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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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.

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Going to Walt Disney World

What does it mean to be 24 miles away from Walt Disney World?  We thought we would share our perspective here.  Just a side note: our blog focus has been and will always be the issues surrounding relocation.   If you are searching for the latest merchandise displayed at the parks, or the latest news regarding refurbishments, this is not the blog to read.  There are several Disney blogs out there that provide that information, and we feel what we have to offer would only duplicate previously published news, and it is not worth our time to write about it nor your time to read it.  What keeps us unique is our primary focus on the issues surrounding relocation.

There is something magical about living here as a resident with the knowledge that we can go to Walt Disney World any time we can fit it into our life.  We don’t feel the urgency to go to the parks every day, and when at the parks, we are able to stroll about leisurely and not feel harried to fit every single attraction in.  As our son noted, he never has to feel sad about leaving Walt Disney World again, and he gets to see “his buddy” (Mickey Mouse) any time he wants.

We chose to purchase premium annual passes to Walt Disney World using the monthly payment plan that is offered to Florida residents.  The premium annual pass allows unlimited admission to all four theme parks, complimentary parking ($14 value per visit), 20% discount on merchandise purchased, special offers in regards to resort stays and dining, unlimited access to Disney’s Oak Trail Golf Course, ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, Disney Quest, and the Water Parks.  Disney requires a down payment equal to the admission price of a one day ticket, and then monthly payments of $37.63 per person. Click here for more information.

We keep a box in the laundry room that is dedicated for items that we need when we travel to Disney.   We purchased insulated water bottles with a carrying strap from CVS for five dollars each, and it has been the best investment for us.  We fill up the bottles with ice water when we leave the house, then place them in a soft sided cooler filled with ice for the drive to Disney, and they really do stay cool for quite awhile once we are in the parks, which is impressive in the Florida heat.  The SuperTarget located in Kissimmee (4795 W Irlo Bronson Memorial Hwy) does sell them as well, with Mickey Mouse imprinted on the insulated carrier, for $8.99.   This store has an impressive selection of Disney merchandise, and if you have access to a vehicle, we recommend a stop here to check it all out.

As noted in our last post, it takes us approximately an hour to travel to WDW, given the waiting time at traffic lights and traffic in general.  Once in the parking lot, it is necessary to board a tram to take us to the front gates, or in the instance of the Magic Kingdom, to the Transportation & Ticket Center, where we will need to board a monorail or a ferry to arrive at the Magic Kingdom.

The Florida heat does not lessen as a resident, unfortunately.  We have been told by several people that it does get better, but after chatting with a CM about it, he told us that we will learn to not go to the parks in the summer!  Well we certainly doubt that will happen!  Though, on that note, we have not yet been to Animal Kingdom park due to the excessive heat.   We may brave a trip in the next couple of weeks, but we look forward to being able to explore the park at length when the weather is less blistering.

We typically try not to spend an entire day at any one park.  One of our goals while going to Walt Disney World is to try to avoid purchasing food or merchandise items unless it is planned in advance.  It is so tempting to stop for lunch or wanting to purchase that unique souvenir, but these items add up very quickly.  We have discovered that we really miss the dining plan; not only for the delicious food but also as a way to relax, escape the heat and refresh for the rest of the day’s activities.

However, as a resident we are able to take in a meal at any time of the year.  We plan to purchase Tables in Wonderland, which offers a 20% discount on all food and beverage purchases at participating Walt Disney World locations.  Annual passholders receive $25 off the purchase price of $100, and we anticipate that it will more than pay for itself over the course of a year.  For example, this Friday we have reservations at the Crystal Palace for our daughter’s birthday lunch.  The cost is $30.88 per adult, which equals $123.52 before tax and gratuity.  Twenty percent off would equal $24.70, bringing the balance down to $98.82:  one meal results in recouping a third of the cost!  If you mail in an application, it takes approximately two weeks to receive your card, but you may also visit Guest Services at any of the parks or Downtown Disney for immediate purchase.

Does the Disney magic lessen for us because we have continual access to it?  No, not at all. If anything, it leads to a deeper appreciation of the vision Walt Disney had, a desire to discover more about the man behind the mouse, and it allows us the ability to experience as much Disney magic as possible.