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On Planes & Monorail Trains.

Y’all are going to laugh at me for this, but here goes:

Disclaimer: This post contains mostly or all iPhone photos and videos. I feel the need to explain this only because a certain level of quality is important in my professional work. They say that the camera you have on you is the best camera. I will raise that here and everywhere to say that the best camera is the one you have on you that you know how to use. In fact, the best camera is the one you have on you that you know how to use, and that you can share from easily! So please enjoy my non-professional candid moments. I have plenty of professional quality photos coming from the same glorious days and glorious moments..

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Even the airport? Kinda glorious to see Snow White skipping through Bradley International.

And how about when you endure a polar vortex or two, take a too-long night flight to a new place, and wake up the next day to warm sun. What’s that like to step out into an absolutely frigid night, go into a deep sleep, and then fly into a new season?

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How about when you go to downtown Disney on your first day even though you set aside that first glorious Saturday as a “rest day”. However, knowing you’re just that close to the action, but not in the action doesn’t exactly suffice. So you go to downtown Disney. And when you tell your princess-loving daughter she can pick out just one thing in the giant, 30,000 square foot (slight exaggeration) “World of Disney” store, she picks out a Rapunzel wig. Only, she doesn’t call it a Rapunzel wig.

It’s “Rapunzel Hair,” mind you.

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And she likes the two-toned look of her hair being loose under the wig. No ponytails allowed!

On our second day, Sunday, we went to Universal Studios for a half day, because we were having a family BBQ later that evening. This was a practice run. From park opening to 2:00pm. Only four hours of strenuous stroller-pushing, rides, food and excitement. It gave me an idea of how INSANE our theme park week would be like, if I was getting winded by the spontaneous, unexpected “rehearsals” of Disney Village and Universal Studios. My aunt works for Universal, so we could easily afford to go in and out..

..in case you wondered how casually we stepped into Hogsmeade. Quite unexpectedly. We sauntered at first. And then skipped.

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Hello, Hogwarts. You are amazing.

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I want to be a wizard. I was trying to figure out which house of Hogwarts I’d be sorted into. I asked Cassidy if he thought I’d be sorted into the Hufflepuff house and he didn’t get a chance to answer before interruption, so I spent a few days worrying that he thought I was Hufflepuff material. I have parts of me that are Slytherin (don’t we all?) and maybe I could be a Ravenclaw in the right setting. I have been, in fact. I am sometimes kind, loyal and brave, but maybe not enough to be a Gryffindor? More on bravery later this week or next..I asked him today and he instantly said, “Definitely not Hufflepuff or Slytherin.” So that’s good. We can stay married. Whew! What say you? What house of Hogwarts do you think I’d be in? What about you?

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And we roamed around the rest of Universal Studios too, Butterbeer (above) in hand. Look at this big boy!

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He took stroller naps through each day at a theme park. I think he was happy to get home to his bed.

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And of course, the sunsets were beautiful.

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(I don’t seem to have any phone photos from SeaWorld, so check back for the real camera ones!)

And then we have Disney World. On the day we went, it was 80 degrees and sunny. According to the staff, the crowd level was a two out of 10. They said a six out of 10 is pretty much unbearable. I found a two to be INSANE, but I’m used to western Mass.

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Peter Pan’s Flight had a 45 minute wait. It’s a Small World had a zero minute wait! Now to have the song in your head for days..

And honestly, does this really look like fun to you? I feel no temptations to do this to myself:

Scarlet was very shy to meet Ariel. If you want to make any comments about Cassidy not being shy to meet Ariel, go for it! It’s already been done all over my personal Facebook page. She told me I was wearing her favorite color and that I was a queen.

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After four straight days of theme parks, I put together some thoughts on what it’s like to do this:

1. You never know what or who you will stumble into. We walked through the Despicable Me cast and one of the characters started pushing Des in his stroller! We met Simpsons, Doc from Back to the Future, the Blues Brothers, and many Disney characters. It was serendipity. We missed Chip & Dale, only to be last on line to meet Mickey, Minnie and Goofy..

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And just when we raced from our EPCOT character breakfast..

..back to the Magic Kingdom, we walked right into this incredible show!

2. That going to these theme parks will make you think back on your own childhood. Deeply. And sometimes it’s sad to realize you’ve lost passion for something. That you’ll pass right by people/places/things you once would have screamed about.

3. That the park employees are incredible professionals, and I only saw one woman break character. She had a big smile pasted on her face, but her eyes clearly said, “Screw you all.”

4. That I am so insanely anxious about rides that I was still unsure about the ones that even Des could go on! I’d be looking around every corner and wondering if I’d be spun around or scared or made to go too fast.. Scarlet doesn’t share my fear, as she will ride anything she’s tall enough to ride..(look in the last row of people)

5. I could wax poetic forever about the E.T. ride. I love the imagination involved in making these rides. The special effects are unbelievable on the new rides. The theme parks try to appeal to all of your senses, and will even use chemicals to create certain smells at certain parts of the park. (employee-confirmed) You have to be willing to let it all in, or else you will be so overstimulated and so overwhelmed, that you will want to run and hide! Somehow, that didn’t happen to me.

