it dawned on me, there are people who go to Disney World and don’t get it so no matter what I say it may fall on some deaf ears.
I know countless people who purchase timeshares in the Caribbean, they return the same island each year and stay at the same hotel.  They eat at the same restaurants and do the same excursions.  Obviously I can understand these people, when you find a magical spot for your family where you have your best times and bond every year- you should go back whenever you can! But for some reason, this doesn’t warrant the same response as my multiple trips to Disney World.  Nobody says to these people “Why do you keep going back to the Bahamas?” they say instead “How was the Caribbean this summer?”  It is that compartmentalizing of vacation destinations that makes people ask in the first place.
So, why the heck do I keep going back to Disney World?
If nothing else, to answer that question, I need everyone out there to spend some time imagining with me.  Imagine you are in a different world.  No road noises, horns beeping, sirens wailing, or faces making angry eyebrows.  You are in a place where even rainy days are happy days, everyone smiles at strangers, and you feel at home the moment you set foot in your hotel room. You are in Disney World.
Imagine waking up, having breakfast with royalty inside a castle, then riding a space shuttle into outer space, and taking a boat ride through pirate territory.  Imagine heading on a hike through a real life African jungle, hanging over a ledge to view hippos and crocodiles, and then having lunch on the savannah and watching antelopes roam around.  Imagine sitting lagoon-side and sipping a margarita with the one you love, then heading off for a hang-gliding adventure through California.  Next imagine strolling around the world for an authentic dinner under the Eiffel Tower in Paris.  How could this day be real? or better? Lets imagine the most fantastic fireworks you have ever seen- the kind of fireworks that make your city’s 4th of July celebration look like child’s play.  The day doesn’t end there, imagine all the excitement made you decide to stay up a little later so you decide to grab a few drinks.  You head over to a time warp- a 1920s Atlantic Boardwalk where you can see street performers, walk hand in hand, and bask in the classic beauty of the lit up Boardwalk lights reflecting off the water.
And thats just day one, its just the beginning.  Imagine you enter a hotel so well themed and staffed that literally everything is perfect.  Even refurbishments being blocked off look pleasing to the eye.  Your room is classy and captures the essence of your hotel so much that you take pictures all around because you are in awe.  After all, your room feels like a tropical oasis or an old time fancy hotel or whatever beautiful place you have chosen.  Your hotel is a vacation spot unto itself.  The pool makes you feel like you have left central Florida and entered the South Pacific, or a Montana hot spring, or a beautiful sandy beach, or a Victorian era resort.
While classified as “Theme Parks” this is almost a stigma that needs to be let go of when traveling to Disney World.  Here you will find boating, touring, golfing, sailing, and world class restaurants.  You can take walks along the beach, watch the sunset behind a castle, and ride in a hot air balloon high above the world.  Now, anyone who has been to Disney World can vouch for everything I’ve said.  Its all true and its all there.  I am not exaggerating and not even scratching the surface.  This is the most stress-free and relaxing vacation spot Ive ever visited and one of the easiest places to create your own customized all-inclusive packages.  It’s all there. That’s the the long answer.
Its that magic.  And once you feel it, it never goes away.  Every time I smell a scent that wafts through the air on Main Street I am home.  Every time I hear the sounds of the park music I am home.  And when I set foot in that magical world my heart tightens in my chest for just a quick second because its so happy, I’m so happy, I just might burst!
“Why do I keep going back to Disney?” you ask.
I guess the best answer I can give is, “Why not?”

Love, Luck, & Dreams Come True,
Melissa :)

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Dealing with Transportation: Part 1

For most of the trips my husband and I have taken, we have used our own car as a source of transportation. For the trip out to California, it was hard to picture relying on a public bus or a taxi driver to get us where we needed to go. 

As I’ve mentioned in the previous posting, the Walt Disney World Resort and the Disneyland Resort differ in many ways. Currently, when you are at the East Coast park, Disney has created it’s own private transportation system. Monorails, Boats, Buses, and Shuttles take you where you need to go if you have no available source of transportation. This is not the case on the West Coast. Anaheim has a public transportation system called the Anaheim Resort Transit aka the ART. The ART does not run in the same manner as does the free Walt Disney World Resort buses. Also, you have to pay a fee each day you ride and it is not a guarantee that you will arrive to your destination in a timely manner.

How would we get to the parks? Most importantly, how would we get to and from the airport? The Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) alone is 45 minutes to an hour away from Anaheim. If we paid to have a car and drive it to the hotel, we would have to pay a $10 fee each night it was parked at the hotel parking lot. That means we would pay about $90 just for having the car with us. This was not including what we would have to spend on gas, mileage, and fees from the car rental company. 

