Wishes And Pixie Dust

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


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.



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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Using DAS and Fastpass+ Together


Recently we were chosen to be among the first Annual Passholders to test MagicBands (MBs) and MyMagic+ (MM+), including the ability to schedule our Fastpass+ (FP+) times in advance.  We wanted to share our experience and some advice.

First, some quick background.  Recently we had some issues with using our DAS card and miscommunications we had with Disney.  We sent an email to Disability Relations at Walt Disney World and received a call from a Disability Relations representative and had a very nice call with her for almost an hour one afternoon.  She asked about our experiences overall with the entire DAS process and then what happened to cause our concern.  She was shocked at how we had heard so many different stories about the program.  What it all boils down to is that the only people who will know about any changes are people at her level and above working directly with the DAS program and that none had been planned or discussed back to Guest Relations (GR) or to those who staff the DAS help line; and that includes their Supervisors and Managers.  So, if anyone at that line or at GR tells anyone that there are ‘changes’ in place, planned or coming, that’s not true.  They won’t find out about any changes until they are ready to roll out and that’s not happening.  Right now and for the future the DAS works as always, 1 return time at a time with no limit per day or per the 14-day period.  Accommodations are the same as they were always meant to be.  They are on a guest by guest, day by day and Park by Park basis.  The only change is that there should be no notes in the files anymore “guaranteeing” a certain accommodation.  It all depends on how busy any Park is on any given day, how many attractions that Park has available and how much those accommodations are needed by that particular Guest.  And she stressed that no Cast Member should ever be saying that there is nothing they can do, and if you hear that, ask to speak to a Manager immediately, as there is always something they can do.  It might be re-admission tickets (paper Fastpasses), and they are allowed to give up to 3 sets at a time.  Or it may be as simple as giving you your first return time while at the GR desk if the Park isn’t busy.  How she put it to me is to simply state that you are using your Fastpasses and using your DAS but it just isn’t enough and you’d like just something extra to help with your day.  She did say that they take the feedback they get from guests like us to a weekly DAS committee meeting and they use that meeting to plan for the future.  So, send those emails in with your feedback.  The two biggest pieces of feedback they have right now is the ability to use a single return time for multiple rides and being able to have multiple return times at a time.  Email WDW.Guest.Communications@disneyworld.com, copying the email to Disability.Services@DisneyParks.com and specify that it for a DAS concern and give a phone number to call.

Some basic background on Fastpass+ may be needed.  As of today (and the program is subject to change), each guest is allowed 3 FP+ ‘reservations’ per day and they must be all at a single Park.  Epcot and Hollywood Studios (DHS) use a tier system which allows one FP+ for Tier 1 and 2 from Tier 2; the Magic Kingdom (MK) and the Animal Kingdom (DAK) have no tiers in place at this time.  A full list of all available FP+ attractions is at the end of this article for your reference.  If needed you can change your FP+ times and/or attractions at any time using the My Disney Experience (MDE) app on your phone, computer or at any of the FP+ kiosks available throughout the Parks.

And for some background on the DAS program, please visit our November article on this at this link: Our Experience With Disney’s DAS Card.  We also wrote on our general experiences at this link: Autism in the Parks.

We have now used our scheduled FP+ at all 4 Parks.  In order to test successfully, we chose to use only the DAS card itself and no additional accommodations.  Our first Park was DAK, where we had FP+ scheduled for Kilimanjaro Safari, Dinosaur and Finding Nemo – The Musical.   We started out by riding Kilimanjaro Safari.  Afterwards, on the way to Dinosaur, we stopped to get a DAS return time for Expedition Everest.  After riding Dinosaur we headed back to use our Everest return time.  We then headed back to get a DAS time for Primeval Whirl before going to watch Finding Nemo; afterwards going back to use the Primeval Whirl time.  There was a little more ‘back and forth’ and planning here, but it was reasonable and do-able; and we were able to successfully spend a good afternoon with little stress.

