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Look at any photograph of our family from our past four Disney vacations, and you’ll notice some or all of us wearing lanyards of Disney Trading Pins around our necks. The proof’s in the picture. In the photograph above, three out of five of us are wearing lanyards!

At this point, you might be asking “Why should I care?” “What are those pins all about?” And “Why in the world are you so obsessed that you’d all wear lanyards of pins around your neck for an entire Disney vacation?”

Well, friends. Let me explain.

You see, this was another one of those things my husband made me do. Collecting Disney Trading Pins was HIS idea. I’m just following his lead, y’all.

But seriously. I’ve learned more than I ever wanted to know about Disney Pin Trading since we began collecting pins 5 1/2 years ago. Honestly? Because of my husband and children’s love for Disney Pin Trading, I have more knowledge than the average bear when it comes to this subject. So I might as well share the love, right? I might as well share all the tips I have for Disney Pin Trading, so if your family’s ever interested in starting a collection, you know where to begin.


(PLEASE NOTE: This post is NOT for Disney insiders. This post is NOT for the world’s most avid Disney pin collectors looking to up their game. This post is NOT for pin traders who have 100, 200, 300, 500 or 1,000 pins in their collections and want to fill in some gaps. This post IS for families who are interested in Disney Pin Trading. This post IS for families who perhaps have a very small collection started and want to keep it going. This post IS for families who have maybe even collected pins on a couple Disney vacations, but want to up their game and bring their Disney Pin Trading to the next level. This post IS for people who are simply curious about these Disney pins, people who have no clue what they’re all about and want to know more.)

So let’s get at this. Today, I’m sharing Disney Pin Trading Secrets for Families!


Secret #1: Know WHERE to buy Disney Trading Pins, HOW to display them, and HOW MUCH they cost.

WHERE? You can purchase Disney Trading Pins at ALL Disney Parks and Resorts. Typically, you’ll find them in gift stores in the Parks and Resorts, but you can also find them at special pin kiosks around the Parks. HOW? There are several ways to display Disney Trading Pins. You can wear them around your neck on lanyards you purchase at Disney Parks. (This is our family’s preferred method of display. Each one of us has a lanyard; some of us have more than one lanyard.) You can purchase Disney Pin binders, which are kind of like Trapper Keepers only made specially for pins. This method of display allows you to keep MORE pins in one place, but they’re not as readily accessible as they are on lanyards around your neck. People who are really into Disney Pin Trading come up with other clever ways of displaying pins. I’ll show you a couple examples later in the post. HOW MUCH? Pins are color coded for price, and run anywhere from $7.95 a pin all the way up to $15.95 a pin for limited edition. Simpler and smaller pins are cheaper. Elaborate pins with layers and special features are more expensive, which includes special edition and limited release pins.


SECRET #2: When you’re at Disney World, make sure to visit stores that specialize in Disney Pin Trading.

There are a few stores around Disney World that are excellent and prime destinations for true blue Disney Pin Traders. If you’re interested in or getting serious about pin trading and want to see the biggest variety of Disney Pins, you’ll definitely want to stop at these stores. Disney’s Pin Traders at Disney Springs (Downtown Disney). Frontier Trading Post in Frontierland at Magic Kingdom. Pin Station Epcot in Epcot. Sunset Ranch Pins and Souvenirs at Hollywood Studios. These four locations are hot spot destinations for pin traders. All four are worth the stop. Because all four of these locations are Disney pin-centric, they’re all a little “geeked out,” which is pretty cool if you’re into pins (see secret #10 below).

SECRET #3: Trade pins with Disney cast members.

As you walk around any Disney Park, you’ll notice that MANY Disney cast members wear lanyards, around-the-shoulder pin sashes, or have small boards of pins. This is a BIG and BASIC pin trading secret for families. If you’re getting into Disney pin trading, make sure to look at Disney cast member’s lanyards, sashes and boards. As a guest, you have permission to TRADE one of your Disney Pins for one of their Disney Pins. They can’t say no! They have to agree to the trade. So if you have a little pin you don’t love so much and a Disney cast member has an awesome big one you’ve been looking for for a long time, trade it! This makes pin trading a fun adventure while you’re walking around Disney Parks. Kids especially love the trading (so does my husband); it’s a treasure hunt that never ends!


SECRET #4: Look for large-scale pin boards around Disney Parks and Resorts. This is another opportunity to trade pins with cast members!

So I just told you about opportunities to trade pins with ANY Disney cast member, right? Well, there’s another similar opportunity for Disney Pin Traders, but on a much bigger scale! On our last Disney World vacation, we noticed that a few locations had LARGE quantities of trading pins supervised by Disney cast members. We found a large board of pins available for trading with Disney cast members at our resort, Disney’s The Art of Animation. We also found a LARGE garbage can FILLED with Disney Trading Pins at Animal Kingdom. (This one was monitored by 2-3 Disney cast members. They said the garbage can of pins rotates throughout the park every hour.) We also found a few LARGE boards of pins ready for trading in gift stores at Magic Kingdom. You have to be on the lookout for these large-scale pin trading opportunities, but when you find them, it’s pretty cool! You have an opportunity to scan a LOT of pins, and potentially trade several all at once. My husband and kids LOVED the large-scale pin trading locations. A reminder that these boards are set up by Disney, so cast members have to say yes to your trade offer as long as it’s reasonable…one pin for one pin! Occasionally, you’ll find a big or rare pin on these boards. On our recent trip, one of my kids found a limited edition submarine pin on the green garbage can in Animal Kingdom! They were, of course, incredibly excited!


