Disney Vacation Club Surprise Welcome!

Photo Credit: The Walt Disney Company

Can you imagine what this little boy is thinking when he opened the door to his Resort room? Just have a look at those cheek bones and feel the warmth of his smile! I can only imagine how I’d be feeling if it was me!! Wow!!

The Dream Makers are constantly thinking up new ways for guests to add magical experiences to their vacations and this one really takes the cake…or, cookies in this case! Those Mickey footprints you see on the floor leading the way over to Mickey and Pluto? They are actually mouse pads that you can use at home to remind you of that very moment you stepped into your room…and there are plenty for the whole family!

As if owning Disney Vacation Club and knowing that you have guaranteed vacations year after year to The Place Where Dreams Come True wasn’t enough already, you can now add some extra special Pixie Dust to the next time you hear the words “Welcome Home” by getting in touch with a Dream Maker over at the Walt Disney World Florist.

Photo Credit: The Walt Disney Company

My favorite part about this fabulous In-Room Celebration is that beautiful banner you see hanging on the wall next to the bed. You can get that personalized with the year that your family became Disney Vacation Club Members! I don’t know about you, but I’d definitely bring that on every Disney vacation and display it proudly! Be sure to check out all of the great items included in the DVC Welcome Celebration and plan on it for your next trip Home!

Wordless Wednesday…The Bridge To Bay Lake Tower!

Wordless Wednesday…
The Bridge To Bay Lake Tower!

Focused on the Magic

A Special Visit to the Disney Events Group

I was driving down to Walt Disney World when I got a text message from my friend Kristen over at DVC Mom. She had some Pixie Dust sprinkled on her and wanted to share it with me!! An invitation was extended to her for an exclusive private tour of the Disney Events Group, the wonderful place where the Walt Disney World Florist is located! As you can imagine, I was thrilled to be a part of such a fabulous experience!

Well, my friends, when we walked through the doors of the Disney Events Group, the magic started immediately! Jean Volante ~ Manager of Dream Making, was there to great us along with Jeff Hurst, Ken Malquest, and Terrone Carpenter. They had a magnificent floral arrangement in the front lobby of their building that was actually created to match the colors on Kristen’s blog! It was unbelievable…my picture DOES NOT do it justice at all, but you can get an idea of the amazing things the Dream Makers can create!

We were then guided into the Imagination Room where Tinkerbell was hovering above the table to oversee all of the creativity floating around! It was in this room that we learned of the endless possibilities that could be created for guests of all ages. All of a sudden, a gorgeous, Fairy Godmother wearing pink came into the room and entertained us! She was so magical and beautiful! Her name was Ivana Dream! She appointed Kristen and I as Honorary Deputy Fairy Godmothers with our own Blogity Blogity Blog spell! It was so much fun!!

I suddenly felt like a 5-year old who just had my dream come true with a beautiful pink princess who came all the way from her “land” just to see me!!! How did she know that pink is my very favorite color? It was the most magical thing that has happened to me in a long time and I was just completely beside myself! What a special treat! Would you believe that guests can arrange for these special appearances as well? The sky is the limit!

We continued to learn about all of the magic that could be created here. One of my favorite things about the florist was that not only could you have some of these fun things delivered to your Walt Disney World Resort room, but you could have them delivered to on-site dining locations and even some off-site hotels! And don’t we all want to bring a piece of the magic home with us? Here’s one amazing thing about the floral arrangement above. That huge Castle? It’s flat and can be packed in-between clothes in your suitcase!! Yes, Disney thinks of everything!

We spent an hour and a half touring this unbelievable facility where tons of magic is created every day. We saw beautiful creations being assembled from floral arrangements for weddings to eerie designs for a special private party that was taking place at the Haunted Mansion that evening. We even saw most of the In-Room Celebrations that are available, and I’m telling you, they are GORGEOUS! Keep your eye on the Walt Disney World Florist site for upcoming designs that you will flip for!

I’m also excited to tell you about a fun Disney Vacation Club Member Perk I learned about when exploring the DVC Member site: “Learn how to take regular flowers and design a Disney-themed keepsake arrangement during this one-hour class which takes place exclusively at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa Community Hall. Members receive a 10% discount on the $50 retail price. All ages are welcome (with adult supervision for ages 10 and under). Classes are offered on Wednesdays, 2:30 – 3:30 pm. Please call 407-WDW-PLAY to register.† Walk-ins are welcome when space is available.”

