Post Cruise Report! An In Depth Look at Embarkation Day

Hey Disney family! Welcome to our blog! We talk all things Disney World and beyond and we are excited that you could join us! Be sure to follow us on Instagram at ForLoveOfMouse, on Facebook at For The Love of The Mouse and on YouTube at For Love of The Mouse.

15We recently returned from our first ever cruise and our first ever Disney cruise (obviously). We learned a lot, we observed a lot and we want to share with you our first time cruising report. If you are interested in checking out our top takeaways from or first Disney Cruise click HERE!

This series of posts is going to be a recap of our cruise and what we would do differently or keep the same for future cruises. We will also cover some of the things that took us by surprise and things that went as expected. This first post will cover embarkation day. So, let’s get started.

40.jpgWe set out for our first Disney cruise from Disney’s Contemporary Resort. The morning of embarkation at 7:30 am a castmember from bell services arrived at our room to gather our bags that we would not be taking with us onto the ship but that would meet us at the stateroom. We gave them two large suitcases each and kept our backpacks with us. It was cold in Walt Disney World so we had jackets on and warmer clothing. In our backpacks we had swim suits, a change of clothes, our camera gear, my makeup and our morning toiletries, our spiral notebook we received in the mail prior to the cruise, our ID’s, our wallets, and our passports. Everything else we sent to the ship.

Our Magical Express picked us up directly from Disney’s Contemporary Resort around 11:00 am. We met with a designated castmember at 10:30 am to make sure we had all of our paperwork and to answer any questions prior to getting on the bus.

25The bus ride itself took about forty five minutes to an hour and we were dropped off right at the terminal. It took us about twenty minutes to get through security but we were some of the latest people to embark on the ship. Security was relatively easy; no different than security at the airport.

41By the time we got through the check-in desk, it was open boarding, there was little to no line and the characters had already gone back onto the ship. This was at about 12:45 or 1 pm. We did not fill out the health form prior to check-in but it was only a few simple questions and we were able to get that taken care of at the desk. At check-in we received our navigator for the first day and our key to the world cards.

The key to the world cards have a lot of information. Important to note, you do not get a lanyard so either bring your own or you can purchase one, once the stores open on the ship after you get into open water. On your key to the world card, you will find your security drill (or muster drill) letter which indicates where you will go later in the day for a mandatory safety demonstration.

35Your rotational dining schedule is also indicated on this card. Rotational dining is exclusive to the Disney Cruise Line. For each restaurant (not including Palo or Remy), you will have a rotation for where you will eat each night. Your service staff will move with you from restaurant to restaurant and you will try each restaurant at least once. Your rotational dining schedule will be indicated by the first letter of the restaurant. For example, the restaurants on the Disney Dream are Enchanted Garden, Royal Palace and Animator’s Palate. Our letters were AER so the first night we dined at Animator’s Palate, the second night at Enchanted Garden and the third night at Royal Palace.

33Once you walk through the Mickey ears to board the ship you are able to take your picture in front of the ship background. This background will likely make another cameo on your cruise if you don’t want to wait in line but it’s a fun shot to mark the start of your trip. After the photo you will enter the atrium of the ship and the amazing point of your cruise where the castmembers welcome the (insert your name here) family to the Disney Dream or whichever ship you are on.

Now, your vacation can begin!

37Once on board most people head for the food. One of the sit down restaurants will be open, I believe the restaurant that was open was Enchanted Garden but it was so late in the day, it was full so we headed to Cabanas, the buffet restaurant on deck 11.

One thing we did not expect from the vlogs and blogs we had watched an read prior to the cruise was the line for the elevators. Be prepared to do stairs because the line for the elevators is long and pushy. We decided for most of our cruise to opt for the stairs for two reasons, reason one, the line was really long and the elevators were always packed and reason two, there were a lot of families with strollers or children or adults in wheel chairs and elderly folks who we figured should have priority over us for the elevators.

43.jpgWhen we boarded the ship we were able to get to our room but most likely at the time when you board, rooms will not be open yet so that’s why most families and groups head to get food. Typically rooms open between 1:15 and 1:45 pm. We went to our room, checked it out and put our stuff down, then followed suit and headed upstairs to eat.

42We ventured to deck 11 to Cabanas and dug into some food. No matter how late you are to Cabanas you will have plenty of food available for your enjoyment. We snagged a table outside and filled our plates with everything from sandwiches to carved meats, lo mein, steak, fried cod with tarter sauce, loads of desserts. So. Much. Food.

After we ate we explored the ship a bit to get a lay of the land and then we headed to the muster drill (better known as the safety drill). This drill is not fun. It’s not the worst thing in the world but it’s a safety drill; it is what it is. It takes about forty five minutes to line up because people try to dodge it, people don’t know where to go and people are being sassy and then the actual drill takes about ten minutes. Then it’s over. So, moral of the story, if everyone on the ship could get there, turn their phones off and pay attention, we could all get back to our vacation sooner. Not trying to be snarky, just being real.

36The ship is an open house for the first few hours. That means that you can go pretty much anywhere on the ship to check it out, see what there is and explore. Anyone can go and check out the kids club areas which I wish we would have done and absolutely plan on doing next time and also important to note for adults is that we saw quite a few kids in the adults only areas for the first few hours. One place we did notice this was not the case was Cove Cafe, the coffee shop on deck 11 in the adults only area. They did politely ask children to leave the few times families attempted to enter through the doors.

40.jpgOnce the muster drill is over, we went straight upstairs for the sail away party. I’m glad we did because it filled up quickly. We actually went up to deck 12 so that we could watch the party from above and it worked out well for us. Many of the families were on deck 11 and it was really crowded so getting there early, we were able to secure a spot right at the railing so that we could see everything.

During the sail away party we actually did sail away. When the party was over we were moving and headed out to sea. We had started taking dramamine the day before because we didn’t know how we would be affected by the movement of the boat and we were able to feel it. It didn’t make either of us sick but we were absolutely able to feel the motion of the boat especially at dinner that night.

49I was incredibly overwhelmed our first night on the cruise and one of the reasons we will not do a three night cruise again is because of this. The first day is incredibly overwhelming. It is crowded, it is loud, everyone is getting into vacation mode and it is just chaos everywhere you go. This being our first cruise, we had no idea what to expect, we didn’t know where anything was or how to get there and my anxiety was through the roof.

Nothing we watched or read prepared us for the chaos and crowds of day one. All we had heard was how relaxing cruising was and I want you to know that if you have never cruised before, and maybe even after that, I’ll get back to you on that, that first day, is not relaxing.

The reason we chose a three night cruise was because we didn’t know how much we would enjoy it or if we would get sick but to be honest, I would not do another three night cruise because by the time you were able to relax and you got the hang of cruising and the ship, it was time to get off.

54We chose second dining and I’m glad we did. The night seemed to speed by. Not just the first night but every night after that as well. We would head back to our stateroom, get ready for dinner, go do a little shopping, go see the first viewing of the night’s show and then head to dinner.

A couple important notes. Don’t expect to be able to get to shopping straight away when you get on board. Because of maritime law, the shops are not open anytime during the cruise except when you are in open water. So, whenever the ship is in port, the shops will be closed.

47That first night, we headed to the shops and they were crowded but that was to be expected. The best time to shop is immediately after the first showing of the night’s entertainment or after first dining. You pay directly with your key to the world card and something to remember is that people pay off their bills for things that they rack up on their key to the world card throughout the cruise on the last night. This includes Cove Cafe, Remy, Palo, merchandise and alcohol.

55One thing we did not know but learned on our last night was that for every $300 you charge, it will automatically get charged to the card you have on file so it might be a good idea to check guest services several times to pay off your bill if you are wishing to use gift cards or another form of payment.

The shows, especially the Disney stage shows, are a must see. If you have first dining, you will see the show after your meal. If you have second dining, you will see the show before your meal.

For more on our meal at Animator’s Palate, be sure to check out our dining review post.

That’s it for this post. Have you cruised with Disney? What was your take on embarkation day? We’d love to hear from you.

Thank you for stopping by and for the love of the mouse, never forget, that it all started with a mouse.

 

 

 

 

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Disney and Non Disney Favorites for December

It’s that time again! Time for another installment of favorites.

mood.jpgDecember was a long month. We had some really great things happen in December. We had an amazing land and sea adventure at Walt Disney World and on the Disney Dream, we had a great Friendsmas and spent time with family on Christmas and the days surrounding, but boy, December seemed like it took a while.

I honestly almost didn’t do a December installment of favorites because I didn’t have a whole lot of things I was loving in December but then I thought, how unfair for the things I did love so here we are!

Food and Drink: 

Frosted Sugar Cookies

cookiesOne of my favorite things to do for the holiday season is bake cookies. Typically, I bake and bake and bake for an entire weekend if not an entire week and then I box them up and deliver them to friends, family, our vet office, the local firehouses and more. This year, I baked and brought most of the cookies to work because on Christmas Day we do cookies and punch for the folks at our center. Bryson took a bunch to work and I took some to our parents.

cookies3We took a class on cookie decorating before I did all my baking and it was a blast. We both went and it was a date day and it was a really great time. So, I really focused on my sugar cookies this year and I thought they were cute. Still need a bit of work, I am in no way an expert decorator.

Disposable Pans

pansEach year, we host a Friendsmas. I plan and plan, I prep and bake and cook and make down to the minute lists and it is incredibly stressful and I love it. This year was the biggest or one of the biggest we have ever had. I cooked for three days but I told myself, you have to cut corners somewhere. So, I used disposable pans. That’s right. All of this beautiful bake ware I registered for and got for our wedding and I used disposable pans. And, I am not sorry about it. It cut my clean up time by so much.

I’m also going to admit something else. We used paper plates. I still had a ton of cleaning up to do after ward and dishes and scrubbing and all of that but to not be spending an entire day scrubbing pans and soaking them, it was a game changer.

Now, if I could find a biodegradable disposable pan that was sturdy I would use that in a heartbeat so holler at me if you know where I can find that if it has been invented yet.

Hot Cocoa M&M’s

mandmHave you tried these? From what I understand, they are sold exclusively at Target. I need to make a trip to Target to see if they have any left. These things are amazing. They are bigger than normal M&M’s. They are off-white, light brown and dark brown and are filled with what I think is a marshmallow flavored center. They are delicious. These are my favorite M&M’s ever. I want to make cookies with them. That’s actually why I bought them but then I ended up not doing it and just eating them. This could have something to do with why none of my pants fit right now.