Our second Park was DHS.  Here we chose FP+ times for Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster (RNR), Tower of Terror (ToT) and Star Tours.  On our way to Star Tours, we stopped for a DAS return time for Toy Story Mania (TSM).  Let me mention that for a day at DHS, we would suggest getting one FP+ time for TSM due to the always high return times.  The available times this day were outside our visit range so we adapted.  After Star Tours we stopped and watched Muppet*Vision 3D before returning to Toy Story for our return time ride.  We then went to Tower of Terror and rode and headed for Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster.  The coaster was down at this point and we later learned that Disney had sent an email to our registered MDE email letting us know that it was down and allowing us to use our FP+ at any time that day at DHS on any attraction.  If an attraction is down during any of your FP+ times, check your MDE or at a FP+ kiosk for the options you’re given in exchange.  We did ride the Great Movie Ride before heading out this day.  My thoughts on DHS are to FP+ TSM and if you plan to ride both ToT and RNR, to FP+ ToT and get a DAS time for RNR first.  That will allow you to hit both rides fairly easily with little back and forth.

Our third Park was Epcot.  For this visit we chose Test Track, The Seas with Nemo and Friends and Spaceship Earth.  We first headed to The Land where we got a return time for Soarin’ and then rode Living with the Land and a quick rest stop at Sunshine Seasons before riding Soarin’.  Soarin’ is a good choice for using your DAS instead of FP+ only because you do have some options within The Land to spend your wait time (Living with the Land, Circle of Life, a meal or snack at Sunshine Seasons).  We then rode Nemo and Friends and visited the manatee rescue station before heading over to Test Track, riding with our FP+.  We then ended our visit with a Spaceship Earth ride.  If following our method, you could also stop and get a return time at Mission: Space before riding Test Track and can also use Universe of Energy to spend wait time.  Maelstrom can easily use a DAS return time with a stroll around the surrounding Pavilions to pass time.


Finally our tests brought us to the Magic Kingdom.  For this particular visit we chose Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (BTMR), Under the Sea and Space Ranger Spin.  On the way to BTMR we stopped for a return time for Haunted Mansion, rode BTMR and then returned to Haunted Mansion to ride.  We got a return time for Pirates of the Caribbean and went to get Dole Whips to pass the wait time.  We returned to Pirates and then headed to Fantasyland.  There we got a return time for Winnie the Pooh, watched Mickey’s PhilharMagic and then went back to ride Pooh.  We then went to Under the Sea for our FP+ time (we would have gotten a return time for Peter Pan’s Flight but that was down at the time.  After Under the Sea we stopped at Space Mountain for a return time before riding Buzz and the PeopleMover.  We then used the return time on Space Mountain (well, the kids did) before heading out for the day.
We did a second trip to the Magic Kingdom this past Saturday, starting earlier than usual (we arrived around 10am whereas we normally start our Park days between 1:30pm and 2:30pm).  We were able to walk on Haunted Mansion, PhilharMagic, Country Bears, Carousel of Progress and PeopleMover that day while using FP+ for Big Thunder, Mickey Mouse Meet and Tomorrowland Speedway and DAS return times for Pooh, Buzz, Space Mountain and Peter Pan.  Our son did comment that this was the best day he had at Disney since the GAC changed to the DAS.

Our overall experience was positive.  If planning accordingly, you can balance FP+ and DAS return times along with shows, snack/meal breaks and “quiet time” periods successfully.  We would highly recommend consulting a Park map as you plan FP+ times so that you can work them well together with DAS return times without doing more ‘back and forth’ travelling than is needed and to plan DAS return times for attractions where there are some low wait time attractions or shows nearby to help you pass wait times.  A good example, based on our experience, is to get a FP+ for BTMR given how far it is from other attractions (especially when Splash Mountain is closed); so you won’t have to trek to the back of the Park to do this as a DAS return.  We would also suggest that if you have a child who would like to ride something more than once to get a FP+ time, but get a DAS return time before boarding at your FP+ time.  This will allow for a quicker re-boarding for a second ride.  Finally, we suggest that if you eat a meal, get a DAS return time before you go to the meal, as we did with Haunted Mansion when eating at Columbia Harbor House.

Please also take the time to listen to the wonderful Special Mouse Podcast, I was a guest on a recent episode that you can listen to on iTunes, Stitcher or at this link: Beta Testing the DAS Card with Fast Pass+ at Walt Disney World.


