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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Christmas in July Giveaway!

If you follow us on Facebook, you may have noticed that we were listening to Christmas music from the Music Choice cable channel- Christmas is our favorite holiday and loved that we could listen to it during their “Christmas in July” promotion.  July 25 is the official day of “Christmas in July”, and coincidentally, it is also the first day that we arrived in Florida!  Tomorrow marks our three year anniversary, and we decided to celebrate with a giveaway!

Last year after Christmas we were gifted with two Mickey ornaments from one of our readers, and we wanted to pass them along to you:  Magician Mickey and Mickey’s Toy Machine.

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There will be two separate winners:  the giveaway will run until July 31st; winners will be announced August 1 on this blog, and the Wishes and Pixie Dust Facebook Page.   Click on and use the Rafflecopter link below to enter.

Christmas in July Giveaway


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Candlelight Processional Featuring Neil Patrick Harris

Tonight at 5:00pm ET, Catie’s HS Choir will be performing at the Candlelight Processional featuring Neil Patrick Harris as the Narrator. We’ll be broadcasting the entire show on UStream (if all goes well). So please join us at http://www.ustream.tv/channel/wishes-and-pixie-dust if you’d like to enjoy along! Please share with anyone who might enjoy this live NPH CP performance.


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Our Bucket List Revisited #1-50

On April 13 2011, at our 100 day mark, we put out a list of 100 things that we wanted to do as Florida residents.  See the original post here .  We thought it would be interesting to see what we’ve done so far- our comments will be in blue.  We’ll cover #1-50 today, and #51-100 tomorrow.

1.  Resort hop. We have only ever stayed at POR-Riverside as a family, and we really want to experience each resort on property.  So even though our current goal is to live 20 minutes away from Walt Disney World, we plan to do weekend stays at each resort, over the course of a year or two, and really take in the charm and uniqueness each resort has to offer.    Nope not yet.  This is something we still want to do.

2.  Enjoy a Dole Whip   🙂  We’ve enjoyed them at Magic Kingdom but we still want to experience them at the Polynesian where you can disperse your own.  

3.  Attend Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party  Our first time next year

4.  Attend Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party  No, we haven’t, but between the two parties we’d prefer to do the Halloween party first, as you can experience most everything the Christmas party offers on the week leading up to Christmas on a regular day in the Magic Kingdom- well except for maybe the hot cocoa and cookies!

5.  Go on a Disney Cruise!   Right now with living in Wisconsin, the price of getting to the cruise has been a huge obstacle for us.    We’re of the mindset that if we’re going to spend that much money, we’d rather spend it at WDW!    Cruises are really very reasonable as long as you don’t have to travel over a thousand miles to get to one.  Nope, not yet but still in the works!

6.  Explore Animal Kingdom Park. There are so many areas of AK that we have not discovered simply due to the intense Florida heat, or lack of time available to us.  We have done the basics, such as Expedition Everest, Kali River Rapids, Festival of the Lion King, Nemo & Friends and Kilimanjaro Safari, just to name a few.  (There are more).  But it seems that there is so much more to Animal Kingdom to take in, and we are looking forward to being able to do that in the cooler Florida months, when we have the time to dedicate to it.  We have not explored all that Animal Kingdom has to offer, but we have done more.  We find the cooler months are the best times to visit Animal Kingdom, and we tend not to even go in the hot, summer months.  Jen will be touring the backstage areas on Thursday through a special promotion with Disney Parks Blog, so check back later in the week for a special post detailing that.

7.    Go to Magic Kingdom in the evening just for the parades  We have not done this, primarily because although we only live 25 miles from the Magic Kingdom, it takes us approximately 45 minutes to reach the parking lot, and another 15 minutes or so for monorail/bag check time.  With the cost of gas prices, it is not cost efficient to travel two hours just to attend a parade.  

8.    Have brunch at Chef Mickey’s  🙂  One of Ben’s favorite spots to see his buddy Mickey!

9.    Ride the monorails, just for the fun of it  We do so once in awhile

10.  Start a new tradition of celebrating birthdays at Walt Disney World  This a wonderful perk of living so close to Walt Disney World.  