We quickly realized the only time we would need transportation aside from when the trip to and from the airport was for our day in Universal Hollywood and the one day we had set aside for site seeing. Bus companies like Greyhound and Alamo can help you with both of these issues. However today, I’m going to talk about one in particular. 

It turns out not only did D23 have affiliate hotels, but they also had an affiliate bus service. This bus service is called Super Shuttle and we got a 10% off due to the discount with my D23 membership. We sat in a van with 12 other people but that was better than paying a hefty price tag for a car we would use only a handful of times while on our trip. 

Next time, I will talk about rental cars and getting the best bang for your buck. What transportation do you use while on vacation? 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Good Neighbor Hotels at Disneyland Resort

One of the things most people leave for last while planning their vacation is where they will stay for the duration of their trip. Their home away from home, so to speak. Hotels are a dime a dozen these days, but ultimately, if you wait too long to make a reservation you could end up paying for it (and I don’t always mean monetarily). If you can afford to stay in the resorts, it can be a real blessing. For those of us that are familiar with Disney Resort Prices, you may find the resort prices a little out of budget. If that is the case, this one if for you!

It can be a dream, like mine was, to stay at a Disneyland Resort. Through doing a little more research, I found out quickly that it would not be as easy to get an affordable resort stay like we had done in the past at the Walt Disney World Resort. As of today, there are 25 hotels you can call home when visiting the Walt Disney World Resort. At the Disneyland Resort, however, there are only 3. As some know, there are also different levels to the Florida Resort that varies the playing field when you are making your choices. Your basic choices are: value, moderate, and deluxe. This is not the case out in California. On the West Coast, there are really only two levels and they are considered to be a little more on the expensive side. This is where Good Neighbor Hotels comes into play. It turns out that another fun fact about the Disneyland Resort is that compared in scale to its sibling resort across the country, it is a bit smaller and most hotels are just around the corner.

I began researching what area would be best to stay in. We wanted to be in good walking distance from the parks as well as the Anaheim Convention Center. D23 partnered up with two Good Neighbor Hotels and were giving a discount on the total of your stay. However, I read some reviews that made me feel uneasy about the lodgings and they also didn’t offer some of the amenities I wanted. I looked around at some of the other hotels and noticed that there were four Best Westerns that were part of the Good Neighbor Hotel list. I decided to call each of the locations and ask if they would offer me a discount based on what the D23 Affiliate Hotels were offering. Three out of the four hotels offered to give me a discount from 10% to 20% off the total stay. To top it off, they not only offer a rewards program for their customers, but in June, they ran a 30% off rates deal for the summer. When I checked out the new total online, it was 15% lower than what I had already haggled. I called them again and they graciously lowered the price. The hotel we ended up calling home was the Best Western Stovall’s Inn. They offered Complimentary Breakfast, Free Wifi, and Free Luggage Storage if our room was not ready at the time of arrival. The room was beautiful, clean, and cozy. We also had a great view of the fireworks each night and for an extra bit of Disney Magic, we randomly were assigned room 626 --> Experiment 626 --> STITCH!!

There are some other things I would love to share about our stay at this particular hotel, but this is where I’ll stop for now. What about you out there? Any great stories about a great saving or upgrade you received on vacation? What amenities are essential for your vacation? Tell me about it!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Disney Dozen Holiday Gift List: Magical Gifts for All Ages!

Debuting this holiday season is Disney Consumer Products completely delightful Disney Dozen Holiday Gift List featuring (wait for it) a dozen fabulous products sure to make every child smile this holiday season young and old alike!
"It's the holiday season and Disney Consumer Products has magical gifts for all ages and budgets in its #DisneyDozen gift list inspired by favorite Disney, Marvel and Star Wars characters and stories. This award-winning assortment includes 12 entertaining and innovative holiday gifts – plus some additional "must-have" items – that tap into The Walt Disney Company's rich history of storytelling, while offering enduring play value and transforming playtime into a truly magical experience that Disney is known for."  You can check out the full press release here:

I got luck enough to try out a few of these awesome products!

The first toy is an adorable Palace Pet! The one I received was Berry, Snow White's bunny! You can find her on Amazon for just $12.99 and she is absolutely adorable! If you didn't catch a few of her phrases in my Instagram video head over here and check it out, but be prepared for absolute adorable overload!