Clothing and Accessories: 

Disney Cruise Line Zip Up Jacket

48We went on a cruise! Our first ever! If you haven’t, be sure to check out our Disney Cruise Line tab to check out our Disney Cruise Line posts. We had such an amazing time. We are trying to decide when our next cruise will be, so we obviously enjoyed ourselves.

One of the purchases I made was this amazing white zip up jacket. I wear this jacket all of the time. First of all, Disney merchandise is expensive, this we know. This jacket caught my eye when we first were wandering through the shops on the ship but it was white and I am clumsy and eat like a toddler so white is not my friend. But, I kept going back to it.

I found other jackets and tops and this one just spoke to me. It was the cheapest of the zip up’s in the shops while we were cruising too! I liked it more than the one that I almost got that was more expensive and I’m so glad I did. I am so thrilled with this purchase.

90 Degree By Reflex Leggings

90 drI’m a runner. Not like a fast runner but I run. I have a shirt that says, “I run, like a turtle running through peanut butter, but I run.” That just about sums it up. Running is how I decompress. I solve the world’s problems when I run. My dogs love running with me. It’s just a part of me.

That being said, I hate wearing pants to run. I’m a shorts girl. We live in Colorado and last week it was three degrees. I had to wear pants. Here is the thing about me wearing pants when I run. I spend a significant amount of time holding two dog leashes, with my phone under my chin, hiking my pants up because they are about to fall way down.

I only have a few pairs of pants that I can wear to run in that don’t do this and I found these 90 Degree by Reflex yoga pants and they are amazing. They work! I don’t hike! I get to run!

For the Home: 

Mrs. Meyer’s Room Freshener in Lavender

freshI have a super sensitive sense of smell and I love sprays and candles and room fresheners of all kinds. In my recent Grove Collaborative order I purchased the Lavender scented Mrs. Meyer’s Room Freshener. I love it. I also got one for my mom. The scent is sweet but subtle. I’m not one for diffusers because I don’t think they are strong enough. The scents are so subtle they might as well not even be there in my personal opinion. But this is stronger and I can actually smell it. The only downside is that the scent doesn’t linger as long as I would want it too in my opinion but I love it and now have one in several rooms of our house. If you are looking for a room freshener I highly recommend giving this one a try.

Our New and Improved Closet

closet2For the new year I took several days off of work to be at home and get a head start on cleaning up some areas of our house. One of my main goals was to tackle our closet. When we first moved in, I kind of threw everything in and there is has stayed, for over two years. It gave me anxiety. Clutter gives me anxiety. So, on New Year’s Day, I tackled the disaster.

closetThe organizers are from Target. I purchased two six pocket gray organizers and two three pocket gray organizers. All came with the hanging capabilities and were simple and are very sturdy.

For two days, I sorted, emptied, piled, reorganized and finally, after two full days of work, we had a beautifully organized and calm closet. It has made me so happy. Now, if only I could get the rest of our house on this page. To be continued.

Beauty: 

For the guys, Bath and Body Works Bourbon 2 in 1 Hair and Body Wash

menAt our Friendsmas gathering we did a white elephant gift exchange. Bryson ended up getting a set from Bath and Body Works men’s products. He loves them! The scent is awesome. It’s deep amber and woodsy and bourbon and it’s amazing. He says, “It smells like man.” Whatever that means. I like it though. When I shower after him, I can still smell it in the shower and it’s awesome. Highly recommend checking out that product for your man or for yourself.

Wonder Therapy Coffee Scrub Cream in Vanilla Coconut

creamI love a good find at TJ Maxx and Marshall’s. Recently, I picked up a new scrub and was eager to try it out. It is creamier than a typical salt scrub it is more of a mix between a body wash and a scrub. Gentle exfoliation but if you are looking for a straight scrub be sure to check out other favorites for tips on those. This is an amazing scent. I love all things tropical and the scent is strong of coconut and vanilla. I love a good sugar scrub because I spray tan so it’s really important for me to scrub frequently so I don’t turn orange but this is nice when you just want a light exfoliation; a good middle ground.

Acure Brightening Facial Scrub

acureBryson and I honeymooned in Hawaii. We spend several days in Kauai and several more in Maui. I adore Hawaii. I would live there. I love the slow pace, the gorgeous weather, the beaches, the water, it’s just perfection. At our resort in Kauai, the face scrub that we were given was Acure. I had never used it before and ended up hoarding it every day and asking for more because I loved it so much.

I just finished the last of my travel sized scrubs from Kauai (sad day) and I found that Grove Collaborative (yes, them again) sold it! Well I jumped right on that and bought some up straight away. If you love a good facial scrub that tones and brightens and buffs away makeup and imperfections for a more even skin tone. You will love this.

xmasThere are a number of Acure products on Grove and I think that this one is really quite reasonable. $8.99 is cheaper than many drug store offerings and I think that you get quite the bang for your buck.

That’s it for my December favorites. I hope you found something you could use or were in the market for! If you are loving something, send it my way, I would love to try it out. Be sure to stay tuned for January’s favorites because I am already compiling a great list of loves for the new year!

Thank you for stopping by and for the love of the mouse, never forget, that it all started with a mouse.

 

First Time Disney Cruise Report: Top Six Takeaways From Our First Disney Cruise

Hey Disney family! Welcome to our blog! We talk all things Disney World and beyond and we are excited that you could join us! Be sure to follow us on Instagram at ForLoveOfMouse, on Facebook at For The Love of The Mouse and on YouTube at For Love of The Mouse.

33We had a blast on our land and sea adventure! This was our first ever Disney cruise we made several trip related decisions based on that. It was also only a three night cruise, so that also played a factor in several of our decisions for this adventure.

With that being said, here are our top six takeaways from our first ever Disney cruise on the Disney Dream. A three night adventure with stops at Nassau and Castaway Cay. These takeaways are in no particular order and, as always, are our personal opinions. If you have different takeaways from your Disney cruise adventures, we would love to hear from you.

#1: Download the Disney Cruise Line Navigator app

42When we first got on board, I was overwhelmed. Deer in the headlights, fish out water, overwhelmed. I have no idea where to go, where anything was, where I was going, where I had come from. It was loud, it was crowded, it was chaos. For the first few hours, I was pretty sure my husband thought that we had made a huge mistake because there was no way I was going to relax and be able to have a good time.

Then I downloaded the Disney Cruise Line Navigator app and all of a sudden, angels sang, the skies parted and calm ensued. Okay, it may not have been that dramatic but I will tell you, honestly, until I was able to download the app and see what was coming and when it was happening and where it was going to be, I wasn’t able to relax.

I know there are other people out there like me, come on now, show me some love if you are a planner and like to know what to expect. I was freaked out that this cruise was going to be a chaotic, loud trip to crazytown, then I got my app and everything was better.

The app is your handheld guide to everything on the ship. You can access every activity on the ship for that day, any port information, the drink of the day information and anything you have booked will show up on the app as well.

#2: See the shows

47On longer cruises, the shows aren’t necessarily must see’s every night of your cruise adventure but there are three shows you should see at least once, maybe more. Disney’s Believe, Beauty and the Beast and the Golden Mickey’s. Beauty and the Beast is incredible. It is an absolute must see. I can’t wait to see it again. I loved the message of Golden Mickey’s although I wouldn’t be upset if a revamp came about to adjust the story line (the main character cough cough) and maybe update the celebrity interactions but like I said, the message was amazing and I really enjoyed the show as a whole. Disney’s Believe was another winner. I highly recommend taking in these shows. Important note is that Beauty and the Beast is not available on every cruise, on some cruises, Frozen is the stage show shown in place of Beauty and the Beast.

50.jpgDepending on which dinner seating you have; first or second, will determine when you see the show. There are two showings each night depending on that dinner seating time. We had second seating which meant that we would head to the show before dinner. This was great because I wasn’t falling asleep in the show after stuffing my face and having two shows means that they aren’t packed to the gills so we had a little room to stretch out.

On longer cruises, I wouldn’t be so inclined to see comedy or magic, those just aren’t my cup of tea but I know that a lot of people do go to see those. There is something for everyone, which is one of the benefits of a cruise. Be aware that there are not Disney original shows each night of your cruise so be sure to follow your navigator to know when the original shows are being shown in the theatre.

#3: Be Prepared for Chaos the First Few Hours

34As I mentioned in my first takeaway, I was overwhelmed when I first got on board the Disney Dream. I was told over and over by friends and fellow bloggers and vloggers that this was going to be relaxing, that a Disney cruise was the ultimate in relaxation. When we got on board, relaxation was nowhere near the descriptive words that could be used to describe the scene.

I was so overwhelmed and worried that the first few hours of the cruise was representative of what the entire cruise was going to be. I was wrong. Thank goodness. When you first embark, everyone is running around, all the areas are open to everyone, people are running around getting into vacation mode. It’s loud. It. Is. Loud. After the safety drill, things start to calm down and by the end of the first night, you can start to relax.

30Prior to our cruise, I read a lot of blogs, articles and watched a number a videos relating to Disney cruises and embarkation. Everything I read was all about how relaxing the Disney cruise is and how quiet and calm and although much of the cruise is that way, I want to set the record straight and make sure that you are prepared for the crowds and noise that will be your best friend for the first few hours of your cruise because I truly feel that if you are prepared for that, you will not be surprised and can embrace that it passes and relaxation does indeed set in.

#4 Don’t be Afraid to Order Multiple Items at Dinner or Order From Another Menu

51Disney is known for rotational dining. At the time of publishing, they are the only cruise line that does rotational dining and they have coined the practice. This means that when you check in for your cruise and get your key to the world card, you will be given letters at the bottom of your card that signify which restaurant you will be dining at on which night. There are three rotational dining restaurants on each of the ships at the time of filming.

52We cruised on the Dream and our rotational dining restaurants were Animator’s Palate, Enchanted Garden and Royal Palace. Our key to the world cards indicated AER which meant that we were eating at the restaurants in the order mentioned previously. You will have the same serving staff each night regardless of which restaurant you are dining at.

This is such an amazing experience. You get to know your servers and the staff and they get to know you and what you want and it adds to the magic of your cruise experience. At each location, they will give you suggestions for what they think is the the better option on the menu. Of course, get what you want and know that you don’t have to order an appetizer, a soup or salad, an entree and a dessert.

54.jpgIf you want to get three appetizers and two desserts and nothing else, do it. Want to try three entrees? Go for it. If you saw something at a different you wanted to try or really loved a previous night, you can order it!

