A Vacation is an Investment in Your Family

Trying to decide on whether to take the vacation? Here are some things to keep in mind.

DISCLAIMER: I am by no means responsible for any decisions you may make, any vacation that you could take that could go downhill – what is stated below are all of m opinions.

I recently heard by a person that I absolutely love listening to, talk about Disney DVC and she said no matter what you’re doing for vacation, that a VACATION IS AN INVESTMENT IN YOUR FAMILY and I thought wow how true is this. This has been my life motto, something that I have been living by since having babies.

Got little kids? Big Kids? Afraid of making the plunge? DO IT. This is precious time you will never get back. It doesn’t have to be perfect or expensive – you’re family won’t remember the imperfections they will remember the adventure taken with you. It is a way to easily CONNECT and bond with your family.

Issues financially? Frugal family? Wanting to save for future? It all comes down to how much vacations mean to you also… there are ways to save for it and budget for it. If it’s that important to either spouse then it should be something that is alotted for.

With all the hustle and bustle of the normal day-to-day work and school, the best thing you can do is take time for plain family fun making memories. Everyone needs time to JUST HAVE FUN WITH THEIR FAMILIES. Your children need time with you, just you for enjoyment, having fun together, making memories together which you can provide each and every single day but vacation is unique and it helps us rest, recover and grow inside – together.

MY MOST CHERISHED MEMORIES AS A CHILD

I am someone who grew up with a family who had a camper in-tow; my Dad was so fortunate and lucky enough to take all of his vacation time at once – 3 weeks every July. We could take our time venturing off into many of the United States and saw places like Yellowstone National Park, Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse, Bay of Fundy in Canada, Chincoteague Island in Virginia, Myrtle Beach SC, Outer Banks NC, some parts of Maine. We always went to Lake George in NY every summer because my Dad had an aunt that lived in Ticonderoga NY. We even ventured down to Disney World when I was in second grade. THESE TRAVELS ARE MY MOST CHERISHED MEMORIES AS A CHILD.

My Grandmother used to travel the world with her twin sister and other sisters and growing up I didn’t think I would be one to enjoy traveling but when I had a family of my own I learned how really special it is and how exciting.

PASSING THIS ONTO MY CHILDREN

With everything that happened in the world during 2020 and how we went into shutdown / lockdown I felt so fortunate, thankful and blessed that I was able to have taken my children on as many vacations as they have been on. Yes we are truly a Disney World family – we enjoy it ever so much. My husband and I went to Disney World on our honeymoon and the year after, and I just could not wait to get our children there. We did not start taking them there until my youngest Nicky was 2 years old.

We did however vacation down in Wildwood Crest every summer – we live in North NJ. There are times where I wish we had branched out but we had some bigger financial struggles when our children were so small so that was all we could afford and I am grateful for the wonderful memories we made down there. My children love the water, the ocean and swimming – we are all fish.

We started taking our children to Disney in Spring 2013 when Mikey just turned 5 and Nicky was 2 heading towards 3. Since my husband and I were married late April we experienced the amazing weather Florida has in April. Since then we have taken our children in 2015, 2016, 2017, and three times in 2019 – well the last time in 2019 was New Year’s Eve so we were technically there in 2020.

DAY TRIPS COUNT TOO – CREATING WELL CULTURED CHILDREN

WE were also fortunate enough to have visited several zoos, aquariums, museums, water parks, theme parks like Sesame Place and Dorney Park. We were even lucky enough to have had short vacations to Hershey Park.

Day trips into NYC to see the Broadway plays Aladdin and the Rockettes were absolutely incredible day trips. We got to explore parts of NYC it was incredible. So much fun and so many amazing memories!

During the time of the quarantine I felt so lucky and grateful that we were fortunate enough to have taken our kids so many wonderful places and had the experiences we had. Especially since we lost a year of traveling with them. Nicky was 9 going on 10 and Mikey had just turned 12 when the Corona Virus hit the US.

LIST OF PLACES I HAVE TRAVELED TO / VACATION IDEAS

  • Yellowstone National Park
  • Mount Rushmore / Crazy Horse
  • Myrtle Beach South Carolina
  • Dollywood – TN
  • Nashville – TN
  • Outer Banks North Carolina
  • Busch Gardens Williamsburg / Historic Jamestown
  • Lake George / Ticonderoga NY
  • Chincoteague Island Virginia
  • Disney World – stayed in Jelly Stone Campground
  • Bay of Fundy Canada
  • Maine Beaches
  • Howe Caverns NY

PLACES WE HAVE TAKEN OUR CHILDREN BOTH DAY TRIPS and VACATION IDEAS

  • Disney World
  • Legoland Florida
  • Wildwood Crest, and Boardwalk
  • Cape May NJ
  • Sunset Beach Cape May NJ
  • Cape May Lighthouse NJ
  • Hershey Park PA
  • Dorney Park PA
  • Busch Kill Falls PA
  • Land of Make Believe NJ
  • Sesame Place PA
  • Morris Museum NJ
  • The Museum of Natural History NY
  • Liberty State Park NJ
  • Aladdin NYC (Broadway) for when that opens back up
  • The Rockettes NYC (Broadway)
  • Legoland Discovery Center Yonkers NY
  • Adventure Aquarium NJ
  • Maritime Aquarium CT
  • Cape May Zoo
  • Bronx Zoo
  • Turtle Back Zoo
  • Space Farms Zoo
  • Philadelphia Zoo
  • Liberty Science Center NJ
  • Van Saun Zoo and Park in Bergen County NJ
  • Brook Hallow Barnyard in Boonton NJ
  • Point Pleasant Boardwalk, NJ
  • Jenkinson’s Aquarium Point Pleasant Boardwalk, NJ
  • Seaside Heights Boardwalk, NJ
  • Sandy Hook Gateway National Recreation Area, NJ
  • Knoebels Amusement Park, PA

AM I JEALOUS OF EVERYONE’S UPDATED KITCHEN AND BATHROOMS?

Well heck yes I would love to have a beautiful home updated with the newest appliances, gorgeous flooring, kitchens and bathrooms but would I ever take back our travels instead – NO, NEVER!

