It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Oct 10
HalloweenTime Remotes

Halloween is, by far, one of my family’s favorite holidays. Although I nearly wrecked it for good years ago, scaring my kids so badly they were willing to quit one of the greatest roller coasters ever, Disney parks forever, and Halloween forever.

I made the mistake, about four years ago, of taking them on Space Mountain during Halloweentime at Disneyland.

I have children who go back and forth with being adventurous. My little one was all for giving Space Mountain a shot. She was ‘just’ tall enough and feeling rather proud of her ‘big girl’ height.

My son, on the other hand, was skeptical. He wasn’t and isn’t a roller coaster fan and had his doubts his love for space would override his fear of coasters.

But instead of listening to my MOM-gut, I went on to encourage what might have been one of my biggest parenting fails thus far.

I made a major miscalculation as we wound our way through the line, in the dark, getting closer and closer to the iconic ride…it was Hallowen, and the usual Space Mountain had some added punch: one super scary ghost alien thingy that reaches for you, seemingly skin peeled off, as you scream your way around a curve.

I had no idea.

I missed the signs as we walked in. The huge, creepy, signs.

I didn’t notice the ghost creepy dude motif all over the walls once past the front entrance.

I loaded my two, sweet, naive, little, impressionable, loving, and innocent children onto the rocket ship and buckled them in for the SCARIEST MOMENT OF THEIR CHILDHOOD. All while assuring them the ride wasn’t a big deal and they could totally handle it.

…and off we flew into the darkness, joyously screaming at the ups and downs, having no idea all of us were about to be frightened out of our socks.

Around the curve we went, ghost alien peel-off skin creepy dude lunges for us…I pretty much pee my pants. I guarantee the kids peed theirs.

HalloweenTime Remotes

Flash forward to the present. That fateful trip years ago is now family lore. The legend of the idiot Mom and her two elementary school babies, forced to ride the big kid ride and be attacked by the evil alien with no skin. Full on, told at the dinner table, family LEGEND.

But it is possible I didn’t permanently damage their little brains forever. After (another) long stretch of hospital stays, I’m breaking free and with the help of some pixie dust* we’re going to continue the tradition of visiting Disneyland during Halloweentime AND Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration.

My son, now 12, tells us he wants to ride Space Mountain for the first time in many years. He’s feeling brave. He’s feeling adventurous. He’s feeling like he can tackle the ghost alien creepy dude.

His 10-year old sister is absolutely onboard and they are pumped to head to the parks tomorrow and go straight over to the ride that nearly ruined all rides for us.

As for the Mom, I’m not so sure. Ok I’ve told them I wasn’t scared and it wasn’t a big deal and I can totally do this again with them…but I’m lying through my teeth.

While they may be ready, after years of Space Mountain abstinence, I might need a few more years. Perhaps a decade.

I can’t even ride Space Mountain when it’s NOT Halloweentime.

So at some point during the car ride tomorrow I plan on telling the kids I am still scared.

Honesty is what I ask of them, I need to be honest and truthful and all of those things I remind them are the mark of a good person. I’m going to let them know just the thought of riding that roller coaster has my stomach flipping and my mind racing and my heart going a million miles per hour.

I’m also going to consider being brave. I SAID CONSIDER.

With any luck the spirt of our blessed Halloweentime will sweep me away and I won’t think twice about maneuvering my scooter around and around the windy line while that horrific ghost alien guy scans me, finds the best curve to hide on, and prepares to make me once again, pee my pants.


*Thank you, Walt Disney World Resort & Parks team for once again giving us tickets to experience the magic.

A Queen’s Night: Our Cinderella Castle Suite Stay at Walt Disney World

May 14

It wasn’t a dream.

For real

I awoke on Mother’s Day morning, Sunday, May 10, 2015 inside of the Cinderella Suite at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.