In addition, if you have any dietary restrictions be sure to contact Disney Cruise Line ahead of time so that they can prepare for your needs prior to boarding the ship.

#5 Have a Plan and Get There Early 

55.jpgOne of the reasons you really want to download and use your Navigator app or the navigator that your stateroom host leaves in your stateroom each night for the next day is because, it lets you know when and where everything is happening on the ship. Character meet and greets and shows are incredibly popular and you want to get there early, get in line and know where they are happening.

41We, as you know from previous posts, are planners and we like to know what is going on, where and when. So, we would figure out which things we wanted to do like character meet and greets and shows and favorite them on the app and make sure we got there early for them. This ensured that we were able to get those things done. The lines for characters move much faster than the lines at the parks for the characters so even if a line seems long, it most likely won’t be too much of a wait.

32When we returned from our cruise, we were following some of the posts on the cruise line social media pages we belong to and we noticed several comments where people would say things like, “we didn’t really enjoy the cruise, we didn’t get to meet any characters and didn’t get photos because we didn’t know where they were happening and the lines were cut off by the time we got there.” That happened multiple times after our cruise.

28I will tell you right now, those people were not looking at or following their navigator. The navigator tells you where the characters are, when the meet and greets are happening and the lines remain open for that character for fifteen minutes. If you get in line within that fifteen minutes, you will get to meet that character. The photo lines are mostly in the atrium and we got over fifty photos on our photo package and we didn’t do probably half of the photo opportunities that were available on the ship.

Your navigator is your friend and will help you navigate the cruise and the events on the cruise. If you are not a planner that’s fine but just know that if you want to get those character meet and greets, those photos, get a good spot for the shows etc. you will need to know where and when those things are happening and be there promptly or you will miss out.

#6 Live YOUR Best Cruise Life

45Everybody has a different vacation style, everyone has different expectations for their cruise. It’s one of the reasons, vacationing with other people can be so difficult. Remember that no matter how many vlogs you watch, how many friends give you advice, how many blog posts you read, pick and choose what suits you and live YOUR vacation.

Don’t try to vacation like someone else or do everything someone else did or recommended. Stay true to your vacation style and your needs and wants and do what makes you happy. You earned this time, make the most of it for you!

Have you been on a Disney cruise? Are you planning one? We would love to hear from you! Leave a comment about your top cruise tips!

Thank you for stopping by and for the love of the mouse, never forget, that it all started with a mouse!

The Perks of Staying on Property

Hey Disney family! Welcome to another blog post! Be sure to follow us on Instagram at ForLoveOfMouse, on Facebook at For The Love of The Mouse and on YouTube at For Love of The Mouse!

18Today, we are taking on a controversial topic. To stay on or off Disney property when going to Walt Disney World. First off, everyone has their own preferences, so be sure to leave a comment on what you prefer and why!

Let’s get started with the perks of staying on property because that is truly something that should be factored in when you make your decision. It is a common thought that you will always pay a premium when staying on property. What is true, is that there are resorts on Disney property that you will pay an escalated rate for, regardless of what time of year you are traveling but there are a Disney resorts that are reasonably priced and you are able to take advantage of all of the Disney amenities without paying that higher price tag.

What are the on Property Benefits

45.jpgDisney Transportation. Many of the hotels throughout the Orlando area offer transportation. Hubby and I have used it and we have used Disney transportation and Disney transportation, in our humble opinion, is superior; far superior.

What are the transportation options provided free of charge by Disney when you stay on property? The bus system, the friendship boats and ferry and the Monorails.

Each Disney resort has busses that run on an approximately every twenty minute basis to each park. You can also take a bus from each park to any Walt Disney World resort. In addition, there are busses that run from certain places on Disney property to the water parks and also to Disney Springs.

36The friendship boats run from Hollywood Studios to the Boardwalk resorts, Swan and Dolphin, Boardwalk, Yacht Club and Beach Club and then also stops at the International Gateway, which is the back entrance to Epcot.

Friendship boats also run from the Monorail resorts. You can take a boat from Magic Kingdom to the Grand Floridian and then to the Polynesian and there is another boat that goes from Magic Kingdom to Wilderness Lodge and another boat that goes from Wilderness Lodge to the Contemporary.

Guests staying at the Contemporary or Bay Lake Tower can either walk to Magic Kingdom or take the Monorail.

74The Monorail will take guests from the Transportation and Ticket Center (TTC) to either Epcot or Magic Kingdom depending on which Monorail you board. Be sure to double check where your Monorail line is headed because there is not a Monorail that goes to both Epcot and the Magic Kingdom, you must transfer at the TTC.

The resort Monorail goes on a loop from the TTC to Polynesian, Grand Floridian, Magic Kingdom and the Contemporary. The Express Monorail runs between the TTC and Magic Kingdom and does not stop at the resorts. The Epcot Monorail runs between the TTC and Epcot.

13
Photo of Skyliner Construction at Pop Century

The Ferry runs between the TTC and Magic Kingdom.

It is important to mention that a new mode of transportation that is free of charge is the Disney Skyliner. This is the first mode of transportation that specifically travels from value and moderate resorts and not the deluxe resorts.

The Skyliner system goes from Pop Century, Art of Animation, Hollywood Studios, Caribbean Beach, Disney’s Riviera Resort and Epcot. This mode of transportation is currently under construction and is set to open in the fall of 2019.

317Additionally, there is a mode of transportation throughout Disney that is not free but that is incredibly convenient. The Minnie Vans. Minnie Vans are Disney’s answer to Uber and Lyft and they are pricey. Currently, at the time of this video publishing Disney has adapted a new(er) fee structure includes a base charge of $15 plus a fee for the distance traveled. So, depending on where you go, the price will be different.

Additional Perks of Staying on Property

No Rental Car Needed

29.jpgWhen you are staying on property, there is no need to rent a car. There are, of course, exceptions to this. Some people enjoy being able to rent a car but remember that Uber and Lyft are available to transport you anywhere you need to go and that earlier this year, Disney began charging overnight rates for cars at all resorts.

At the time, this article is published, The fee is $13 per night at Value resorts, $19 at Moderate resorts and $24 at Deluxe and Deluxe Villa resorts. With all those transportation options for getting you and your party around Walt Disney World, renting a car for that one day at Universal or Sea World, seems a bit silly.

Extra Magic Hours

5Extra magic hours are available for guests that stay on Disney property. This means, that if you are Walt Disney World resort guest you can gain access to Disney Parks either before the park officially opens or after a park officially closes. This perk is only available to Walt Disney World resort guests.

 

Disney’s Magical Express

This is my hands down, top perk for staying on property. Disney’s Magical Express takes the hassle out of airport travel. About 4 weeks out from you Walt Disney World vacation, you will receive your Magic Bands which serve as your room key, payment, lifeline to Walt Disney World and your luggage tags, if you have decided to opt in for Disney’s Magical Express, which you should.

9When you check your luggage at the airport, that will be the last time you see your luggage until it is brought right into your resort room. The yellow tagged luggage indicates that it is for Magical Express. When you get off the plane at MCO, Orlando International Airport, you go straight to the Magical Express area, scan your magic band, get on your bus and you don’t have to wait for your luggage.

We have stayed off property numerous times and luggage at MCO is a hassle, it takes forever and the crowds are huge, if you can skip it, do it. Stay on property.

25Once your Magical Express drops you off at your resort, you can get straight to your adventure and within about four hours, your luggage will arrive. The first time we used Magical Express, we were weary of not having our luggage for those few hours. We simply put our must have essential items into our carry on’s.

7Oftentimes, we will take the red eye to Orlando; leaving at midnight, which puts us at our resort around 7:45 am. I always bring my essential toiletries, toothbrush, toothpaste, makeup, face wash, deodorant, etc and a change of clothes. I get freshened up in a bathroom because most of the time, that early, our room is not ready and we head straight to the parks. We leave what we don’t want to take to the parks with bell services and off we go.

Themes and Magic

2It simply adds to the magic when you never have to leave it. We have stayed at moderate resorts, value resorts, deluxe resorts and no matter what your price point, needs and wants, there is something for everyone.

 

3.jpgWhether you are looking to save a little money and be immersed in theming at Pop Century, be quiet and quaint and feel like you have been transported to an alligator bayou at Port Orleans, or if you want to be deep in the woods in a rustic cabin at Wildnerness Lodge or wake up and see Cinderella’s Castle from your window at Contemporary Resort, there’s a magical home for you at Walt Disney World.

You simply can’t beat the themes, the customer service and the magic of staying at a Walt Disney World Resort. The perks, in our opinion, are worth the extra cost of staying on property. We do travel and stay off property from time to time and I’m not saying you have to stay on property. You can experience a magical vacation at a non-Disney resort or accommodation but the reality is, it is simply not the same.

Cost Comparison

13We are going to do a little cost comparison between booking on and off property but first I want to also mention that Disney offers packages that include discounts on park tickets when you book on property as well so that has to be taken into consideration as well.

Important to mention that costs are always changing in terms of resorts but at the time of publishing these are the prices we found.

20First let’s plan a Walt Disney World vacation June 7 -11. To stay at a value resort, we will choose Pop Century. You can get a standard room with one queen sized bed and one table that folds into a second queen sized bed for $163 a night. This provides you access to all of the Disney transportation, the food court area and the hippy dippy pool. You can also get Magic Express at no additional charge. If you want to include park tickets, a family of four, two adults and two children can get accommodations and park hopper tickets for a grand total of $2,791. 05.

17To stay at Port Orleans Riverside during these same dates, for a room only, you can stay for $254.50 per night for a standard room. If you include the park hopper tickets for a family of four, two adults and two children, the total is $2,951.26.

Other hotels in the area, the Wyndham Lake Buena Vista Disney Springs Resort for these same dates would be $155 per night. Cypress Point Resort by Diamond Resorts is $81 per night. Courtyard by Marriott Lake Buena Vista is $134 per night. For a four day park hopper, the price is $128 per day for ages ten and up. Also remember you need to get to and from the parks and any dining reservations that you have and get to and from the airport which could be an additional cost. If you select the Courtyard by Marriott at $134 per night and a park hopper for a family of four for four days, you are right around, $2,584 and like I said, that doesn’t include your transportation anywhere.

2I hope that this helps with your price comparisons and to weigh the pros and cons. There truly are pros and cons to staying on property and to staying off property. It all depends on your family, your needs, your plans and your vacation.