To the people who can afford both GOD BLESS THEM. Can we afford to both? NO. Do I regret it? Absolutely without a doubt NO. We can always update the house and have a beautiful home when our children are grown but will I care about it then, probably not because I enjoy adventuring too much.

YOU DON’T JUST HAVE TO GO TO DISNEY WORLD

As much as we love Disney World it is a small fortune every time we go. There are so many other places to vacation with your family that is more than half the cost.

We just all LOVE going to Disney – there is nothing so magical and nothing like it in the world. My husband also does not like the beach and cannot swim so Disney is a place where we are ALL happy. We also love the dining aspect of Disney World.

Disney World is not just your typical theme park. It is not just rides, but Disney World is encompassed of SMELLS, SIGHTS, SOUNDS, TASTES, EXPERIENCES, EDUCATION, – really a full body experiences. This is known as the “DISNEY BUBBLE” people speak of and you won’t really know what it is until you experience it for yourself, staying inside a Disney World Resort.

YOU WILL ALWAYS HAVE THOSE TREASURED MEMORIES AND TIME SPENT TOGETHER 💓

This is time – now, right now. You are not going to get this time back. Money will always be ready to be made. Work will be there when you get back. No matter where you choose to go, you are making the most cherished memories with precious time that you will treasure forever. I am a firm believer in experiences over things and I just love our family time spent together because our children are growing so fast – I cannot believe how fast time is going.

If you’re worried about distancing there are plenty of options to still vacation like for example maybe visiting the Smokey Mountains, or a beach vacation – so many adventures out there to explore!

What are your ideas for family trips this spring and summer?!

Check out my blog on Travel Necessities for Summer 2021 by clicking here!

Here is my vlog on Summer Travel Necessities:

It says for people who have POTS but this video is really for everyone since it will be a summer of wearing masks in the heat – we all need extra tips for keeping cool this summer!

Things To Do With Your Kids This Summer That Won’t Break The Bank

After a year of a world pandemic everyone seems to be hurting financially but this doesn’t mean you can’t do anything with your family! The summer is a great time for the kids to experience nature – being in the great outdoors is so good for the growing brain, not to mention for great mental health.

Inexpensive Family Fun Ideas:

Are you vaccinated or partially vaccinated? If you live in the state of NJ you can get into all state parks in NJ for FREE. Here is the link: https://www.nj.gov/dep/vaxandvisit/ Just make sure you travel with your vaccination card and drivers license.

  • Pack lunches and explore the state parks in your area – especially if you have any near the beach! Some have lakes and some have the ocean! My favorite State Park in NJ is Island Beach by Seaside!
  • High Point State Park has plenty of picnic tables as well as a fantastic lake with beach.

DOWNLOAD THE ALL TRAILS APP

  • Research a “Waterfront Park” in your area for a beautiful water view for a family picnic and walk
  • Hiking
  • Geocaching

REASEARCH YOUR LOCAL ARBORETUMS AND BOTANICALS GARDEN

  • Some have a picnic table for enjoying the weather while enjoying an inexpensive lunch with your family.
  • Right now the Laurelwood Arboretum in Wayne, NJ has sculptures along the path!

ONCE A WEEK, TRAVEL TO AN ICE CREAM PALOR/ DAIRY CREAMERY THAT YOU HAVE NEVER VISITED BEFORE!

  • Because who doesn’t like ice cream???!

RESEARCH AND TRAVEL TO DIFFERENT BOOK SHOPS AND COMIC BOOK SHOPS

How are you spending time with your family this summer? I would love to hear your ideas!

OGA’S CANTINA: HOT TIP

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW BEFORE YOU VISIT OGA’S CANTINA AT HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS IN WALT DISNEY WORLD!

KNOW BEFORE YOU GO!

We learned the hard way that when you make a reservation for Oga’s Cantina at Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Galaxy’s Edge located in Orlando, Florida you might just have to STAND for your drink! YEP – YOU MIGHT JUST HAVE TO STAND. When you make your reservations try calling Disney to let them know you would prefer a table, but you still might not get a table. It is very much a bar.

When you’re legs are sore and tired after walking so many steps while having a fabulous day at the park you might really be looking forward to sitting at this fully-immersive Star Wars Attraction.

While this is super neat to experience also know that you will need to pay for your drinks, they prefer you to keep your visit to 45 minutes and there is not much for kids. My husband and I really enjoyed our drinks but our kids were slightly underwhelmed and annoyed we didn’t have a table to sit and relax with not much available on the menu for them.

DISCLAIMER: I am not in any way responsible for anything negative that may happen on your vacation – you may not even get a table! I am just informing everyone that you may just have to stand.

HOWEVER, we do recommend this experience to any Star Wars fans out there. DJ R3X plays fantastic music, the bar is hopping and we made fantastic memories!

Need to convince a loved one to visit Walt Disney World?! Click here to read on for help!

Which Walt Disney World Resort I recommend for Summer 2021

Thinking of heading to Walt Disney World in the next few months? This is the hotel I recommend for Summer 2021.

DISCLAIMER: I am by no means responsible for anything that could happen or go wrong on your vacation; these are just my opinions after years and years of vacationing at Walt Disney World.

While we are still coming out of the pandemic and Disney World is still slowly opening up resorts, attractions and dining locations, I would suggest the best possible hotel to stay at currently would be (assuming you’re a party of no bigger than 4):

Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort

EVERYTHING IS CONDENSED INTO ONE BUILDING

Florida can be terribly hot and humid and there is nothing like getting off a Disney bus, all hot and sweaty from a super fantastic day at the parks and walking into ONE wonderfully airconditioned building providing not just your cool room, but gift shop, quick service and restaurants all inside. It is so super convenient to have all of this inside the same building for extra AC and to avoid the constant rain showers that Summer 2021 is bringing us! Not to mention the lobby is stunning and the rooms are gorgeous!

BOAT TO MAGIC KINGDOM

Having the easy 10 minute boat ride to and from Magic Kingdom really does make your vacation feel extra magical!

FIREWORKS VIEWS FROM SOME LOCATIONS AT THE RESORT

Summer 2019 was the first time we stayed at the Wilderness Lodge and we were surprised with a beautiful view of the Magic Kingdom Castle as well as fireworks from our balcony! Now that the fireworks are back you are sure to enjoy!