Palace Pets come with an accessory (Berry has a brush) and little storybook as well as a being dressed up to really just compliment their princess counterpart.  And Berry isn't alone! You can also pick up the following Talking/Singing Palace Pets:  Cinderella's Puppy Pumpkin and Ariel's Kitty Treasure

The second Disney Dozen toy I got to review was one of the new Jake and the Neverland Pirates Lego sets! These are totally adorable! I almost forgot how cute toddler legos are! There are a few different sets of these new Jake legos including: Pirate Ship Bucky, Neverland Hideout, and Treasure Hunt (this is the one I received).  These range in price from $14-$35 on Amazon based on the size of the set. The Treasure Hunt set is super cute because it comes with a Lego piece of gold that snaps in when you are hiding.  It seems like it could be a really fun game of "build and go seek" where you build a little scene hiding the piece for someone else! there are images of three different ways Lego/Duplo suggests you can building your little treasure fort and of course I took the time to try them all out: 

The third toy I got in my review pack was the awesome Angry Birds Star Wars Telepods! In the new toy to game tradition like Skylanders and Disney Infinity you can teleport these little guys right into your tablet or smartphone game of Angry Birds Star Wars II! (App currently priced in Apple AppStore for $0.99.)  These are, first of all, adorable on their own and then having a playing component makes them even more fun! My set came with Angry Bird (and Pig) versions of both old and new Star Wars figures with info on how to teleport these guys into your game and information about the other available telepods sets on the back! :)

The fourth and final toy I got to review is equally well detailed and fun to play with as the others. The Sofia the First Talking Doll with Animals an be purchased for under $30. The box comes with a 10 inch Sofia doll dressed in her purple dress with crown on and her famous amulet around her neck.  It also comes with three of her besties: Clover the Rabbit, Robin the Robin, and Mia the Bluebird.  When you press Sofia's amulet she speaks and her amulet lights up.  When you bring one of her pals close to her amulet she recognizes them and you can hear their unique replies to her! The box even features Sofia's story on the back "After helping a baby bird, Sofia gets the power to talk to Animals! Now she can chat with her furry favorites: Clover, Mia, and Robin!"  What I love about this little explanation is that you can introduce Sofia to your children with this great toy! I love light up toys for kids and I love the quality of Disney's products this holiday season! 
I was so lucky to get to try out 1/3 of the toys that are part of this holiday season's Disney Dozen! What else made the cut? The #DisneyDozen gift list includes:

  • Disney Princess Palace Pets (Blip) and Palace Pets app (Disney Publishing Worldwide) 
  • LEGO® DUPLO®-brand Jake and the Never Land Pirates™ construction sets (LEGO)
  • Angry Birds Star Wars TELEPODS (Hasbro) 
  • Sofia the First Magical Talking Doll with Animal Friends (Mattel)
  • Cheerin' Minnie (Fisher-Price) 
  • Disney Infinity (Disney Interactive) 
  • Disney's It's A Small World Animator's Collection (Disney Store) 
  • Disney's Planes Wing Control Dusty Crophopper RC Plane (Mattel)
  • Disney Princess Ultimate Dream Castle (Mattel) and Magic Mirror App (Disney Publishing Worldwide) 
  • Doc McStuffins Get Better Check Up Center (Just Play) 
  • Marvel Iron Man Flying RC Extreme Hero (EB Brands) 
  • Under the Sea Surprise Ariel (JAKKS Pacific) 

  • Want to see more great gift ideas? The official Press Release has more awesome options based on age group! 

    The Build Up To A Disney Vacation!

    There is nothing quite like those few weeks before a Disney vacation.  Every trip you experience something new and exciting. I have been to Disney World more times than I can count and what makes it so wonderful is the sense of the expected and unexpected. You know you will have fun. You know you will see something you have never seen before, ever anywhere else.

    Right now I am in the home stretch of the final stages of Disney euphoric “I can’t wait to get there” fever. Some new things on the list include Be Our Guest for dinner, and magic bands for the very first time. This is also the first year I am going to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. There are so many exciting things to think about!

    So I am wondering, is there anything new I should not miss? The last time I was at Disney World was September 2012 – Tell me your best, new, not-to-miss attractions! 

    There will also be a five year-old on this trip… so if there are any must-do, new things for a kid, let me know that too!

    Have I mentioned that I can't wait?!

    Contributed by Judy Dulberg

    Tuesday, November 12, 2013

    Disney Mail Disappointment: A Story With a Happy Ending!