SECRET #5: Look for Limited Edition and Limited Release Disney Trading Pins.

Some Disney Trading Pins are extra special. For one reason or another, Disney has decided to release a limited number of that particular pin. Those pins are labeled as “Limited Edition” and “Limited Release.” Pins come on tiny, rectangular pieces of glossy cardboard. When a pin is “Limited Edition” or “Limited Release,” that label will be printed on the bottom of the cardboard piece, so you know its categorization. Typically, “Limited Edition” and “Limited Release” pins are held behind the counter and cost more so you have to ask a Disney cast member for help. Sometimes, they’re mixed in with all the other pins. It just depends. Holiday pins are often Limited Edition or Limited Release, as are special event pins, such as those released for Epcot’s annual Food & Wine Festival or Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party.


SECRET #6: Buy locks for heavy and expensive pins.

We learned the hard way our first year collecting Disney Trading Pins back in 2010. Buy locks for heavy and expensive pins. All Disney Trading Pins come with plastic, black, Mickey Ear backs. They work well in most cases. But if you have a large pin, a pin with several layers, an extra long pin, or heavy pin, you might want to seriously consider purchasing a pack of the gold locking backs so you don’t LOSE the pin! There’s absolutely NO need to LOCK every pin. It’s just the occasional ones, here and there, that are simply too heavy or too big, or the one that keeps falling off the lanyard for some reason. In those cases, definitely buy the locking back and get it secure. That way, you don’t have to worry about it falling off and losing it anymore!


SECRET #7: Before you go on a Disney vacation, purchase a bundle of Disney Trading Pins on eBay.

Here’s a little secret for families who have begun Disney Pin Trading, but want to take it to the next level. (Let me remind you once again, this is my husband’s discovery, not mine. He’s the big pin trading fan!) During an eBay search a few years back, he found lots of Disney Trading Pins for sale for a really GREAT price. So before we left on our Disney vacation, he bought one lot of 25-40 Disney Trading Pins off eBay, brought them with us on vacation, and used THOSE pins to trade with Disney cast members at the Parks. When you use this method, you MUST make sure you’re buying REAL, AUTHENTIC Disney Trading Pins off eBay. Take note when you make the eBay purchase. Know what you’re buying. Typically, when you purchase lots of Disney Trading Pins from someone on eBay, they’re selling SMALL pins that high-end traders might not care much about because of their size or style. But remember…these are the kind of pins that make pin trading super fun with little financial commitment! You can come to vacation with 25-40 pins you bought from eBay, and have a week’s worth of pins to trade with Disney cast members for a small total investment of $25-$40. Or you can do a mix, which is what we do. Buy a limited number of special Disney Trading Pins at the Parks, but ALSO buy some off eBay to trade while you’re on your Disney vacation.


SECRET #8: Collect sets.

Sometimes, Disney Trading Pins are created as collections. For example, there’s a collection of Disney Princess Babies. There’s a collection of bowling pins with characters on them. There’s a collection of flags. The collections of pins are endless. The more my husband and children get into Disney Pin Trading, the more I’m promoting collection of SETS. Collecting sets of pins requires a finer eye for pin trading. Collecting sets of pins makes it more of an adventure. Collecting sets of pins brings it to the next level as far as I’m concerned. Through an eBay purchase, my husband landed a few of these orange birds that were part of a collection. So he did a Google search to see HOW MANY birds were in the collection, and on our most recent vacation to Disney World, he spent good effort looking for the rest of those little orange birds on Disney cast members lanyards, sashes and boards! Guess what? He found them, traded for them, and was able to complete his collection of orange bird pins! Collect complete sets. Why not? It’s a fun adventure, especially for kids (and husbands).


SECRET #9: Mystery pin boxes are a good option for kids.

In the bigger Disney Pin Trading stores, you’ll see little boxes with “Mystery Pins.” Sometimes, there’s just one pin in the box. Sometimes, there’s more. The point of Mystery Boxes is that you DON’T know which pins are in the box. On the front of the box, you see the category of pins that are in the box. On the back of the box, you see tiny pictures of ALL of the pins that are in that collection and COULD BE in the box. You know that you’re buying 2015 pins. You know you’re buying Star Wars pins. You know you’re buying princess pins. But you don’t know WHICH ONES you’ll get until you buy the box and open the dark, sealed, plastic bag inside. You take a chance when you buy Mystery Pins. I’m not big into Mystery Pins myself, nor is my family, but I have purchased them very occasionally. Kids are intrigued by the mystery pins. They’d be good for starting a collection and great for beginning pin collectors!



SECRET #10: Get a little geeky about Disney Pin Trading.

If you’re going to collect Disney Trading Pins, you might as well get a little geeky. The best place to get geeky about Disney Trading Pins is Pin Station Epcot. At this location, they have a few shaded tables set up outside the pin store where avid Disney Trading Pin collectors hang out all day, show off their pins, talk about pins and trade pins. Oh yes. It gets a little geeky here. Pin traders sit and talk about pins all day long. They trade pins. They have people look through their huge boards of Disney pins, and their pages upon pages of Disney pins. They get strategic with serious collectors. On our most recent Disney World vacation, I had one collector offer to give me a WHOLE LANYARD of pins for my ONE Limited Edition Cinderella pin I bought several years ago. Sorry, sir! No trade, here! I love my Cinderella pin and don’t plan on ever trading it! But it was certainly eye opening and fun to hear that my one pin was worth a whole lanyard of pins! So why not? If you’re gonna collect Disney Trading Pins, get a little geeky about it.