WITH MANY DINING LOCATIONS CURRENTLY CLOSED, MORE DINING OPTIONS AVAILABLE

Whispering Canyon Café has been open which is a delicious table-service restaurant if you need a change from quick service. Wilderness Lodge also has Geyser Point Bar and Grill which is an outdoor, water-view restaurant which is another great option to have. You can’t go wrong at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge!

AS A DISNEY WORLD DELUXE HOTEL ACCOMODATION, THE RATES AREN’T AWFUL AND WORTH IT

Disney’s Wilderness Lodge falls into the deluxe hotel categories because of it’s many amenities and for being one of the Magic Kingdom Resorts, but it isn’t nearly priced as high as the Contemporary, Grand Floridian or especially right now the Polynesian – if you ask for a standard view room. It is one of more affordable deluxe accommodations with many comforting habituations. Also this deluxe resort offers a slide at the main pool and there is a splash pad for the younger kids which gives you a little more to do at the resort.

Planning a summer vacation? Where are you headed this summer?! I would love to hear your plans and thoughts!

Need assistance convincing a loved one to try Disney World?! CLICK HERE!

Ice Cream Hopping Tri-State Area

Summer can be so amazing with your kids off from school but aren’t we always looking for ideas to keep them busy!? (and off of video games)

Riverside Creamery 5 Water St. Port Jervis, New York

We have decided to try out as many ice cream shops in the tri-state area that we can, and we will let you know how they are!

The first hit of our journey is the Riverside Creamery in Port Jervis New York. Not only do they have quite the extensive ice cream menu, but they have a delicious lunch/dinner menu as well. Our kids ranging from ages 6 – 13 all loved the pretzel bites appetizer. The menu options for ice cream are endless and so delicious as well.

Not only do you get great food in this old fashioned, 50’s style ice cream parlor, you get a view of the Delaware River. You might see some visitors kayaking down the Delaware as you delight in some tasty treats. Nearby the Riverside Creamery are swimming beaches in Milford PA – as well as a very touristy area with lots of shops, horseback riding and dining. You also are close to some beautiful hikes in Dingman’s Ferry with breath-taking waterfalls and spectacular views. You have the option to go rafting on the Delaware as well! Many adventures available!

Here are some pictures of their intense menu of countless ice cream options:

5 Pros and Cons of Staying in a Cabin at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Camprground

PROS

CABINS SLEEP 6 PEOPLE

Would I stay in a Disney’s Fort Wilderness Cabin with 6 adults, no but a family of 4 – 5 absolutely! There is a bedroom with 1 queen size bed and a bunk bed that sleeps 2. Then the living room has a pull out couch that sleeps 2. The bathroom is big and spacious, with an eat-in kitchen and eating area directly outside. The kitchen is just about a full-kitchen with a full-size refrigerator, a stove top, convection oven, sink, cabinets stocked with dinnerware, a dishwasher and lots of counter space. The air conditioning in the cabin was amazing – best AC out of all the resorts we have stayed in!!!! Lots of options at the resort like hiking, horseback riding, archery etc.

NO HOTEL HALLWAYS OR ELEVATORS DURING PANDEMIC TIMES

In the cabin you are much more secluded and there is less interaction between you and strangers staying at this resort. The mobile ordering is a breeze and I sure hope it is here to stay since it makes it so easy to order and run down to P&J’s to pick up your food.

YOU GET TO DRIVE AROUND A GOLF CART!

Who doesn’t love driving around a golf cart in a campground?! This resort is so gigantic that if you do not have a golf cart to drive to Disney Transportation to the parks or even to the pool or to P&J’s, you will need to use the internal busing to get there. Golf carts are an extra fee and book up fast but you are allowed to bring your own or rent from elsewhere!

PARKING SPACE AVAILABLE AT THE CABIN

For those who prefer to drive to Disney, how fabulous is it to park your car directly outside of your room for easy unloading and packing back up!

YOU GET TO TAKE THE BOAT TO MAGIC KINGDOM

One of my favorite perks about staying at the Magic Kingdom Resorts is taking the boat as method of transportation for back and forth to Magic Kingdom. We love taking the boat – it is a fun ride in itself and makes it all the more magical!

CONS

NO MORNING WALK FOR COFFEE

If you’re like me and you love your morning walk with your refillable mug to grab some coffee before you hit the parks – you can forget the walk here. It took us about 10 min each way via golf cart.

QUICK SERVICE, GIFT SHOPS SPREAD TOO FAR APART

Usually in a Disney Resort the restaurants, gift shops and quick service are located centrally together in one building, or normally super close – for the most part but not at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Campground. Everything is spread pretty far apart and you will need to drive the golf cart to get to each of these.

NOT TROPICAL / OR OVER-THE-TOP-DISNEY-THEMED

Typically Disney Resorts are very themed – from Tropical, to Polynesian, Victorian style, to Orleans’ style – you name it, you got it. Disney’s Fort Wilderness is a campground so if you want some wild theming you really won’t find it here. We come from North Jersey so it reminded us all of home, instead of being on vacation! LOL The cabin felt a little dark and dreary at times. It was also disappointing that the gift shop hours were shortened due to the pandemic and the restaurant was closed along with the dinner shows that weren’t running during our June 2021 stay.

IT GETS OLD HAVING TO DRIVE THE GOLF CART EVERYWHERE PLUS YOU HAVE TO PAY FOR IT

Our family has been to Disney World 10 plus times, staying a different resort each time and this unfortunately has made the bottom of the list. This was the first vacation where we had a LOT of rainy weather – where it was thunder storming night after night and we would return to a soaking wet golf cart which was not fun. We started leaving a bathroom towel in there to dry it off when we would return – I’m not sure what other people do – some people have covers. But when we came back wet, cold and tired we just wanted to walk into our building and up to our room. Even at Pop Century you have a minimal 5 minute walk to your room, even if it is outside.