I’m not sure how to explain the emotional roller coaster of how it all happened and getting from point A to point B. I had spent the week before, and the week before that, in a hospital bed. Hurting and tortured and away from my family…to waking up in the lap of luxury, inside of Cinderella’s castle, after a whirlwind few days of giggling and entertainment and education and friendship and family. It has taken me days to process what has happened, and to truly realize it wasn’t a dream before I could type these words to you.

Cinderella’s Castle, in the middle of the Magic Kingdom, was my home for the final night of the Social Media Mom’s Celebration at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.

Have you ever looked closely at Cinderella’s Castle? If you do, you would notice tiny stained glassed windows on the side with very regal looking crowns.

More more windows

You would also notice, on that same side, stained glass windows showing the castle itself, mice, and of course a glass slipper.


Beyond those windows is the most amazing suite one could imagine. Filled with everything you would expect of a Royal residence…sprinkled with some pixie dust.

Our ladies in waiting picked us up at our resort around 7pm and took us through a back entrance into the Magic Kingdom. As soon as the SUV pulled in, we knew this was no ordinary treatment.


Upon arrival we were asked if we’d like to go enjoy a few rides while the “birds and mice” readied our sleeping quarters. Still stunned from having won the night, my kids and mother and I all just stared at each other…someone said ‘Mine Train?’ (the kids had waited for me to ride this one the previous day, knowing I hadn’t been on it yet and wanting to experience it with me) and Megan, our lovely lady-in-waiting, said “Off to the Mine Train!”

Megan was the VIP tour guide also provided to us for the evening. Apparently this is part of the castle suite package. She was extremely knowledgable about everything in the park, the castle, and was our ticket to the front of every line. Yes, the front of every line.

So we hopped on the mine train and hi-ho hi-ho’d our way on the super fun, yet not entirely scary roller coaster entering the front of the que like Royalty. Once we emerged, adrenaline pumping, we were told the mice and birds needed just a few more minutes so my son yelled out ‘Splash Mountain!’ and not having a care in the world or a thought in my head I agreed whole-heartedly.

Silly, silly Erin.

You see once we arrive at the very front of that line we were given the choice of the front two cars or the back two cars. The kids yelled ‘FRONT!’ and again, not thinking and on cloud nine, I went right along with their plan.

We emerged from Splash Mountain laughing harder than I think is allowed in even the Laughing Place inside Splash Mountain because before we even took the big plunge into the briar patch we were DRENCHED.

I’m not talking damp, or even wet here and there…we.were.soaked. Ring us OUT soaked.

And of course it was then we were told our suite was ready and it was time to enter one of the most exclusive rooms on earth. Sopping wet.

Giggling because really, that’s all we could do, we made our way over to Cinderella’s castle and walked straight into that tunnel many of you have walked through a million times. I’m guessing though you may not have noticed that one of those wooden doors is real. When opened, there is a very nice desk, tapestry, and things befitting what looks like a medieval office, along with a golden elevator door. But wait…before we get on that elevator there is one more, very important piece inside that small room…a grandfather clock.

You will note the time.


“…because here the magic never ends…”

Up we went and we were told we either had to stay inside during the fireworks or be out of the room by 9:15-:930pm in order to take our seats in the royal viewing area on the lawn. We were also told that while there are some “goodies” inside of the suite, if we wanted a meal we’d have to be escorted into the park to eat and then return. No room service or carry out…no turkey legs on Cinderella’s bed (darn it, that was one photo op I was really looking forward to) everything must be consumed outside the suite with our escort.

Once the fireworks were over we could come and go all night however Megan would remain with us and the entire family would have to leave and enter together.

Having been drenched we knew we at least wanted to change, we also knew we wanted as much time in our suite as possible and it was already 8:40pm. We were conflicted on what to do…change and watch the fireworks outside and eat while we watched? Stay inside, get cozy, hope to catch a glimpse of the fireworks out one of the stained glass windows and then after the fireworks grab a quick bite and hurry back in? We’d decided once we were inside and unpacked.

So here we were. The moment of truth. The golden doors of the elevator sliding open and yet another room appeared. This one with several doors, a mosaic tile floor, and a glass case holding THE slipper.