That’s it, friends. That’s a wrap. This post marks the end of my 31 Days of Disney series! Thanks for reading, and I’m signing off until our next Disney vacation.





31DaysofDisney_medium2This post is part of a month-long series titled 31 Days of Disney! If you’d like to read more posts from the series, click here and you’ll be directed back to the 31 Days of Disney landing page. ALL posts from the series are linked within the body of that post. Find a title or topic that intrigues you, click on it, and the post will pop up for your Disney reading adventure!

I also placed the series graphic on the right sidebar of my blog’s home page, so click it anytime and it’ll bring you back to the 31 Days of Disney landing page where all 31 posts are listed and linked.

You can follow me on Twitter at where I’ll tweet links to all 31 posts using hashtag #write31days. I’d LOVE to connect on Facebook at and on Instagram at

So glad you stopped by! Make yourself comfortable. Take a peek around the place, and know you’re welcome back anytime.


It all started with my husband. It was his idea, okay?

19 months ago when we made reservations for our October 2015 family vacation to Disney World, my husband told me about Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. I’d never, ever heard about it before. A Halloween party at Disney World? Okay! He told me that the event is ticketed, that you pay a per-person fee to attend. That all of the Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party events are at Magic Kingdom. That there are cool Halloween parades and special shows at the castle, and that everybody dresses up in costumes!


I wasn’t 100% sure about this Halloween party and dressing up at Disney World business, but my husband was super excited, so why not?! I was working part-time when we booked our Disney World vacation and we had the funds to cover the extra cost, so we went ahead and set the money aside for tickets.



The time came. We bought our tickets to Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party.

Then came the real debate. What kind of costumes were we going to wear?

Our first thought was to dress up as the Sofia the First family. After all, we’re a family of five, just like Sofia’s. We’re huge Sofia the First fans, and our youngest already had a beautiful Sofia the First costume from last year’s Halloween. But when the rubber hit the road, we realized it was going to be challenging to find full ballgowns for me and my oldest daughter. And proper coats for the boys were going to be near impossible to replicate. So we ditched that idea.

We had other ideas, too.

My absolute favorite idea was for us to be the old versions of Carl & Ellie from the movie “Up.” I thought it would be quaint, sweet and easy to replicate. Our two oldest kids could be the kid versions of Carl & Ellie, then our daughter would be the Doug the Dog or Russell, the little boy scout who joined Carl on his adventures.

But my husband won the costume idea contest. Or should I say, I LET him win?! He wanted me to be Mary Poppins. He’d be Bert. Our two oldest children would be Michael & Jane Banks. And our littlest would be a penguin. Okay, alright! He won. Agreeing to this particular idea meant that I was agreeing to wear the most outrageous and attention-getting costume of our whole family. Basically, I was going to have to wear a wedding dress around Disney World. And…ummm…in case you don’t know me, it’s not typically in my nature to want to be so attention grabbing. Why such drama?! Anyway…I decided we’d go for it! After all, who doesn’t love Mary Poppins? And if I was going to have to dress up and be all dramatic, I might as well be Mary.


We started looking for costume pieces at thrift stores. I found a $19.99 wedding dress at Goodwill that just needed a little altering, and a $3.00 red belt at Clothes Mentor that was perfect for Mary’s red-cinched waistline. We found a really old-fashioned white dress at Goodwill for my daughter to be Jane, some Once Upon a Child shorts for my son to be Michael, and the tiniest red and white candy striped dress at Once Upon a Child for my daughter to be Mini Mary. White super-clearance shorts and shirt for my husband, and a great deal vest off eBay, and we were set to go! Oh yeah…it took us forever to find, but I finally found a hat at a local antique store for $8 and ripped it apart to make it into a proper Mary hat. The whole thing came together VERY smoothly.


The big day came! We spent all day at Magic Kingdom on rides and attractions. We enjoyed an early dinner at Crystal Palace, then made our way back to our Disney Resort to change into costumes for Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party! It took 45 minutes for five of us to get ready. Again, it was pretty slick. We made our way back fast, as the event had an official start time. We were going to be a bit late, and we didn’t want to miss the night’s opening event, a Halloween parade down Magic Kingdom’s Main Street!


So…I have to admit. The night was pretty cool. It wasn’t perfect. We had a few tiffs. But all in all, I have great memories of our evening at Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party!

First of all, I knew we were going to create a scene leaving the Disney Resort in our Mary Poppins costumes (much more of a scene than I ever like to make). Thankfully, we were at a DISNEY Resort, which helped everyone understand WHERE we were going and WHY we were dressed up so crazy! Everyone knew it’s the month of Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. Yes, that’s where we were headed. Thank goodness they all understood! We got a bunch of looks, smiles and sincere compliments on our costumes as we made our way out of the Disney Resort and towards the shuttles to Magic Kingdom.

I made a quick FaceTime call to my dad on our way to the shuttle. It was his birthday and I was bound and determined to wish him Happy Birthday before any more time passed! My parents thoroughly enjoyed seeing us in full costume before we boarded the shuttle for Magic Kingdom. My dad said that being able to see us in costume was the only birthday gift he needed. Before we knew it, the shuttle was rounding the corner, so I shut down FaceTime so we could load and make our way to the Halloween Party!