We would love to hear from you. Do you prefer to stay on or off? What are some of your tips for staying off property? What do you look for in a resort for your trips?

Thank you for stopping by and for the love of the mouse, never forget, that it all started with a mouse.

Fish Extenders

Hey Disney family! Welcome to our blog! We talk all things Disney World and beyond and we are excited that you could join us! Be sure to follow us on Instagram at ForLoveOfMouse, on Facebook at For The Love of The Mouse and on YouTube at For Love of The Mouse.

images.jpgWe recently got back from our very first Disney cruise and I am spilling about our fish extender experience!

What are fish extenders?

Fish extenders are groups on board Disney Cruise Line cruises that make or provide gifts for each other while on the cruise. The groups are formed on Facebook within the cruise groups. There are various types of fish extender groups including adults only groups, family groups and more. There are typically between 10 and 15 cabins per group. Gifts are at the giver’s discretion and can be homemade or purchased.

84Bryson and I joined an adults only fish extender group. Actually, for our cruise, we created the group and managed it. One of the things I love most about Disney trips is the planning. I know that sounds weird to some but I love to plan, I love to prep and one of my favorite things about the fish extender group was planning for and getting the gifts ready.

I am a crafter so I love to come up with crafty things to do and I love giving gifts. There are so many ideas for fish extender gifts; from monogrammed items like towels, shirts, bags and cups to ornaments, magnets, jewelry, ears and so much more. Not crafty? Etsy has you covered for that as well.

Fish Extender Gifts:

I did some research on some great fish extender gift ideas for various age groups and genders and here is what I found:

tumbler
Photo of Tumblers from Spoonful of Excitement

You can find, as I mentioned, gifts that are made or ideas for gifts you can create yourself.

Tumblers can be found on Etsy pre-made and customizable from shops like, Spoonful of Excitement, Bash House , Enjoy Life Things. 

87
Insulated Wine Tumblers available on Amazon

You can also find tumbler sets on places like Amazon like this set of 12 , this cute wine option for adults, or these skinny clear tumblers. You can then purchase custom decals from shops like JL Crafts Creations, Vinyl Tribe, or My Creative Outlet Time, or if you have a Cricut machine, you can design your own.

64
Donald Duck patches from The Patchmaker Plus

Other great options are fleece throws or burlap bags with patches based on what the people in your fish extender enjoy. You can purchase fleece throws at walmart for $2.50 a piece in solid colors and also in patterns. The Patchmaker Plus is a fantastic, affordable option for iron on patches that are beautifully made easy to apply.

Chapstick and travel sized lotions are also amazing gifts. You can find cute chapstick holders customized for the Disney Cruise Line and also custom cruising chapsticks.

porthole orn
Porthole Ornaments from Spoonful of Excitement

Thinking about going or already booked on a Merrytime cruise? How about an ornament gift? These adorable porthole ornaments can be found on Etsy or custom made with a wood cutter, some pearls, paint and a cricut. Other ideas are to head over to your local hobby store, get clear plastic ornaments and glitter “snow”. You can find Mickey shaped glitter on Etsy in various shapes and colors like these from Wenlan Frost Design. You can order or make vinyl decals to put on the outside of the ornament.

Those are just a few fun ideas for your fish extender gifts. The possibilities are endless and there are so many cute options for gifts for everyone, young and old.

Fish Extender Holders:

3We absolutely loved our fish extender. I am a little biased though because my mom and I made it. You can go super fancy or super simple for your fish extender. There are hundreds of options to purchase, you can make your own or buy an already made version and customize it.

If you are looking to use an existing base and then build off of it to customize it to your taste or vision, there are a variety you can choose from. Here are some of my suggestions:

Delta Four Pocket Organizer

BBTO Two Pack Three Pocket Organizer

IPOW Tightknit Four Pocket Organizer

You can then purchase fabric, baubles, decorations or patches to go on your fish extender to make it your own.

fish
Fish Extender available from New Threads Embroidery 

Another option would be to purchase an already made fish extender. As I mentioned, Etsy has you covered on this. Some incredibly creative people have come up with some amazing ideas for a fish extender.

Thread in Stitches

New Threads Embroidery

Avellas

There are also amazing tutorials on YouTube or on Facebook on the different cruise pages that can give you great ideas as well.

Fish Extender Expectations

86I wanted to take a couple of minutes to talk about expectations on fish extenders. I don’t think it is unreasonable to expect gifts from each cabin that signs up. That is the whole point of doing the exchange; you give gifts to each cabin and you receive gifts from each cabin.

83However, if you decide you want to go all out and spend $100 per cabin, in my personal opinion, it is unreasonable to expect that in return. As with all things, everyone has a different idea of what is reasonable, what they want to do and it is up to each cabin or individuals discretion.

Go into your fish extender adventure with an open mind and use your imagination with your gifts. Don’t bring expectations of gifts into it or you will inevitably be disappointed. Have fun with it and give what you want to give. If you would like any ideas for fish extender gifts, or have any questions, please leave a comment and we would be happy to help you out.

That’s it for this post. Have you ever done fish extenders? Are you planning on participating on your upcoming cruise? We would love to hear from you.

Thank you for stopping by and for the love of the mouse, never forget, that it all started with a mouse.

 

 

 

Three Days in Disney During the Holidays,What Are Our Must Do’s!

Hey Disney family! Welcome to our blog! We talk all things Disney World and beyond and we are excited that you could join us! Be sure to follow us on Instagram at ForLoveOfMouse, on Facebook at For The Love of The Mouse and on YouTube at For Love of The Mouse.

16We are headed off for our first land and sea adventure. Starting off at Walt Disney World for three days and then heading off to Port Canaveral for a three night cruise on the Disney Dream.

Three days in Disney, during the most magical time of the year? How on earth are we going to do everything? Simple. We aren’t. Lucky as we are to be able to visit Walt Disney World frequently, we are picking and choosing our top holiday items for our quick holiday trip to the happiest place on earth.

So, what better time than now to share with you, our can’t be missed list for holidays at Walt Disney World.

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party (MVMCP)

8We cannot go to Walt Disney World without a trip to MVMCP. It is our favorite extra ticketed event and we look forward to it all year long. We love MVMCP more than we love Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. From the character meet and greets, the parade, fireworks and magic shots and of course the snow on Main Street and the amazing decorations, you can’t go wrong with this Christmas spectacular.

24As we have mentioned in previous posts, this is an extra ticketed event and it is not cheap. To save a little money, plan your MVMCP day as a day at your resort, maybe go resort hopping and check out the amazing resort decorations and experience the resorts during the holidays, or plan a day in Disney Springs.

27You can get into the party at 4 pm and the party goes until midnight. That can equate to a full day (or night) in the park. You can book fast passes until 7 pm but once the party officially starts at 7 pm, fast passes end. There are amazing meet and greets, a fantastic parade, a special Holiday fireworks show and once again, do not forget about the snow on Main Street.

Candlelight Processional

10If you have to choose one thing and one thing only to partake in on your trip to Walt Disney World as an adult especially, and you enjoy the story of Christmas, and appreciate the beauty of Christmas songs and beautiful choirs and orchestras this event is for you.

When people ask us what they have to do in Disney during the Holidays we always say, without hesitation, Candlelight Processional. We recommend the dining package so that you aren’t stuck wasting your Epcot day or vacation time waiting in the standby line. Be sure to check out our recent post highlighting the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays for more on Candlelight Processional including narrators, dining locations for the dining package and much more.

Toy Story Land

61.jpgI’ve said it before but we LOVE Toy Story Land. We are so excited to go back, it gives me reason to go to Hollywood Studios and I absolutely love it, we both do. It is on our must do list for this trip and we are so excited to experience it and get one, or two or three pop tarts and get a picture with the giant Ham cookie.

Don’t forget to make a stop at Woody’s Lunch Box. Yes, get the pop tarts (of course) but there is a whole menu of deliciousness for breakfast, lunch and dinner to take a look at. Check out our post, Upping the Lunch Box Game With Woody’s Lunch Box.

Resort Hopping

3Christmas at Walt Disney resorts is beyond magical. Each resort sets their decorations to match the theme of the resort itself. It is, by far, one of the most magical experiences at Walt Disney World during the holidays. From the life size gingerbread house at the Grand Floridian, with the amazing holiday scents of fresh baked gingerbread wafting through the lobby, to the rustic mountain decor at Wilderness Lodge and of course the beach themed holiday spirit over at the Beach Club, there is something for every taste and a lot of fun to be had by experiencing these resorts during this festive season.

Planning a Quick Holiday Trip

No matter how long you are staying in Walt Disney World, be sure to stay on top of your dining reservations and your fast pass reservations. If you are staying on property, dining reservations can be made 180 days in advance and fast passes can be made 60 days in advance. Have your top choices for fast passes planned out and go for those first then plan in your other must do’s around that.

26If you are wanting to attend MVMCP, be sure to book those tickets in advance. Although not every party sells out, many do and you don’t want to be planning and planning for this magical event and then show up day of to a sign that says that the party is sold out.

Make a list of your top can’t miss items. If your family isn’t big on Toy Story Land and you only have three days for your visit, don’t make that a priority. If Candlelight Processional is something you have to see, plan for that and book that dining package so that you aren’t spending your precious time waiting in that stand by line.

201.jpgHave an idea what you are and aren’t willing to wait in line for and stick to it. It is easy to see an 80 minute Flight of Passage line and start to question your resolve to not wait in that line. If you aren’t coming back to Walt Disney World for some time and this happens to you, maybe this is worth your 80 minutes; that is something only you can decide. Maybe something on your list can get bumped so that you can make this ride happen. Be flexible but also have a general idea of your plan so that you aren’t spending time making a plan last minute when you could be enjoying a character meal or a ride or resort hopping.

Be Flexible

17Plans change, Monorails go down, rain happens and maybe you just aren’t feeling what you had originally planned to do. You can make changes to your plans and have a magical time. While we always recommend planning out your parks, your restaurants and your Fast Passes so that you aren’t stuck spending your vacation in line or not getting to ride the rides you want to ride or eat at the places that you want to eat but that doesn’t mean you can’t adjust things when you get to Disney.

That’s it for this post. We hope that you got some great tips on planning a short trip to Disney or any trip to Disney. What are some of your top tips for planning a Disney vacation? Are you going to use any of the tips we have suggested here? We’d love to hear from you!

Thank you for stopping by and for the love of the mouse, never forget, that it all started with a mouse.