Animal Kingdom Fastpass+ Attractions

Expedition Everest
Festival of the Lion King
Finding Nemo – The Musical
It’s Tough to Be a Bug!
Kali River Rapids
Kilimanjaro Safaris
Meet Favorite Disney Pals at Adventurers Outpost
Mickey’s Jammin’ Jungle Parade
Primeval Whirl

Magic Kingdom Fastpass+ Attractions

Ariel’s Grotto
The Barnstormer
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
Festival of Fantasy Parade
Dumbo the Flying Elephant
Enchanted Tales with Belle
The Haunted Mansion
it’s a small world
Jungle Cruise
Mad Tea Party
The Magic Carpets of Aladdin
Main Street Electrical Parade
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
Mickey’s PhilharMagic
Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor
Peter Pan’s Flight
Pirates of the Caribbean
Princess Fairytale Hall: Meet Cinderella and a Visiting Princess
Princess Fairytale Hall: Meet Rapunzel and a Visiting Princess
Princess Fairytale Hall: Meet Anna and Elsa from Frozen
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
Space Mountain
Splash Mountain
Tomorrowland Speedway
Town Square Theater Mickey Mouse Meet and Greet
Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid
Wishes Nighttime Spectacular

Epcot Fastpass+ Attractions

Group A (Choose 1)

Epcot Character Spot
IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth
Test Track

Group B (Choose 2)

Captain EO
Journey Into Imagination With Figment
Living with the Land
Mission: SPACE (Green or Orange)
Spaceship Earth
The Seas with Nemo & Friends
Turtle Talk with Crush

Hollywood Studios Fastpass+ Attractions

Group A (Choose 1)

Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage
Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster
Toy Story Mania!

Group B (Choose 2)

Disney Junior – Live on Stage!
Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular!
Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show
Muppet*Vision 3D
Star Tours: The Adventures Continue
The American Idol Experience
The Comedy Warehouse Holiday Special (Seasonal)
The Great Movie Ride
The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
Voyage of the Little Mermaid


The Cost of Relocation

While the kids are enjoying some pool time, we thought it would be a perfect time to put up a new post.  This is one of the moments that kept inspiring us forward during the not-so-fun packing moments of the past several months:  sitting underneath palm trees using the computer while the kids enjoy swimming in the pool.  Yea, life is good.

One of the questions we’ve been asked is how much money do you need to relocate to Florida.  This is a decision your family will need to make, depending upon your circumstances, but we’ll share what our expenses have been for our relocation.

Boxes.  Whether you use a professional moving company or plan to move yourself, you will need boxes.  We were fortunate enough to have Mayflower give us a stash of free boxes, Nick brought home several from work, as well as obtaining a few on Freecycle.  We ended up only spending $10 on boxes, but this could well have cost us hundreds.  Our advice is to start collecting boxes now, because you will underestimate how many you need, and better to have too many than have to pay for them as your move gets closer.  We ended up having 288 items packed on to the moving truck, and most of those were boxes.

Paper to stuff the boxes.   We opted to purchase end rolls of paper from our local newspaper company, for $2 a roll.  We estimate we’ve spent $90 for this.  You can elect to use newspaper to stuff boxes, but you risk the newsprint transferring to your items.  We had no problem using newsprint for local moves, but felt for a week on a moving truck it might be best not to use that option.

Packing tape.    We didn’t keep track of how much packing tape we used, but it was a lot.  It easily surpassed one hundred dollars, as towards the end we were using four rolls a week, and at $5 per roll, it adds up quickly.

Moving Truck.   We chose to use professional movers for a long distance move.  We have always used U-Haul in the past, and it was always totally exhausting and always took hours and hours longer than we expected.   That is not the experience we wanted this time. We wanted to go with a reputable company, as some moving companies will under quote and then hold your goods until you pay what they demand.  We paid $3400, all based on weight, so the more you dispose of, the cheaper your move will be.

Housing Costs.  Our experience is based on apartment living costs.  We paid a $149 non-refundable fee to apply for residence living as well as $100 deposit fee which was applied to our security deposit, which was $554 total.  Upon move-in, we wrote a check for $1233, which covered the first month’s rent plus a pro-rated amount for the week of July 25-July 31.

We recommend doing an internet search on apartments in the area and narrowing down your search to one or two options.  We originally were going to put in applications at two or three different complexes, and then tour when we moved down here, but the application fees were too prohibitive for that to happen.

If you plan to travel down before you move to check out the area, be sure to factor in that expense as well.   Airplane tickets, rental cars or cab fares, and incidental expenses add up quickly.

