Happy Star Wars Day!

In honor of May the 4th, I thought I’d write a quick “Top 5” to share the Star Wars attractions that are already available for you to enjoy at Walt Disney World. I know a lot of Star Wars fans are anxiously awaiting the opening of Galaxy’s Edge in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, but for the casual fan, or for the family who was already planning a visit to Orlando this year, you can still get your fix. All of these attractions can be found at Hollywood Studios.

#1 – Jedi Training Academy

Kids ages 4 to 12 can learn the ways of the Force from a Jedi Master, then test their skills against the Dark Side! You must register to participate. This is important. You can show up to watch the shows, but if your younglings want in on the action, you need to register them early in the day. When you enter the park in the morning, you need to go to the Indiana Jones Adventure Outpost. It’s located between the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular! and 50’s Prime Time Cafe. The participating child must be with you to register. Once registered, you’ll be given a return time to come and watch your little ones in the show! My own children have never been interested in jumping on stage in front of a crowd, so I don’t have any photos of this one.

#2 – Star Tours — The Adventures Continue

This motion-simulated space flight has been in the park for a while. In 2011, the ride was improved to include 3D technology, and new characters and story lines were added. On a hot summer day, I also very much enjoy the mostly-indoors line.

As you exit the ride, there are some cool things to see and do in the gift shop. My kids really loved the “Build Your Own Light Saber” station. It was fun to come home with a souvenir that they put some time and thought into, rather than just grab and go.

 

 

#3 – March of the First Order

Several times daily, you can watch Captain Phasma and her squad of stormtroopers march up Hollywood Blvd., searching for rebels.

#4 – Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away

This show is also held several times daily, Center Stage at the end of Hollywood Blvd., in front of Grauman’s Theater. Some of your favorite Star Wars characters recreate iconic movie moments right before your eyes.

#5 – Star Wars Launch Bay

The Launch Bay houses tons of Star Wars props, costumes, models, memorabilia, and art work. If you’re a fan, this is a must-see. In the Launch Bay Theater, watch a 10-minute film that celebrates the entire Star Wars saga. My favorite thing about the Launch Bay, though, are the character meet and greets. Chewbacca and BB-8 were our favorites! None of us was entirely sure what to do around Kylo Ren. Awkward!

 

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Comeback

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I’m planning a comeback. It’s been a long time since I’ve written anything consistently, and…I miss it! I may be a little rusty, so be patient with me. My general interests are the same – running/exercise, cooking (and eating!), taking photos and pretending I know what I’m doing, momming, and Disney! Let’s do this!

Breaking the Silence

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Y’all. I have not written a new post in nearly a year. A year! I’m known for letting long periods of time go by without posting, but this is a new record. I don’t have anything particularly awesome to share or say today. It’s been a busy 11 months. We’ve traveled, we’ve worked, we’ve played, and we’ve moved. We’re in Nebraska now, trying to get in a new groove and do life. Hopefully I’ll have something good to share soon. Until then, enjoy a fun pic from my trip to Las Vegas to celebrate my friend Summer’s 40th birthday!

History or Hysteria

It’s here. Election Day 2016. Hillary Clinton vs. Donald Trump comes to a close. I don’t know what your social media accounts look like, but if mine is any indication, the world might end if the “wrong person” is elected. Who is the wrong person? Well, that depends entirely on who you ask.

People are freaking out. I haven’t witnessed this level of panic since Y2K. It’s unreal.

As for me? I believe in the Bible. While I don’t claim to have its entirety memorized or be a great scholar, I have yet to find a place where it says, “When America elects fill in the blank for President, I’m closing up shop. This mess is DONE.” This outcome is already known by the only one that matters, by my God, who is in control.

“Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will hold on to you with my righteous right hand.” — Isaiah 41:10

Yes, this outcome will affect me, you, all of us who call ourselves Americans, but I do trust that God can use anything, anyone for good, for His glory, to further His plan.

For that reason, I’m actually feeling calm today. Yes, today is important. Whether this is “the most important election in history” remains to be seen. When will we even know that? In 5 years? 20 years? 50 years? Whatever will be, will be. We’ll all vote today and make our contribution, but regardless of who is chosen as the next POTUS, the earth will keep on turning.

Come tomorrow, wouldn’t it be great if we could go back to being a team? I don’t think, realistically, that it will be that easy, but isn’t it a lovely dream?

“For in Him we live and move and exist.” –Acts 17:28

Friday Five!

It’s Friday. I haven’t written anything in a while, so random thoughts from the week are the order of the day!

1. Vacation Bible School – It’s VBS week at our church. Holy energy suck, Batman. I ran around with a group of about 10 kids all week…and another adult whose helper I was. I have a new appreciation for school teachers. You wrangle 25-30 kids every day for 9 months of the year? God bless you. I can barely hang for a week.

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2. Wilderness Escape – In the same vein, so really not so random, the theme for the week is Wilderness Escape. I have this slightly inappropriate urge to shout, “The wilderness must be explored!” on a daily basis. So far, I’ve kept it under control.

3. The toilet paper debacle. The other day, my son disappeared upstairs to go to the bathroom. A little while later, he started hollering down the stairs. I was far enough away that I didn’t hear/understand what he said, but John did. And he sent me to help out anyway. (The excuse was that it was Father’s Day, but whatever.) As I began climbing the stairs, this advice followed me, “You might want to take tongs!” Say what??