Christmas Cookie Fun: White Chocolate Dipped Gingerbread

Hey Disney family! Welcome to our blog! We talk all things Disney World and beyond and we are excited that you could join us! Be sure to follow us on Instagram at ForLoveOfMouse, on Facebook at For The Love of The Mouse and on YouTube at For Love of The Mouse.

26.jpgChristmas season is upon us and for many of us, that means cookies! I love baking. Every year, I take an entire weekend to bake dozens and dozens of cookies and treats to take to local fire departments, our vet, friends and more. I thought it would be fun to share one of my cookie recipes with you! This is is my white chocolate dipped gingerbread cookies. They are simple, can be altered to a variety of versions and are a delicious holiday treat.

4.jpgFirst up, preheat that oven! You are going to want to preheat to 350 degrees. If you have a double oven, go ahead and preheat both ovens if you want because this cookie recipe makes about twenty five cookies depending on the size of your cookie. I used a small ice cream scoop and was able to get twenty eight cookies when it was all said and done.

Also, be sure to pull out your egg and butter ahead of time because you want to have those at room temperature for use.

2Put butter and brown sugar into your mixer and mix it up until fluffy and completely combined, scrape the sides of the bowl as necessary. Next add the egg and mix for about fifteen or so seconds. Measure out your molasses and add that into the blender then add the vanilla.

6Pull out your sifter, I absolutely love my sifter. This gorgeous piece was my grandmother’s. My grandma loved to bake, we just lost her about a year ago now and I love using her recipes and her apron and her sifter; takes me back to baking with her and it brings me closer to her even now. If you don’t own a sifter, you should get one. Sifters are old school for sure and new recipes have gotten away from the sifter but I will tell you this, sift your dry ingredients. It makes your baking lighter and fluffier and is a cookie essential for me.

In fact, last weekend, I was meal prepping for the week and I usually forget to wear an apron but decided at the last second to put one on so that at the end of my cooking day, my pants weren’t completely covered in food as is usually the case.

11So, I pulled my grandma’s homemade apron out and put it on, as I was going about my day, I put one of my spoons in the apron and realized there was something in the pocket. At the bottom of one of the pockets was a hankerchief. Later on that day I realized that it was her birthday. The Lord works in mysterious ways let me tell you. Needless to say, I always know that my Grandma is cooking with me.

Back to cookies!

Sift your dry ingredients together; flour, cinnamon, cloves, baking soda, salt and ginger then add the sifted ingredients, one cup at a time to your mixer on low speed.

Cover your bowl and refrigerate for at least fifteen minutes to slightly chill the dough.

9Place parchment paper on your cookie sheets, select your ice cream scoop and get a small bowl with sugar in it. I prefer to make these cookies smaller because they so spread and are really rich but you do you.

13Scoop out your cookies and roll them into balls, place the balls into the sugar and completely coat with sugar. Place on parchment paper well apart from each other because as mentioned these cookies spread.

Bake cookies for 8-11 minutes. You want the cookies to be soft and chewy. Allow cookies to cool completely.

17Get a wire rack set up with parchment underneath to catch any white chocolate that may slide off your cookies. I used Ghiradelli white chocolate melting wafers but you can use almond bark or white chocolate chips as well. These wafers melt perfectly in the microwave but you can also use a double boiler if you wish. Be sure not to burn the white chocolate, you want it just melted and smooth.

24Once cookies have completely cooled, dip half of the top of the cookie into the white chocolate and place on wire rack. After you get a few done, select the sprinkles you want and sprinkle that on top of the white chocolate before it is set. Allow white chocolate to set before putting in storage container… or eating. Enjoy!

26Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup softened unsalted butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 to 2 cups white chocolate melting wafers (optional)

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.

  2. Combine the butter and sugar in a large bowl. Cream until fluffy.
  3. Add in egg and beat until smooth. Next add in the molasses and vanilla and mix until well combined.

  4. Put the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and salt into a sifter then add to the butter mixture one cup at a time. Mix until just combined. Do not over mix. Refrigerate dough 15-20 minutes.

  5. Using a medium cookie scoop (or about 1.5 Tablespoons), roll the cookie dough into a ball. Place granulated sugar into shallow bowl and then roll the dough into the sugar. Place on the baking sheet, about 2.5 inches apart.
  6. Bake 8-12 minutes and let cool on the pan 5 minutes before moving to a cooling rack. Enjoy as is or dip in white chocolate.

Disney and Non Disney November Favorites

Hey Disney family! Welcome to our blog! We talk all things Disney World and beyond and we are excited that you could join us! Be sure to follow us on Instagram at ForLoveOfMouse, on Facebook at For The Love of The Mouse and on YouTube at For Love of The Mouse.

90.jpgIt’s that time again! November has come and gone and it is time for my November favorites. I have some amazing things for you this month because I tried some great new stuff and I cannot wait to share these finds with you.

If you are loving the same products that I am or if you have tried one of the products I have spoken about in a previous post, please let me know because I would love to hear from you. I am really excited about this month’s lineup so let’s jump right in!

 

Food and Drink:

The Macro Barista!

91For many of you who follow us here on the blog and on various other platforms, you know that my husband and I follow a macronutrient lifestyle. We follow different plans and mine is more lax than his which works well because I like froufrou coffee drinks and my husband prefers black as tar cold brew.

What are macros? Macros are nutrients broken down into carbs, proteins and fats for daily consumption for desired results. Macros can be used to gain lean mass, lose fat, maintain and so much more.

I recently came across an amazing Instagram account called The Macro Barista. Alex, the gentlemen who runs the account is a barista out of Texas who is living his best macro life. He takes our favorite Starbucks concoctions and makes them macro friendly.

I have tried several of his recipes and I color me impressed. A typical gingerbread latte from Starbucks as I would order it would be a venti with coconut milk and no whipped cream. The macro breakdown for this beverage is 260 calories, 10 grams of fat, 42 grams of carbohydrates and 2 grams of protein.

Alex has concocted his own version of the Starbucks gingerbread latte. A cold brew served with one pump of gingerbread syrup, two pumps of sugar free cinnamon dolce syrup and coconut milk. The macro breakdown for this drink is 60 calories, 3 grams of fat, 7 grams of carbohydrates and 0 grams of protein.

Important for the macro lifestyle is not to drink your macros but to consume them through actual food. This macro friendly version of one of my favorite holiday drinks allows me to free up more numbers for actual food with nutrients instead of a coffee drink.

Marshmallow Pumpkin Pie!

I don’t love pie. I just don’t. If I am going to splurge on a dessert item, it is not going to be a pie of any sort. However, on Thanksgiving, some people like pie; some expect pie. I am on a mission to change this to a better dessert but until that time, I make pie.

pieHowever, I refuse to make boring pie and in my humble and not so professional opinion, pumpkin pie is boring. So, I jazzed it up. I found this recipe for a no bake marshmallow pumpkin pie and it went over like gangbusters. This pie was super simple to make and was incredibly tasty.

I will say, I don’t believe in store bought whipped cream. If you want cream, whip it, whip it real good. Get yourself some heavy whipping cream, a cold KitchenAid mixing bowl, some sugar and whip yourself some cream because that is the only way to do it.

Give this pie a shot for your next holiday gathering or just a fun dessert. Simple, yummy, festive, you can’t go wrong!

Clothing and Accessories:

Buffalo Plaid Fleece Shirt!

leeI was wandering around WalMart in search of two hundred Thanksgiving cards for the volunteers at work and I somehow ended up in the clothing section. I am a sucker for all things buffalo plaid and out of the corner of my eye I caught sight of this fleece shirt. The second I touched it, I knew I had to have it. The shirt is softer than soft and incredibly warm, perfect for a chilly winter day in Colorado.

This shirt is available in a variety of different plaid colors and patterns and at the time of publishing is only $13.74 at WalMart.

Custom Christmas Ears

61I love Mickey ears. They are my favorite Disney accessory, I say this time and time again. Last year when we were at Hollywood Studios during the Christmas season, I saw these Christmas decorations in the window along Hollywood Blvd and I absolutely loved them. I searched and searched for ears that were inspired by these amazing decorations but could find nothing.

I sent a photo to ElyssasEars on Etsy. She has done custom ears for me in the past and I absolutely love her work. She came up with an incredible design inspired by the decorations at Hollywood Studios. I cannot wait to wear these at Hollywood Studios. Be sure to check out Elyssas Ears for your ear needs and always ask for the stuffed bow because the bigger the bow, the better.

For the Home: 

Grove Collaborative!

groveI recently tried out Grove Collaborative and I am going to do a whole blog post about this company but spoiler alert, I love, love, love them. I am hooked and I cannot wait to receive my next order.

Grove is a company that sells naturally leaning products at a reasonable price. You can get Mrs. Meyers, Method, Grove’s own brand, Seventh Generation, Caldera and more all in one place for cheaper than most other stores.

I was convinced to try Grove after ads kept popping up for them on my Instagram. I clicked on the ad that enticingly told me, I would receive a free gift set and gave them a try. The products shipped quickly, were all reasonably priced and they work.

82For this post, I am going to focus on my three favorite items that I purchased from this past order. Mrs. Meyer’s Multi-Surface cleaner in Basil scent. This scent is amazing. I find myself cleaning my kitchen and bathroom counters over and over again just so my rooms will smell like this scent. You can purchase Mrs. Meyer’s from other locations of course but I have not found it cheaper anywhere else and will be purchasing my Mrs. Meyer’s products from Grove from now on.

80My next favorite item from Grove is the Method Daily Shower Spray. I purchased this off of Grove for $2.99. We have a glass shower in our master bath and although we squeegee the shower daily to avoid water spots and grime on the glass, it is never completely clean. This shower spray is amazing. It smells of Eucalyptus and mint and it leaves your shower smelling like an amazing high end spa. Beyond the smell though, our shower has never been cleaner than it is now. A few sprays after each shower and that’s it; it could not be more simple.

calderaMy last favorite from Grove is the Caldera Countertop Spray in the scent Tangelo Palm Frond.  Blair Lamb from Blair Blogs, if you don’t follow her blogs already, be sure to check her out because she is a gem, she posted a weekly vlog saying she had just tried Grove Collaborative for the first time and she gave this product a try because supposedly it reminds people of Disney. It does! My husband thinks I’m crazy and it doesn’t remind him of Disney but I’ll tell you what, it takes me right there to our last Walt Disney World Vacation, I almost wonder if Disney uses this product (I have no idea, this is just an assumption) because I smell Disney in this bottle.

