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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Bucket List: #51-100

This is a continuation of our post from yesterday:  another 50 items that made it to our bucket list before our move, and what we have accomplished so far.  Our comments are in blue following the line item.

51.  Enjoying the streetmosphere entertainment.    We love Mulch, Sweat & Shears at the Studios.  If you haven’t been able to catch their act yet, you must.  Go do it.  🙂

52.  Festival of the Masters    Not yet.  The weather didn’t cooperate last year.

53.  Going to the Night of Joy     We have not yet attended but definitely want to.  This is another example of the noise level being way too loud for Ben.

54.  Flower and Garden Festival     Neither of us is into gardening a lot, but we enjoy walking through Epcot during Flower & Garden and taking it all in.  

55.  Holidays Around the World at Epcot     We have not purposefully stopped and listened, but we have heard bits and pieces as we’ve walked through World Showcase.  We’ve especially heard the Norway rendition quite a bit, as we passed it on the way to Candlelight Processional.  

56.  Sounds Like Summer at Epcot         We have not attended yet.

57.  The Candlelight Processional      Last year Catie was part of an honor choir with Candlelight Processional and performed at Disney four separate days.   We also attended one time after Christmas so that Catie could see it from a non-performer point of view.  The narrators we’ve heard have been Neal Patrick Harris, Geena Davis, Amy Grant, Andy Garcia, and Jodi Benson.  This year she will be performing once, again with narrator Neal Patrick Harris.  I’m sure we will see it a few more times beside.   We consider this a new tradition for us at Christmas time.  It is absolutely beautiful and brings forth the true spirit of the season.  

58.  Finding a good Friday fish fry!   No, we’ve found a place that may have potential, Wolfy’s in Leesburg, but we haven’t checked it out yet.   Friday fish frys are just not the thing down here.

59.  Visiting the Kennedy Space Center    We went for the first time this March, and plan to go back in December when Nick and Jess visit.  It really is a place where you want to be there early in the morning and stay until close, and then you still don’t see everything.    We are looking forward to seeing the new Atlantis and Angry Birds exhibits.

60.  Riding TTA during Wishes     No, we haven’t done this since moving here.

61.  Sit at each of the Parks and take time to “people watch”     On occasion, especially when we’re at the Parks at close- it’s simply easier to let all the people pass before we head out.

62.  MLB Spring Training    No.

63.  Pick a fresh Florida orange from a tree    No, still would love to do this.  We do pass orange groves on the way to Disney and love the smell!

64.  Go swimming on a warm December day     Ben & Catie have– two years ago they were swimming in the pool on Christmas Eve day

65.  Enjoy a “work at home day” with Craig Petermann at Epcot   No, the Internet connection is not reliable enough.

66.  Take a family Christmas picture at WDW     I don’t think we have a family picture, but we do have several shots of us separately.   Something to make sure to do this year.

67.  Earn all the Gowalla WDW stamps and pins       Gowalla is no longer around.

68.  Be one of “those people” checking in all over Lake Buena Vista with Foursquare         Of course.

69.  Move in to our new apartment in Clermont     Yes!

70.  Find the best pizza places in the area     Stone Creek Pizza in Clermont, Napolis in Minneola are two of our faves.  

71.  Our first Saturday library visit to our new “home” library     Yes, and we go every Saturday, though we still prefer our library back home in Wisconsin.

72.  Stroll the Boardwalk     Not yet.

73.  Share a Kitchen Sink at Beaches & Cream with the family    It’s definitely going to happen sometime!

74.  Wild Africa Trek at AK     No

75.  Pirates and Pals Fireworks     No not as of yet.

76.  Backstage Magic Tour    No.

77.  Family Magic Tour     No.

78.  Get a haircut at The Harmony Barbershop on Main Street USA    No, not yet.

79.  The Pirates League with Ben    No

80.  Keys to the Kingdom Tour    No

81.  Walk through Fort Wilderness Campgrounds at Christmas to see the campers’ decorations     This year, maybe!

82.  See a University of Florida football game    No

83.  Stay in the Magic Kingdom until the wee hours of the morning to enjoy the peace    No

84.  Orange Bowl Parade on New Year’s Day    No

85.  Have a holiday sandwich at the Earl of Sandwich    Believe it or not, we have not done this yet.  We were going to last year, and then the place was absolutely mobbed.  Poor timing on our part- but never went back later.  Now they are available year round so there is just no excuse!

86.  Have a diabetic friendly treat at Babycakes    No not yet.

87.  Go to Butterfly World    No but I’m sure the kids would love it.

88.  Swim with the manatees     No but still think this would be awesome.  

89.  Explore Florida’s state parks    We have not been in one yet 😦   Though we did find out recently that Lake Louisa rents out cabins to stay in, so this may be a possibility in the near future!

