Change we can handle...

I hope. Can you tell this blogger is bored and bummed that this blog is pretty much dead? Yup, I am bored and trying to revive this very dull blog. ha ha. So now we have a banner *yay* and I'll be working on some other features... even though no one reads the dumb thing but me and maybe my dorktwin. But that's what dorks do.


Character Interaction

I've been asked numerous times in the last year or so how I've been able to create some of the character interactions that are in the pictures from my various Disney trips. I don't feel I am an expert of the subject, but with several trips coming up with the Disney Inexperienced I wanted to create a blog that might help when it comes to making sure magic is created. By no means do I think anyone should just follow this as a play by play. Part of the fun of Disney is just letting the magic happen, and by making your own.
First and foremost, invest in the Disney Photopass service. For Walt Disney World there is a dicounted price if you purchase the disk before you travel. Don't purchase it too far in advance, though. I normally purchase it a couple of weeks before our trip so that it does not expire before I can see the photos. Even better, if you decide there aren't enough photos you want you can get a refund. Disneyland does not offer a preorder special - in fact, you can't preorder it at all - but it is considerably cheaper to purchase (presumably because there are two parks, not four + 2 water parks). This is helpful because you can have the photopass photographers take as many photos as you'd like and you can look at them online - ALL FOR FREE - before deciding to purchase and you aren't the one holding the camera! You can also have them take a few for you on your own camera, but note that some photopass photogs are just as amatuer as the people they are taking pics for and may not take the best photos with your camera. For more information and tips on photopass I recommend the Stitch Kingdom guide.

Once you've figured out the Photopass system - use it. It's so much easier to interact and capture the moments when you're in the moment and the photopass guys are there to make it happen, but don't be disappointed if you don't see a photorapher with the character you are meeting. Each character has a "friend" or "handler" who deals with the organization of the lines and will be more than willing to snap a photo or two. If you are like me and have a DSLR camera - make sure to have it in full point and shoot mode, and have the camera zoomed out as much as possible - trust me, most Cast Members really don't know much about cameras and feel overwhelmed when they look at my rig. Always make sure to ask for them to take multiple photos and to feel free to snap the interactions as well as the posed cheesey smile. Photopass photographers are supposed to already know to do this, but it never hurts to give them permission to do so.
It's ALWAYS Erin's fault!
Before heading to the parks - familiarize yourself with the characters that you're most likely to see. Knowing some of the characters cartoons/stories/personality traits really helps with the interraction. For example: Chip and Dale are friends & "roomies" and were first introduced as annoyances for both Donald Duck and Pluto. One of the most famous cartoons is "Pluto's Christmas Tree" where Chip and Dale live in the tree that Pluto and Mickey choose to chop down to decorate for Christmas. Subsequently the chipmunks create havoc in the tree and tease Pluto ultimately resulting in the tree and decor being destroyed and Mickey Mouse to freak out and call Pluto a bad dog (and dumb mutt). For the picture above, we started out talking to our "favorites". I prefer Chip - who is the brains, and Erin prefers Dale (the goofball). Christmas was already going on in Disney's parks, so I quickly turned the conversation to Christmas Trees and I asked Chip if he was getting along this year with Pluto. He mimed (the classic fur characters do not speak, though the technology may start changing soon with that - at least for Mickey Mouse) that he promised that he was. So I brought up the fact that it wasn't very nice that they played such a mean trick on Pluto (he laughed at that) and I said he should try to be nicer. Chip then pointed at Dale suggesting that DALE was to blame, and that Chip was innocent (he mimed a halo), Dale then pointed at ME suggesting *I* was the trouble maker and then I said "no, I'm the good one, Erin is naughty" so then we all pointed at Erin and the photo is made.

Familiarizing yourself with the Characters also helps the children recognize them in the parks which may help with the anxiety of meeting them. Some children have no problems going up to the characters right off the bat. Others are super shy or even terrified of them. It should be up to the child, and not the adult, to decide if the child will meet any of the characters. Some things that help are if the child sees some of the adults in the group getting silly and having fun with the characters. One of the best places for this comfortable spontaneous interaction is through a character meal. The characters each visit the tables at least once, and if you spend enough time and it's not too crowded (go at an off time during the day, or during the off season) you can get them to return to your table several times. The shy members of your group will have a better chance of seeing the characters up close and at their leisure. We used this method and got great results with my neice in Feb. This is a great way to start your trip as it gets the kiddos ready to meet the characters while touring the parks, and it's overall less overwhelming.