New Disney Christmas Castle Figurine!

figure.jpegOn Black Friday every year, I turn our house into a Christmas wonderland. I spend all day watching Christmas movies, listening to Christmas music and decking our halls. It is one of my most favorite days of the year. This year was no different, but I did move a lot of our decor around and try it out in new spots. I pulled a table from our second floor into our entryway and put all of our Disney Christmas figurines out. Bryson surprised me with a new one as well!

This new figurine is so cute. I adore Pluto’s little face on this. The details are amazing and it is the perfect addition to our collection. You can find this on Shop Disney for $74.99 at the time of publishing.

Those are my November favorites! I hope you enjoyed this post because I sure enjoyed writing it. I would love to know what some of your current favorite are so be sure to leave a comment and let me know what you are loving right now. Thank you for stopping by and for the love of the mouse, never forget, that it all started with a mouse.

Pre-trip Land and Sea Adventure Haul

Hey Disney family! Welcome to our blog! We talk all things Disney World and beyond and we are excited that you could join us! Be sure to follow us on Instagram at ForLoveOfMouse, on Facebook at For The Love of The Mouse and on YouTube at For Love of The Mouse.

22We are about to head out on our first cruise! And of course it is a Disney cruise! We decided to make our first cruise a land and sea adventure and will first be stopping at Walt Disney World for a few days to celebrate the holiday season before heading out on a three night cruise on the Disney Dream!

Of course, we had to get some new gear for our holiday and cruise adventure and we want to show you some of the amazing things we got!

 

 

 

Kenzie’s Boutique

72Kenzie’s Boutique has super cute necklaces for various aspects of Disney. I purchased a Minnie Mouse one, a Mickey bar one and a Rapunzel high heel one. They are big and bright and bold and fun and perfect for Disney. You know that I am over the top and love bold Disney merch so these are perfect for me. Be sure to check out her Facebook page to support this small business and get a bold piece of Disney merch for yourself!

I cannot wait to wear my Mickey bar necklace with my snack goals shirt and my amazing Mickey bar ears. Couple that with an actual Mickey bar and those are the ultimate snack goals!

Elyssa’s Ears

62I approached Elyssa with an idea for a custom pair of ears because I absolutely trust her ear making abilities and love her ears each and every time. My idea? Well, have you ever been to Hollywood Studios at Christmastime? The most amazing Christmas decorations fill up some of the windows along Hollywood Boulevard and how incredible would it be to have Christmas ears inspired after these beauties!

73.jpgI sent her a photo and asked if she could create something that would do these justice but would eliminate the stripes because I wasn’t a real fan of the stripes and I didn’t want them to be exact replicas. Look at what she came up with! I cannot wait to wear these when we head to Hollywood Studios on our Christmas trip.

 

Creations With Love

75Creations with Love is my go to for character ears. She does amazing handmade ears and her shop is where I got my incredible Toy Story ears that featured Bullseye. She posted a pair of Christmas ears that had Daisy and Donald on them but I was hoping to get a custom pair that had our two favorite buds on there; Mickey and Donald. She agreed and came up with these. I am so thrilled with how they turned out and can’t wait to wear them to hang out with two of my favorite guys in Disney.

The Patchmaker Plus

65This being our first cruise, we were on the fence about Fish Extenders. We decided to go ahead and do it and are so excited about our gifts. I decided I wanted to make something with custom patches so I started searching on Etsy and I came across the Patchmaker Plus and she had a incredible collection of patches that she makes.

In our Fish Extender group, people posted about who their favorite Disney characters were. I tried to select patches that matched up with each person’s favorite and if they didn’t specify I found these amazing Disney cruise line Mickey and Minnie patches. I found plain tan tote bags on Amazon and then also some fleece throws at Walmart. My mom and I spent a few weekend afternoons, ironing them on and voila, one of our fish extender gifts was done and they are beyond cute!

Shop Emily G

76I love to add a little something extra to my Magic Bands. While we are in Disney, I never take my Magic Band off except to change it up to a different band so I love to have unique and fun decals added to my plain resort bands just to give them a little something extra. For our upcoming trip, I wanted to find a fun and festive Christmas decal to go over the plain green band that I had selected.

77If you are not familiar with Magic Bands; a Magic Band is what gives you access to your room if you stay on Walt Disney World property, it is also your park ticket, your Fast Pass ticket, you can purchase things anywhere on Disney property using your Magic Band if you attach it to a credit card. It truly is magic.

Whenever you book a stay at a Walt Disney World resort, you will receive a Magic Band prior to your stay in the mail and your band can continue to be used on future trips. I take several Magic Bands to Walt Disney World when we go and switch them out depending on where we are headed and what mood I am in; they are an essential Disney accessory for me.

I have gotten several Magic Band decals from Shop Emily G and decided on this sparkly Christmas one for our Christmas trip. They are easy to apply, stick really well, are water resistant and durable. Her products are great and are offered at a reasonable cost.

CoCoBeans Tees

67When we first booked our Disney cruise, I knew I wanted to get a special outfit for Pirate night. Pirate night on a Disney cruise is the night where characters dress in their pirate best, guests can do the same, there is a “Pirates In the Caribbean” fireworks show and a special pirate themed menu at the restaurants.

Some people go all out for Pirate night, dressing in full pirate outfits and that is what I wanted to do. Bryson was not so on board with that, so we agreed to get shirts. I have seen dozens and dozens of shirts that families wear for this occasion and they all looked the same to me. I wanted something unique. I looked for months, literally months, and I finally stumbled across CoCoBeans Tee on Etsy and they had this awesome shirt I had never seen before. The rest, as they say, is history, matey!

The Park Hop Shoppe

68Each year, for our Christmas card, we select a Disney picture from that year’s trip to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. This year will be no different, and I always like to pick out fun shirts for us to wear, matching of course, for the event and the photo. Through yet another search on Etsy, I came across these incredible shirts from The Park Hop Shoppe, perfect for Christmas and for Disney. I love doing Raglans for Christmas, here’s to hoping it isn’t ninety degrees at party time this year like it was last year.

I always get nervous when we are looking at these types of shirts because the vinyl decals can be tacky if not done right. These are amazing! I am thrilled with how they turned out and would absolutely recommend this shop and this shirt to anyone looking for a Disney shirt that breaks the mold.

Shine Designs Tee – Plaid castle shirt

69I love buffalo plaid. In fact, as I write this, I am wearing a buffalo plaid shirt. Shine Designs Tee on Etsy has married Cinderella’s Castle with buffalo plaid for the holidays and I am obsessed. I snatched these shirts up right away, as soon as I came across them on Etsy. If you follow along on our blog, in my September Faves post, I highlighted another gem from this shop, the Holidays and Pumpkin Spice Disney shirt, I ordered that shirt in a tank top and the quality was amazing.

The plaid shirt, I ordered for our Christmas trip is amazing as well, I ordered this in a t shirt for both my husband and for me. This shirt comes in a tank, a raglan and a t shirt option and I am so excited to pair this with one or two of my amazing Christmas ears, and yes, a few of them have the buffalo plaid.

Hidden Lily Boutique – Magnets

70You have to have magnets for your door when you go on a Disney cruise right? Everyone we talk to and every vlog we have watched, everyone puts these cute little magnets on their doors when they cruise with Disney. I wanted to find us some that were, of course, a little unique and also fun. I found these adorable clothesline inspired Disney magnets from a great little shop on Etsy. We were able to customize the items on the “clothesline” to say our Disney name, For Love of Mouse.

I wasn’t interested in holiday magnets, though this shop does have a holiday version of the “clothesline” magnet which is really cute. I wanted to make sure we could use these on future cruises that maybe weren’t a merrytime cruise. We are so excited to use these, I think they will be fantastic for outside our door on our first Disney cruise!

Are we There Yet Designs

71We also got an additional magnet for our door. This one was a little more traditional but really cute, nonetheless and I think it will be a great addition to our door! This shop has a plethora of magnets, mugs and other Disney items to choose from so be sure to check them out on Etsy.

 

 

Fish Extender

74Last but not least, we made a fish extender. My mom and I looked up a number of ideas and ended up with an adorable fish extender. We used fabric from Wal Mart and Joann’s and patches from The Patchmaker Plus. The idea is to add patches each time we cruise so we were sure to leave plenty of room for future adventures. One of my favorite parts of our fish extender are the patches from The Patchmaker Plus that resemble Disney Cruise Line name tags personalized with our names.

That is it for our pre-trip haul. We have a whole host of other fun things that we received and are taking on our trip. For the full experience be sure to follow our adventures on Instagram and YouTube as we get ready to set sail on this fun-filled land and sea Disney adventure.

Thank you for stopping by and for the love of the mouse, never forget, that it all started with a mouse.

First Time Cruisers Questions Answered

Hey Disney family! Welcome to our blog! We talk all things Disney World and beyond and we are excited that you could join us! Be sure to follow us on Instagram at ForLoveOfMouse, on Facebook at For The Love of The Mouse and on YouTube at For Love of The Mouse.

dreamWe are about to embark on a brand new magical adventure for us. We are heading out on the Disney Cruise Line. Our first cruise will be a Very Merrytime Cruise and it will also be a land and sea adventure. This will be, as mentioned, our first cruise and our first Disney cruise so I thought, what a great opportunity to talk about cruise prep for first time cruisers.

One of the questions we had when we first booked our cruise was should we or could we have water shipped to the ship?

dreaminThe answer is you can not have water delivered to the ship but you can carry a case of water, unopened, in its original packaging. If you are doing a land and sea adventure, as we are, you can have Amazon deliver water or other essentials to your resort prior to your cruise and then take that on the cruise.

Is there Wi-Fi on the cruise?

castaswayYes! It is expensive and we are not going to be getting it but you can purchase Wi-Fi packages. Disney uses the Connect@Sea system which was developed by MTN Communications. There are several package levels offered. The medium package of 300 MB costs $39, or about 13 cents per MB, while the heavy-use package of 1 gigabyte costs $89, or 9 cents per MB.

One thing we want to make sure we share with you is something we discovered but would not have even thought of. If you take your phone out of airplane mode in an international port and it connects to a cell tower you will get charged international roaming rates unless you have an international package with your provider. You could come home to a hefty cell phone bill, which most providers will work with you on if you add an international plan after the fact, but it is a lot of work to do at that point.

unplugWe recommend unplugging. There are very few opportunities to unplug in this day and age. Enjoy your friends or family or yourself and live your vacation. There are phones on the ship that can be used to locate and communicate with other party members throughout the ship.