After gawking at just our little entranceway, we were presented, each, with our room keys for the night…authentic Disney Keys to the World. Each with our names on them.

It was then the door was finally opened and gasps came from all around. Honestly one of those moments you just will never forget for as long as you live and will tell your grandchildren about.

Two beautiful beds before us, with canopies emblazoned with “C” and “C” for Cinderella and Charming with a desk in the corner. The beds faced a fireplace and above the fireplace a magic mirror playing Cinderella, or any movie or channel you would like.

Bed with c

The first hallway to the left took you to the most amazing bathroom created, complete with the bathtub that shall go down as the best bath tub I have ever taken a bath in, and I’d like to think of myself as somewhat of a tub snob. A ‘throne’ room, a lovely shower, and of course double sinks and a sitting area so you can prepare for the ball.

Tub view
Sitting area

Past the fireplace and through the drawn curtains to the left was the sitting room, where above the drawers and mirrors was yet another magic mirror that turns into a tv, and all of our belongings were neatly tucked away in the closet doors along the same wall.


Magic mirror

You could also find a mini fridge that held drinks to last us the night. Along with a beautiful fruit basket and at the edge of one of the beds a horse and carriage made entirely of chocolate and filled with chocolate dipped strawberries.


Needless to say we opted to stay inside to watch whatever fireworks may come our way. We managed to get a pretty good view:(click the dark looking photo below, it’s a video of the fireworks we could see and commentary by my family)

Fireworks video

The bed the Prince and Princess watched out the windows from did fold out and later in the evening it became their royal bedchamber. We even drew the curtains.

Royal kids

There were so many little details throughout the room, I tried to snap pics of everything. Books. Phones. Knickknacks. The windows, the doors, the door handles, even the “castle suite” stickers on the toilet paper.

On walls

Phone alarm

Inside desk area

Once we got out of our wet clothes and watched the best indoor firework show a royal family could ask for, my daughter took a dip in the jacuzzi tub and we went off into the park to grab a late dinner and a few souvenirs. While I shopped (quickly, I might add…we all wanted to go back into the castle) the kids rode a few more rides and then we hurried back up.

We noted the tv in the sitting room was stocked with the latest Disney movie releases and I noted that even the night stand between the two big beds had a Bible in the drawer.

Night stand

The desk and display case on the other side of the bed was also filled with meaningful knickknacks and pictures befitting a Disney castle.

Inside desk area 2
Desk 3
Desk 6
Desk 5

Then I went off, somewhere around midnight, to soak in the tub that had been beckoning me since we entered.

Let me tell you, from it filling with the cascading waterfall faucet to the multicolored lights you could change to fit your mood to the many different jet arrangements and pressures to take care of your neck or your back or your feet, to the STARS on the ceiling to sooth you as you soaked…I could have slept there.

My tub

But instead of drown and cause a scene, I opted to dry off with the monogramed towels and wrap myself in the monogramed robe (the fuzziest and best spa robe I’ve ever put on) and slipped on the white slippers left for me by a mouse or a bird and finally fell into the fluffiest of beds.

My bed

Not wanting the night to end I stared at the top of the canopy for quite some time.


Wondering how I went from hospital bed to Cinderella’s bed. Wondering how my body had even made it through the flight without incident, the first day at the park where my scooter broke down and my poor Mom had to push me a ways before the scooter company came and took care of the broken battery, to the day full of conference sessions where I hugged friends and made new ones, listened to inspirational speakers and felt my body float above itself when my name was read from the stage as the winner of a night in the castle.

I wondered, with some fear, if my body would break down from all the excitement or simply from having been so active and excited. However when having just taken the most elegant and soothing bath, as a queen should, and having just rested my head on the most comfortable of pillows, and having just checked on my sleeping and contented children in their royal bedchamber…I concluded this was all meant to be. A turning point. And I insisted there was no need for worry in this place…of all places, this place was free of all that nonsense. Instead I set my alarm for 6am to awaken the Prince for his turn in the jacuzzi tub and our departure that was set for 7:30am sharp.