We were one of only three families on the shuttle. They complimented us on our costumes and we chatted a bit before the shuttle turned pitch black! I sat in the way back and center of the shuttle (where there was space for my big Mary Poppins wedding dress), with our two oldest next to me, and my husband and youngest to the side. I felt a little silly wearing a gown and big hat on the shuttle, but if there’s one place to wear that kind of get up, it’s Disney World on Halloween. Luckily, I was up for it and had been preparing for months, so it was easy to get in the mood and in character with the family.


We got off the shuttle and made our way to the gates to pick up our Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party wristbands! Most people were in costumes and the place had turned into full-on Halloween since we’d left the Park a couple hours prior. I have to admit, it was pretty cool. I’ll always remember a Disney cast member telling us “You’re in for a real treat,” right before we went through the gates to Magic Kingdom. A treat, for sure!


We stood in a long line for photographs in front of the castle. After all, I wasn’t getting five people dressed up in all this gear for nothing! We needed to capture this moment and this memory properly! A superhero family was rocking it in line behind us. Most everyone was dressed up in some sort of gig. No need to feel out of place here!

After photos, we made our way further down Main Street, but not too far! We wanted to get awesome seats for the parade that was about to start. I plopped down on the Main Street curb with my big ‘ol Mary Poppins Dress. Mini Mary and Michael sat down next to me, and Bert went to grab some snacks with Jane. While they were gone, I chatted with the over-the-top Star Wars family seated next to us, watched people get photographed in their costumes, and took a photograph with a couple little girls who loved Mary Poppins.

Mickey’s Boo To You Halloween Parade was awesome. My favorites were the headless horseman, the villains and the dancing princess zombies. Super cool and unique Disney World experience.




After the parade, we went trick-or-treating around the park in our costumes. They gave each child a bag and had stations set up around Magic Kingdom where you could get candy. Yes, it was great fun for the kids and extra fun to walk around the Park in full costume! As you can imagine, we got plenty of looks and compliments. Most people were dressed up, yes. But we didn’t see any other Mary Poppins get-ups the whole night, so our costume was unique and probably eye catching for that reason!

After trick-or-treating, we had a bit of an argument as to whether we should catch the Halloween stage and light show at the castle followed by fireworks, or go on as many rides as we could while crowds were lighter. I really wanted to see the castle show and fireworks since they were both Halloween-themed, so we found a grassy spot to rest and watch as a family.

I definitely had a moment there – on the grassy greens of Magic Kingdom’s castle – in my Mary Poppins costume. The castle light show and fireworks were beautiful. There was our little family…dressed up in our Mary Poppins get-ups. It was a cheesy, sweet, wholesome kind of Halloween magic.

After fireworks, a mom approached and said her daughter was a HUGE fan of Mary Poppins. She wondered if her daughters could greet me and get some photos. I said YES. Why not? This was a sweet mama and her girls. As I was getting photographed with those girls, a small lined formed with another family waiting for photographs with Mary (me). It was sweet. Super sweet. After all, these little girls thought I was the real Mary Poppins, the real Disney World version of Mary Poppins. I wasn’t some mom dressed up. To them, I was Mary Poppins! That made it all the sweeter, and me all the more comfortable with what was happening. So I took the photos and got in character as much as I could muster. This was a once-in-a lifetime thing. Nobody’s forming a line to see me as Mary Poppins again!


Surprising enough, it was already getting quite late. We were having a great time, but it was 10:30 p.m. Our Mini Mary had a LONG first day of travel the day before, and a VERY LONG day at Magic Kingdom. She needed to go to bed. So Bert stayed to go on another hour and a half of rides with Michael, and I made my way back to our Disney Resort with Jane and Mini Mary.

My husband was feeling incredibly bad that I had to leave early from Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party after all the work and preparation we’d done with the costumes. I didn’t feel bad. I’d had a great time. It was worth the extra effort, even if Jane, Mini Mary and I had to leave a little early. Bert and Michael had an amazing time going on as many rides as they wanted before Magic Kingdom closed. I’m pretty sure they even watched the second run of the Halloween Parade later that night. Jane, Mini Mary and I went back to the hotel, greeted and got photographs with an elderly Mary Poppins fan in the Resort’s dining room, and plopped in bed for a good night’s sleep.

Totally worth it. Fun. Unique. A once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Yes, we highly recommend Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. And yes, I even recommend dressing up in your costumes of choice.

It was totally my husband’s idea. And a good idea at that.





31DaysofDisney_medium2This post is part of a month-long series titled 31 Days of Disney! If you’d like to read more posts from the series, click here and you’ll be directed back to the 31 Days of Disney landing page. ALL posts from the series are linked within the body of that post. Find a title or topic that intrigues you, click on it, and the post will pop up for your Disney reading adventure!

I also placed the series graphic on the right sidebar of my blog’s home page, so click it anytime and it’ll bring you back to the 31 Days of Disney landing page where all 31 posts are listed and linked.

You can follow me on Twitter at where I’ll tweet links to all 31 posts using hashtag #write31days. I’d LOVE to connect on Facebook at and on Instagram at

So glad you stopped by! Make yourself comfortable. Take a peek around the place, and know you’re welcome back anytime.