11.  Ride Splash Mountain at night during Wishes   We haven’t since moving to Florida- used to be a favorite thing to do while on vacation

12.  Ride Big Thunder at night during Wishes   See #11

13.  Listen to Lou Mongello’s audio guides while on Main Street/Adventureland/Fantasyland/Liberty Square and take the time to absorb all the details     No we haven’t but we should 🙂

14.  Have lunch at Le Cellier    Yes, one of our favorite places to eat in Epcot.

15.  Watch Illuminations on a winter’s night, enjoying the fact that it is warm & there is no snow on the ground   Yes & we enjoy the no snow fact not just at Illuminations but every month from November to May 🙂

16.  Go to Universal   Catie has been to Universal on a school trip but the rest of the family has not made it yet

17.  Go to Sea World   A few times- we especially love the new Antarctica attraction.

18.  Explore the beaches of Florida–kids have never been to the ocean before.  We plan to go to both sides of Florida:  The Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean    Yes and yes.  We’ve been to Anna Maria Island and Treasure Island on the Gulf side, and Cocoa Beach on the Atlantic side.  

19.  Dinner with Amy and Craig Petermann   No, it never worked out.

20.  Being able to meet Facebook friends who do not live in Florida but come to Walt Disney World on vacation.  Shelley Urick Jones , we look forward to meeting you!   This is another awesome benefit of living so close to Walt Disney World, the ability to meet up with our Facebook friends!  There are too many to mention here, but we love meeting up with you all!

21.  Lou Mongello’s WDW Radio Meets of the Month     We have been to some!

22.  Exploring the city of Clermont and getting to know our new home city    Yes we know our way around fairly easily.  We really like the area and enjoy living here.

23.  Spending time in the Parks with Stephen and Judy Demeritt   We always enjoy spending time in the Parks with our friends.

24.  Meeting Marilyn Johnson in person!      Marilyn and her husband Dan were extremely gracious and made us feel very welcome after we first moved to Florida.  We’re blessed to have met them.

25.  Go to Gatorland      Still on the bucket list!

26.  Enjoy the Osborne lights at the Studios as many times as possible   These are incredibly awesome and guaranteed to instill the Christmas spirit in you!  We do try to go as many times as possible during the season.

27.  Enjoy making new friendships with all our Facebook friends who live in Florida  Absolutely!

28.  Walking through the World Showcase at Epcot while our kids are in school.  We have not been able to explore all the countries because of the kids not wanting to spend time there.    Exploring the countries is still on our bucket list.   We pulled our children from the public schools and homeschool them.  Can we say field trip!  🙂

29.  The various shopping opportunities, not only at Walt Disney World, but at the many outlet malls in Orlando and the surrounding areas.  Ikea!   Yes, IKEA rocks, and we love being able to visit any store we want to within a short driving distance.  We have discovered a few Disney Outlet Stores in the Orlando Area, which can be hit or miss on the merchandise available, but definitely worth checking into it.  

30.  Just enjoying the whole adventure of relocating to a new state!    🙂  🙂  

31.  Day trips to explore Florida:  cities in particular that pop into our heads for no particular reason are Tampa, Naples, St. Augustine, and Jacksonville.    We have not yet had any day trips, but two that may happen in the next year are St. Augustine for the historical aspect of it (another field trip!) and Naples…..can we say Culver’s!    Ok, that is not the only reason to visit Naples, but it’s definitely an incentive!

32.  Shelling at Sanibel Island        We have not done this yet; we have heard it’s not as good as it was in years past, but we would still like to visit.

33.  Chuckling to ourselves in February when the temperature is 80 and sunny, knowing that back in Wisconsin it is probably blowing and snowing and bitterly cold.  Will we miss snow?  No we will not!   We apologize to all our Wisconsin friends, but yes we do chuckle 🙂

34.  Taking in Bob Jackson’s show at the Port Orleans Riverside resort!   We haven’t, but the main reason is the noise level is just too unbearable for Ben.  He has noise sensitivities and he can’t tolerate it.     

35.  Staying at the Port Orleans Riverside resort for old times sake!     Definitely on the want-to-do-list SOON!  We have eaten in the food court a few times.

36.  Christmas shopping at Downtown Disney    Every year- we love the atmosphere at Downtown Disney!

37.  Riding down the Sassagoula River from Port Orleans Riverside to Downtown Disney (and vice versa)    No not yet.

38.  Exploring the cities of Lake County    Yes, we’ve visited Leesburg, Fruitland Park, The Villages, Mt Dora, Eustis, Astatula, Tavares, Lady Lake, Minneola, & Groveland

39.  Visiting Celebration for leaf drop (to replace the Fall we will be missing in Wisconsin)  No not yet

40.  Being there for opening day of the new Fantasyland   No, but we were for opening weekend 🙂

41.  Resort hopping at Christmas to see all the different Christmas decorations   This is in the plans for this year.  We have been to the Grand Floridian, to view the Gingerbread House and the Christmas decorations, which are incredible.  