Yes, if you stay in the castle suite you are escorted out at 7:30am. The night goes by quickly, yet you tend to savor so many moments it’s almost as if that clock never moved and never quite hit midnight. In fact, I’m fairly sure my clock still says 11:59pm.

After what was the most wonderful sleep of my life, in which we didn’t hear a sound around us and we knew there was an escort should we only dial “0″ who would handle whatever we needed and bring us into the park if necessary, I woke up to see the sunrise. I had too out of those luscious stained glass. It was also a confirmation of sorts that it all wasn’t just my overactive imagination.

I slept here.

In bed

The entire experience was somewhat overwhelming, because in all honestly we all simply just enjoyed that we were inside a castle and not just any castle, the castle where dreams come true. The castle that inspires inventors and imagination and more love than any one castle I can think of on earth. The castle where millions of families and friends gather to take photos, propose marriage, watch their own children experience the wonder that comes to life each day out the windows below. The windows I was peering out of, just like one of the Queens in a movie, looking down below at all the lives and life and dreams excitedly pulling one another to the next ride or experience or moment they will remember and lock away for safe keeping, only to bring out when their heart full.

The castle that made me believe that maybe, just maybe, my family’s rough patch is over and things are now going to take a turn for the better. There will be more fluffy beds with canopies instead of sterile hospital beds and there will be more joy, more fun, and much, much, more magic.

And should I ever forget that feeling, we were given a souvenir, a crystal glass slipper, engraved with “Castle Suite” and the date of our stay as a forever reminder we were there. It did happen. Magic can happen.


My heartfelt thanks to the team at Disney for making the dreams that I wished…come true.*

*I attended the conference paying for my and my family’s own travel, accommodations, and tickets which were discounted for conference attendees.

Grandma Ruth’s Disney Guide Rule #2

May 6

The souvenir battle.

Yup, you know the one I’m talking about. Do the kids get one thing? Do they get one thing with their own money? Are parents/grandparents/aunties buying them something special?

And the biggest issue of all…Where do you draw the line?

My advice? You do it the Grandma Ruth way


Souvenirs don’t come until the end of your park trip. Then they will have seen everything there is to see and know what they have fallen Disney head-over-heels in love with. You know exactly what I mean…that one Elsa doll. That ONE stuffed dalmatian. The most awesome lightsaber ever way the heck over in Tomorrowland even though you’re all the way over in Animal Kingdom. THE ONE.

T-shirts, hats, and EARS do not count. That’s like getting socks for Christmas.

We’re talking the special toy they go home with and remember this vacation with forever. Now, here comes the fun part. You need to be sure it is what they want. You need to be super sure. You have them pretty much make up their mind that if they could only get ONE souvenir, what would it be?

Then you go on another ride and act as though you just aren’t sure but you’ll think about it, or it’s too expensive or … well, maybe they should pick something ‘smaller’ or maybe they should wait for the other park.. you get the idea?

Then you find a cast member or spouse or Nana to help. Send this person off to buy that one special something you know they want and will always keep to remember your special Disney trip forever.

In my case? It’s a Marie from the late 70′s, early 80′s. She’s stuffed and well loved and still in my room to this day. She was nick-named ‘Boo Boo Kitty’ by my uncle years ago, because she went everywhere with me. (those of you old enough to remember Laverne & Shirley will understand)

After a long day of eating ice cream and riding Pirates and It’s a Small World our rag-tag bunch of cousins and Aunts and yet even more cousins were settling in to find our spot for the fireworks. Another perfect end to another perfect Disney vacation with Grandma Ruth.

I remember we were near Cinderella’s Castle and I remember we were sitting on one of those benches that wrapped all the way around a beautiful tree or amazingly crafted topiary and my Grandma and I had an odd moment alone…what with all the cousins and cousins and did I mention all my cousins?

Of course she had done some shopping as she tended to do instead of ride the rides with us (unless it was It’s a Small World..that was her jam) and had ice cream in one hand and bags in the other.