90.  Visit the Everglades allligator farm  http://www.everglades.com/     Nope

91.  Hearing the word blizzard and knows it only refers to a waterpark or a DQ dessert!    The nearest DQ to us is in Mount Dora, which is approximately a 30 minute drive from us.  And no, we haven’t been to Blizzard Beach yet.  But yes, it is wonderful not having to worry about snowy weather!

92.  Go to Port Canaveral and watch the Disney ships leave port    No but we want to do this.  Actually we want to be on the Disney ship leaving the port……

93. Finding all of the local arts and crafts shows and fairs.    We have not done this, but there is one coming up November 23-24 in Winter Garden that we may check out.

94.  Getting to see the White Sox play in Tampa Bay.    No

95.  Being able to get more exercise by taking walks and biking the trails of Lake County year-round.    No bikes yet, I’m not sure we will as Clermont is very hilly, but we do love taking walks around the area.

96.  Enjoying the scenery of Florida, knowing that it will stay green year round, and not become brown and dead for six months out of the year.    Yes, this is nice not seeing the deadness of winter, but we do miss the autumn colors.  

97.  Enjoy a hot dog at Casey’s whenever we want one     BEST. HOT. DOGS. EVER.

98.  Sit at Cosmic Ray’s and enjoy an entire Sunny Eclipse show    You know, this was a must-do every vacation trip, but we have not been in there since we moved.

99.  Take a yearly family picture in front of Cinderella Castle.     We’re not consistent with this.

100. A family picture and mini-celebration immediately after we cross the Florida state line on our way to becoming Florida residents!  We did not take a family pic, but there was great excitement in the car from the Florida state line all the way to Clermont!

So that’s our update to our bucket list.  We could probably even make a new one, as we can think of additions to it that we didn’t include.  What’s our your bucket list?


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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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Help us Celebrate!

It’s hard to believe that two years has passed since we first left Wisconsin!  But it has, and here we are.  We wanted to mark the day with a giveaway for our readers, as without your support and friendship we don’t believe we would have been successful in achieving our dream.  We intend to blog later about how life is 2 years later, but for now, we are giving you the chance to win!

Thanks to the gracious folks at PassPorter, we are giving away two books:  PassPorters’s Walt Disney World 2013 and PassPorter’s Disney Cruise Line and its Ports of Call.

But…. we were at the Emporium in Magic Kingdom, and we thought wouldn’t it be cool to add a couple extras?

How does a $10 Disney Gift Card Sound?

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And who can resist Mickey and the Monorail and Cinderella Castle?  This is such a cute pin!

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Please click on the Rafflecopter link to enter the giveaway!  One lucky reader will win all of these items!

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Wishes and Pixie Dust Second Floridaversary Giveaway


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The Lazy Summer

Now that both of our kids are officially done with school for the year, we can sit back and breathe a bit!  Our daughter finished the year in a Florida public school, our son half a year. We’re happy with the gains both of them have accomplished.

We are looking forward to having the entire summer to enjoy-last summer it was segmented due to the move; by the time we arrived in Florida the kids had less than a month of summer left due to school starting in August.   This year we dub it “the lazy summer”, because that is what we hope it will be–lazy summer afternoons relaxing by the pool or playing at Disney.  It almost seems wrong to label a summer here as lazy; there is so much activity that can be done, and we certainly have no intentions to stay inside and be lazy in the traditional sense.

For us, lazy means enjoying the day with little schedule interruptions, and no real desire to get it all done or see it all.  The summer heat requires that we slow down, and the beautiful Florida weather reminds us that if we don’t get it accomplished today, there’s always tomorrow, next week, next month, next February.  For us, it has been an absolute wonder, and really, a dream come true,  to live in a state that has awesome weather year round. We never turned our heat on this winter, have no idea if it works or not, and did not wear our winter coats at all.

The one thing we have discovered is that if the weather turns cold or rainy, unless we are running errands, we don’t have to go out.  It sounds like a simple concept, but one that didn’t occur to us right away.  The mantra is, if you live here, you go to Disney.  All the time. Well, it dawned on us after one particular cold and wet day at the Magic Kingdom, that we weren’t really having fun, it wasn’t a magical time, and we didn’t have to be here!  The luxury of living so close to the magic is that you can pick and choose when you experience the magic!   This Friday our current plan is to go to Hollywood Studios, but if the rain continues, then we will switch to Plan B and do something else, indoors.

Watch for more regular posts coming out this summer.  Ben’s homeschool evaluation is next week, so we’ll blog about that; we will be travelling back to Wisconsin at the end of this month for Nick’s wedding, and a special one year blog post will appear on our anniversary, July 25!  We are excited to share it with y’all!

We have also set up a Facebook group for our blog:  Wishes and Pixie Dust– if you’re interested in talking Disney, let us know and we’ll be happy to add you!


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Happy Nine!