THE COST OF A CABIN IS SIMILAR TO A MODERATE RESORT

All magic comes at a price! The cabin is fantastic but it is not cheap by any means… it is comparable to the cost of a moderate resort and the pricing of the golf cart around $67 per night makes the price go up to like staying at a deluxe resort! We were also not thrilled with having the bunk either – our children are a little older now and as tall as we are so the bunk bed was not really feasible for us – we would have preferred another queen sized bed (aside from the pullout couch).

NEVER BEEN TO DISNEY WORLD?! CLICK HERE TO READ WHY VACATIONING IN DW IS NOT LIKE YOUR TYPICAL THEME PARK EXPERIENCES…. NOT EVEN CLOSE!!!

New Lego Harry Potter Fawke’s, Dumbledore’s Phoenix

Mikey completed this 597 piece Lego in 1.5 hours

Thinking of going to Legoland NY? Click here for some hot tips!

Legoland NY June 2021 HOT TIP

Legoland NY is now open to everyone but by reservations only which you can access online through their website. Legoland NY officially opens to the public I believe June 4th or June 5th.

All but 2 rides are open at Legoland NY!

It is absolutely amazing – *but be sure to pack sunscreen, hats, sunglasses, a sun umbrella, neck fans. spray bottle and lots of drinking water because there is no shade to be seen and it is hot! Even waiting online for the very popular Ninjago Ride was outside in the blazing sun for about 30 min. Needless to say we were all sunburned and very overheated (since I forgot to pack sunscreen).

Hopefully the long lines will calm down as they iron out their kinks but until they do definitely prepare!

For some pictures and video previews check my Instagram account at FamilyPixieDust429 and check back regularly on my YouTube Channel for a tour at Family Pixie Dust https://youtu.be/N_QAFau-jKw

https://www.youtube.com/user/vbraga429/videos

Disney Igloo Backpack – New Packing Item For Theme Parks

Trying Out a New Disney Igloo Backpack

This year I found a new bag to try – an insulated Disney Igloo “Leftover bag” backpack. It has a front compartment for smaller items which I like. I always wear a Disney Fanny-pack anyway, to my keep my phone and wallet for easy use. I like this bag because it is completely insulated – so I am figuring we will keep our waters and cooling towels in there, instead of a regular backpack. It even has pockets on both sides to hold 2 drinks! I am going to give it a try this coming weekend at Legoland NY!

I decided to add some Disney magic to it and I glued some Disney patches to it – with e6000 glue. E6000 glue seems to be the popular glue everyone is using but the fact that it says it causes cancer made me nervous. So I wore gloves and glued outside. **I took wax paper to place over them and I used full baby wipes to weigh them down while they dried.

  • e6000 glue
  • gloves
  • glue outside
  • put wax paper on top of patches
  • add weight
  • let dry overnight

Link for Disney Igloo from Amazon:

https://amzn.to/3hWqrGr

I do have a lot of Disney backpacks that I use for all trips – even road trips / hiking etc. The backpacks I purchased from Disney World back in 2017 have come in great use – they have several comparments for separating and organizing with outside pockets to hold your drinks. They have been quite sturdy.

I also have a Disney Loungefly as well as a cheaper small backpack purchased at Animal Kingdom – both are small and we cannot fit very much inside. But now that my kids are getting older we do not need to carry quite as much anymore.

What are your favorite bags to travel with??? I love to hear about bags that work well.

Here is my video on how I pack for a night out on the boardwalk at the Jersey Shore!

Clothing Essentials for Summer Vacation Travel

Are You Backing Up Your Smart Phone Photos?

DISCLAIMER: I am by no means responsible for anything that may happen to your photos, your iPhone or anything associated. These are my opinions and my suggestions on ways to help.

So with the news of being able to reserve a park pass for passholders only for the soft opening of Legoland NY I became really excited this morning! With thoughts of this and summer approaching, it has been a while since I backed up the photos on my iPhone and decided now is the time to save them and clear up my phone’s capacity for even more photos! I am so excited for all the photos to come this summer!! We all know how many photos we can capture while visiting WDW and I automatically get Memory Maker being an Annual Passholder! Follow me on Instagram – familypixiedust429 for our upcoming Legoland and Disney World Adventures and Content! https://www.instagram.com/familypixiedust429/?hl=en

I decided to attack this project this morning in the midst of my daily chores. I need to vacuum every day since getting a black lab/boxer puppy mix. I love her to pieces but the amount of hair is just overwhelming. I try to brush her every day – but it is just ALL over all the time – plus it is so fine it blows around so easily. Not to mention working on the laundry, folding towels, dishes, breakfast for my kids, drop off / pick-up for my younger son who went back to in-person school and his lunch etc – being at home is much harder than being at work! I should be going back to work this fall….

A few years ago I learned a hard lesson not to just save my iPhone photos to my WD External Hard Drive because I was also using it to work inside of Photoshop and I blew its brains out – losing all of my photos along with the work I created. Luckily I had some photos saved to the computer we were using at the time but I knew from then on I needed multiple places for storing my precious photos.

Google Photos

Google Photos easily automatically backs up all of your iPhone photos just by opening the app. I believe the phone needs to stay on and the app opened to save all. I just go into the phone’s settings to Display & Brightness, then change “Auto-Lock” to NEVER. Then you can create albums to organize the photos. It also lets you share as well. Don’t forget to go back in and change the auto-lock back after you are finished. You can also upload any photos saved from your computer to Google Photos as well.

Shutterfly

Although this app is a touch more difficult because it takes much longer to upload the photos – I like to have them in more than one place. To upload to Shutterfly I recommend doing this one night when going to bed. Make sure you are fully connected to the wi-fi. I would again change my iPhone’s Auto-Lock in the settings to never and then proceed into Shutterfly keeping it open. Here you can also create albums as well. This app seems to take several hours, so face your iPhone face down for the evening and let it upload from there. I also like having my pictures printed and mailed through Shutterfly as well.

WD External Hard Drive

This would be where you connect your iPhone and WD Drive to your computer. You would create files inside your WD Drive through your computer, and then access your iPhone photos (also through your computer). You highlight which photos you want to save and drag/drop to the file of your choice. I usually name the files by month and year. The problem I have been having with this method lately is that my computer loses my iPhone, or isn’t reading it correctly or does not obtain all of the photos. If anyone has any suggestions for this by all means please let me know!