I will never forget her pulling the whitest cat with the most perfect pink bow in her hair, the very cat I had been wanting desperately the entire vacation, out of one of those magic Disney shopping bags and gave me a wink and a kiss and made me promise not to tell the other cousins she had gotten me Marie. It was our secret.

It made not only DisneyWorld one of the most magical places on earth for me, but somehow made my Grandmother magical as well.

Grandma Ruth’s Disney Guide Rule #1

Apr 19

Everyone has their own way of doing Disney. Some insist their way is best be it budget, entirely mapped and charted schedules, or how to waltz in without a care in the world and simply go with the flow.

I don’t have too many hard and fast rules about how you must do a Disney theme park, however my grandmother taught me some valuable lessons if you want this to be as magical an experience as possible.

Rule #1: You Always, Always, ALWAYS stay on property.

My grandmother lived not too far, but not too close to Walt Disney World in Orlando, FL so growing up meant we all piled in…and by ‘we all’ I mean my Mom, brother, Aunt and two cousins- along with what might be another car including an Aunt and two cousins or an Aunt meeting us down there (down there is Michigan speak for Florida) with cousins or Aunts or more cousins magically showing up already there once we arrived OR friends of my Mom and Aunt also doing any of the above.

Occasionally we flew. But for at least every Spring Break and any other random holiday I think my Mom may have invited, we made our way to Debary, FL to see Grandma Ruth.

This meant a trip to Disney World and a trip to St. Pete near the pink hotel. Keep in mind these are childhood memories so my specifics are a bit fuzzy on which beach, which hotel, but you get the idea.

If there was one takeaway from allllllllllll of those trips to Disney World as a child it was that you stayed on property in order to take advantage of the Disney way of doing things.

In time, I realized this was a big part of the Magic.

Monorails to take you past long lines of crowds to get into the park.

Firework watching from the balcony when your baby brother just couldn’t stay awake long enough each and every night to see the display from Main Street.

Packages filled with the shopping you did each day that just magically appeared on your bed when you returned from Splash Mountain.

Riding just a few of your favorite rides in the morning and then spending lunch eating by the hotel pool, splashing and getting so sunburnt your Mom made you wear a t-shit over you bathing suit and zinc on your nose, before heading back into the parks for a few more rides, ice cream and more fun.

And how can I forget quite possibly the most important thing EVER and the BEST reason to stay on property while enjoying Disney: waffles shaped like Mickey Mouse, delivered by a nice cast member while you are still in your (usually bought the night before) Disney pjs. Whipped cream piled high and a fluffy pillow to fall back on once full, mixed with the anticipation of what might happen TODAY while my cousins ran around and we compared souvenirs- totally one of the best memories I have as a child.

Not only has not much changed when you stay on Disney property nowadays, but as an adult I see all the other perks that make that dollar sign you see when you go to book entirely worth it, versus staying somewhere close and paying to park in the lot and leaving you car there all day.

First and foremost I learned with littler kids this is an essential part of the Disney Experience. Nap times are no problem when you can simply hop a boat, bus, tram, take a short walk, or ride the monorail from special entrances and exits to and from each park to your hotel. We’ve never waited too long for transportation and these cast members are experts at every stroller invented (not to mention wheelchair, motorized or manual).

You don’t need to be the family with the cranky kids at the end of the day, struggling to make sure you get every penny’s worth of that ticket by staying through a no-nap temper tantrum no matter WHAT. All while you struggle to find more room in the back of the stroller to stuff bags (because of course you hadn’t planned on buying that much but there were things you could put away for the holidays and every locker was already taken) and wonder if you should leave early to beat the lines for the tram to get back to the car to beat the lines out of the lot.

No. Just. No.

Not only do you get what they call Magic Hours by staying at a select Disney Resort and Hotel (a different park opens early each day you are there so you can beat the crowds!) They still deliver bags to your room, or hold them at park exits – but honestly, who wants to carry those around all day?