If you are looking at renting or purchasing a home, factor in the expenses of pest control and pool maintenance, as these are necessary items that must be done regularly, and if renting, are usually not included in the price of rent.   We can tell you how nice it is not to have to worry about those two things.  We don’t pay any more in rent for our apartment than we would if we rented a house; in fact less if you factor in the expenses of these two items, and it simply is awesome to be able to walk to the pool and not worry about cleaning it.

Car Maintenance.  This is necessary if you are driving across several states, as we did.  You definitely do not want to break down in the middle of nowhere needing extensive repairs. We paid over two thousand dollars to get our vehicle ready for the trip; we definitely did not account for so high a cost, so please be sure to over-estimate your possible expenses in this area.

AAA.   We highly recommend AAA coverage.  This cost us $82 for the year, and gave us a personalized Trip Tix, state guidebooks, maps, and peace of mind if the unthinkable would occur.  (It didn’t).  We are now covered through next June, and this is something we always renew.

The Next Exit.  This book is very helpful if you are traveling interstates; it allows you to see at what upcoming exits there are food, gas and hotel stops.   We used this book to guide us to what exit to take, and then used our GPS navigator on our phones to determine the exact location.

Tolls.  We paid $2.50 in Illinois, $5.60 in Indiana and $1.00 in Florida using our SunPass. The SunPass unit plus ten dollars worth of toll money cost $36.50, and the unit was mailed directly to our house in Wisconsin  We still have a balance of $6.75, as we find that we do not need to take the Turnpike to go to Disney World, and most everything else we could need is located in Clermont.

Iphone or Android.  While not a necessity, we highly recommend having a phone with GPS functionality.  It helped us find various things while en route, and it literally has been a life saver in finding locations in Clermont.  If you’re into social media as we are, it also allows you to post status updates and tweet endlessly 🙂

Gas.  This of course is dependent on gas prices in the various cities you travel through, and you really have no control over this expense.  We paid $225 for gas from Wisconsin to Florida.

Hotels.  We found it interesting that as we traveled towards Florida, the cost of our hotel stays kept decreasing.   We took four days/three nights to reach our destination, and our total cost for hotel stays was $249.

Food/Meals.  Our original intent was to eat home-cooked meals through the Wednesday night before we left, but things really got way hectic and we wanted to have meals at our favorite places one last time, so this was an added expense the week of the move that we hadn’t anticipated.  We also experienced a similar experience once in Clermont:  even though our intent was to eat in the apartment, the lack of cookware and with everything going on, we ate out a lot more than anticipated.

Shopping.  If you are donating or selling items that you plan to purchase again once you arrive, be sure to keep a list and tally those costs.  They really do add up.  This includes everything from furniture to kitchen utensils to groceries.

Disney Passes.  For us, this was one of the main reasons for relocating to Florida, so we factored in the cost of annual passes.  We chose to purchase premium annual passes, which required a down payment of $362.12 for the four of us and monthly payment amount of $150.52.  Disney does not charge any fees for this option, and you may pay extra to bring your balance/monthly payment down or pay it off at any time.

Car/Renter’s Insurance.  Renter’s insurance is a prerequisite for living here, but it proved to be an additional expense for us as our insurance carrier in Florida does not offer renter’s insurance and needs to underwrite it through a different company, so we were not able to add it on to our monthly payment plan as we did in Wisconsin.  This required a $157 deposit, plus quarterly payments.  Our car insurance rates should stay about the same, but with less coverage (we dropped collision and comprehensive) and minus the renter’s insurance.

Driver’s Licenses.  We will blog about our experience later, but in terms of costs it runs $48 per person to convert an out-of-state license to a Florida license.

Car Registration.   We had estimated this expense to be $180.35 based on the information available on the website.  Our actual expense was $408, so we were way off in our estimation.  Again, we will blog later on this experience.

Utilities.  If you rent a house, you may be required to pay a deposit for water to be turned on.  Because we live in an apartment, the entire complex is billed at once, and management just sends each resident a bill that we just add on to our rent.  Progress Energy may also require a deposit payment, depending on your credit history, up to two months service at your new address, based on prior usage.

We’re sure there are expenses that we are forgetting to mention but we wanted to hit on the highlights.  We hope this proves helpful to those of you who are considering a move to the beautiful state of Florida 🙂  We absolutely love it here!  We keep hearing from our friends here that we will get used to the heat, and really the only times we find it overbearing is when we do hours at Disney 🙂