6. That it’s sometimes sad to me that the magic is not what the kids think it is. It’s too manufactured. Too planned. Too artificial. Too much. And yet. The park was built on dreams, and it is also in the dreams of worldwide children to get to experience what we experienced. It was Scarlet’s dream. Fulfilled.

And for that? The magic. It’s real. You can even taste it..

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Stay tuned for more stories and better (to me) photos! Said to the tune of Game of Thrones and their famous, “Winter Is Coming” quote. I say to you, “Brace yourselves. The heady stuff is coming.” And uh..take what you will from that.

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173 Comments

  1. SQUEEEE!!!! SO FUN to see pics of it all!! I can’t wait for MORE!! The hair, the naps, the characters… just a “It’s a small world after—- all” ah hell-

    Sorry- I am distracted now…

    πŸ˜‰ Only thing I got? I don’t do any ANY rides anymore…none. I simply can’t take it. Pathetic- I know. I just watch and squeal every time I see them come ’round…

    1. haha, I don’t know if I can’t do them because I’m older, or because I psyche myself out. I did go on a mild “roller coaster” type ride. And of course, no dizziness or queasiness. I don’t think I even get motion sick. I just am a big wimp!
      Did you like the peace signs flashing in “It’s a Small World”? That was my favorite part!

  2. yay! can’t wait to see more. did you rent a condo in one of the little neighborhoods there? that’s what we do! it looks like the one we stay in (windsor palms I think it’s called) but they all look the same, I know!

    1. I would have loved to stay in the resort area but my aunt has a house in Ocoee and it’s too big/too good to resist the comforts of home. Not to mention, money saved! Maybe one day we’ll do the whole experience. It seems like a blast!

  3. I wish we’d gone when our kids were younger. I was so excited about getting pictures of them with the characters and they weren’t interested in doing that at all. I think they did it once to appease me but after that it was no dice. And to me that is part of the magic! I think you did a great job with the iPhone photos. It looks like magic to me – it’s definitely magic to be able to step from freezing cold to sunshine. And you came back just in time for more snow. Well I guess that is magic too!

    1. You know what, no snow here! I think we are getting a storm on Wednesday but I’ve heard a lot of places are getting one today and one Wednesday! So maybe the magic lives on..
      And thank you about the iPhone photos. They frustrate me! There’s so much less control and my kids move so fast and I have it down to a science with my real camera.
      These are still so much fun!

  4. No matter what camera you use, your eye is still your eye. I agree with Michelle, the iPhone photos are great.

    We are trying to get there ASAP, maybe next winter. We’ve got a bit of saving to do so we can really do it well. Lola will be five turning six and Lola will be under 2.

    I can’t wait to see the rest of your photos and hear all of your thoughts!

    Is that a butterbeer in your hand?

    1. Yes! Thank you for reminding me to go back in and update the post to say that it was a very delicious butterbeer! They had them cold or frozen. I think they’re working on hot ones too. I wonder if they sell them alcoholic – I didn’t see it personally but it’s probably there!
      Thanks for agreeing with Michelle – I struggle with them but they are so convenient and fun!

  5. This post makes me feel like ditching school, work, and (most of all) the snow to go visit Florida. It looks like you all had a fantastic time and you can certainly color me jealous!! You also took some amazing pictures, despite mostly using your camera. It certainly goes to show it’s more about the photographer behind the camera than the camera you use!

    1. Thank you! I will need at least two posts to contain the real camera photos. They were fun to me because I had more control with them. However, the iPhone does the trick too. I just kept switching around!
      I miss it. We’re getting a snowstorm this week. Boo! Over it!

  6. As much as I adore your professional pictures (and I really do adore them), I enjoyed this post with quick and simple in the moment pictures, too. I’m so excited that y’all had a magical trip, and that you were able to get in so much theme park goodness. Do you need a vacation to recover from your vacation now? Because that is how I always feel after just one day at the parks.

    1. I do need a post-vacation vacation!! So badly. We came home on a Friday, which was very smart, because we needed Saturday and Sunday to lay low. And this morning was still very hard!

  7. Perfect piece to go with my coffee on this snowy Monday morning on the farm! iPhone, Schimiphone….the pics are great!

  8. Seeing your candid iPhone pics was great. I’ve been wondering how people do these theme parks with a little kid like Des in tow… with half-day trial runs and stroller naps, apparently! It sounds like Scarlet had a wonderful time. I haven’t been back as an adult but yeah, the whole “manufactured magic” thing… that would probably make me a little sad.

    As much as I’d like to be Gryffindor, I’m probably a bookwormish Ravenclaw at heart.

    1. Ravenclaws rock!! I thought we’d probably leave him back home with my aunt, but it didn’t turn out that way. He really did take care of himself. There were definite requirements to making sure both kids were hydrated and never starving. If they were hungry, we’d make them stop everything and eat. No waiting until extreme crankiness set in!
      It mostly worked..

