Wishes And Pixie Dust

Follow the journey of a Wisconsin family of 4 who relocated to the Walt Disney World area in July 2011


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Moving Forward!

Happy Blogoversary to Wishes and Pixie Dust!  It’s been one year since we moved our blog from Blogger to WordPress, and we decided now would be a perfect time to transition our blog from a relocation blog to one more focused on our current life in Florida.  We watched Tangled tonight and at one point in the movie, Rapunzel admits to being scared, wondering what she will do if the lanterns turn out to be everything she hoped they would be.  At this point, Flynn Ryder tells her this is the best part, that she gets to follow a new dream.  We’re not exactly following a new dream, but we thought it would be fun to start sharing here what we’ve been sharing on Facebook:  video and pictures of Walt Disney World as well as other places in Central Florida.  We have plans to purchase annual passes for Sea World and Lego Land this month, as well as visit Gator Land in the near future.

Our purpose is to share our experiences, as it always has been.  We are thrilled that our blog has benefited some of our readers who have since made the move to Florida, or are in the process of relocating in the coming months.   We hope that you all will enjoy the pictures and videos we post; we want to state that this is in no way intended to be a professional blog or an attempt to overshadow a blog currently in existence.  Any resemblance between what we post and what similar blogs post is purely coincidental.  We’re just doing this for fun!

Mark & Jen


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6 months & counting……..

We passed the one year anniversary of our decision to move to Florida a couple of weeks ago, and it felt a little strange that we didn’t even think to recognize it.  We now have been residents of Florida for six months, so in recognition of both anniversaries, we thought it a perfect time to update our readers on how life is progressing for us now.

We love the city of Clermont.  It has everything we need within a five-to-ten minute drive, and the people here are very friendly and welcoming.  I don’t believe we have encountered one rude person here yet.  We love our apartment complex; it was a little unnerving when we first moved in, because we have always rented houses in Wisconsin, and were a little concerned about noise and privacy issues.   However, we never hear our neighbors, so it’s totally not an issue at all.   We really have embraced apartment living–we love not having the responsibility of lawn care and pool upkeep, and maintenance is extremely efficient when it comes to repair issues.  The apartment is a little smaller than we’re used to, but we have plenty of room for the four of us, and when our lease is up in October, we plan to renew.  We may consider purchasing a home in the future, but for the time being, we are content here.

A favorite saying of ours is “Toto, we’re not in Wisconsin anymore”.   As much as we love the area, it becomes obvious that there are definitely different attitudes and experiences that are prevalent here.  Some experiences are very good, such as 80 degree weather in January.  What northerner wouldn’t absolutely love that!  We’ve had a couple of chilly evenings (30s and 40s), and cooler days, but we’re proud to say that we have not yet turned the heat on, nor have we needed to use a winter coat.

Unfortunately, the middle school experience we have to put in the negative column of attitudes and experiences.  The school Ben attended is very strict, and really not supportive of children with special needs.  It was so detrimental to him that we made the decision to pull him out and homeschool him the rest of the year.  It was very discouraging to us to think that all schools in Florida may be similar, but we recently learned of a middle school in Orlando that is autism-friendly, so it really gives us hope that not all schools are deficient in addressing the needs of students with special needs.  We will not be able to send Ben to this school next year; it would require a three hour daily drive just to take him and pick him up, and that’s simply not feasible.  We are in contact with another middle school in Clermont, and we are hopeful that it may give him a more positive school experience for seventh grade.

Another regional difference is the availability of our favorite foods.  In Wisconsin we shopped at one store, Festival Foods.  In Florida, we shop at five different stores:  Publix, Sweetbay, Winn-Dixie, Super Target and Walmart.  Each store offers something unique that the others don’t, in terms of products and specials.  Prices on groceries do tend to be higher here than in Wisconsin.  Our most-missed snack products from Wisconsin, apart from the variety of cheeses available in the dairy department, were bagel dip (from Festival), Baker string cheese and Johnsonville Summer Sausage.   Festival Foods, bless their hearts, gave us the recipe for bagel dip, we’ve discovered certain brands of string cheese that are an acceptable substitute, and we believe we may have found a store that sells Johnsonville Summer Sausage.  We will say that the Florida citrus is amazing!  We’ve never cared for grapefruit, but when it’s fresh off the tree, it’s a whole new experience.

You may be wondering if we have any regrets.  We need to be honest with our readers and say yes, there have been regrets.  It was extremely hard to say good-bye to Nick at the airport after Christmas.  We know that Ben would have had no issues with the middle school back in Wisconsin, and he would have been successful there.  It’s very difficult to walk away from what is familiar, and it is very easy to look back and say “what if”.

However we wouldn’t trade the moving experience for anything in the world.  Nothing can recreate the atmosphere in the car as we drove through the state of Florida towards Clermont.  It was absolutely amazing.  The kids are settled and happy, Ben a lot more so now that he is away from the negative school environment.  Really, who suspends a child for being autistic?  They have a lot more experiences here available to them:  we’ve been to both the Gulf and the Atlantic Ocean, Walt Disney World numerous times, a Disney Cruise is in the works, as are passes to Sea World and Lego Land.  It’s been amazing to meet people we’ve known only from Facebook, but meets are so hard for our son Ben that we don’t make as many of them as we’d like.