We were presented with a couple of fun and special mementos of this wonderful morning. One of my favorites was this fabulous Tinkerbell in a beautiful little cinch bag with shimmering Pixie Dust inside! I have it hanging right here on the edge of my laptop for good luck!

Disney’s Vero Beach Resort…Photo Tour And My Thoughts

I am so excited that I had the opportunity to stay at Disney’s Vero Beach Resort and to share our experience with you! What an amazing and breathtaking place!

When we arrived, we were greeted by the crocodile from Peter Pan! I LOVED that there were stepping stones in the form of east coast sand dollars which are very different from the ones we see on the west coast. So cool!

Sorry guys, I only got one pic of the inside of our room and this was it! I loved the white furniture in there. It was really beautiful.

We were on the 3rd floor and we had a great view! Getting our luggage up to our room was a breeze because there was underground parking right under our building and luggage carts right there for guests to use. So convenient!

The view from our room!

The beach was beautiful! The sand was rather “shelly” if ya know what I mean. Also, just so you know, the guys pick up the beach chairs and tie down the umbrellas promptly at 5pm so they don’t disturb the turtles! The sea turtles nest on Vero Beach and the resort actually has a Conservancy Program! Check out the Tour de Turtles article on the Disney Parks blog! Also, there are 380 loggerhead sea turtle nests along the 7 km stretch of shoreline RIGHT NOW! The great Cast Members over at Disney’s Ever After Blog shared some great pictures of these little cuties today!

We spent more time at the pool here than anywhere else! It was a really big pool and the water slide was awesome! The whole purpose of our visit was EXTREME rest and relaxation!

Photo Credit: The Walt Disney Company

We had dinner at one of the onsite restaurants, Sonya’s, and it was great. They had a buffet option with characters at Shutters, which was right next door. We decided against the buffet because it was rather pricey. The hostess was so wonderful, she saw that the kids were sort of bummed and she came over to our table and told us that she would come get the kids when the “Pirate Dance” went on so they could come play as long as it was okay with us, which, of course, it was!

Our youngest ran out and got some great shots with the characters and had a fabulous time playing, dancing, and collecting Pirate Booty while we enjoyed a nice, quiet dinner in the other dining room!

I grabbed this shot on our way to the campfire before the sun went down. On the other side of the path, closer to the beach, there were cottages available! Can you imagine having a big family get together in your own cottage? How fun and such a pretty resort!

They had one of these little beauties which was pretty cool too:

Ok, if you read my review on Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort, you’d know that we didn’t get to attend their campfire because it wasn’t held on the nights we were there. We did however; get to attend the one here at Vero Beach! It was sooo much fun! The kids had a blast singing fun campfire songs and LOVED it when Grandma was chosen to do the Hokey Pokey! She did such a great job that she won “first in line” for s’mores for all of us! Woo Hoo!

The Cast Members at Vero Beach were so wonderful. I asked someone at the pool where to go for dinner and she wasn’t sure but she radioed someone else who lived there to come chat with us. I was so excited when she came over to me, still in the pool mind you, and showed me a few of her very favorite local restaurants on a map she brought with her! Then she even went and put the map on our table for me so I wouldn’t have to get out of the pool! The restaurants she recommended were awesome! We went to Mr. Manatees for lunch one day and to Mulligan’s Beach House for breakfast on our way out of town. Mulligan’s has two locations…one right on the beach in town and another right on the beach on the way out of town heading north. We didn’t eat at the one in town but we sat in their adirondack chairs for a couple hours while the kids enjoyed the beach. Here’s our view…

This is the one we had breakfast at and our view!!

She also recommended a great ice cream place. She said it was a little off the beaten path, but that it was well worth going to AND it was right across from the beach. The name of the place was Boardwalk Cafe and Ice Cream just in case you go to Vero Beach! Unbelievable…really, you won’t want to miss it. Great homemade ice cream like none I’ve ever tasted! Mmmmm…… We learned something really fun while we were there too. We sat outside on their porch eating our cones when one of my kids looked up and saw this:

Interesting, right? I was thinking that whoever the lucky person was that happened to be sitting underneath that when it broke would get a free cone or something, I mean, notice the red thumb tacks? I didn’t think ziploc bags were that sturdy! We finally gave up on guessing and asked the girl who worked at the ice cream shop what it was for. Turns out that it’s a deterrent for wasps! When they fly near it, they see their own reflection in it and it looks like a big eyeball to them, so they stay away from it! Pretty nifty, huh? Okay…back to the Cast Members…

The Cast Member who checked us in told me to be sure we saw the Peter Pan Tunnel before we left. We had such a nice time relaxing at the pool and hanging out downtown that we didn’t stop to walk through it until our last day. I’m so glad we did, it was adorable! Here are some pics I took while we walked through.