Haille scratches Pluto's nose. That's Disney Magic.
This is where you can teach the kids how to interact and have conversation with the non speaking characters. For example: The easiest is probably Pluto. How would you treat your family pet? Scratch his ears or his nose and watch for a reaction. Chances are you will have a very happy puppy and kiddo. This was the trick that broke the ice for my neice and she spent the rest of the night dancing with Goofy, playing tricks on the rest of us with Dale and chatting about shoes with Minnie Mouse. Who knew she'd come out of her shell just because she scratched Pluto's ears?! The meals are expensive, but you're getting an interactive experience and the memories really do become priceless. It's one of the vivid memories Haille has (the only other one is the Snake on the Indiana Jones ride, and that's not a positive memory for her). Try to get in at least one Character meal with your child(ren) and put it towards the front of your trip. I assure you it will help you judge how the rest of the trip will go. (Also, encourage your child to tell Pluto that s/he's going to scratch his ears so that the character is prepared to interact. They may not see your little one and therefore will not know it's happening.)

The final big tip I can give is - research and figure out who, when and where the characters will be out. If you're like I am, you'll plan your day around rides and characters. Be flexible, most characters come out several times a day. If you can't make one meet up, or the line is too long, try again a little later. Ask a cast member if any special "non scheduled" characters will be out and about. This is normally how princes, secondary characters, and villians are found. If a character is getting set to take a break - don't leave the line. Minnie only needs about five minutes to check on her apple pie that she has baking in the back. Some people in line will leave when she does, so your wait time will be less if you just stick it out. So be paitent and know when and where to be. And don't feel bad meeting the same characters more than once. Each interaction will most likely be different and so much fun!

The main ingredient to a positive and magical interaction is you. The Characters feed off of what you bring to the meeting. If you're all business you'll most likely only get the standard picture. If you don't seem willing to play games, they won't push the issue for fear of offending or wasting your time. If you're just into collecting character pictures, then please move right along, but if you're into the fun photos and memories that last far longer than your trip then take a risk, look a little silly and have fun! Happy snapping!

Want more tips/tricks/ideas? Let me know in a comment or email! I'd be happy to point you towards the magic.

This was originally posted on Thoughts by Tonichelle.


Not sure what our problem is

Once again we didn't ever finish posting about our trip. Oh well. Shoot I haven't even written about it fully on my personal blog.

Anyway here's the rundown for our new trips.

December 2011 - Erin visits for Christmas
August 2012 - Disneyland
Somewhere in 2014 - Disney Cruise


So it's decided we stink at blogging

We've been done with our trip for how long and I'm just now blogging on here? Oh, that's right A WEEK! Oh well. We had a great time and we decided we're never doing it again. Disney again, yes. Road trip again, yes. Just not a road trip to Disney World.

Anywho I left you on our first day of Disney. We went to the Magic Kingdom as is tradition with me. Honestly I don't think Erin really cared where we were going, but for me it's not a Disney trip - a true disney trip - until I walk down Main Street. It's not even seeing the castle. To me Main Street USA defines the Disney Parks. It's where I feel Walt walking. It's not me being New Age-y or anything, I just feel the Disney connection from there.

We got the park and immediately felt the Christmas spirit. The Magic Kingdom was decked out with Holiday cheer. Pointsettas lead the way to the ticket gates, they surrounded the Train Station, and then all the way down main street there were wreaths lining the sky and the lights.


I promise an update SOON!

But for now I'm off to shower... so here's the link to the SECOND photo album. It will be updated with even more in just a little while... *whew*



On The Road and Disney!

So I'm sitting in our room at Disney's Coronado Springs Resort trying to speed through this update so that I can go enjoy the BEAUTIFUL morning while Erin gets her pedicure at the spa. So it'll be a breeze through and hopefully I can flesh it out for the blog later.

The first day's drive as long but we did it. I did quite a bit of Driving in Oregon... until we hit Portland. Erin had forgotten to tell me where to turn and I ended up on one of the bridges that are HUGE and HIGH! I FREAKED OUT. We obviously survived but that was horrible. I also drove over the Shasta bridge, which was not fun either, but I did it. I conquered my fear and I will never do that again.

We made it to Bakers Field a little before 11pm and were so thankful it was a Hilton. Our Seattle hotel was just a bed and a shower, but the Hilton was Heaven after all of those hours (something like 17 hours) driving. The beds were wonderful. The room even had a microwave. It was fab. We almost wanted to stay there and forget the rest of the trip, but teh thought of Disney (and adventure) called by morning and we were out and on the road again headed for Amarillo.