    I know what you are thinking "Disney mail disappointment? Say whaaaa??" but this is the exact thing that happened to me this week! When we were down in Disney for Spring Break I wanted to sneakily buy my hubby a Graduation Mickey because he is finishing his undergrad this spring.  Only the graduation merchandise was so few and far between that I couldn't find any so I had planned to call Walt Disney World mail order.  I was telling my friend and she mentioned this site/facebook page where you could order merchandise.  I headed over and saw the site was doing a "Live Outlet Run" where they post pictures from the Florida Disney outlet with prices and you can text your order and then PayPal the cost right there while they are shopping! When I saw a scrapbook stack and bag (both of which I had held in my hand for double the price in Disney World in March) I was SOLD! I sent my text and my money and was feeling great! After the Outlet Run was over I messaged the seller about the Graduation Mickey and she got my order together.  I was then told that I, the buyer, was responsible for paying her PayPal fees (for those who do not know when you sell goods to someone there is a fee from PayPal but if you send money to someone as "gift" there is no fee).  I was not okay with this as I don't expect my buyers on Ebay or Etsy to ever pay for my fees.  After discussing this with the site owner she waived the fees and I was feeling good again.

    On April 13th I went and sent my final bit of payment for shipping.  A few weeks went by with no shipping confirmation so I sent an email on May 4th.  It was returned immediately saying she was behind and my package finally shipped on Tuesday May 7th, and arrived at my door on Friday May 10th.  In the meantime many people had been posting on her page requesting shipping info for their outlet purchases.  It was shipped priority but arrived in horrendous condition.  It was clear to me that this was packaged in a cheap box so I went and calculated the sellers shipping cost to find she charged me $4 for a box.  I knew supplies were part of this deal and therefore I paid so I simply asked her for proof that she purchased this box (flimsy box or not I would have felt slightly more satisfied knowing that she had purchased it brand new for the amount I had sent her).  She not only refused but fully blamed the post office and when I pressed it BLOCKED me on Facebook! After this I pulled out my own shipping supplies and found that all of my items would have fit in a flat rate box which USPS provides for free and charges nearly half the shipping cost (roughly saving me $8)!

    So, here I am with a damaged scrapbook stack and having spent more time, money, and stress than if I had shipped directly through Disney.  My cost through this site was Cost of Item + 30% surcharge for her services + PayPal fees (even though these were waived for me they most certainly are not for others) + shipping cost and supplies (and she did not even ship as cheaply as possibly)! If I had purchased directly from Disney called WDW mail order and the outlet directly I would have spent $9.95 shipping from each location plus cost of items and saved myself nearly 2 weeks of waiting, $19, and a whole lot of stress!

    I spent quite a bit of this morning distracted by this scenario I could not help but put myself in her shoes.  What if this were someone who had ordered from my Etsy shop? Or when I sell on Ebay? It is always disappointing to lose money when you are selling something and even more disappointing when you feel like you have already accommodated that buyer but I know what I would have done and that was in the least return the cost of shipping supplies or send a receipt showing what I paid.  I expect to gain customers who like what I make and more importantly like the way I treat them so I am always willing to work with people.   I would rather lose some of my profit than lose a costumer.

    In the end I really needed some Disney sunshine this week and didn't get it, and have learned my lesson.  So how do YOU avoid this situation?? Well, I am not going to post the name of the person I worked with but if you are thinking of placing an order somewhere and feel like it might be with this company email me and we can talk.  I am not out to trash talk people (as most of you saw after I left writing for a prominent Disney blog after I found out the owner has very non-Disney ideals) so I don't go posting hateful things and specifics and hope that people do not comment naming names here. I am not about that at all- I just want you to know what happened to me and how to avoid it!

    What I am out to do is help YOU have the most Disney magic in your lives! And so here are some helpful links and info:

    1.  If you just couldn't find that special item but can describe it or where you saw it try contacting WDW Mail Order by phone 877-560-6477 or by email! I have used both and had great luck!

    2.  If you have a receipt and something broke in shipping or traveling contact WDW Mail Order also using the above info! When we traveled home with a statue my hubby bought me and a piece of stitch's nail broke off I emailed a picture of my receipt and they sent me a BRAND NEW one free!  Disney works hard to make sure their travelers and customers are hap-hap-happy!!

    3.  If you are looking to have something ordered and sent directly to a room (ie. a Gift Basket or other items for your trip or a loved ones trip) I HIGHLY recommend the services of Memories By Betsy.  She is FABULOUS and I have used her services on many occasions.  Super nice, super helpful, and no hidden fees! Head over and check out her Facebook Page for more info!

    4.  Don't forget that now has a rather large selection of Disney Parks merchandise and there are always sales and deals over there!

    5.  Just because a page or site has "Disney" in the title does not mean they are affiliated with the Disney company! I feel like some shopping sites may look as though they are sanctioned through the company but they aren't.  Look at my site: right now you are reading this on Picturing Disney Photoblog... because no matter where I go I am picturing myself at Disney... lol... but I am a fan site and not affiliated with Disney directly in any way, shape, or form (as you can read in my disclaimer).  I may very well have to change my name someday but the bottomline is do not let names deceive you on these personal shopper pages just because they haven't been told to cease and desist using the Disney name (yet)!