Should you take ears on your Disney cruise?

whositsFrom everything we have read and watched, it is up to you! This is your cruise, you do you! I, as you might have guessed will be taking ears! In fact, I have made two sets of ears for the cruise and purchased a third set and I will be rocking those throughout our entire cruise. I found these ears on Etsy at the shop whoozitsandwhatzits1!

 

When should you start taking sea sickness medication?

dramaI do not suffer from motion sickness, Bryson has more of an affinity to it but we will both be taking Dramamine and other precautions prior to boarding the ship to ensure that we are both good to go however. We will begin taking Dramamine 24 hours prior to boarding the ship. We will be in Disney and the day before we leave for our cruise, we will start taking Dramamine to ensure we are not suffering from sea sickness once we get on board.

What is rotational dining and how does it work? 

dadsguide
Photo Courtesy of Dadsguidetowdw.com

Rotational dining is the system of dining used on the cruise ships to ensure that everyone is able to eat at each of the main dining locations. These are the sit down restaurant experiences that are included with the cost of your cruise. We are sailing on the Disney Dream and the dining locations included in rotational dining are Animator’s Palate, Royal Palace and Enchanted Garden.

When you check in and get your key to the world card which gets you access to your room and so much more, it will have letters signifying your dining locations. For example, if your card says AER you will dine at Animator’s Palate, Enchanted Garden and Royal Palace in that order. Along with your rotational dining, you will have the same waitstaff throughout the duration of your cruise as long as you are dining in the locations indicated on your key to the world card.

cabanas
Photo Courtesy of DisneyFoodBlog.com

Other dining included in the cost of your cruise (at least on the Dream) is Cabanas, which is a buffet, Flo’s Cafe which is a snack bar type location and Room Service. Yep, that’s right, room service is included in the price of your cruise and you can order anything off of that room service menu including, warm cookies and milk, Mickey ice cream bars and the cake of the day from that menu, free of charge. Please remember though, tips are NOT included in that price for room service, so tip your room service host.

remy
Photo of Remy courtesy of Disneyparks.disney.go.com

In addition, there are other dining locations that are not included in the price of your cruise and that do cost extra to dine at or get treats at. Palo and Remy are upscale dining locations that are adults only and do cost extra. Because this is our first cruise and we are only going on a three night cruise, we decided against doing either of these dining experiences so that we could enjoy each of the rotational dining experiences. Should we cruise again, we will definitely take part in one of these because we do love these types of dining experiences.

Also worth noting, you can take items from Cabanas into the theatres to watch shows or movies but if you get items from Preludes, the snack bar outside of the theatre, that is extra. Really good to note because that’s where they will get you.

van
Photo courtesy of disneycruiselineblog.com

Other extra dining or snack experiences are the Senses Juice Bar which is located inside Senses Spa and Vanellope’s Sweet Shop which is the gelato, ice cream and candy shop on board the ship. Cove Cafe, the coffee shop on board is also not included, alcoholic beverages are not included but you can get the drink of the day at many places throughout the ship for $5.

Is there a dress code at the restaurants? 

21Palo and Remy do have dress codes. Those are more dressed up and formal restaurants and do require you to adhere to a nicer code of dress in order to dine. There is no dress code for the other restaurants but we have heard varying accounts from different friends and folks on YouTube and other that give different responses to this. According to some, a lot of people are more dressed up than you would expect especially at dinners. Yet others say that most people are in shorts and t shirts all day and at dinner.

Bryson will likely take his Tommy Bahama shirts that he loves and also lives in when we are in the parks and his nice shorts and I will be wearing casual beach wear such as my swim suit and a cover up romper during the day and then at night I will probably put a little sundress on. It is winter in Colorado and any opportunity to wear a sundress will be taken advantage of by me. I don’t plan on wearing anything other than flip flops throughout the duration of our cruise but were we dining at Palo or Remy I would be taking nice shoes for that occasion.

What is a land and sea adventure? 

16A land and sea adventure is when you go to a Disney park, in our case Walt Disney World, and then follow that up immediately with a cruise. For our trip, we will be doing a three day Walt Disney World vacation followed by our 3 night cruise. We will be taking Disney’s Magical Express, which is always how we travel from the airport to our resort when we stay on property and then we will also be taking Magical Express from our resort to Port Canaveral for our cruise.

A Few other tips!

casr
Photo courtesy disneyparks.disney.go.com

You do not have to get off the ship at each port. When we first booked the cruise, we didn’t know that it was a thing to not get off the ship at a port but the more we research and watch our friends’ vlogs, there is so much to do and see and enjoy on a Disney cruise that if you get to a port where nothing excites or jumps out at you, stay on the ship because there will be a plethora of fun to have on the ship!

images
Photo credit unknown

There are a number of character meet and greets throughout the ship and some you have to sign up for in advance and others you do not. As long as you are in line within fifteen minutes of a character arriving, you will be able to meet that character.

Fish extenders are a thing on Disney cruises. There are Facebook groups and fish extender groups on Facebook where you can follow along with fellow cruisers who will be joining you on your cruise and you can sign up to be in a fish extender group. These are groups of people who bring gifts for one another. You hang a cute little gift receiving fish extender outside your door and receive gifts from other cruisers in your group and give gifts to other cruisers in your group as well!

wdwinfoDownload the Disney cruise app so that you can follow along with the daily navigator, know what events are happening where and when and keep on top of all the fun happenings all over your cruise ship.

Pack a carry-on because you will be on the ship for several hours before your luggage gets to your room. Just as we do when we travel to Walt Disney World, we pack a backpack each of stuff we will want or need or possibly want or need before our luggage gets to us. Sunglasses, sunscreen, camera, swim suit, change of clothes, whatever you think you might need in the first couple of hours of your trip pack in your carry-on, something small that you can easily carry throughout the ship as you explore.

59Our last tip is something we would have never thought of but are happy to now know as we will not be getting off of the ship in Nassau. When the ship is at port, the stores are closed. That’s right, whether you are docked at Port Canaveral, Nassau or any other port, the ship’s merchandise stores are not open for business. That is really good to know for us because that is when we were planning on doing a lot of shopping because we figured everyone else would be out exploring Nassau. As soon as the ship pulls away from port the stores will open and the money spending can resume. It’s fine Disney, take all my money.

Don’t forget to decorate your door! Magnets are a fun and popular thing to decorate stateroom doors on a Disney cruise ship. The doors are magnetic and decorating the doors are quite the thing. You can make your own magnets or find absolutely adorable ones on Etsy! This is a great way to personalize your door and maybe even interact with some other guests with a white board or other interactive display on your door! Here are some cute magnets we found!

Hidden Lily Boutique

Goldeelox Creations 

Goldeelox Creations

AlsIkKanDesigns

What are some of your top tips for sailing the high sees with Mickey? Have you been on a Disney Cruise? Are you planning a Disney Cruise? We want to hear from you! We hope this helped answer some of your cruising questions. Thank you for stopping by and for the love of the mouse, never forget, that it all started with a mouse.

Guide to Epcot International Festival of the Holidays.

Hey Disney family! Welcome to our blog! We talk all things Disney World and beyond and we are excited that you could join us! Be sure to follow us on Instagram at ForLoveOfMouse, on Facebook at For The Love of The Mouse and on YouTube at For Love of The Mouse.

157.jpgThe Holidays have arrived at Walt Disney World and that means there is even more magic to be found. One of our favorite holiday traditions is the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays. This amazing festival is returning to Epcot this year and will run from November 18 thru December 30.

The Festival of the Holidays is a delightful array of holiday traditions from around the world, food and music. One of the highlights for this event is the Candlelight Processional. We have done a full blog post on the Candlelight Processional in past years but will talk a little about it here as well as certain aspects do change each year.

Candlelight Processional is an incredible experience and we recommend it constantly. What is Candlelight Processional? A celebrity narrator tells the biblical story of Christmas and they are accompanied by an amazing choir and orchestra. It is truly beautiful and amazing. The narrators change each year but some return year after year and are incredibly popular. Here is a list of who is narrating for 2018:

  • Chita Rivera – November 22 to 23, 2018
  • NEW! Helen Hunt – November 24 to 25, 2018
  • NEW! Alfonso Ribeiro – November 26 to 27, 2018
  • Robby Benson – November 28 to 30, 2018
  • John Stamos – December 1 to 2, 2018
  • Neil Patrick Harris – December 3 to 6, 2018
  • Whoopi Goldberg – December 7 to 9, 2018
  • NEW! Bart Millard – December 10 to 12, 2018
  • Blair Underwood – December 13 to 14, 2018
  • Gary Sinise – December 15 to 17, 2018
  • Pat Sajak – December 18 to 20, 2018
  • NEW! Auli’i Cravalho – December 21 to 23, 2018
  • Edward James Olmos – December 24 to 25, 2018
  • Jodi Benson – December 26 to 27, 2018
  • Cal Ripken Jr. – December 28 to 30, 2018

Some of the more popular narrators include Pat Sajak, Whoopi Goldberg and Neil Patrick Harris. New this year is Auli’i Cravalho who voiced Moana in the Disney animated classic which is amazing and I wish we could be there for that!

152Some of the more popular narrators as well as those closer to Christmas will have standby lines that you won’t believe until you see it. If you want to guarantee a spot for the show without waiting in a massive line for standby that doesn’t guarantee you a seat, we suggest the Candlelight Processional Dining Package.

The dining package offers options for breakfast, lunch and dinner throughout Epcot including Biergarten, Chefs de France, Coral Reef, Rose and Crown, Garden Grill, Teppan Edo, Via Napoli and more. Prices vary depending on the restaurant and the meal. The dining package is the only way to guarantee a seat for one of the Candlelight Processional showings.

232You can also use the Disney Dining Plan for this package, it requires two table service dining credits for this. Even with booking the dining package, park tickets are required for admission into Epcot. For more information and to book your own dining package for the Candlelight Processional, click HERE!

One of the highlights of the International Festival of the Holidays are the food kitchens. This year’s festival has 12 kitchens featuring holiday favorites and traditions from different countries and cultures throughout the world.

A new kitchen this year is the L’Chaim which is featuring classic jewish dishes including pastrami on rye with house-made pickles and mustard, potato knish with herb sour cream (yum) and matzo ball soup.