  9. I did see so many of these photos on Instagram and Facebook, but definitely didn’t tire of seeing them again. Seriously so jealous and the whole trip looked like so much fun. I loved it from Scarlet’s skipping through the airport as Snow White right up until the end of Des dressed to return home. And you did a great job with an iPhone camera and I still have my moments where I would rather have my Canon camera, but the iPhone does definitely work in a pinch! πŸ™‚

    1. It sure does! I love to combine them. Mixed media, if you will! Even thought it’s kinda not. My camera is a video camera too. My phone is a camera and video camera too! So much to remember.
      You’ll have your wonderful time in the warm sun at Disney! I just know it.

  10. Ahhh!!! I am so jealous of the Harry Potter pics! I have wanted to go since it opened. Your photos are great in [hone or camera. LOL. I saw a few of these while you were posting them on FB during your trip, but not the videos. Those were priceless!!! LOVE it, and I can’t waitt o hear about the rest….if I survive my second ski trip….my lesson is today. Squeeee…..

    1. Oh, you’ll do it!! Have so much fun in Montana! Say hi to any moose, elk, wolves, and/or coyotes for me. Tell them I miss them.
      I’m so excited to hear about your trip now!!

  11. Your Small World picture reminded me that Stella fell asleep on that ride! It was a long, exhausting, hot day, even by lunchtime and I guess the swaying of the boat lulled her. LOL Your pictures make me wish we could go back again! Stella keeps asking to go back, so I guess we’ll go again when Micah is old enough to go on rides. Also, I clearly need to re-read HP because I have no idea what house I’d be in!

    1. Hmm..you? Definitely Gryffindor or Ravenclaw. And those are the good ones. Slytherins can be great, no doubt, but many either are evil or turn to evil.
      I can imagine that Stella would fall asleep on that ride! It is rather soothing. And long. We loved it! I’m so glad it’s still there and there’s never any wait for it! It just keeps on moving all day long.

  12. Sweet T, I LOVE hearing about all of this with D & S!!! K’s father (real father- the one that has basically donated sperm & sees her randomly…nothing else) took her when she was S’s age, so, I kinda missed it all, especially since she’s 10, but, your stories & photos are so lively that I feel like great about it!!! Thanks for sharing! Can’t wait until the next one. XOXO. D & S & even Cassidy & you looked SO happy, squueeee! πŸ™‚ ~A~

    1. I bet she’d still enjoy it, or anything really. Ten is still young! I did Disney at 11 and it was awesome. My sister was 13 and we were a bit sulky, I admit.
      xoxo!!

  13. If you landed on a “2” out of “10”, you are solo lucky!! The wig is too adorable. I have happy, happy memories from a trip with my family. the magic was real for them, which made it real for me!

    1. Yes! It was real for them. Real for me. So very much. And there were so many parts of it that I couldn’t even figure out how they did something, and I didn’t want to even overthink it to learn. I like to believe too.
      Funny that the two out of 10 was so overwhelming for me!! I have been there in the height of summer and..it was terrible. And hot and humid too!

      1. I like to believe too… I’m all for the illusion and the magic. Life is crammed with reality, so I’m all for some fantasy. Frankly – at the moment – hot and humid sounds very appealing:)

  14. I love love love Disney and can’t wait to go back again…looks like you had magical time! =) We went to the same place for our Princess breakfast, it was impossible to get into the castle, I think you have to book like like five years before you go or before your kid is even born lol

    xo

    1. ha, yes! Like if you live in NYC and you have to get your kid in the right preschool, lest you ruin their lives for good by putting the in the wrong one!
      Luckily, there was nothing wrong about Akershus..except that I couldn’t figure out how to pronounce it. Food was good too!

  15. I am determined that looking at people’s Disney pictures are more fun after you’ve been there yourself! I remember a lot of those same places now. The one thing I was really sad to miss was Hogwarts, but no one else in our group wanted to go. I hope I’ll get there someday! BTW, I’m totally a Ravenclaw!

    1. I so agree! I used to skim through people’s Disney vacation photos. Now I think I’ll be all about looking at them and remembering. In fact, we saw a Universal Studios commercial the day we got back and we both paused it and then watched it again. It was subtle but they even showed a quick image of the giant donut we bought in the Simpsons part of Universal! It’s the little things! And big things..

  16. Ok, even your “non-pro” pics are amazing! Yayyyy it looks like such a wonderful trip and you and the family had a blast. That Hogwarts park looks so real! I’ve never been to Universal before so I loved seeing all of your instagram pics. So glad you had such a great trip and welcome back!!

    1. It looks real even up close! And you can go in it! You can go in for a castle tour or go on the ride. The ride was too scary for me and Cassidy told me I would have been miserable. The castle tour had projections of characters talking to you, and the paintings on the walls moved and talked! It was..insane.