I’ve found even if your kids are well past needing a nap or if you and your partner just want some down time, it is still the best way to go. Who doesn’t want to go back to the room, hit the spa for a mid-day massage, or open a bottle of wine on your balcony before grabbing a sweatshirt or sweater for the night festivities inside the park?

This time around we’ll be staying at Disney Yacht Club Resort- a new one for us- and I’m really excited because it’s just a short walk to a special entrance into EPCOT, our favorite. It also boasts some of the best pools on site, which is saying something.

Which means, in short, it is a grand slam for Rule #1 from Grandma.

Now I fully realize a Disney vacation is not exactly cheap.* But you get what you pay for when it comes to the experience and I can not stress enough that part of the experience is staying where you can take FULL advantage of everything Walt Disney World or Disneyland has to offer.

As it turns out, a special delivery arrived while I was writing this post:

Which leads to me to Grandma Ruth’s Rule #2…stay tuned.

*I will be attending Disney’s Social Media Mom’s Celebration in May where we have paid to attend including tickets to the park and our hotel at a discounted rate.

Disney World Done Right-Four Generations of Fun

Apr 6

I haven’t seen my Mom since summer. My Dad since Fall. My brother since summer. All just way too long with way too much need for support in between. In fact, my Mom finally just hopped a plane from coast to coast, coming to help out as I’ve been hospitalized almost every three weeks since December.

This time, it’s a bit more serious but we think we finally know the reason I’ve been so ill and we’re going to kick its sorry behind.

That means…drumroll…in May the kids and I are hopping on a jet plane and making our way in the opposite direction because my dreams have come true and I was invited to the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration. I was honored to have been invited last year when the event was held here in California, but am about 1,000 times more excited that it will be in Orlando at Walt Disney World because THAT is my Disney.

Orlando’s Walt Disney World is where my beloved grandmother took us every year, where many of my childhood dreams were realized and every memory was embedded in my heart and remains there as my reminder of her.

It also reminds me of car trips from Michigan to Florida with my Mom and Aunt driving overnight to get us to Grandma’s … we’d get a ‘car gift’ for every state line we’d cross and it was always some Disney toy to keep us busy for the trip.

My Aunt, who passed away just this summer, would make us all sweat suits with her very crafty painting and we’d all have different colors with pretty flowers painted on (this was very big in the 80′s, just trust me) and some mouse ears. (Don’t get me started about the year I got the RED sweat shirt and sweat pants and therefore in the dark could not be seen well and had to stay VERY CLOSE to all the adults while all the OTHER kids could run around…yes, I’m still mad).

Because it has been so long since I’ve been to Walt Disney World, I’m  hoping to use it as a refresher on what makes Disney special, how you do Disney RIGHT (oh, I have my ways, all taught to me by my grandmother) and I’m sure many surprises. Heck, last year Hala met her idol, Grumpy Cat at the the conference, and got to hold and play with THE GRUMPY CAT…so anything is possible.

I really wanted to be in better health by this year’s event, but sadly I’m just not as improved as I hoped I would be. But never fear! All I need is my trusty scooter and I’m off to conquer absolutely everything. Which means I can also write about the best ways to scooter Disney World.

But here is the best part- not only do I get to spend quality time with my children and some of my favorite bloggers, but I get to bring my MOM to the event and we will spent Mother’s Day together.

Her 60th birthday was in March and I wanted so badly to make it a special one for her, and time with her grandchildren really is about as special as it gets. And with the passing of her sister, my Aunt, this trip is really going to be an emotional one for us.

Plus I hear there is now rum available for your Dole Whip at Animal Kingdom and nothing gets more special than Nana with a drink in her- which just might have to happen if we are shedding too many tears.

Ironically my husband has to remain at work in Santa Monica order to finish a Disney/Marvel film in time for release. More on that soon…

In the meantime, I think it’s time to kick Disney blogging into high gear starting with Grandma Ruth’s Right Way to do Disney, Tip #1…stay tuned! And enjoy our new Kitty (also an important part of my #DisneySide, which I will explain later) hugging Princess Tiana!