In 17 1/2 years of marriage, we’ve taken six family vacations to Disney World and one family vacation to Disneyland! In all my writing about Disney this month, I’ve neglected to mention that we also made an additional one-night stop at Disney World in 2012 before we headed out on a Royal Caribbean cruise. Five of those eight visits to Disney Parks, we stayed on Disney property.


We’ve stayed at the following Disney properties:

Disney’s Pop Century Resort

Disney’s Pop Century Resort (a second time)

Disney’s Port Orleans Resort

Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel

Disney’s Art of Animation Resort

Having experienced Disney’s excellent customer service and stellar resorts, one thing is for sure. Staying on property – at Disney’s Resorts and Hotels – is the best way to go. We won’t do Disney any other way. We’ll never again question where to stay when we go on a Disney vacation. The best answer is to always stay on Disney property.


Today, I’d like to do a brief review of reasons to stay on Disney property! This post is intended for the family who’s decided to go on a Disney vacation, but isn’t sure WHERE they’ll be staying yet. They’re waffling between staying OFF Disney property at a regular resort or hotel, or ON Disney property at a Disney resort or hotel.

Here goes, friends! Here are the reasons WHY I love staying on Disney property, and think it would be a great choice for your family, too.



Staying at a Disney Resort or Hotel is incredibly convenient. That’s all there is to it. You can book the whole package at once. It’s a one-stop gig. This makes vacation planning A LOT easier. When you book a Disney vacation package, everything’s taken care of in one swoop – tickets to Disney Parks and Waterparks, Park Hopper passes, Disney dining plan, transportation, and your reservation at the Disney Resort or Hotel of your choice. It’s easy. It’s convenient. It makes vacation planning a lot more enjoyable and streamlined. For convenience alone, staying on Disney property is totally worth it.



When you stay at a Disney Resort or Hotel, you’re staying ON Disney property. That means you’re incredibly CLOSE to the Disney Parks. Sure, you’ll still have to travel some distance to get to the Park of your choice on any given day, but it’s a LOT closer than it would be if you stayed off property. Proximity is a big deal. It shaves off a lot of travel time in and out of the Parks each day, which means you have a lot more time to enjoy your stay instead of driving all the time. For proximity alone, staying on Disney property is totally worth it.


Disney’s Magical Express

When you stay on Disney property at Disney World, you can take advantage of Disney’s Magical Express, which is Disney’s complimentary bus service to and from Orlando International Airport. Disney’s Magical Express is a GREAT way to start your Disney vacation. They pick up your luggage from baggage claim for you and deliver it straight to your room. So all you have to do is make your way to the Magical Express check-in desk, check in, activate your Magic Bands and off you go! You’re directed to the line that’ll bring you to your Disney Resort or Hotel, hop on your Disney Magic Express bus, and voila! Before you know it, you arrive at your Disney Resort! This is so easy, so slick! Disney’s Magical Express is complimentary both ways – FROM the airport TO your Disney Resort at the beginning of your vacation, and FROM your Disney Resort TO the airport at the end of your vacation. It’s a great way to begin and end your Disney vacation, and a big perk of staying on property.


Shuttle Service

Once you arrive at your Disney Resort or Hotel, you’ll need transportation to and from the Disney Parks, right?! No surprise, Disney has that taken care of for you. No need to rent a car. No need to worry. Every day, all day long, they have shuttles that run non-stop from Disney Resorts to all the Disney World Parks. Travel time to the Parks can be as short as 5-10 minutes, or as long as 25 minutes, depending on what Resort you’re staying at and where it is compared to the Disney Park you’re visiting that day. At any rate, all you have to do is wait in line a bit, get on the shuttle, and off it takes you to the Park. When you’re done at the end of the day, stand in line again, hop on the bus, and they’ll bring you back to your Resort. It’s incredibly convenient and so easy. We’ve never once rented a car when we’ve stayed on Disney property, and this is why. Because Disney’s all-inclusive transportation system is seamless.


Disney-Themed Rooms, Gift Shops, Food & Extra Perks

When you stay on Disney property, your whole experience is Disney themed. To some people, that might sound annoying or simply TOO MUCH. But our family loves it. We want our experience to be 100% Disney, all the way around. When you stay at a Disney Resort or Hotel, be ready for Disney-themed rooms, gift stores, shampoo bottles, decor, landscapes, and extra Disney perks such as pin trading in the gift store, character drawing in the lobby, and late-night Disney movies on the lawn. That doesn’t even begin to cover the food. Among the many lovely dining options in Disney Resorts & Hotels are Disney-themed foods, snacks and desserts, such as character waffles, Mickey cupcakes, Goofy trail mix, and refillable Disney mugs for your entire family. Whether you’re staying at the Grand Floridian, one of Disney’s Value Resorts, or anything in-between, rest assured your experience will be fully Disney!


Beautiful, Well-Kept Landscapes and Properties

Disney has the magic when it comes to creating and keeping beautiful properties. Every Disney Resort and Hotel I’ve been to is immaculately kept. Outdoor landscapes are beautifully manicured. The properties are well designed to keep guests flowing through efficiently, while simultaneously helping them feel comfortable, cozy and right at home. Pools, beaches, gazebos, and outdoor sitting and waiting areas are meticulously planned and well kept. Nothing’s lost on Disney. They make sure every nook and cranny – inside and out – is top notch.