  17. Jealous that you got 2 out of 10 crowds! We always go to Disney in the middle of summer, and it feels like 10 out of 10. And how about this snow today! Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore! Or I guess, Tamara, you’re not in Florida anymore! The spinning teacups make me sick too, but I still do them. And I’m pretty sure the roller coaster that Cassidy and Scarlet went on is the only one in Disney that I like because it’s not too big. I hate roller coasters.

    1. That roller coaster is fast too! Like 20 seconds long? Maybe?
      And I went to Disney last time in July and it was above and beyond crowded, hot and humid. I am certain I could have passed out if not for air-conditioned restaurants, and chugging water.
      The two out of 10 in 79 degree weather, with a cool breeze? Pretty perfect. The next day (Wednesday) was 30 degrees colder and rainy, and they said it was a one out of ten!!

    1. All of the above! The day after we went, it was 48 degrees and rainy, so that day was a one out of 10 for sure. Our 80 degrees even had a cool breeze!

  18. Your iPhone photos are better than most people’s ‘real’ camera photos! LOVE that Scarlet picked out the Rapunzel hair. And I’m definitely heading to your FB page to check out the comments about Cassidy and Ariel. So glad you had a wonderful time. Loved your reflections about the trip. Welcome home, we missed you!

    1. Go check it! It’s my personal page and not my business one. Some of my friends snarked about him, but honestly, he was too busy dealing with a painfully shy girl meeting her hero. He wasn’t checking out Ariel at all! And if he wanted to, that would have been fine with me! I checked out Peter Pan’s butt.
      Missed you too! So glad you kept my blog warm and active.

  19. The pictures are great. How did Scarlet do without a stroller? I plan on renting a double stoller. I probably need to crank up my workouts to get ready for Disney with a double stoller πŸ™‚ I can’t wait to read more stories and see more pictures.

    1. Oh we had a double stroller! They could un-attach, so you probably don’t see it in the photos. It was much needed! She got tired after those long days!

  20. Oh that Rapunzel hair is the best. I love that Scarlet is so strong-willed and unique. She reminds me of my Juliet. I had to laugh about the Ariel comment/picture. My husband LOVES red heads so he wouldn’t have been shy with Ariel either πŸ™‚

    1. What’s funny is that Juliet was the name we had picked out for Des..obviously before that ultrasound revealed a “he.” We needed something to match Scarlet. Strong and beautiful. Unique but not weird. Hence, Juliet!!

    1. Yay to princess meals! I have some photos of Des macking on Snow White and Sleeping Beauty. He quite loved them, and I do wonder if he somehow could recognize them. They’re certainly around our house a lot! Well..their doll and movie versions, anyway.

  21. Your iPhone pics are better than the ones I take on my good camera! I’m a ride person – we are all, and to hear my kids squeal and giggle behind me is the best sound in the world. So glad your trip was magical, and also glad the audio doesn’t start automatically on your videos…I chose to skip the Small World tune in my head all day!

    1. The laughter and squeals! I do love that. When Des grows up and decides he’s a ride person too, I’ll get great photos of all. I got a little braver than usual, though! More on that soon..

    1. haha, I know! They’re perfectly wonderful. I get so sensitive because of my business. Like if my sister or mom tag me in photos they took of my kids on Facebook. And the photos are always blurry and dark with red eyes. And I untag myself because lest someone see them and I think I took them!
      I know. I’m awful. They make fun of me. For good reason.

  22. I think if you fulfilled a dream for your daughter then it’s a good day. I bet she didn’t notice the manufactured magic for one minute. and I love these photos. Because no matter what camera you used or didn’t use, like all if your photos, you captured a feeling and one that I can share with you.

    1. I confess – I didn’t notice the manufactured moments much at all. I was too taken by it all. They’re good. They’re clever..those Disney people. Universal might be even better! More real and gritty. I like that.
      Thank you for sharing these moments! I missed you! Even though I was geographically closer to you.

  23. Aww such lovely pictures !Looks like Scarlet was having lots of fun.I have a love – hate relationship with phone cameras, the limited controls of phone camera frustrates me but at times they are so handy and convenient. I love rides, always had since I was a kid. Looking at your pics I am very much tempted to go there and enjoy.

    1. Yes, the limited control gets me! I always swear at it. It just isn’t instant enough. The moment has passed and then it takes the photo! I have to tell you that I have anxiety dreams that I see something so beautiful, but my camera won’t take the photo fast enough. Or it’s broken! Do you ever have that?

  24. I think your iphone pics came out great and I’m happy that you were able to score a 2/10. I’m sure when we were there it was probably at least a 7. The kids had fun, you and Cassidy had fun and we finally get to see you in-front of the camera and not behind it. I can see the spark in the kids eyes and I wish I could see Scarlet’s face with her cute little Rapunzel wig. Glad you got to experience the magical world of Disney and can’t wait to see the rest of the experience. btw I want to go to Hogwarts and I think you’re definitely Gryffindor material. You’re braver than you think. πŸ™‚

    1. Last time I went was the middle of summer (and 100% humidity) and I’m certain that was a lot higher than a two! A lot! I wasn’t allowed to take a photo of her face. She didn’t even know about this one! Sheesh. I’m going to have to get her to sign releases soon.
      I think you’re a Gryffindor too! Or a Ravenclaw. Maybe a nice mix?