Here is a link to a WD Drive on amazon – https://amzn.to/3f3tuLa

Uploading to Facebook is nice because your memories pop up – and you can make your albums viewable to you only, or specified people if you prefer. Instagram is also nice for saving photos as well.

With the thousands of pictures we are taking daily we have to make sure to keep up on saving them! I often wonder what will happen to all of the digital pictures when we are gone! AHH What a thought!

What are some ways you save your photos???

Legoland NY June 2021 HOT TIP

Legoland NY is now open to everyone but by reservations only which you can access online through their website. Legoland NY officially opens to the public I believe June 4th or June 5th.

All but 2 rides are open at Legoland NY!

It is absolutely amazing – *but be sure to pack sunscreen, hats, sunglasses, a sun umbrella, neck fans. spray bottle and lots of drinking water because there is no shade to be seen and it is hot! Even waiting online for the very popular Ninjago Ride was outside in the blazing sun for about 30 min. Needless to say we were all sunburned and very overheated (since I forgot to pack sunscreen).

Hopefully the long lines will calm down as they iron out their kinks but until they do definitely prepare!

For some pictures and video previews check my Instagram account at FamilyPixieDust429 and check back regularly on my YouTube Channel for a tour at Family Pixie Dust https://youtu.be/N_QAFau-jKw

https://www.youtube.com/user/vbraga429/videos

Disney Igloo Backpack – New Packing Item For Theme Parks

Trying Out a New Disney Igloo Backpack

This year I found a new bag to try – an insulated Disney Igloo “Leftover bag” backpack. It has a front compartment for smaller items which I like. I always wear a Disney Fanny-pack anyway, to my keep my phone and wallet for easy use. I like this bag because it is completely insulated – so I am figuring we will keep our waters and cooling towels in there, instead of a regular backpack. It even has pockets on both sides to hold 2 drinks! I am going to give it a try this coming weekend at Legoland NY!

I decided to add some Disney magic to it and I glued some Disney patches to it – with e6000 glue. E6000 glue seems to be the popular glue everyone is using but the fact that it says it causes cancer made me nervous. So I wore gloves and glued outside. **I took wax paper to place over them and I used full baby wipes to weigh them down while they dried.

  • e6000 glue
  • gloves
  • glue outside
  • put wax paper on top of patches
  • add weight
  • let dry overnight

Link for Disney Igloo from Amazon:

https://amzn.to/3hWqrGr

I do have a lot of Disney backpacks that I use for all trips – even road trips / hiking etc. The backpacks I purchased from Disney World back in 2017 have come in great use – they have several comparments for separating and organizing with outside pockets to hold your drinks. They have been quite sturdy.

I also have a Disney Loungefly as well as a cheaper small backpack purchased at Animal Kingdom – both are small and we cannot fit very much inside. But now that my kids are getting older we do not need to carry quite as much anymore.

What are your favorite bags to travel with??? I love to hear about bags that work well.

Here is my video on how I pack for a night out on the boardwalk at the Jersey Shore!

Clothing Essentials for Summer Vacation Travel

Which Walt Disney World Resort I recommend for Summer 2021

Thinking of heading to Walt Disney World in the next few months? This is the hotel I recommend for Summer 2021.

DISCLAIMER: I am by no means responsible for anything that could happen or go wrong on your vacation; these are just my opinions after years and years of vacationing at Walt Disney World.

While we are still coming out of the pandemic and Disney World is still slowly opening up resorts, attractions and dining locations, I would suggest the best possible hotel to stay at currently would be (assuming you’re a party of no bigger than 4):

Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort

EVERYTHING IS CONDENSED INTO ONE BUILDING

Florida can be terribly hot and humid and there is nothing like getting off a Disney bus, all hot and sweaty from a super fantastic day at the parks and walking into ONE wonderfully airconditioned building providing not just your cool room, but gift shop, quick service and restaurants all inside. It is so super convenient to have all of this inside the same building for extra AC and to avoid the constant rain showers that Summer 2021 is bringing us! Not to mention the lobby is stunning and the rooms are gorgeous!

BOAT TO MAGIC KINGDOM

Having the easy 10 minute boat ride to and from Magic Kingdom really does make your vacation feel extra magical!

FIREWORKS VIEWS FROM SOME LOCATIONS AT THE RESORT

Summer 2019 was the first time we stayed at the Wilderness Lodge and we were surprised with a beautiful view of the Magic Kingdom Castle as well as fireworks from our balcony! Now that the fireworks are back you are sure to enjoy!

WITH MANY DINING LOCATIONS CURRENTLY CLOSED, MORE DINING OPTIONS AVAILABLE

Whispering Canyon Café has been open which is a delicious table-service restaurant if you need a change from quick service. Wilderness Lodge also has Geyser Point Bar and Grill which is an outdoor, water-view restaurant which is another great option to have. You can’t go wrong at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge!

AS A DISNEY WORLD DELUXE HOTEL ACCOMODATION, THE RATES AREN’T AWFUL AND WORTH IT

Disney’s Wilderness Lodge falls into the deluxe hotel categories because of it’s many amenities and for being one of the Magic Kingdom Resorts, but it isn’t nearly priced as high as the Contemporary, Grand Floridian or especially right now the Polynesian – if you ask for a standard view room. It is one of more affordable deluxe accommodations with many comforting habituations. Also this deluxe resort offers a slide at the main pool and there is a splash pad for the younger kids which gives you a little more to do at the resort.

Planning a summer vacation? Where are you headed this summer?! I would love to hear your plans and thoughts!

Need assistance convincing a loved one to try Disney World?! CLICK HERE!

My Seasonal Disney World Wardrobe

If you have a Disney World Trip coming up this summer then you’re going to want to check this out!

We have visited Disney World several times now in 3 different seasons. We have been a few times in May, a few times in the heat of August and once for Easter and once for New Year Eve!! You’re going to want to pay close attention to what type of clothing you need to bring depending on when your time of travel will be.

If you plan on traveling to Disney World this summer keep in mind it is going to be HOT! It’s going to be hot and humid from the time you wake up until the time you go to bed so just prepare. So your packing itinerary will need to include things like Neck Fans, Spray Fans, Sunscreen, Sun Shades, Sunglasses, Cooling Towels – and be prepared to do laundry because you will be changing your clothes at least once a day! You will need lightweight clothing options.