42.  Counting garbage cans to make sure the Demeritts caught them all  😉   No.

43.  Trying on every hat that is sold on Disney property    We’ve given up the practice of trying on hats, after a cast member friend of ours mentioned how everybody tries on hats and do you really want to put something on your head after hundreds of people have put it on their head?  Um, no.

44.  Food and Wine Festival  🙂

45.  Enjoy a carrot cake cookie  No, but we have enjoyed a Butterfinger cupcake.  Actually it was too rich for our tastes, would not buy it again.

46.  Visit Star Wars weekend  Yes

47.   Dinner, lunch and/or breakfast with Lou Mongello     Not yet, hoping to one day!

48.   Movie at the Downtown Disney AMC theatre    We saw Wreck It Ralph there before it was released, courtesy of a special meet-up with Disney Parks Blog.  

49.  Trying all 500 flavors in the Coke Freestyle Dispenser  Not all the flavors- that would take gobs of money & tons of time.

50.  DisneyQuest   We love DisneyQuest.  It was the main reason we renewed our premium passes this year.  


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Four Parks, One Weekend

When we were first planning our move to the beautiful state of Florida, one recurring theme that kept surfacing was the anticipation of being able to visit the parks at a moment’s notice.  As we’ve mentioned before, what we envisioned as a short drive to Walt Disney World can actually take us anywhere from 35-55 minutes to arrive, depending on traffic.  We try to schedule our Disney trips in on Wednesday afternoons/early evenings (kids have early release from school) and the weekends.  School and homework commitments always take priority over our fun time at the parks, and there really isn’t sufficient time on a normal school day to drive over two hours round trip for an hour in the park.  This past weekend was a three-day weekend (end of the first grading period for the kids), so we were able to squeeze in an extra day at Walt Disney World.  It was not our intention to visit all four parks this weekend; just happened to work out that way!

We rely on the WDW Lines app (downloaded to our smartphones) when we decide which park to visit.  (Please see touringplans.com for more information).  It is an excellent resource and well worth the small investment:  it rates the individual parks based on how crowded they are expected to be, list show times, and estimated wait times for all the attractions.

We decided Saturday to visit the Animal Kingdom.  Believe it or not, this was our first visit to AK since our move in July, mainly because we didn’t feel a need to roast ourselves in the hot Florida sun.  For us, Animal Kingdom is by far the hottest park.  We know others may disagree, but we knew there would be plenty of cooler temperatures in the upcoming months, and we were fine with delaying our visit.  We were thrilled to see how close the parking lot tram brought us to the entrance, as we were used to quite the hike when we stayed on property and used Disney transportation.

[As a side note, one of our ‘wants’ is to stay on Disney property at each of the resort hotels.  We have decided that when this happens, we will use our own vehicle and not the Disney bus transportation service.  We much prefer using the parking lot and trams:  it is more convenient and less stressful.]

Ben faced his fear of Expedition Everest:  he first tried it in 2007 and quickly placed it on his list (of things he was afraid of!).  It is now a must-do attraction at Animal Kingdom!  He absolutely loved it!  Yay Ben!

Sunday was a Magic Kingdom and Epcot Day:  Epcot, because of Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, MK closes at 7:00.  We chose to take the monorail over to Epcot for a couple of hours.  Magic Kingdom is by far our favorite park, and while it can be an inconvenience to have to take a ferry boat or monorail from the TTC to the Magic Kingdom, most days we enjoy the magical approach as the way Walt Disney wanted it to be.

Naturally, this left Disney’s  Hollywood Studios for Monday; this is our second favorite park:  Rock N Roller Coaster, the Tower of Terror and Star Tours are absolute must-dos. We went into the 5 & 10 store on  Hollywood Boulevard for the first time ever, and discovered a lot of things that we would love to have for Christmas…:=)  Thought you might want to take a look too!

Toy Story Mania is also one of our favorites:  we always joke with Ben that he so needs to stop coloring on the walls, and that we’re going to have to take his crayons away :=)

We have been asked:  what is the best thing about going to the parks now that we live here?  We would say the ability to enjoy the parks and really take in the theming of the attractions and surroundings, without feeling the need to rush around and do it all.   Walt Disney World isn’t going anywhere, and neither are we–we have plenty of time to explore and enjoy everything it has to offer.