  25. I loved the pics, I wish mine came out that great when I’m using my phone, I’m only slightly better with an actual camera. That’s one of the things we didn’t get to do in Florida while we were living there and I’m hoping we will be able to someday. I think I’d be the same as you and let the kids and the hubby have all the fun with the rides while I’d be safely grounded!

    1. Safely grounded for sure! Although the plane ride was the biggest ride of all. And about 2-3 hours longer than the others! My daughter said, “I don’t mind roller coasters but that plane made me head feel funny!” That’s my kid!

  26. I had so much fun following along on Facebook. I was pretty busy with a project at the time, but I kept checking on your FB feed specifically. It made me smile! Looking forward to taking the boys someday, but I know it will be overwhelming to me. So big. So much! But lots of great memories too.

    1. So big. So much! Yup. That explains it. And you can never do it all. And Scarlet wasn’t big enough for a lot of good rides. Definitely need to go back in a few years! And Des? He deserves some storable memories too!

  27. Holy donut batman! Great pictures from the iPhone! It’s not the camera, it’s the photographer :-). I am beyond jealous of your Harry Potter adventure. One day I will live in a castle like Hogwarts…one day.

    1. My daughter keeps asking about that donut! We keep telling her there was no way we could eat it all (even between three of us) and that there was no way I was taking it on the plane!
      When you live in a castle, can I come visit?

  28. You all had a fun time, so the trip was a smashing success, Tamara. Love the pics (I know you judge them way harsher than I do because you’re a professional) and I look forward to seeing even more of them. Hugs, Ali

    1. Thanks, Ali! (and can I call you Ali? I never have!) I do judge them very harshly. Even the professional ones. I realize they’re mostly about the moments captured, but I like to have both – the captured moment in near-perfect technical form. And that’s just very hard to achieve, especially with wiggly kids!

  29. OMG! SO FUN!!! You packed so many activities in your vacation week! I love the ducky jacket (obviously). I can relate to the sad feeling of visiting a place as an adult that was once so magical as an a child. There really isn’t anything like the wonderment of childhood, and it’s so important to allow those memories to happen for our own kids. They see everything differently, we see manufactured magic and they see what we hope is pure awe. I cannot wait to see the rest of your photos, these were great! I love that the characters took over pushing your son in the stroller. LOL!Oh and beer at a theme park? YES PLEASE.

    1. The sad thing is that it wasn’t an alcoholic drink. It was a buttery cream soda contraption. I do think they had real drinks, though. My husband got one at lunch and he could have walked around with it.
      I think Disney World will always be a heady experience for me. And probably for many! It’s really one of those things you just have to experience to believe! So I guess I’ll have to take Des back there because there’s no way he’ll remember this time. He slept through a lot of it and could only go on two rides!

  30. I want to go back!! We didn’t do Universal but I’d love to. We didn’t have a vehicle. I suppose we could have taken a taxi from Disney or something….maybe next time..

    I use my iPhone A LOT to take photos. Just easier to be able to pull it from my purse than lug my camera around.

    We haven’t tried Ark…Arch…whatever that A-place you ate at in Epcot. Next time! πŸ˜‰ We did do lunch in the castle, I recommend that one.

    1. haha! Akershus! Just try pronouncing it. I was calling the Disney hotline to get some info and when I pronounced “Akershus” they had to keep correcting me. The real way it sounds is NOTHING like how I said it.
      We didn’t have a car either and that is one thing I would certainly change next time. Sheesh. We’re broke but not that broke. It was…tough. I really wanted to meet up with bloggers, but I didn’t want to be driven there like a little kid. And I wanted to do some things alone.
      Next time!

  31. Love these even if they are iPhone photos! So glad you all had fun. When we went, I was worried that my two oldest wouldn’t have that much fun because they were beyond the princess phase. They still had a blast and I hope we can go again sometime soon!

    1. We definitely want to take Scarlet back. I feel like once she’s out of the princess phase (if?), there is just so much more out there. Space Mountain and the like!

  32. Okay, seriously, I know I tell you this a lot, but you have the cutest family ever in the history of cutest families ever. I love your family outing pictures! I’m supposed to be going to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter this summer! My mom is a HP fanatic… no joke, she gets on Harry Potter chat rooms. But you didn’t hear that from me.

    1. I’m pretty much laughing out loud! Not at her, because I’m a dork in so many ways, but just the way you said that was endearing. Well that’s a great time! Clearly, she knows about the renovations coming this spring/summer? ‘Cause they’re fantastic. The Hogwarts Express and so much more. Tell her to get park-to-park passes! I’m sure she knows that, though.
      If we have the cutest family ever in the history of cutest families, I think you’re tied with us for first place!