151The American Holiday Table is a great kitchen! Located in the American pavilion, no matter the day, you can get yourself a traditional Holiday meal. At this kitchen you can partake in two holiday options. A slow-roasted turkey with stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans and cranberry sauce and/or hand-carved smoked ham with green beans and sweet potato casserole. For dessert, you can select a chocolate pecan tart with whipped cream and a whisky caramel sauce. Holiday libations include an Orange  Blossom Brewing cranberry kringle pilsner and a peppermint milk stout.

Over in the Germany pavilion, stop by the Bavarian Kitchen for a potato dumpling with mushroom sauce or cheese fondue in a bread bowl served with fresh veggies and potatoes. Top it off with black forest roulade served with cherry whip cream.

155Next head over to France and the Le Marche de Noel kitchen where you can experience traditional French dishes such as the bouchee a la Reine traditionelle which is turkey and mushrooms in a cream sauce served in puff pastry and dark chocolate and caramel buche de noel. Don’t forget the the spiced rum punch slush which is sure to be a hit at this festival.

Las Posadas holiday kitchen over in the Mexico pavilion is serving up a tamal de camaron; a traditional tamale stuffed with marinated shrimp. The Feast of the Three Kings kitchen offers two arepa options that sound absolutely amazing that you could pair with  tropical eggnog. Over at the Shanghai Holiday Kitchen, you can indulge in a mongolian beef bao bun and spicy mala chicken. The Yukon pavilion boasts one of our favorite returning items; the maple buche de noel.

20With so many delicious holiday treats to try don’t forget to take part in some of the traditional holiday festivities throughout World Showcase including hearing a story from Pere Noel and meeting Belle in her gorgeous Christmas dress.

This is a must do event for the holidays at Walt Disney World in our opinion and we hope you are able to check it out this holiday season. What is your favorite part of Festival of the Holidays if you have been before or what are you looking forward to most at Epcot this holiday season?

Thank you for stopping by and for the love of the mouse, never forget, that it all started with a mouse.

 

 

The Disnerd Guide to Etsy

Hey Disney family! Welcome to our blog! We talk all things Disney World and beyond and we are excited that you could join us! Be sure to follow us on Instagram at ForLoveOfMouse, on Facebook at For The Love of The Mouse and on YouTube at For Love of The Mouse.

22Etsy is the place for great, unique Disney stuff but it is really easy to get carried away and really easy to get sucked down a rabbit hole of shirts, decor and accessories.

In today’s blog, we are going to talk about weeding through Etsy product, finding good merch, questions to ask and not caving to pressure from the seller.

I am not sure if Etsy has a secret tier system for their customers but I will tell you that if they do, I am considered tier 1 and I don’t know if that is a good thing or a bad thing. Between Disney, our wedding and home decor, I love all things Etsy but I’ve made good purchases and I’ve regretted purchases. The hard part, as with all online shopping is that you don’t know what you are going to get. You don’t know about the quality, the durability, the fabric etc.

41Even though you can see pictures, it is easy to make a picture look better than the reality of a product. I have sat with items in my cart, probably to the annoyance of the shop owner, for weeks. What am I doing during this time? Seeing if I can find a similar or the same product for cheaper, for better quality etc and reading the reviews.

First things first. What are you looking for? Have a clear idea of what you are looking for unless of course you are just browsing. Did you see a specific shirt you liked on Instagram? Do you know what shop it is from? Try to find that specific shirt and then go from there. I always like browse because I like to try to find unique items but I still try to have an idea of what I am looking for. Toy Story Mickey ears, Disney Christmas shirts, magic band decals, Buffalo Plaid Christmas decor, etc.

7Whenever I find something that I love on Etsy, I always go to the reviews. How have people reviewed this shop in the past? I also like to look to see how many orders do they have? If they don’t have a ton of orders, that should not turn you off, but if they have had a lot of orders and don’t have a lot of reviews or good reviews, that might be a time for you to pause.

Ask questions! Most Etsy sellers are amazing at answering questions. It is a must if you are a small shop because people will always remember good customer service. I ordered shirts for Bryson and I from a cute little shop and was so excited about them. Within minutes of Bryson putting the shirt on in Disney, the vinyl decal started peeling away from the shirt.

1In all honesty, I hate complaining to people about a product. But, just as this is a small shop and you want to support them and they put a lot of time and effort into making the products and that’s why you spend $25-$30 on a t shirt, you also have to remember that you worked hard to earn that money to buy the product and you deserve a good product. So, I reached out to her and sent her a picture of the shirt and explained the situation and she was just delightful. She was so apologetic and got a replacement shirt in the mail for us right away. With such great customer service, you better believe I will order from that shop again and recommend the products to others. So, if there is an issue with your shirt or what you ordered, say something.

6Inquire about customization. Did you find something you liked but it wasn’t exactly what you wanted? Ask a question! There is a button on Etsy that prompts you to ask a question about a product. If Bryson and I are getting custom shirts, I almost always want glitter on mine. I live for glitter; Bryson however, does not. So, I always ask if mine can have glitter and his can be glitter-less. Sometimes I ask for a different font, or to remove our names because we don’t usually want names on our shirts, that just isn’t our style. Don’t be afraid to ask for changes to something because you are spending quite a bit on a custom shirt or item so you should get what you want.

Don’t be afraid to walk away from a purchase. I have had things in my cart and when I thought more about it or continued to look around, I would find something that I just liked better but by this time I had asked a number of questions and changed things and had a custom listing made for me or some combination of that and I feel bad for causing the seller to answer my questions and all this, so I purchase the shirt or the item and I regret it.

94Don’t do this. Yes, was it probably a little annoying that you asked a lot of questions but if you find something better, you find something better. Don’t guilt yourself into making a purchase you don’t really want. Most Etsy sellers do not accept returns, especially on custom items so once you buy it, it is yours. Don’t make the mistake of buying something you don’t really want, especially if you found something else along the way, that you like better.

There is nothing wrong with changing your mind even if you have asked several questions and been what you might consider to be a bother. The seller doesn’t want you to purchase something you don’t really want either because if you aren’t happy with your purchase, you won’t come back.

Have a plan!

21For each trip we go on to Disney, there are certain things I want to get before we go. We enjoy wearing Disney shirts and we buy shirts at Disney but I am a big fan of having unique items so I make a list of specific items I want to see about getting months before a trip so I can purchase a few at a time and have enough time to search around.

For example, on our upcoming trip, we will be going for our Christmas trip and this will be a land and sea adventure so we will also be setting sail on our first cruise. We set out in search of a items that we really wanted and items that we kind of wanted for that trip.

Always remember that planning in advance works to your advantage when it comes to Etsy because these are small shops and many don’t have access to large production facilities; it takes a little longer for items to be made and shipped to you. On the flip side of that, you are getting something custom, made to order and you are supporting a small shop which is great!

95A typical turnaround time on Etsy is around 3-4 weeks so we don’t recommend waiting until the last minute to purchase your items, especially if you are customizing something.

The things I knew I wanted for our December trip was a new Christmas shirt for us to wear at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, a pirate Mickey shirt for Pirate night on the cruise, Mickey door magnets for our room door on the cruise and then we were also on the lookout for fish extender gifts and gift ideas.

I would favorite items that I wanted to come back to and yes, I am one of those people who puts things in my cart and continues to come back and contemplate them before purchasing. If you are an Etsy shop owner, that probably drives you nuts, I apologize. I do it on every online shopping site. At this moment, I probably have items in carts on at least 15 different websites.

55.jpgAfter I have thoroughly exhausted my search for unique or eye catching designs for what I am looking for, then I will ask questions. Can the seller customize? Can mine be glitter or can we omit the glitter from Bryson’s?

A major turnoff for me, that has resulted in me, noting to never purchase from that seller is if the seller appears agitated or is cold in their response to me. Does that sound harsh? Here is my reasoning. These are small businesses, as I mentioned, I can find these same shirts for far cheaper elsewhere, if I am going to spend the time and money to purchase from a small business, I expect excellent customer service and I can find another seller who will make me the exact shirt, this shop is selling and who will provide me with that service.

Some of my favorite shops!

The Patchmaker Plus

Shop Emily G

Happy Cuts Studio

Elyssa’s Ears

ClEARly Magic

PreciousArtCreation

P and P Custom Creations

Sew My Ears

Shine Designs Tees

Cutie Cakes Studio

KathlenesCreations

57I am not a rep for any of these brands and have found them through searching and social media. Each of these shops, I have purchased items from and will purchase from again. I absolutely love each and every one of them and would highly recommend checking them out to bring your magical ideas to life!

A few more tips!

Use the favorites button. In the top right hand corner of each listing is a little heart button. Click the heart button to add the item to your favorites. That way, as you continue your search you can always refer back to the listings that you favorited.

Read the listing thoroughly. Generally, Etsy sellers are amazing at providing a ton of information about the items that they sell. The dimensions, exact color choices, various options that are available, shipping times and so much more. Reach each listing thoroughly before purchasing and asking a bunch of questions so that you are sure to receive what you want and there are no surprises in your order.

8Be aware of shipping times. I know that I already briefly mentioned this but be aware of the seller’s typical shipping and turnaround times. Many of these creations are handmade and turnaround times can be longer than many other online sites for that reason. Be sure that you look into the turnaround time for the shop so that you get your item in time. Don’t wait for last minute with Etsy; you want to plan ahead and order with plenty of time to spare.

40Write a review. These sellers work really hard to make their products and take a lot of pride, as they should, in the items that they sell. Leave them a review and you have an issue, give the seller a chance to make the situation right before you leave a poor review. Most times, sellers will go out of their way to make right any mistakes in the order. Sometimes shirts get damaged in transit or a mistake goes unseen before it is shipped. Sometimes, packages get lost.  These sellers are human, be mindful of that, and they work hard to make these products and get them to you. Be respectful and don’t give poor reviews without giving the seller a chance to make it right.

12Screen printed versus Vinyl. One thing I hear a lot of people talk about is that they order a shirt that has a big vinyl decal on the front and they thought that it was going to be screen printed on or embroidered. Be sure to check the listing to see what the decal is made out of. Some shops are able to use screen printing but many, that aren’t outsourced to a screen printing business are made in house with a vinyl iron on. Another important reason to carefully read the listing to ensure you are getting what you expect.

Etsy is a wonderful online marketplace to support small business and to find unique, customized, fun items. I highly recommend supporting these gems, and searching to find exactly what it is that you want!

That’s it for this post! What are your tips for shopping on Etsy? What are your favorite Etsy shops?

Thank you for stopping by and for the love of the mouse, never forget, that it all started with a mouse.