August 2019 Magic Kingdom

For traveling to WDW during the summer – for someone like me that is in my late 30’s with 2 beautiful boys, I like to wear SKORTS instead of shorts – especially since I have chubby annoying thighs no matter how much I workout. Shorts love to bunch up on me! I like to purchase my skorts from Macy’s but I would like to check out Athletica in the future. Also light long skirts and maxi dresses are also be perfect.

Vacationing during the summer, your tops will also need to be light and airy – I normally like to wear a lot of tank tops with skorts – this way I am the most comfortable. You also need to be prepared with umbrellas and ponchos because it can rain once a day in Florida during the summer! **Definitely bring more than 1 pair of shoes – no one wants to be walking around in soaked shoes the entire trip.** Sandals that have a strap are great if you get caught in a downpour, without a strap they can slide off – and that is not fun! I do NOT recommend flip flops because when you are in Disney you are walking several miles a day and flip flops just do not have enough support.

Even with the Florida summer heat, I find myself feeling chilly in restaurants so I always like to make sure I have a sweatshirt or sweater when dining.

Hollywood Studios August 2019. Felt like 105 degrees and 100% humidity.

When we visited WDW this past January, we had quite a different experience. First of all, we stayed at the Grand Floridain for the first time which was stunningly elegant and beautiful. (Vlog and blog to come). I was sorry I didn’t bring a light jacket! I was freezing in my sandals! We only had two 85 degree days and the rest were in the 50’s – so you’re going to need to bring more of a variety of clothing since the weather changes so often. We actually felt cold! 50 degree weather in Florida is cold. Most days I had on a shirt, a sweater and a sweatshirt on top. But, you never know when you will have a hot day – so you will need a pair of shorts or capris just in case. While there in January I wore my black leggings from Venus almost every day. Check out my vlog on my Disney Wardrobe!

Magic Kingdom Christmas Parade Dec. 30, 201
Check out my Vlog on my Disney World Wardrobe!

Click above for my vlog on my Disney World Wardrobe!

When we went to Disney for our first Easter Trip 2019 I found a lot of the days to be not incredibly warm – I wore a sweatshirt most of the trip. The pool felt chilly even at 77 degrees and heated. Maybe it was just an odd year? That is reason enough to always be prepared with layers. So I really wore my capri jeggings from Uniqlo or Kohls most days and maybe wore shorts and skorts 2 days out of a 9 day trip. I just bought some new capris at New York & Company that I was planning to wear this past Spring (Possibly summer if we make it there)! They feel so comfortable and lightweight! Riding Splash Mountain at night was interesting to say the least – Splash is our kids’ favorite ride and my husband and I knew we would be freezing but we did it anyway. LOL But the weather can vary year to year, so always check the weather before you leave while you are packing!

Our favorite weather time of the year was when we were in Disney World for Mother’s Day. The weather is gorgeous hot during the day and not horribly chilly at night. The Flower and Garden show is going on at Epcot and yes it is also going on during April but the begging of May is signifcantly less crowded than April and I really enjoyed the weather more this week. However, I enjoy hot weather more than cooler weather. Also while we were at Animal Kingdom on Mother’s Day 2015, I was handed a flower upon entering the park and we took some great photos that day as well. Great memories. For the beginning of May I would say you could still bring some capris but be sure to pack those shorts and skorts because there are still some days that may hit 90. I went over a lot of my wardrobe that I wore in the different months we attended Disney in my Vlog – so definitely check it out! Again always check the weather as you are packing prior to departing for your adventure!

No matter when we go, I prefer Birkenstock Arizona’s – they are the soft sandal, not the hard. I suffer with Plantar Faciitis so finding some Sketchers Go Walks, paired with super soft inserts and gel heel cups – all found on Amazon and I am good to go!

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When is your next Disney World Trip?

What month are you traveling to Disney World in?

Disney Cruise Line Wishables – Limited Release

Unboxing Disney Wishables: Cruise Line & Food Series 2

On Easter Sunday I noticed that the Shop Disney Website had listed some of their Disney Cruise Line Wishables as a pick-me-up during our quarantine. I do not think normally Disney Cruise Line Wishables are available on the site, but do not quote me. This ended up being a super fun surprise!

Usually listed at around $10 per package, Disney Wishables are something my kids have enjoyed collecting since last April 2019. If you have an Annual Pass or are a DVC member, you would recieve a 20% discount off. You can use a Disney Gift Card towards any merchandise you may find inside the parks! The Disney Wishables are a more affordable “mystery type package” where you never know which character you are going to get! This type of Disney merchandise is something fun for kids to get inside the parks, and when you sit down for a break – you have a surprise!

Some other Disney Wishable series we have already collected are Splash Mountain, Park Series, Food Series 1, Pirate Series to name a few. We also have a Toy Soldier that we picked up around New Years Eve that we picked up not inside a package. We also have Magic Kingdom Castle that was also not inside a package. Watch below to see the kids talk about our collection!

We have a video here of the kids unboxing their New Shop Disney Cruise Line Wishables and Food Series 2 Wishables – please like and share!

Disney seems to have some series designed for the current season /current holiday of Wishables located throughout the parks – for instance while we were visiting for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party we noticed some Nightmare Before Christmas Wishables.

I also purchased myself a cute Mickey Tank – who couldn’t use a little pick-me-up right now?! I cannot wait to wear it when we return to the parks!

What are some ways you are “doing Disney” during the quarantine?

When is your next Disney World Vacation?

We Upgraded to Disney Annual Passholders! Discount Secrets Revealed….

This past August 2019, while we were vacationing in the World at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort, for our second trip of the year, we were in a pretty good position and decided to upgrade to Annual Passes for all the perks!

Disney’s Wilderness Lodge August 2019

It was pretty easy to upgrade, while we were in Magic Kingdom on the first morning of our stay we simply went over to City Hall on Main Street. It was so easy and of course the cast members are always so helpful. As soon as you upgrade you are instantly able to recieve merchandise dicsount of 20% in just about all of Disney World’s Retail Locations. The discount varys on the dining locations depending where you eat, but we always get the Deluxe Dining Plan, so we weren’t worried about using our discount there. You can however, get the discount on any snack or type of food at your Disney World Resort Hotel that is Disney OWNED and almost all the locations (if not all) throughout the parks, so if you are buying a soda or snack or even a meal out of pocket you will get a discount!