  33. I have a picture of Mickey and Minnie on my pinboard as a bucket list reminder to go to Disneyland one day. I have been saving our frequent flyer points for years. I have extra determination today thanks to you Tamara.

  34. How do you do it? I’m not even a huge Disney person and your words and your photos got me all choked up and vowing to take Tucker to meet Mickey. Each night, at bedtime, he has me kiss stuffed Mickey and tuck him in. He says goodnight to him. I was planning on boycotting since they changed the rules and don’t give shorter wait times for autism but maybe those long waits are worth it.
    Your photos are amazing, even taken from an iPhone. And your heart. Your heart is the best of all and it shines through in your writing so much. Love.

    1. I don’t know that I was a Disney fan before Scarlet either.
      I heard about the autism lines conundrum. My good friend has four kids with autism and she posts regularly about it. Disney can be a** clowns.
      And thank you from the bottom of my heart! My visible heart!

    1. Honestly, it was just as good as you can imagine! My daughter keeps asking me where it went. We didn’t finish it or take it on the plane with us. Boo!

  35. I am so glad that my daughter wasn’t lurking over my shoulder as I read this! She would have insisted that I buy a ticket and flight right away. Sleeveless in February! You win.

  36. We had the exact same goal for our first day. REST. Rest turned into Disney market or whatever it was and a trip to that insane store. Oh, but it was so exciting! I was listening to a TED talk yesterday about how we live our fantasy lives online but in real life, we scoff at anything fantastical or magical. That we need to welcome more of that magic into our lives. I thought of you two with your Dr Who shed in the backyard. Disney reminds me that it’s good to have some magic outside computer land. I’m loving your vacay posts, keep em up!

    1. Ooh, I’d love to hear that TED talk! I met my husband online, but it was before online dating. It was that he was my 3,000 mile away client and yes, I did fantasize about what could be. Luckily in this case it worked out!
      That insane Disney store! It’s..insane.

  37. I LOVE this! I’ve never been to Disney world but feel like i was there πŸ™‚ its more real than the TV since its someone’s perspective not what the camera wants you to see lol Your husband is hilarious and looks so entertaining and your daughter skipping is so precious πŸ™‚ Glad to see you guys had such a blast! And even a non-pro camera like an iphone could capture these wonderful moments – that’s all that counts! Have a wonderful day Tamara! -Iva

    1. So true – the Disney marketing team might not see what I see! I do have to say that the park is absolutely pristine. You could pee on the ground and within seconds, someone would come and mop it up. It’s a little eerie, actually..

  38. iPhone photos/videos or not, these are lovely and wonderful. What an incredible and amazing trip for you all. I remember when we took the boys, it was the weird flashback for me – remembering when I was there as a kid and seeing the place anew through my kids’ eyes. Magical. I’m quite jealous of the warm weather in January πŸ™‚

    1. Me too, now that I’m back! And I heard it’s in the 80’s there all week. A nice big snowstorm here!
      It is weird going back as a parent. There’s nothing quite like it. And it was weird going there as a kid too!

  39. Love sharing the magic!!
    My 2 favorites – Cassidy and Scarlet skipping through the airport!!!
    And, all the pictures with Scarlet in her princess (sorry I don’t know which is which) dresses!!!

    1. haha! How could you know which is which? I can barely keep track. There’s a Snow White in there at the airport. Elsa from Frozen. Rapunzel… and Alice in Wonderland!

  40. Awww first of all, it’s nice to hear the real voice behind this blog! πŸ˜€ I enjoyed the photos and the videos. At least I was brought to Disney World even just through your blog, yayy! I’m glad you said that the best camera is the one that you have and you know how to use, at least even when I have a low-key camera I can use it to the best of my knowledge! Haha. And oh, I also love the Hogwarts photo, I’m not really an HP fan but I’m amazed by the story though. I love the thoughts you came up with about theme parks especially the last one. πŸ™‚

    1. I’m totally amazed by HP. It’s been over a decade and it’s still so prevalent.
      Thanks for your thoughts! I just can’t help mulling over all of this fanfare.

  41. Even your iphone pics are fantastic! Looks like it was a great time…and good for Scarlet for braving the teacups and the roller coasters! She’s clearly got a strong spirit. So sorry to hear that you noticed the one employee who was having an off day…though I suppose we all have those, and at least she was trying, right?

    1. True that! I thought she was a little fabulous. To be that pissed off with a smile on her face. Probably, the people (not us, of course!) deserved her wrath for not listening.

  42. Hogwarts!! I am so jealous. That is a theme park I have yet to visit and am so mad they didn’t put one closer to so cal like every other theme park. I have yet to take the kiddos to Disneyland but would absolutely love to, however manufactured it may be. I’m all about “natural magic” too but there’s still something entertaining about all these crafted environments and characters brought to life.

    1. They’re making it even bigger and better in the next year! I guess they are happy with the success. It’s really just one part of a whole theme park, but they’re going to build it up.
      I like the combination of “natural magic” and manufactured magic, and I do believe this atmosphere can combine both, with the right elements.