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And when we came through the other side of the tunnel, there was a very sweet Cast Member who offered to take our picture next to the Resort’s sign! There is a lake over there along with tennis and basketball courts!

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We really had an amazing time. One of my favorite things about the Vero Beach Resort was how respectful they are of the turtles. There was more information about them in our room but I forgot to take a pic of it! You’ll really need to just go there and see it for yourself, you won’t be sorry! Disney’s Vero Beach gets two thumbs up from us! There are lots of activities and excursions at Disney’s Vero Beach Resort too! Check them out!

Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort…Photo Tour And My Thoughts

We decided, rather spur-of-the-moment I might add, to go up to Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort for the weekend. I must say that I’m so happy we did as it’s only an hour from our house and it was absolutely magnificent there! The resort is off the beaten path of the main drag going out to the coast. Even the signs pointing you to the resort blended in with the scenery. But, once we drove through those gates, we knew we were HOME!!

Bambi and Thumper were right there to welcome us!

One of my favorite touches was the brass door pulls leading into the main lobby! They looked like a Mickey Head when both doors were closed! Love it!

One of the things I fell in love with immediately was the decor. It gave me a lodge sort-of-feel and I felt like I had been transported back to the Pacific Northwest somehow! There are plenty of indoor games going on to keep you and your family busy in case the weather is not-so-great during your visit. They also had DVD rentals available at their store!

We found some pretty awesome spots as we explored the property. This boardwalk went around a beautiful marina. I really loved checking out all the different boats that were docked there.

We spotted their very cute Mickey-enhanced mailbox just before crossing the bridge.

The pool was designed to have the look of a water hole where you just jump right off the dock and into the lake! It was pretty cool! Never mind the *hidden* water slide!

The kids were REALLY scouring the place for Hidden Mickeys and found this one by the pool.

There was even a dock that extended way out and we could spot sand crabs and all sorts of fun creatures from there. My husband was out there one of the nights and saw a blue heron that was about six-feet tall (didn’t have the camera with him though!)!

I thought it was a cute touch to have directional signs pointing toward the other Disney Vacation Club Resorts!

I was excited to see this campfire area with all the benches where they have s’mores on select nights throughout the week. We were there on Friday and Saturday nights but didn’t get back for it in time on Friday and it wasn’t being held on Saturday. We’ll have to catch it for sure on our next visit!

My husband was pretty excited about the number of hammocks that were all over the property. Great place to enjoy a good book!

There is only one restaurant on property and it has your basic burgers, sandwiches, and salads. They do serve breakfast as well. I would compare it to the quick service restaurants that are available on Walt Disney World property. If you want a nice sit-down meal here, you’ll need to go off property. There were two restaurants just over the bridge, within walking distance. The front desk has some great recommendations, so be sure to check with them because sometimes they offer discounts too.

Again, little touches of Mickey here and there…

I was surprised at the number of things to do at Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort! They had lots of options for children of all ages!

Lots of things to rent also…

We had a studio reserved for Friday night and a two-bedroom for Saturday night. Totally loved our towel animal! Here’s a look at the studio…

Nice sized kitchenette…

Our two-bedroom villa was amazing. Yup. I could have moved in and been perfectly content.

We had our very own picnic table and two rocking chairs out on the HUGE patio overlooking the swimming pool.

This is the hallway between the living room and the 2nd bedroom…there was a washer and dryer in the closet directly across from the bench. Again, I just loved the decor!

We had the standard king-sized bed in the master bedroom. Here’s a look from the bedroom into the master bath.

We saw Shadow’s dog house on our way in when we first arrived and we were lucky enough to catch him there on our way out! We probably spent half an hour with him. Our kids, especially the littlest one, love animals!

We didn’t get a chance during our visit to go to Disney’s Beach House, so on our way home, we decided to go see what it was all about. Private beach access! I was wondering where the beach came into play here!