Extra Magic Hours

When you stay at Disney’s Resorts and Hotels, you have automatic access to “Extra Magic Hours.” Extra Magic Hours are extended Disney Park hours. On certain days, they open select Parks extra early and keep them open extra late for guests staying on Disney properties. For example, one night on our most recent Disney World vacation, Magic Kingdom was officially closing at midnight. That was a late night the way it was! But Extra Magic Hours for that particular day ran all the way through 2:00 a.m., so my husband and son took advantage of the opportunity and stayed all the way until 2:00 a.m. closing! Typically, during Extra Magic Hours, you have FABULOUS access to rides, attractions and landmark locations you wouldn’t have otherwise. Want GREAT photos in front of the castle? Extra Magic Hours are the way to go. Want to get on a bunch of rides before the park opens or after the park closes? Extra Magic Hours are the way to go. Want to catch the ride that had a crazy long line all day long? Extra Magic Hours are the way to go. Want a quieter start to your day? Extra Magic Hours are the way to go. We nearly always take advantage of the Extra Magic Hours one way or another. They’re a HUGE hidden perk of staying on Disney property!

So that’s about it, ya’ll! Those are the best reasons to stay on Disney Property. If you’re trying to make a decision one way or another, and want more input from somebody who’s been there done that, please let me know! I’m happy to answer questions about our experiences staying at various Disney properties. Obviously, Disney Resorts & Hotels have worked incredibly well for our family. I hope they’re a great fit for your family as well!





31DaysofDisney_medium2This post is part of a month-long series titled 31 Days of Disney! If you’d like to read more posts from the series, click here and you’ll be directed back to the 31 Days of Disney landing page. ALL posts from the series are linked within the body of that post. Find a title or topic that intrigues you, click on it, and the post will pop up for your Disney reading adventure!

I also placed the series graphic on the right sidebar of my blog’s home page, so click it anytime and it’ll bring you back to the 31 Days of Disney landing page where all 31 posts are listed and linked.

You can follow me on Twitter at where I’ll tweet links to all 31 posts using hashtag #write31days. I’d also LOVE to connect on Facebook at and on Instagram at

So glad you stopped by! Make yourself comfortable. Take a peek around the place, and know you’re welcome back anytime.


I’ve loved my 31 Days of Disney series! But I have to be honest. When I pulled out my laptop and started working on the post I had planned for today, Top 10 Rides and Attractions at Disney World, I wasn’t in the mood to write it. I took notes while we were on our Disney World vacation and already have the post fully outlined, so it wasn’t a matter of content. It was a matter of mood.

It’s never a good day to be Grumpy. But today, I was. It was cloudy and rainy. It snowed. There were a bunch of circumstances that caused me to be a weird mix of Grumpy and Humbled. I rehashed the details in my first draft of this post, but decided to spare you the torture. Did I mention I’m still not fully unpacked from Disney World?

This has been a real-life kind of day. Therefore, this is going to be a real-life kind of Disney post. Instead of my originally planned post for today, “Top 10 Rides and Attractions at Disney World,” you’re going to get a compilation of my favorite songs from Disney movies, and one song from a Disney Junior TV show for good measure.

When I tried to draft my rides and attractions post earlier this afternoon, I couldn’t get Pinocchio’s classic tune, “When You Wish Upon A Star,” out of my head. I pulled it up on YouTube and found the original. Then I ran across this beauty, a full album of Disney piano music performed by Hirohashi Makiko. I listened long, friends. It was just what I needed. And it reminded me why I love Disney so much.

So all I want to do today is share a few Disney songs. How about it? I’ll share some of my faves, then I’ll invite you to share some of your faves.

I need a change of pace. And let’s be real. A post filled with beautiful music is just as much “Disney” as a post about Disney World rides and attractions. No apologies here. Disney’s music is breathtaking. World-class musicians compose and perform their music. It’s definitely worth talking about.

So here goes…these are a few of my all-time favorites!

This song, “When She Loved Me” by Sarah McLachlan from Toy Story 2, is one of my favorite Disney songs of all time. It’s incredibly moving and touching. I LOVE the lyrics and clip from the movie. Just watch.

“Tale As Old As Time” from Beauty and the Beast is a classic. How can you not love this one? It’s SO good. So timeless. All versions of this song, with lyrics and instrumental only, are beautiful.

Can you tell I’m a Beauty and the Beast fan? This next song is another one of my favorites. It’s called “Little Town.” There’s something about this song that rings true with my soul. Maybe it’s Belle’s love of books. Maybe it’s because she’s a “little strange.” Maybe it’s because she knows “there must be more than this provincial life.” I don’t know. I love Belle. She’s the best.

My favorite Disney instrumental is Carl & Ellie’s scene from the movie “Up.” It makes me cry every single time. This portion of the movie was masterfully imagined, and incredibly beautiful. Honestly, I think this is the best emotional and sentimental work Disney has EVER done. Period. End of story. Well done, Disney. I want to see more work like this. You made me cry this viewing, too.

I’m not a big Tarzan fan, by any means. But this particular scene with this particular song, “You’ll Be In My Heart,” is another one of my favorites. It’s simple, beautiful and incredibly moving to me. Disney did a marvelous job with this one.

Who doesn’t love The Little Mermaid? “Part of Your World” is definitely one of my favorite Disney songs. I really relate to the lyrics in this song, and never fatigue of it no matter how many times I listen. No doubt, this song has stood the test of time. “I’ve got gadgets and gizmos a plenty, I’ve got who’s its and what’s its galore. You want thingamabobs? I’ve got twenty. But who cares. No big deal. I want more.”