  43. Oh man, seeing your pictures makes me so excited for my trip. I love all of these pics, but I think the one I like the most was the one of Scarlet cowering in shyness with the little Mermaid. SO adorbs! Professional or “not” I loved every picture.

  44. These pictures make me so giddy! I’m glad you all had fun. I LOVED the Harry Potter World at Universal, so excited that you got to go. They are building Diagon Alley this year, I think. πŸ™‚

    1. Yes!! I got a brochure about it with computer-generated images. The Hogwarts Express will take people from one park to the other! Of course, you need a park-to-park pass for that. ($$$) And they’re going to make so much more! And more rides! I need to get back next year.

    1. I just Googled it! You’re right! Can I get it with coffee too, though? It seems they make it mostly creme based. Still, though.. thank you!!
      The HP ride in the castle?? I chickened out because I hate that flight simulating stuff but Cassidy said it was AWESOME!

  45. OMG! You all look like you had a blast! Your iPhone pictures are gorgeous, but that’s to be expected! Your entire post makes me want to go to Disney right now. You all look so happy and like you had so much fun! πŸ™‚

    1. Thank you! I hope you get there someday! We definitely need to go when Des is older. Poor guy won’t remember a thing! He did ride two rides with me, at least.

  46. I haven’t been to the Universal in Florida, I went to the one in California, but that was before Harry Potter. Looks like fun.

    Looks like you all had a great time πŸ™‚

    1. Ooh, I always wondered how that was! The one in Orlando is having some serious Harry Potter renovations coming this spring/summer. Wish I could go again!

    1. The green grass…felt great. Des was so intrigued by it! Photos of that to come tomorrow.
      The weather was good, considering we missed a polar vortex, but the day at Disney was by far the best. So we felt very magical.

  47. I am probably the 100th person to say it: but I am so jealous!! Oh my gosh, my girls would just Freak Their Freak!! seriously, every year, someone we know goes to Disney: and my kids are still waiting. I keep telling them I was almost 12 before I went, so we still have a few years ahead. LOL (yeah, not likely to happen.) But after 7 months of winter, if anyone deserves some Disney Magic: it is us!
    And I LOVE the rides!! the more thrilling the better: backwards, twisting, upside down, fast and spin: Love it.
    And I think my kids share that because both my 9 and 6 year old have done the Drop Zone already (that’s where they pull you like 80 feet in the air, and drop you in less than 2 seconds!)
    Love all the photos – looking forward to seeing more!

    1. Eek, to the drop zone!!
      And seven months of winter! Oh, Canada. I love you so, but really? Are you expecting a big storm this week? We are expecting maybe two!

  48. Disney=Magic. It’s incredible! Once you pass thru the gates, you are in another world. To me it is amazing and get butterflies in my stomach EVERY.SINGLE.TIME. I’m glad you got a good day (2 out of 10) is outstanding!!! You are able to do so much. It’s a Small World is my favorite ride, you never get too old for it!! I’m glad you had a wonderful time and I’m sure Scarlet will treasure these memories forever.

    1. The next day was cold and rainy and it was a true one out of 10! I bet they only have a few of those a year.
      I totally got butterflies in my stomach. I could hardly sleep! I’m actually not great with anxiety and big crowds but I did really well, for some reason. I guess it was important. And I wanted it to count.
      It’s a Small World rocked!!

  49. Isn’t it funny how the girls clam up when they meet the princesses? Reagan gets all timid at first and then realizes that it’s ok to talk to them! it’s so funny. I could see it in Scarlet’s eyes in her pictures. I can’t wait to take Rey to Disneyland for the first time. We are thinking September. She won’t know what hit her. And your disclaimer cracks me up! I love you!! xoxo

    Lanaya

    1. It’s so funny. The Ariel one was the best. She burrowed inside of Cassidy’s neck, practically. At the princess lunch, she did better. At one point she said, “Can you BELIEVE that’s really Aurora! Right there?!”
      Be still, my tender parenting heart.

  50. I loved re-living your Disney experience through these pictures! Oh, and butter beer…wow! Was it deelish? From Scarlet’s Rapunzel wig to Des walking like a big boy, it looked like everyone had a great time!

    1. Thank you! Photos of glorious weather coming tomorrow. Photos of theme parks coming after my next Ask Away Friday. I can never resist an AAF!

  51. I love it! I love your commentary and observations- and what an expression in the last photo! πŸ™‚ I think it would be something to go to Disney World now, as an adult, and see it through the eyes of someone like Scarlet: totally enraptured and transported to one’s dream world. I don’t think I was super into that stuff when I was young (I was more into books), but I am curious how it might cause me to reflect on my childhood.
    And Hogwarts! Love it! *That* is the reason I would love to go. Oh my goodness (oh and I’m thinking I’d probably be Ravenclaw….maybe πŸ™‚
    Can’t wait to see more! Thank you for taking us on this journey with you!