    6.  Be wary of ANY internet seller who requires that you pay their PayPal fees or send them money as a gift.  If you "gift" someone money you lose your chance to dispute it if you need a refund or never get your item AND it is fraudulant and against the PayPal Terms of Service to request the buyers send money as "Personal" or "Gift" when they are purchasing "Goods and/or Services".  Keep this in mind because I lost my ability to dispute my shipping charges because of this!

    7.  Don't underestimate the power of a "like".  After my debacle I saw that 8 of my Facebook friends liked the page of the company.  I sent them a quick text messages explaining what happened to me, and all the fees, and just generally warning them to be careful if they shop through her.  Nearly all of them replied and said "Oh I thought her surcharge was too high" or "I've heard others who had issues with her" followed by "...but I liked her page so that I could look at her pictures of new Disney World merchandise".  What you don't realize is that customers see that a page has LOTS of likes and are comforted by this and shop here.  So don't give away your likes for free and remember that there is power in "unliking".  I always make sure I unlike pages I would never shop at again even if the company never notices- at least my friends won't see that I like it and think there is a value!

    8.  If you are still thinking of using a 3rd party personal shopper site think it through and TAKE YOUR TIME. I now believe these are rarely, if ever, going to be worth it in the end (but then again last month I ordered from one).  Now I feel like maybe the very long drawn out process and set up of how you read the costs was purposely listed as it was as not to deter people.  I have heard a lot of stories from people who have used multiple different sites like this with everything from problems like mine to people never getting items to getting severely overcharged. Most important of all is to calculate every penny you are spending (before you send anyone a dime) and then find out if there is somewhere you can get it cheaper! In the end, as consumers we need to shop where it is best for us and in nearly every case it will be direct through Disney!

    Hope this helps you have more magic with your Disney mail then what happened to me today! Keep spreading sunshine and Disney magic everywhere you go!

    UPDATE: November 2013

    As circumstances would have it I got to talk to one of the owners of this Disney shopping service this weekend! She contacted me about possibly joining in a Christmas giveaway and I re-explained who I was and our predicament.  Guess what she told me? Not only was I one of only two customer who had ever had this happen to them BUT that two customers was too many for them so they have switched to using USPS provided boxes for shipping on nearly all orders! It has been a really money and time saver and I am so happy to hear they have changed their shipping policies because, obviously you can see this really took the magic out of the experience for me at the time! And as you can see by the picture at right their packages look like they are being handled with care (and some magic too).

    On top of discussing this change, the owner offered to make good on my issues and refund my shipping charges so I feel like I can confidently say that if you know which personal shopping service I am referring to I would 100% be willing to try their services again.  Have you ordered from any personal shopping services in the last few months? How was your experience? I would love to hear follow up comments (again please no naming names in bad situations as I don't want this to become a slam thread and have already deleted some comments).

    I can say this... If you are curious who this personal shopping service is that I now would stand behind, you will see us working together on a future holiday giveaway as I am always happy to have magic in my life even if the pixie dust arrives later than expected.

    I think I can sum up this update with the end of my conversation with the site owner on Saturday November 9th.
    "I just love a happy ending."
    "Me too."

    Sunday, November 10, 2013

    Win a Figment Tote from Spark of Inspiration on Etsy!!

    If you have been following Picturing Disney the last couple weeks you have probably already checked out the Disney Lover's Etsy Holiday Gift Guide! This round up of great Etsy shops includes an awesome array of different Disney inspired handmade items your friends and family are sure to love! At the bottom of the post is a great big giveaway where you can win items from the shops included! 

    Wellll.... here's a little preview giveaway! Check out these great totes from Spark of Inspiration! I love the Orange Bird tote she sent me and can't wait to share little Figment with you! 

    Want to win the Figment tote?
    Here's what you can do to enter:

    1.  Head over to my Instagram and re-gram the official pic! Make sure you are following both @PicturingDisney and @one_little__spark and you mention us in your comment when you repost.

    2.  Don't have Instagram or want a second entry? Make sure you like Picturing Disney and One Little Spark on Facebook and then post the giveaway picture to Facebook and tag me in your comments! 

    3.  Once you have posted to either Facebook or Instagram you can get an extra entry by commenting below!! 
    What's your favorite park of Journey Into Imagination in Epcot?? 

    Just long press on the picture to save on a cell phone or screen shot from the pic on IG! 

    Contest ends on Wednesday night at midnight!