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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2013 Florida School Grades

FL School Grades

The Florida Department of Education released their School Grades for 2013.

You can follow the link below to view all of their listings and historical information for all Florida schools.



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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.  


Getting To Know – Winter Park


For this entry in our ‘Getting to Know’ series on the places you can look at moving to in Florida, we have information on Winter Park from Beatrice Feeney.  We are very happy to have Bea’s information on this area of Central Florida.

We live in Winter Park. I believe it is the PERFECT neighborhood for us, but not for everyone. For us, we needed a nice neighborhood close to work. My hubby & I have had good experiences finding jobs in the Altamonte Springs area, north Orlando area – and that has been very convenient to home. Our area on the Lynx Bus System that services the Orlando area – I don’t know the schedules or how things are done, but for someone who needs transportation, that could be very useful.

I must warn people who move here to be closer to Disney that if you live on the north side of Orlando, you either have to deal with TRAFFIC on I-4 or Toll Roads. We have tried both. I can get from home to EPCOT (22 miles) in 45 minutes or sometimes it takes an hour and a half to get into the parks because you go 16 mph on the highway for 15 miles.

If you want to move to a great community with a lot of FUN activities around your HOME then Winter Park truly is a GREAT place! There are always activities for holidays in Central Park – free music, free outdoor movie to relax in the park with neighbors and friends. We’ve been to free events for Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, 4th of July, Christmas Parade…it truly is a wonderful town to call home.

I also want to share that we don’t have kids, but have heard that around our area in Winter Park and Maitland there are good schools – I’m sorry that I can’t help too much more in that area. (Mark’s note: School info has been added below.)

Our Realtor has been amazing with questions as we were new to the area and he was one of the FIRST non-Disney Florida friends. He continues to keep in touch and helps us anytime we ask, as he has lived here all his life. That sort of trust in a Realtor is something that I have never found with anyone else. He helped us find both the house & neighborhood that was perfect for us.  Just remember, if you want to be able to go to Disney every day after work, this may be a bit too far but it’s not too far to go weekly.

I hope some of this information is helpful to you – but if I can give you other information or help in any way, just let me know & I will be happy to help!

You can reach out to Bea via Facebook: www.facebook.com/beatrice.feeney.  Bea also authors a great blog you should all check out at adisneygirlinorlando.blogspot.com.

Some Places of Interest in Winter Park

Full Sail University

Rollins College

Crealde School of Art

Amtrak Station

The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art, which houses the largest collection of Tiffany glass.

For more information on Winter Park, please visit the links below.

http://cityofwinterpark.org/Pages/Government.aspx (City of Winter Park)

http://www.wppl.org/ (Winter Park Library)

http://www.communityexplore.com/winterparkfl/ (Explore Winter Park)

http://www.wphistory.org/ (Winter Park Historical Association)

http://www.winterpark.org/ (Chamber of Commerce)

Winter Park Area School Info

2012 Public School Grades
School Types: 1 = elementary; 2 = middle; 3 = high; 4 = combination

School Name 2012 Points Scale Grade – 2012 School Type
WINTER PARK HIGH 1244 1600 A 03

https://www.ocps.net (Orange County Schools)

https://www.ocps.net/Students/Pages/SchoolDirectory.aspx (Orange County School Directory)

https://www.ocps.net/Parents/Pages/FindaSchool.aspx (Orange County Schools – Find a School)

Winter Park Private Schools:

St. Margaret Mary Catholic School

The Geneva School

The Parke House Academy

Trinity Preparatory School

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Getting To Know – Clermont


To kick off our new ‘Getting To Know’ series on the places you can look at moving to in Florida, today we have information from Greg Pabst.  Greg and his family moved to Clermont in 2012 and I am glad to have his extra take on Clermont to add to what Jen and I can provide.

I thought I would share reasons why we picked Clermont since you already know everything else about the Clermont area. Orlando is very spread out and not compacted. It was important for us to find an area that would be as centrally located to potential work locations as well as Disney. Also our proximity to shopping, dining and area conveniences was important too. We don’t like living in the sticks, but we don’t like to be in the city either. Clermont offered this to us. Initially we were looking at Winter Garden, since it was closer to Disney but the housing cost more there and yards were very small with you practically looking into your neighbor’s window out your own. For the same price as Winter Garden we got a much larger house with nice extras like granite counter tops and large tile floors. Clermont did push my comfort factor regarding how far we were from Downtown etc, as a lot of tech and office jobs are in that vicinity or north of there (Maitland and Altamonte Springs etc). But, in the end it was worth the extra drive for the deal we got in Clermont. Since we are in southern Clermont (proper), near Hammock Ridge and 27, Disney is about 30 mins drive for us. We also heard of the growth that Clermont has recently undergone. We like areas that are growing and new. I was impressed by the road infrastructure improvements. I can’t wait to see new things popping up (ie. Like the new Hobby Lobby). Schools and crime rates were important to us as well. Clermont is much safer than other areas in Orlando. We were a little scared of the schools in Clermont as they aren’t as good as Winter Garden, but we have been happy so far with Pine Ridge Elementary. If you have any specific questions for me, I’d be happy to help out more.

You can reach out to Greg via Facebook: www.facebook.com/gregpabst.  Greg also runs a great website for all of us Disney addicts to help us find each other; www.DISaddicts.com.

For more information on Clermont, please visit the links below.






Clermont Area School Info

http://lake.k12.fl.us/lakeschools/site/default.asp (Lake County School District)

http://lake.k12.fl.us/Page/1542 (School Directory)

http://lake.k12.fl.us/site/Default.aspx?PageID=272 (School Zone Address Look-up)

2012 School Grades

School Types: 1 = elementary; 2 = middle; 3 = high; 4 = combination

School Name 2012 Points Scale Grade 2012 School Type

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New Feature Coming

We have had many requests for information that is more specific to areas that people can move to; quite a few of recent as many out there look to follow their dreams to move to FL.  Now, Jen and I have been looking to do this for a while but we had a challenge.  Do we just drive through cities and towns and report back what we see?  We felt this would leave you short on actual info as you’d ‘see’ the area but not ‘experience’ it.  So, we’ve reached out to many of our local friends and asked if they’d like to provide a short piece for us based on their personal experiences.  How is the shopping?  How are the schools?  How is the traffic?  How are the people and local conveniences?  We know this is what we’d like to have had and now we’re looking to bring it to you.  Watch for these pieces to be posted over the coming weeks and if you have a personal story you’d like to share, please let us know.

Mark and Jen