Will we consider moving back?  For us, it’s not an option.  We believe that when you allow it to be a possibility in your mind, you always have one foot in the past and one foot in the present.  You will not make a concerted effort to acclimate yourself totally, and eventually will rationalize the move back.  Will we look back on Wisconsin?  Of course, we have friends and family there, and it was our life for several years.  However, we are Floridians now.  We embrace the Floridian life, all that it has to offer or not offer.   We hope our blog provides some insight and perhaps even wisdom as to what a relocation a thousand miles away looks like, and we hope our readers know that even though our posts are now infrequent, we still welcome any questions regarding the relocation process.  Thanks y’all for reading and following along!


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Meets With Friends

A few days ago a FB Disney friend let me know that they had seen a comment on FB about Jen and I being ‘stand offish’ about meeting people when they visit Disney. I wanted to clear things up a bit. For those who don’t know, our youngest son Ben is autistic. For us this makes meeting people a little more difficult as part of Ben’s autism is that he struggles when he needs to ‘wait’. This is especially hard for him at his favourite place…Disney. So, we do often have to keep our meets shorter than we’d like and sometimes have to miss meets, like Lou Mongello‘s Meets of the Month, on short notice; or leave them very quickly. It also makes it harder to plan meets on a short notice as we can never tell what level Ben’s autism will be at on any given day. And we always do our best to explain why.

We do love meeting our new friends and the time we do get to spend with you all, no matter how short it may be.  So, we hope you’ll understand and keep our full situation in mind if we do have to cut a meet short or cancel one; if we do it’s only for Ben’s sake.

Mark and Jen.


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The Princess And The Frog

In Wisconsin we had a ritual on Saturday night:  we would eat a dinner of pizza while sitting around the television and watch a Disney movie.  We did this for years, ever since the children were toddlers, and weren’t quite able to participate in eating pizza yet. 😉  When we moved to Florida, we needed to adjust our plans somewhat and forgo pizza night, as one) we had no television, and two) we had no furniture.  We are happy to report that we now have both a television and furniture, but we’re discovering that Saturday doesn’t exactly work the best for us, as we’re usually in a theme park that day.  So we’ve decided to be flexible with the date, and tonight was our pizza night, while we watched, of course, The Princess and The Frog!

We originally chose The Princess and The Frog as this blog’s theme as a way to conceal our identities until we were ready to announce who we are.  The movie fit our family’s dynamics well, but the selling point was Louis, because our daughter just loves alligators. It’s funny, because when we first saw the movie, it didn’t seem all that good, and we weren’t sure if we were even going to buy it.  But we did, and now it’s one of our favorites.

We were at Port Orleans Riverside on our daughter’s birthday; she saw this and we picked it up for her as a present.  Kissing would be nice, yes?

You can imagine our delight last weekend when we were able to do a character meet and greet with Princess Tiana and Prince Naveen.  Naveen is no longer a regular with Tiana, so we were thrilled to be able to come across both of them together:

We started our blog on June 7, 2010 on Blogger (if you go to March archives and scroll back, you can see all our earlier posts), and then made the jump to WordPress in March. We initially started it for ourselves, as documentation of our move, and as an ongoing record of what we had completed and what we yet needed to complete.  We were thrilled when our readership jumped, and we saw that our progress was helping other people with their own moves. Our readers comments have helped us to make decisions along the way, and we are grateful for all the feedback and suggestions we have received.  We are blessed to have made friendships over the past few months; friendships that probably would not have existed without the blog, and we are doubly blessed to continue these friendships in person.

Our blog has always been about relocation, and the issues and concerns regarding it.  We have never been, nor don’t intend to be, a Disney blog.  There are many Disney blogs out there; we follow a lot of them, and we don’t feel that we could add anything unique to what’s been written.  Now that we are settled, honestly, we don’t have much to write about regarding the relocation process, and at this point in time we feel like our blog has served its purpose.  You can find a list of our favourite blogs (and podcasts) by reading our blog on Getting, and Staying, In The ‘Disney Mood’.

We will keep the Facebook page, Wishes And Pixie Dust active, as well as our website that contains our blog, as we hope it will help those who are still in the relocation process.  We may post occasional blogs to the site, but generally we will not publish regular posts.  It’s hard to set aside something that has been a part of our lives for 15 months:  in one form or another, we both have been actively involved in Wishes and Pixie Dust, whether it be blog writing or website development or researching information.  But it’s time to let go and move on.

We welcome our readers to contact us on Facebook or Twitter if they have any questions regarding relocation, and we’re happy that you have been a part of our life over the past fifteen months.

May you have a magical, pixie-dust filled day, and remember the words of Walt Disney:

All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.


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Getting, and Staying, In The ‘Disney Mood’

I’ve been asked how to stay in the Disney mood during down times, blah days and just for inspiration when needed.  As we hit our 40-day countdown, I’m happy to share some of the things we do to get in, and stay in, the Disney mood.