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So if you are thinking about upgrading during your stay, I do not recommend waiting until the end of your trip because it actually will be activated on the first day of your trip and why miss out on that merchandise discount?!

The next best perk about being an Annual Passholder was the amazing discount that popped up when we were looking to go and arrive on New Year’s Eve and stay for a week. We got a huge discount at the Grand Floridian – it was bigger than what was being offered at Polynesian and Contemporary – and almost all of the resorts were booked up as well. We couldn’t pass up how much cheaper it was to stay at the Grand Floridian than at Polynesian which was our first hotel choice.

I wanted to make sure we arrived before New Year’s Eve so we wouldn’t miss the last Christmas Parade in Magic Kingdom which is on December 31.

So we flew down Monday night, December 30 after my husband worked half a day. We checked in for 2 nights at a Lagoon View and then checked out and checked into the discounted room from Wednesday January 1 and checked out Tuesday January 7. We definitely saved a few thousand dollars. So when booking with an annual pass discount definitely check on the different dates around your time of travel as well as what the different hotels are offering – hopefully you can be flexible!

We had family meet us one night in Disney Springs during our January trip for dinner, and we were even able to apply our APD to our family member’s dinner bill, which was fantastic. *Note, this might not always be the case but you never know where the Disney Magic may arise!* (They were able to park at our hotel and spend some time with us at the resort before we took the bus to Disney Springs – just let the hotel know in advance they are coming. Your company will need to povide some ID and they need your room number.)

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A Disney World Annual Pass also gives you discounts at various hotel spas and salons as well as some entertainment inside of Disney World such as AMC, fishing, the Amphicar Tour at Disney Springs, Miniature Golf, Marina Boat Rentals, Bowling, Horse & Carriage Rides at the Resorts andmore. You can also receive a discount on some of the tours provided inside the parks! There is also a discount for purchasing Tables in Wonderland. I believe that provide a discount when you renew your AP around the time it expires (they might give you a 2 week window after).

Being a Disney World Annual Passholder also gives you a discount on most extra ticketed events like Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party or Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party! Do your research.

Let’s not forget about Memory Maker! The Memory Maker is included in your Annual Pass purchase. *Even if only 1 member of your family purchases the Annual Pass, you still recieve all the benefits! Memory Maker includes all the photopass photos provided by Disney and the professional photographer photos (located throughout the parks,) those photos are added into your My Disney Experience App. You have access to all your Memory Maker Photos until your Annual Pass expires so you have time to download and store them. So unlike how each time you book a vacation you have to pay an extra fee to purchase Memory Maker, and Annual Pass includes it for every single visit.

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We were hoping to go this July or August but sadly with the current world crisis, we aren’t sure if it will be safe enough to travel with our children and my diabetic husband. So if you were considering a Walt Disney World Annual Passes it might be a great time to save for 2021. I always believe good things are ahead! I hope you’re staying safe and healthy at this time!

When is your next Disney World Vacation?

If you have any questions please feel free to ask!

Check out last year’s Easter Vacation at Port Orleans by click here!

Check out our Disney World’s Art of Animation Discussion with the Kids here:

Earth Day 2020

Last year during Earth Day 2019 we happened to be in Walt Disney World. My youngest Nicky found this amazing Earth Day Pin inside of Animal Kingdom, which happens to be exclusive.

Mark me if I am wrong but I thought the proceeds went to help the Disney Conservation Fund. For those of you that do not know, Disney’s Conservation Fund is comitted to saving wildlife and nature. Since 1995, the Disney Conservation Fund has given $100 million to support nonprofit organizations working with communities to save wildlife, inspire action and protect the planet. They are pretty amazing!

Nick purchased this pin in the Africa section of Animal Kingdom, outside at a stand – not too far from Tuskar House ( We love the breakfast Buffet at Tuskar House – and it is a character dining buffet, all day, for all 3 meals).

Tuskar House April 2019

The cast member was thrilled with Nick’s purchase and talked about her collection of Earth Day pins.

They were promoting the live-action Lion King movie all the way back in April 2019!

To celebrate Earth Day 2020, we are headed outside this afternoon to draw pictures of our beloved Earth with sidewalk chalk and observe the birds around our yard.

This year, on Earth Day, we are praying extra hard to heal the Earth and heal the people inside it.

What are you doing to celebrate Earth Day?

When is your next Disney World Vacation?

Click here to watch us playing outside

EXERCISE TIME for the kids during the quarantine 2020!

Outside Play

We seem to have a good homeschool routine down. As soon as my kids get up in the morning, they are logged into google classrooms and doing their work. They are motivated to get it done early so they can have the rest of the day, to do whatever they like. They aren’t allowed on any screens until all their work is completed for the day. Sometimes they just need some moral support to get the work done.

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In addition to the schoolwork, one of the most important things I do every day, now that we are home – is making sure my kids get a few hours of exercise play time – which can be challenging living in the Norteast where some days are 65 and other days are still 40.

We were walking the park track but we haven’t been back there in a few weeks as the cases of the COVID19 became more rampant. So we are fortunate enough to have an extremely long driveway and property to venture around. I try to have the kids to 10 laps of the long driveway every day.

Basketball has been tons of fun – some games of horse – and also my youngest is a pretty good player so my husband will play some 1-1 with him.

One important factor the kids really need right now is family security, don’t just let them sit on screens for hours on end. Show your children that you enjoying having fun with them. They need to know their family is happy to be with them and it really is a great time for bonding. Don’t make it seem like it is a chore to spend time with your kids! You don’t need to spend a lot of money to have fun either!