At this point, you might be thinking all I like is slow, sappy Disney songs. It’s true. I do like slow and sappy songs the best. But I like fast, sappy songs too. This one from “Enchanted” is another one of my favorites. It’s called “That’s How You Know,” and it’s an out-of-control, slappy happy love song! It’s so cheesy and so theatrical you can’t help but sing and smile along.

Last, but not least, I have to step out of the movie song box and give props to my Disney Junior girl, Sophia the First. If you know our family well, you know we’re BIG Sophia the First fans around our house. Sophia and her friends sing a LOT, and I’m convinced that Disney has assigned their top musicians to compose music for the show because it’s that good. “Princess Things” is my FAVORITE song from Sophia the First. Little secret…my favorite part is at the end when Sophia goes off in the grassy area by herself and the birds fly around her head. Yes, I realize it’s cheesy that I have a favorite song and a favorite PART OF A SONG from a show that’s for three year olds. But hey. A mom’s gotta do what a mom’s gotta do. This Disney Junior show is GOOD stuff!

Alright! That’s all, folks. Thanks to these Disney tunes, I’m ending the day on a much happier note. So how about you? Do you have a favorite Disney song? Old or new, I’d love to hear!





31DaysofDisney_medium2This post is part of a month-long series titled 31 Days of Disney! If you’d like to read more posts from the series, click here and you’ll be directed back to the 31 Days of Disney landing page. ALL posts from the series are linked within the body of that post. Find a title or topic that intrigues you, click on it, and the post will pop up for your Disney reading adventure!

I also placed the series graphic on the right sidebar of my blog’s home page, so click it anytime and it’ll bring you back to the 31 Days of Disney landing page where all 31 posts are listed and linked.

You can follow me on Twitter at where I’ll tweet links to all 31 posts using hashtag #write31days. I’d also LOVE to connect on Facebook at and on Instagram at

So glad you stopped by! Make yourself comfortable. Take a peek around the place, and know you’re welcome back anytime.



This post was originally titled “Best Restaurants at Disney World.” After some thought, I decided to change it to Best Restaurants for Families at Disney World. After all, most of our vacations to Disney World have been with children. Our perspective is undoubtedly skewed towards amazing, incredible, fabulous Disney World restaurants that ALSO happen to be family friendly. With that in mind, if you’re traveling to Disney solo, as honeymooners, with girlfriends, or as a retired couple, you might want to do an additional fine dining at Disney World search. As for me? I’ll be dining with the preschoolers, children, teens and young adults for a few more years!

So here goes nothing, families! If you’re traveling to Disney World with children and are looking for some great sit-down restaurants, these are my faves!


Ohana at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort

On our most recent Disney World vacation, our family of five dined at Ohana for the first time. It was amazing! We had reservations for the 5:15 p.m. seating. As far as we could tell, there were mass seatings; we were called into the restaurant with a large group of guests. The atmosphere is beautiful, casual, classy and very Polynesian. Disney cast members cook on grills in the front of the dining room while you’re served dinner, one course at a time. Our meal consisted of bread with butter, delicious wings and potstickers, noodles with fresh grilled vegetables, skewers of grilled shrimp/beef/chicken, and the most amazing Bananas Foster dessert I’ve EVER had in my life. Yes, it was ah-mazing! The meal was delicious. Service was excellent. We were even given steaming hot towels to wipe our hands off after the wings and potstickers. It was a lovely, lovely meal and setting. Delightful.


Tusker House Restaurant at Animal Kingdom

Tusker House serves African and American cuisine in a “family-focused buffet.” As far as I’m concerned, this place is absolutely amazing. I LOVE it. We’ve dined at Tusker House twice; one time with characters, the other time without characters. The characters, of course, made it extra special for the kids. We saw Donald, Daisy, Mickey Mouse, and Goofy during our lunch buffet. The food at this restaurant is amazing. Absolutely delicious! As I stated in a previous post, picky eaters might be hesitant when they first look at the food on this buffet. But the second you try the food, you realize it’s crazy good! The flavors are rich and complex. You can pair just about anything with an African flair and the tastes blend perfectly. During our most recent visit, I stopped mid-meal to take a photograph of my food. It was THAT good. If you’re not up for African cuisine (trust me, it’s amazing), they have plenty of American fare for you, too, including mac ‘n’ cheese, pork tenderloin, garlic mashed potatoes, veggies, salad, fruit and lots of yummy desserts. Highly recommend this place. But book early, especially for character dining. It fills fast.

Alice at 1900 Park Fare

1900 Park Fare at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa

1900 Park Fare is a buffet-style sit-down restaurant at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. First off, the location is absolutely stunning. Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa is a must see. Second, this dining location is a winner all around. Our family has eaten at 1900 Park Fare at least twice, maybe three times on past Disney World vacations. I highly recommend it. You can’t go wrong with anything at the Grand Floridian. The buffet is delicious. And the characters are great! We saw Winnie the Pooh & Alice in Wonderland characters at breakfast, and Cinderella characters at dinner. If you have children, you can’t go wrong with 1900 Park Fare. It’s a staple character dining location for our family.