    1. It’s getting even better. They’re expanding the Harry Potter part of it. I enjoyed that and the next door Jurassic Park part! So many parts of my childhood/youth together. And feeling..very real.
      I think I’d be Gryffinclaw! (I made that one up) Or Slytherdor. I find it hard to be any one of them. Maybe I change by the day.

  52. You did a good job using your phone. My pictures are always horrid from my phone…not that when I use my camera I know what I’m doing. I love the Ripunzal wig the best! So much fun in all of the photos! Disney is magical!

  53. oh my goodness Tamara…it does look like the happiest place on earth…i can’t wait to go….the pictures are all so awesome…you captured the magical of DW beautifully

    1. Thank you!! Stay tuned because I have my “real camera” photos posting on Monday. Wish I could do it sooner but I need the time to edit them.

  54. One my third trip to Disney, I went with my high school band and we had the opportunity to perform at one of the parks (at the same time as Enrique Iglesias…not with him, mind you, but we could hear him in between our songs). We got to see some of the behind-the-scenes of Disney that most people don’t see. Such as where the dumpsters are. It was a very different view of Disney than probably 99% of people who come through see. I remember it being very odd. Thankfully it didn’t take away too much from the magic! But I know what you mean, as a child it is so amazing and magical, and then as an adult you realize how expensive everything is and it is, like you said, very manufactured. Nonetheless, I cannot wait to return, and I’m glad that the magic was there for Scarlet. Looking forward to seeing even more photos!

    1. The dumpsters! People always joke about how clean it is at Disney, and it is! I’d love to hear their housekeeping plan because people must litter and spill things and..barf…there all of the time, and the streets are pristine! I think magic fairies come out and sweep/mop when your back is turned.

    1. Gigi, I thought of you because of your recent post with the photo of the DELICIOUS donuts! If it helps, I only had two bites of this one and then I was done and onto kale salad. Ok, kidding about the kale salad but I only ate two bites of that donut!

  55. TAMARA!! These pictures are great (and I always feel the need to disclose when pictures are from my phone) and the videos are so much fun. And you are Gryffindor all the way! I totally get that sadness that comes when you remember the feelings you’ve lost from childhood. One of the wonderful things about kids is we can have a bit more of that magic back when we see it through their eyes.

    1. Thank you! I’d love to be a Gryffindor. I saw a woman at a meeting the other night that I was attending about kindergarten, and she was wearing a Hufflepuff scarf. Isn’t that funny? I feel like you never see those. She should be proud!

  56. Even your iphone pics are great!!! And that is just really making me have flashbacks of our trip. I want to go back! Truly magical. LOVE the rapunzel wig!

  57. a crowd rating of 2 out of 10? seriously, how can i transport myself there right now! i don’t do well with crowds, so when they’re minimal…then that’s when i need to go. these pictures are surreal. they make me so happy!

    1. Well it was still crazy to me, but you live where I used to live..and I’m sure you’re no strangers to crowds.
      The lines didn’t have terrible waits. I mean..some were long and most weren’t.

  58. What fun photos! Gotta love the iPhone. I SO want to be a wizard or at least visit the Hogwarts and Harry Potter World – I read all the books. Des looks so cute and happily tired. I love the video of Scarlet and your hubby skipping through the airport. You just do not see that enough! Welcome back and I look forward to more of your photos.

    1. It’s true! You don’t seen enough costume-clad airport skippers. Many people loved it. Others just looked dead inside and barely noticed it! How can you not notice this???
      I hope you get to Harry Potter World! It’s expanding big time this year.

  59. Wow I come over here to be comment number 165. Holy Moly! I’m so glad you all decided to go in the winter. It was the perfect time to get a break from all that cold and snow. I love Scarlet and Cassidy putting up the peace sign in your one video. You definitely make me want to go and bring my kiddies one day. I can see how it could be overstimulating. I guess I can do a temperature check to see what might be the best time for the both of them to really enjoy it all. I love Scarlet’s Rapunzel hair. She’s so sure in herself too. I love how she wanted her own hair to show at the bottom. πŸ™‚

    1. Too funny! This might be a record for me and it’s just iPhone photos! I hope my “real camera” photos spark the same reaction. Also, Monday posts are usually popular in general. Everyone ready to get back in the game.
      The weather is probably great year-round! It’s often too hot for me, but not the case in January! I have friends there right now and it’s gorgeous.

  60. What an incredibly fun time! I’ve never been to Disney and hope that some miracle happens that I can go and even take some kids or grandkids some day. I have no idea about the Hogwarts stuff. Sorry! But I am glad to see that Rapunzel is Disney material as we have a Disney even this weekend and that may be one of our outfits. Also, I can’t imagine something not be as thrilling to me as it was when I was a kid. I’m so excited to see Disney Junior Live this weekend, I’m about to pee my pants. πŸ™‚

    Your photos blow mine out of the water no matter what camera you are using.

    1. No, this is just my iPhone! Taken by my aunt. I do have family photos from the real camera, but they were taken by one of Disney’s professional photographers using my camera.

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