Here are a few ideas of family bonding time:

A simple deck of cards laying around makes for a fun game of Go Fish. Color & draw together! Read together, even if its just the comics in the newspaper. Play catch. Challenge your kids to a race. As I have been brainstorming for some activities that we can do together as a family, I have put an order in for some Pickle Ball, tennis rackets and balls, magnetic darts. A table top foosball game, as well as a table top billards – thinking we can move to the deck on nice days. Im excited for a speedball turnball set and trying to figure out where a good spot will be. We set up a ping pong table in the basement where the exercise bike and elliptical are located. Ask some friends to borrow any puzzles they aren’t using. Find some Legos laying around and create something new.

Earlier last week some pretty bad weather blew through, which prevented us from completely going outside for a day – so I had my youngest (who suffers from POTS and we believe Ehlers Danlos Syndrome – so it is imperative he gets enough exercise every single day! ) do exercises from a list that I found on Pinterest which was pretty funny. Here’s the link to the video:

Indoor Exercise Time

I am enjoying creating silly videos of the kids playing outside, doing all sorts of things like hide-n-seek, rolling down the hill and they tried to come up with a thowing the ball at each other type game – we will need to retry that one. The videos are a good way for our family members & friends to reconnect with us and feel as if they are playing with us.

My kids have had a lot of positivity come out of this. In addition to being relieved of the stress and social anxiety of having to go out to school each day, they have also rekindled themselves with some toys they haven’t played with in years and reconnected with each other. They are only 2 years apart so my husband and I have taught them to grow up playing together and caring for each other. Now that my oldest is in middle school that changed things a bit. But being home has rekindled our connections.

We just started a new Disney World Puzzle that I just ordered off shopdisney.com for Easter – so I will definitely have pictures of that when its all finished. It is going to take a while because its 1000 peices. Browsing the shop disney website is givng me a feeling of peace but I really have to be careful and stop ordering things for now.

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How are you and your family spending time together during the quaratine? Let me know in the comments below.

When are you planning your next Disney World Vacation?

Self Care: Easter Sunday I decided to get glammed up for the day – click here to read about it.

Easter 2020 🐣🐇🐰

All Glammed Up & No Where To Go #makeyourselffeelgood #glammakeup #easter2020 #easterquarantine

With a bleak past few weeks of worry and fear, staying inside, not seeing anyone – who is going to get dressed up? I mean really – we are all hanging in our sweatpants and just letting it go. Well, today I decided I still wanted nice Easter pictures with my family, so I decided I’m getting my makeup on and we are getting dressed!

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We added some Disney to our Easter 🐣

In addition to praying and asking for God’s help every day, I do believe in self care. We need to take care of ourselves…. we need to keep moving and doing. I refuse to fall into a depression. We are getting up early every morning and my kids are doing their schoolwork first thing and then we have the rest of the day for projects and exercise. My kids do love their video games, but I’m trying to make their days full of interesting and creative things – while getting enough exercise. Exercise is imperative for my younger son to sleep well ( he suffers with a hypermobility disorder and he needs adequate exercise everyday).

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So here I am all glammed up and no where to go. Happy being with my family and cherishing our time together. I got some pretty good pics today too, so I am happy.

Daydreaming of Sunny Days from Easter’s past at Disney’s Port Orleans Resort 2019

Wow… on this day, about a year ago we were checking into Walt Disney World’s Port Orleans French Quarter Resort for our family Easter 2019 Vacation… who would think just a year later the world would be in such a quandary.  Trying not to worry or think if we will be able to make it back there this coming summer we are remembering last year instead. During these uncertain times, the thought of a semi-normal summer sounds satisfying at this point. So for a minute lets escape to someplace magical and beautiful.

Thinking of last year at Disney for Easter Sunday was simply amazing.  We didn’t plan any park days on Easter Sunday assuming it would be crowded.  So we had reservations for brunch at Disney’s Cape May Buffet at Disney’s Beach Club Resort which was such a delicious breakfast buffet with characters included. The only time there are characters are for breakfast/brunch. Upon arrival we took the bus from our resort to Epcot, where we walked through the countries and then down the path towards the Yacht and Beach Club. The resort grounds are a stunningly luxurious mix of beach and Disney. Beach Club is the epitome of extravagance.  

Characters at the Cape May Buffet were dressed in their adorable beachwear.
The Beach Club lobby has a gorgeous Easter Egg display made by Disney’s own cast members.

The view from each angle outside around the resort grounds screams tropical escape.

After brunch a wonderful surprise was being able to take a picture with Mickey in his Dapper Dan outfit and he truly was dapper!

All the Disney World resorts seem to have a lot going on during Easter Sunday to keep guests entertained and make it a more special day. Epcot holds an egg hunt for anyone that is interested.

After our brunch and exploring the resort grounds we took the Friendship Boat (which is a mode of transportation from Beach & Yacht Club that goes to and from Epcot and Hollywood Studios) that brought us to Hollywood Studios and from there we took the bus back to Port Orleans. Epcot is just a short walk from the Yacht and Beach Club.

We spent the afternoon doing some laundry while we had a great time in Port Orleans French Quarter’s pool. The pool is beautiful – it has a great slide for the kids. The slide is some sort of sea creature type dragon with King Triton (from Disney’s Little Mermaid) sitting on top.

After some fun swimming we took the river boat to Disney Springs for dinner. (As my husband and I like to say: Downtown Disney) Our kids love the T-Rex Cafe – and that is something you need to book 180 days out, on that 180th day to get a reservation! It books fast!

Easter 2019 was really fantastic. We had a great time hanging at the resorts and enjoying what was around.

Praying and hoping that the world will heal sooner than later and we can all go back to planning our Disney Trips and whatever else in life brings you joy.

For now, we are enjoying family time at home with each other – cherishing every moment.

Click here to read about Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge!

When are you planning your next Disney vacation?

Animal Kingdom Lodge Resort Tour Family Vacation 2017

Check out a video of our tour of the Animal Kingdom Lodge Resort 2017

 

QUICK TIP:  If it is your first time staying at Animal Kingdom Lodge and you go out to the parks, as you hop onto the Disney Transportation System bus for a ride back – * take note as to where the bus will drop you off.  If you are staying in Jambo House the bus usually stops at Kidani Village first and then Jambo House.

 

Click HERE for my full article review of the Animal Kingdom Lodge

Click HERE for a tour of the Art of Animation Resort 

Click HERE for money saving tips for a Walt Disney World Vacation  $$$$$