Hollywood & Vine at Hollywood Studios

Our family has eaten at Hollywood & Vine twice on vacations to Disney World, once for breakfast buffet and once for lunch buffet. Both were amazing, although I’d lean towards a preference for lunch because I was oohing and aahing over the food on that buffet. This is a definitely a good character dining option for young children. Disney Junior characters such as Sofia the First, Doc McStuffins, and Jake and the Neverland Pirates make appearances while you dine. Sure, it’s a little loud with all the music, characters and children dining with their families. But it’s still lovely and an EXCELLENT choice for young families. The buffet is absolutely delicious. I couldn’t get enough of it, to be honest. And my three-year-old daughter was 100% satisfied with the meal options for children. Even the dessert buffet is tailored towards children, with chocolate covered strawberries, pineapple and marshmallows, among other adult-friendly goodies! Yum! This place is great. If you have little ones, make sure to stop by!


The Crystal Palace at Magic Kingdom

This restaurant is another one of our family’s favorites. We’ve been here three or four times for their buffet lunch, breakfast and dinner. The Crystal Palace is another character dining location, featuring classic Winnie the Pooh characters who visit your table as you dine. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are equally good, although I recommend TRYING to book this restaurant at off-peak hours if at all possible. Since it’s just off of Magic Kingdom’s Main Street, it’s incredibly convenient, popular and busy. If you land an off-peak reservation, it’s quieter and more relaxed, which personally, I enjoy. Great food. Convenient location. Fun characters. Beautiful setting. Highly recommend.


Akershus Royal Banquet Hall in Epcot

Okay, I’m beginning to sound like a broken record. But this is one of our absolute FAVORITE character dining locations of ALL Disney World. If you have ANY princess lover (or good food lover) in your party, you must visit Akershus Royal Banquet Hall. The atmosphere is amazing, and the food is even more amazing. As far as quality of food, this location ranks among my top three favorites. I LOVE the salmon and cold shrimp on the buffet, and meatballs with mashed potatoes and gravy off the menu. Delicious. And the desserts? May I have some now, please?Any meal promises to be excellent, but I prefer the dinner menu. Did I mention this is ONE of the ONLY Disney World locations that has character dining with PRINCESSES? No surprise, lots of little girls choose to dress up as their favorite princess. It’s simply lovely, friends! Super sweet. A must see, must do.


Sci-Fi Diner at Hollywood Studios

We’ve eaten at the Sci-Fi Diner three times. Our kids are especially huge fans of this place. There aren’t characters at this location, but it is extra special for other reasons. You’re seated in old-fashioned cars in a large, dark, open-air room. Basically, Sci-Fi Diner is like a drive-in movie theater with restaurant. They play old movies on the screen, which the kids think is super cool. It’s a fun location for young and old kids alike! Their food is great, too. The menu is diverse, with items ranging from burgers to steak. And their desserts? Fabulous every time. Bonus, if you have the Disney dining plan, you can order a SHAKE instead of soda if you’d like! My husband and kids take advantage of that every time, without fail. Sci-Fi Diner is one of Disney World’s hidden little treasures. It’s fun and unique, and loads of fun for everyone. Because of the dark room and movie playing in the background, it’s a relaxing dining option, too. Check it out. I hope you’ll love it as much as our family!


Be Our Guest Restaurant at Magic Kingdom

This restaurant is one of Magic Kingdom’s newest sit-down options. It’s crazy busy and crazy popular, but worth every bit of effort you to put in trying to get a reservation. We were fortunate enough to eat there for lunch AND dinner on our most recent vacation to Disney World. The atmosphere, both outside and inside the dining hall, is absolutely stunning. Disney has gone all out when it comes to this dining experience. The food is excellent for both lunch and dinner, but PLEASE NOTE that if you have a reservation for LUNCH and are on the Disney dining plan, it counts as a quick-service meal. DINNER at Be Our Guest counts as a full-service, sit-down meal(As of October 2015.) At lunch, families order electronically from kiosks in the main entrance to the dining room, with the assistance of Disney cast members as needed. For dinner, families are seated and order off a full menu. Again, all meals are wonderful, offering a variety of items to meet the needs of each family member’s unique palate. I highly recommend the slow-roasted pork for both lunch and dinner, as well as the chocolate cake with chocolate mousse filling and chocolate frosting for both lunch and dinner. Did I mention I was highly satisfied with the Be Our Guest restaurant?

Well, that’s it, friends! Those are my recommendations for best sit-down restaurants for families at Disney World. I could certainly add more, but these are the restaurants that rose quickly to the top. We dined at ALL of these locations using our Disney dining plan, which we HIGHLY recommend. If you have any questions about the Disney dining plan or restaurants at Disney World, please let me know! I’m happy to field any questions you have.





31DaysofDisney_medium2This post is part of a month-long series titled 31 Days of Disney! If you’d like to read more posts from the series, click here and you’ll be directed back to the 31 Days of Disney landing page. ALL posts from the series are linked within the body of that post. Find a title or topic that intrigues you, click on it, and the post will pop up for your Disney reading adventure!

I also placed the series graphic on the right sidebar of my blog’s home page, so click it anytime and it’ll bring you back to the 31 Days of Disney landing page where all 31 posts are listed and linked.

You can follow me on Twitter at where I’ll tweet links to all 31 posts using hashtag #write31days. I’d also LOVE to connect on Facebook at and on Instagram at

So glad you stopped by! Make yourself comfortable. Take a peek around the place, and know you’re welcome back anytime.

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