Just a couple of small things that I would change here if I was the boss. One was that I had put on our reservation that it was our first visit there and they gave us Walt Disney World First Visit buttons. It was definitely NOT our first WDW visit! It would be cool if they had their own buttons. Then, there was a message on our phone congratulating us on our first visit to Walt Disney World. I think it would be a really nice touch for them to change that recording so that it welcomes you to Hilton Head Island for your first visit there. I just felt like it should be treated differently since it’s not actually on Walt Disney World property.

That said, we couldn’t have had a better time at this resort! It felt just like home from the minute we arrived and we were able to get our (well, MY) Disney fix in! We decided to rent a movie on Saturday night and much to my surprise, they sold MICKEY BARS at their store!!!!!! Two thumbs up!!

DisneySMMoms Celebration 2011 ~ Disney’s Fairytale Weddings & Honeymoons Platinum Soiree {Part 4 The Speakers}

Photo Credit: The Walt Disney Company

 

DisneySMMoms Celebration 2011
Disney’s Fairytale Weddings & Honeymoons
Platinum Soiree {Part 4 The Speakers}

So, after filling our colorful take-out boxes with some amazing goodies and touring Franck’s beautiful studio, Franck himself announced that we should start making our way over to the Wedding Pavillion for some more surprises!

Let me tell you, it is beautiful in there! We were all seated and just looking around in awe at how gorgeous everything was. I’d never been inside there before, however; a friend of mine had her wedding there two years ago so I’d seen pictures, which don’t do it justice. It was so amazing that you could actually see Cinderella Castle right through the stained glass windows! Breathtaking!

We were treated to a great introduction from Korri McFann Spolar, who began her career with Disney in 1995. Korri has been working with Disney’s Fairytale Weddings and Honeymoons for the last 13 years.

Photo Credit: The Walt Disney Company

She gave us a sneak peak of the wedding and honeymoon options that would be offered in the fall of this year in Hawaii at the new Disney Vacation Club property, Aulani.

Next up was Michael Shettel, the Vice President of Alfred Angelo Designs.

Photo Credit: The Walt Disney Company

He gave us an inside look into the Disney Fairytale Wedding Collection as well as introduced the Cinderella Platinum Anniversary Gown! It was magnificent!

Photo Credit: The Walt Disney Company

Photo Credit: The Walt Disney Company

Before we saw this dress, the Sleeping Beauty inspired dress was my favorite. Now I have two favorites because this one is right up there!

I just love the way the Cinderella Platinum gown looks as though it has cascading waterfalls of ruffles while the Sleeping Beauty gown has whispy, feathery ruffles with that gorgeous rose on the hip and another one up by the left shoulder! Aaah! Just beautiful!

Ok, now on to our next speaker! Carley Roney of TheKnot.com came and talked to us about social media and how making your audience your obsession in giving them what they want will ignite their passion and they will keep coming back! Don’t forget to check out her two sister sites TheNest.com and TheBump.com.

Photo Credit: The Walt Disney Company

For our next surprise, David Tutera from My Fair Wedding was introduced! My friend Kristen was so excited to see him that she got up and hugged him on his way up! It was adorable!

Photo Credit: The Walt Disney Company

Now, mind you, I’ve been married for nearly 18 years so even though I’d heard of his show, I’d never seen it before (shh…don’t tell). He talked to us about how he works hard to keep things trendy and is always looking ahead to see what color/style weddings are up and coming.

Photo Credit: The Walt Disney Company

Next we were introduced to a lovely couple who had gotten married at Disney’s Wedding Pavilion just two years ago. Their story was shared with us and we were shown beautiful pictures of their wedding. Much to our surprise, they were about to renew their vows right before our eyes! They were whisked away by Franck and Edna to go get ready. All of a sudden, you would have thought that a dance party broke out right there! The bridesmaids came through the doors and danced down the aisle and they were shortly joined by the groomsmen while they danced together as couples down the aisle. Next, the bride came and she danced her way down the aisle! It was really cool! If you want to see the video of all this fun, click here!

We got to watch their beautiful vow renewal ceremony and then we went outside to watch the Cinderella Coach pull up to whisk them away to their happily ever after! But, not before there were fireworks! Ah-mazing!

Photo Credit: The Walt Disney Company

Photo Credit: The Walt Disney Company

Next up was our dinner party along the beautiful sandy shores of the Grand Floridian! I’ll tell you all about that in my next post!

Disclosure: I paid to attend the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration. In exchange for my registration fee, I received deeply discounted rates on hotel, park tickets, events, meals, and swag. I am not required nor was I asked to write about the events by Disney or any other party affiliated with the event. Thoughts are 100% my own.