First is our collection of Disney music.  Music from the movies, TV shows and theme parks take up a huge chunk of my iPod and iTunes library.  An easy way to get the magic going.  I keep a selection of our favourites in the playlist on the right for you to enjoy.

Second, I listen to Disney podcasts on a daily basis.  Some come out weekly, some more and less often; but I always have some ready to listen to every day (even going back to older past episodes.  These are great shows giving excellent information and they all entertain while informing.   I can highly recommend all of the podcasts on my list below to you.  I start with my “Top 6” and then list, in no particular order, all of the podcasts I listen to weekly; all are available on iTunes.

  • The WDW Radio Show – My number 1 can’t miss podcast.  Hosted by the amazing Lou Mongello, a true Disney ‘genius’.  I’ve listened to WDW Radio from its beginning; having been a huge fan of Lou’s since the days of the long-gone and fondly remembered MouseTunes podcast.  Lou is my favourite source of Disney information and he has many rotating regular guests (Jim Korkis, Tim Foster, Beci Mahnken and others) who bring an excellent mix of Disney History, current news, reviews, travel tips, ‘Top Tens’ and just plain fun to every episode.  Lou is the author of The Walt Disney World Trivia Books (Volumes 1 and 2) and the Producer/Host of the Audio Guides to Walt Disney World.  He also hosts a weekly live video Disney Newscast every Wednesday at 7:30pm ET.  No one I know pursues their dream with a passion quite like Lou does, and his Disney credos of “If we can dream it, we can do it.” and “Keep moving forward.” are ones we follow as we move forward with our Dream.
  • WDW Today – My number 2 can’t miss podcast.  Matt Hochberg, Mike Newell, Mike Scopa, Len Testa, Annette Owens and an unlimited number of special guest hosts provide first-rate information and reviews along with current news.  They answer listener questions on a variety of subjects and always know their stuff.
    Matt Hotchberg also hosts several Hollywood Studios web sites.
    Mike Newell also owns and operates MouseWorld Radio (www.mouseworldradio.com), a great online radio station for Disney music and theme park music lovers.
    Mike Scopa is a regular contributor at AllEars.net.
    Len Testa is the co-author of the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World (a must read) and creates the touring plans available at TouringPlans.com.
  • Be Our Guest WDW Podcast – My number 3 can’t miss podcast and another I’ve listened to WDW Radio from its beginning.  The BOGP team of Mike, Rikki, Pam, and Debbie are always entertaining and informative combining reviews with ‘how to’ and trip reviews from many guests.  Mike also runs the Magical Mouse Radio station on Live365, an awesome collection of Disney music and Park Loops.
  • Betamouse – An awesome podcast for those of us who are both Disney and tech geeks.
  • PassPorter’s Disney and Beyond – If you are a fan of the PassPorter guides or just want to listen to a family-driven show bringing you family-friendly tips on WDW and beyond; this is a ‘must listen’.
  • The WDW News Today Podcast – Tom Corless and his group always entertain and inform.
  • Disney Film Project Podcast – A great new podcast delivering awesome reviews and in depth discussion of favourite Disney movies.
  • WaltCast – An overlooked and underrated podcast featuring interviews with many great celebrities.
  • Disneybrit Podcast – A UK-based podcast giving insight into the Disney Parks here and overseas.
  • Inside the Magic
  • Your MouseCast
  • WEDway Radio
  • inner mouse
  • DestinationD
  • MouseVent – A seasonal Christmas series of short podcasts from many different Disney podcasters.
  • Magical Definition Podcast – Lou Mongello’s former MouseTunes partner, Nathan Rose, hosts this podcast.  And if you’re a fan of Jim Hill, he co-hosts this informative show.
  • Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Pod
  • MouseStation
  • LaughingPlace.com Disney Podcast
  • Disney Dudes Podcast- A show with a little “zing”, Wayne and Trace have a very unpredictable format, but this show is strictly ‘Adults only’.
  • Magic Never Ends – An occasionally updated podcast/vidcast sharing the Disney Parks Magic through the eyes of a young family.
  • The DizFanatic “Ears On Ears” Podcast
  • Remember the Magic
  • Mr. Frank’s Wild Ride (mrfrankswildrides.com)
  • The DIS Unplugged
  • Mousetalgia
  • WDW Memories Podcast
  • WDW Fan Boys Podcast
  • Mouse Lounge Podcast
  • Character Breakfast – Disney Variety Show
  • A Window To The Magic
  • Trapped on Vacation
  • MouseChat
  • YWaitDiz – A new podcast that gives info and ride audio from your favourite attractions.

I also enjoy reading many Disney sites, news sites and blogs.  My ‘ongoing’ list:

I’ll start off with the one we follow most ardently right now, the blog written by our good friends (and fellow WI to FL relocators) Amy and Craig Petermann.

And finally, I enjoy the many Tweets and Facebook updates from our many online Disney friends.  You all bring smiles to our faces every day.  🙂

~Mark.