My son had taken a big #2, run out of toilet paper, and I guess got up from the toilet to change the roll of paper. When I arrived, the silver tube that holds the paper was lodged into the pile of poo at the bottom of the toilet. Tongs, indeed. Next year, I will make sure something equally nasty occurs on Mother’s Day. Be ready, Beaver.

4. Jamberry Nails – Who’s using Jams? I bought some several months ago and sort of forgot about them. I spent an hour in the bathroom last night putting them on my and Neely Bug’s nails. They’re so fun, and much more economical than paying for a manicure. I need to pick out some summer colors, though. While I dig the silver croc I’m wearing now, it feels wintry to me. I think I’ve found what I want next…

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I think Neely and I need those top two combos. I love them both!

5. Road trippin’ – It isn’t summer without a road trip! We’re loading up the car tomorrow and heading to South Dakota for a week. The man has to work, but the kids and I plan to be tourists and have some fun. I’m excited. This summer has been incredibly light on travel compared to last summer. It’s time for a change of scenery! I’ll share photos when we return home. 🙂

Magical Monday – When should you start planning your Disney World trip?

I feel like I may be pulling one out of thin air today, friends. When I requested feedback on what Disney questions you wanted answered, nobody asked this one. To be honest, I was surprised, because it is the one thing I am most frequently asked by people who have begun thinking about planning a Disney World vacation.

“How early should I start planning my trip?”

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What I’d really like to say is, “As early as possible!” But of course, the answer is a little more complicated than that.

One of the things I (sort of) base my answer on is the fact that you can make your Disney World dining reservations 180 days in advance of your check-in date. For the most popular restaurants – Be Our Guest, Cinderella’s Royal Table, Chef Mickey’s, ‘Ohana – this is an absolute must, especially if you’re traveling with a large party. It is sometimes possible to snag a reservation at these places less than 180 days from your trip, but it’s difficult. And most of the time, it’s going to be a really weird meal time – think 9:30pm for dinner. This just doesn’t work for most families with young children…or people who get grumpy when the normal dinner hour has passed and they still haven’t eaten, like me. To ensure that my clients get the dining reservations they want, I like to encourage booking as early as you can. I’m not saying I can’t get you a dinner reservation one month before you travel, but it may not be your first or even your second choice.

Having said that, when you book over six months in advance, there usually are not discounts available for your travel dates yet. (One exception to this are my military travelers – depending on the time of year.) You can choose dates to travel based dates when Disney has historically released discounts (example: free dining in the fall), and if/when a better rate becomes available for your trip, I can rebook it under the new rate. The bonus in doing this is that you have held a room at the resort you want, and we’ve already made sure you have reservations for the dining experiences you prefer.

Do you lose anything by making your reservation early and rebooking with a discount when it becomes available? No. When you make a package reservation at a Disney resort, you make a $200 deposit to hold each room. The deposit amount is one night’s stay if you are only making a room reservation (meaning you don’t need a dining plan or tickets). The very same deposit can be reapplied to the new reservation when I change your package to the discounted rate. The same cancellation policies apply, but you will not lose the deposit money.

I also get inquiries from people who know that they won’t be able to travel until next year sometime. There are a myriad of reasons – the kids will be the right age (this varies completely by family), you’ll be better set up to take time off work, you need time to save up the money. If this is you, don’t worry. While the exact rates for 2015 are not yet available, I will gladly work out a quote for where you think you want to stay, the dining package that suits your family best, and the park tickets you’ll need based on this year’s rates. These numbers will change some by next year, but it gives you a number to think about, something more tangible to save toward. Then when it is time to make that reservation, you’ll call me back and let me help, right? I mean, why wouldn’t you? It’s free! 🙂Signature-1

audra@atimetotreasuretravel.com

 

Headlamp Shenanigans

I’m warning you – this is going to be random. It’s been a while, and I just want to write something. I’ve been working on a lot of vacation planning lately, but that’s not likely to interest you…unless it’s your trip. 😉

Instead, I will tell you about the crazy random thing that has been amusing the heck out of me the last few days – the Petzl headlamp that I got for Christmas. We opened gifts with my parents via Skype before traveling to Texas for the holidays, and they gave me this super great headlamp.

See, when it’s actually warm enough to go running outside, I have to get up super early to manage it before my husband goes to work. And it’s DARK. And sometimes, I like to be lazy and not put my contacts in. So it’s dark, and I’m blind. I’m fairly certain I have leapt over grease spots on the pavement thinking they were something dangerous more than once. It’s probably funny to watch, if you happen to be up at o’dark-thirty. All that to say, this weirdo asked for a headlamp for Christmas.

I completely forgot I had it until I starting picking up and putting away Christmas decor the other day. I rediscovered my headlamp under the tree! It was like Christmas all over again! When I unpacked it and put batteries inside? Even better. My headlamp can be bright. My headlamp can be dim. My headlamp can blink. My headlamp can also perform those tricks with a red light instead of light.

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I’ve been having lots of fun with my headlamp. When I unpacked it, my boy was in the shower. So I did what any normal parent would do and turned the lights out on him, ripped open the curtain, and blinded him with my headlamp! Hilariously awesome.

I may or may not have also snuck back into my kids’ bedrooms after tucking them in and scared them with it.

And I definitely wandered around getting ready for bed with all the lights off…BECAUSE I COULD.

If you don’t own a headlamp, I highly recommend them. I’m trying to come up with more shenanigans I can use it for until running outdoors is in season again. 🙂