The trip to Texas was uneventful but even longer than the first days drive because the GPS decided to go with the shortest DISTANCE and not shortest time. So we ended up on a few "back roads" through Arizona before hitting I-40 again. But it was all good. Arizona is brown. So it New Mexico. I did a fair amount of driving, but really Erin is the champ. Girl just GOES.

Amarillo to Baton Rouge almost did us in. We had planned a two hour stop in Fort Worth to meet up with friends and ended up staying for over five hours. Don't get us wrong we are NOT complaining. We haven't seen them in FOREVER and it was great catching up. We started off at teh Chappells house and we got to meet their two little ones who are possibly the cutest siblings EVER. Jack and Zoe were so entertaining. We also met Casey's friend Kristen while we were there. She was very shocked that we were doing the road trip ha ha!

Then we made our way to the Nichols' home. Got to spend a great amount of time with Ms Mary, Joel, Jessica and Pastor Dean. Definitely needed that visit. We stayed so long that Ms Mary and Jessica took us to dinner. HUGE THANKYOU to them for that because we were sooooo tired of the food we had been eating while in the car. We said our goodbyes ( including Ms Mary going all mom on us about calling if we get into trouble and pulling over and sleeping if we got tired. YES MA'AM!) and then it was off to Baton Rouge. We got into the hotel at 1:30am. And I had a melt down. I ended up losing my debit card (Erin, the hero, found it before we headed to Disney) and I smashed my right foot and so now I have no skin on my ankle a HUGE BRUISE and it's swollen! Not fun!

The drive to Disney was the shortest of them all but still came in at just under 10 hours. We FREAKED when we hit Disney property. So much so that when we stopped to take photos of the sign, Erin started screaming DISNEY BABY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! so then I joined in! We drove into the Coronado Springs, the guard at the front welcomed us home and chatted with us a bit (We love you, Gary!) and then we checked in. Now, you may remember we were worried Erin would be sleeping on the floor because we could only get a King sized bed room, but at check in I asked and got what I wished for. TWO BEDS! We are in Cabanas again. Main floor, water view, and it's a corner room which means we are quiet. We're right across from the laundry too which will be fab when I do my laundry later this week.

We ate at the Maya Grill and really it's just been perfect so far. I promise to write more. But, really, if you want to keep up with us TWITTER is the best way - http://www.twitter.com/tonichelleak as that's the best way I can keep updating without having to pay internet fees. Disney ain't cheap!

Well, I'm going to edit the photo album on facebook and then head out and enjoy the day! Love you all!


Day One: The Meet Up

Today started out early for me. I was up at four and had no way of falling back to sleep, there was just too much excitement! So I finally got up at six and putzed around for a half hour before getting ready. I felt soooo bad when I said goodbye to Yuka. No clue as to why. I actually cried when I left her. How horrible am I?

The baggage check was easy, they didn't even weigh my bag! haha! then it was a breeze through TSA and off to my gate to wait to board. I was hungry so I bravely decided to get a single hashbrown from McDonalds and a sprite. Ate that and then took the dremamine as it said to take it a half hour to an hour before the 'event'.
I was worried about the flight because there were a high number of young children (like under two years, younger) and I feared it would be a noisy flight, but shockingly it was uneventful in every possible way. I got to my seat and found that our middle seat would be empty, that is always a nice bonus! The gentleman sittin on the aisle helped me with my bag even though I didn't need it and then spent the next three hours ignoring me.

We made fantastic time, bringing a three and a half hour flight down to three hours. Apparently we had a good tailwind ha ha! The dremamine worked once I was in the air - on the ground it made me sick to my stomach, which is ironic. But I was thankful for the tummy that wasn't doing backflips!

I felt so good, in fact, that I got one of their crappy pay for meals. I got the cheese and fruit platter. It had definitely been sitting out a while. The grapes were shrivelled and very close to rotting. The Cheese was good, and the apple slices were firm. So it wasn't a total loss, but it didn't come close to filling me up. But, maybe that's a good thing.

Now I'm just waiting for Erin to get here with her mom. They're in between Spokane and Seattle right now. I'm watching an SVU marathon on TV right now but I think I'm going to log off and try to sleep to pass some time.

Might blog more tomorrow, but it's going to be a long drive so who knows. Will take pictures, I promise.