Today we are celebrating our ninth month anniversary of arriving in Florida as residents!  The interesting thing about a moving blog is that it gives you an opportunity to look back at your thoughts prior to the move.  On April 13, 2011 we wrote this blog: 100 days and we thought it would be fun one year later to take a look at a few of the items on our “Top 100” List to see how we feel about them now.

10.  Start a new tradition of celebrating birthdays at Walt Disney World

This is an awesome tradition that we have started and will continue.  In February we purchased the Tables in Wonderland card and we anticipate that we will not only receive back the membership fee, but also extra savings above and beyond the initial cost.  We purchased our card from Guest Services at the Magic Kingdom, and received our card immediately.

14.  Have lunch at Le Cellier

Reservations are set for August 8!

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.

Done and done!  We have been to Anna Maria Island and Treasure Island on the Gulf side and Cocoa Beach on the Atlantic side.  We definitely intend to schedule in more beach days this summer.

22.  Exploring the city of Clermont and getting to know our new home city.

We haven’t done this as much as we expected to.  We even missed the annual festival Pig on the Pond due to inclement weather, something that we had been looking forward to ever since we made the decision to move to Clermont.

26.  Enjoy the Osborne lights at the Studios as many times as possible.

We never tire of this.

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

We really have enjoyed meeting y’all and we feel blessed that we are able to spend time with two different couples who we consider good friends of ours.   Facebook is a really great way to connect with people to begin that friendship.

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!

Yea, we’ve done that 🙂  Although we feel it is ironic that Wisconsin had a mild winter this year.

34.  Taking in Bob Jackson’s show at the Port Orleans Riverside resort!

35.  Staying at the Port Orleans Riverside resort for old times sake!

We have not done either one of these yet, but it is definitely in the works.   We’d like to stay in one of the new Princess rooms.

37.  Riding down the Sassagoula River from Port Orleans Riverside to Downtown Disney (and vice versa)

See above!

40.  Being there for opening day of the new Fantasyland.

We were not there for the soft opening of Storybook Circus.  The crowds were absolutely packed in, and we’ve discovered as residents, it’s simply not worth it.  We went a couple of days later when it was not as busy.

50.  DisneyQuest

Yes, we’ve done this a few times, and thoroughly enjoy ourselves every time we go.  It’s a great alternative to a rainy day.  Our philosophy is that we do not go to the parks when it rains- it’s simply not worth the hassle of dealing with the ponchos.  We have been a couple of times, and it does detract from the magic of the parks.

54.  Flower and Garden Festival

We are not garden people by any means, but walking around Epcot looking at the various topiaries and displays was enjoyable.

66.  Take a family Christmas picture at WDW

Hmmm.  We did not do this at Christmas; may be a new tradition we need to start.

69.  Move in to our new apartment in Clermont

It was quite exciting to have that newness of being able to discover everything and experience many “firsts” but it was also overwhelming  to not have the basic necessities with us those first weeks.  While it is fun to buy all new items, it can be scary to walk into Target knowing that you need to buy “everything”.   Nine months later there are still a couple of pieces of furniture that we need to purchase, and a few assorted kitchen items, but we want to let our readers know that everything does not need to be purchased right away.  To do so requires gobs of money or extending yourself on credit, the latter being something we would never advise.

70.  Find the best pizza places in the area.

We have found two good pizzerias, and this is a goal we are still working on!

71.  Our first Saturday library visit to our new “home” library.

We still regularly visit the library every Saturday.  The kids are currently into the ‘Harry Potter’ series, and we pick up other books as well.   It is not as nice, nor as big, as our library back in Wisconsin.  There are no tables and chairs to sit at, and the kids used to enjoy doing that.  So consequently, our visits are shorter.

88.  Swim with the manatees.

We have not swum with the manatees, but Ben has become a huge lover of manatees, loves to visit them at Epcot, and we all are looking forward to visiting Sea World for the first time.

89.  Explore Florida’s state parks.

Between the poisonous snakes, alligators, bears and black panthers, this is not something we are so eager to do anymore.  🙂

96.  Enjoying the scenery of Florida, knowing that it will stay green year round, and not become brown and dead for six months out of the year.

This is still huge for us.  Love, love, love seeing all the palm trees, and it is so nice to see flowers in bloom in January!   Yesterday and today it was cool enough to open our lanai doors and let the fresh breezes blow in.

99.  Take a yearly family picture in front of Cinderella Castle.

We have not done this yet, but will need to do soon!  Another new family tradition!

We had heard prior to our move that it may take as long as one or two years after relocation to adjust fully to our new environment.  We still feel that we are in the adjustment process, but that it gets better every month.  We couldn’t have picked a better apartment complex to move into, for which we are very grateful. The cost of living is higher here than in Wisconsin; but we knew it coming in.   The only negative thing to report is the school situation for Ben, but we know God is in control with it and he will lead to us to the right school or option for Ben.