Show Your #DisneySide DIGITALLY!!!!

Mar 10

Ok, get your butt over to the iTunes store and download the new #DisneySide app- I am having SO MUCH FUN turning everyone I know and love (including the dog and cat) into Disney Characters!!!!!!  Image-1-5 Image-1Image-1-6Image-1-2Image-1-4Image-1-3

Don’t Blame Mickey

Feb 25

If you timeline on Facebook or Twitter or other social media platforms hasn’t burst into a vaccination debate, or a photoshop of Mickey and Minnie with measles I’d be shocked.

It seems everyone is talking about the recent outbreak of the disease and because of it’s spread to Disneyland, some are having a grand time poking fun at my favorite mouse.

But can we cut the jokes for just a few because this is a serious health issue and Disneyland isn’t to blame, in fact, it’s just as much a victim as you or I. Any place where thousands of people gather is a potential ground zero for many things, and the spreading of a very contagious disease OF COURSE counts.

My first thought when I heard about measles at Disneyland was OMG BUT I WANT TO GO… IS IT SAFE???? I scheduled a very simple blood test with my doctor to test my immunity to measles, as I was vaccinated as a child and received a booster as a young adult, but vaccinations can fade over time. My children have been vaccinated. Should an opportunity come up to visit a Disney park I want to GO.

Luckily my doctor reports I am immune to measles (and many of the other childhood illnesses some people are choosing to skip giving vaccinations to their children for) and could safely visit any public location – with the understanding I still have a compromised immune system and public locations from the grocery store to Disney have many people who pass around many germs.carsland Those of you who are not vaccinated should avoid Disneyland and other places (like the BART in San Francisco where a confirmed measles patient rode the system while contagious) until the California Department of Public Health says otherwise.

Just because Disneyland was the place where people were exposed to measles doesn’t mean Disneyland is at fault. I mean, what is a cast member to do- check everyone entering the park for a fever? Run blood work? You’d think there was some conspiracy from the craziness online that Mickey and Minnie were out to get you sick…when nothing could be further from the truth. Mickey and Minnie take me away from my illness. They transport me to a place where we can leave my disease home and simply enjoy life.

In dreams you will lose your heartaches. Whatever you wish for, you keep after all, because you are suspending your disbelief when you enter a Disney park and the magic takes hold. At least that’s how it is for our family and will continue to be as we safely visit the Happiest Place on Earth without fear.

In the meantime I will be clicking ‘hide’ on all your posts with photos of my favorite characters covered in red bumps…because I may dream while I’m at Disney, but I prefer to live in reality while outside the park gates.

A is for Aulani

Jan 25

There are so many PRACTICAL things I want to tell you if you are headed to the paradise that is Aulani, Disney’s amazing resort and spa in Hawaii…but in my head as I type I’m simply screaming JUST GO! GO NOW! AND TAKE ME!


That pretty much sums up how wonderful it was…I can’t even write about it, because I am too busy planning how to get BACK.

First and foremost there is something just magical about the Hawaiian Islands. The people are wonderful. The islands are beautiful and rich with culture and history. I was happy stuck in traffic simply looking around at the lush hillsides and ocean nearby. What sort of nut is happy stuck in traffic?

Think about that for a second. I live in Los Angeles. I was happy stuck in traffic. Clearly this place either makes you high or insane or temporarily delusional. Or it’s just that darn nice.

After a six hour flight from LA to Honolulu, we found our shuttle driver (they have awesome signs and everything…I just love being picked up by a driver with a sign. I have no idea why. It makes me feel rich and special..) we drove about 25 minutes to the resort on the west side of the island.

As soon a we pulled in I got that stomach flip-flop feeling when you want to pinch yourself to make sure you aren’t dreaming. The family sharing the shuttle with us remarked “Oh, wow…look at this place…well this certainly isn’t our resort, we’re not staying at a place this nice.”


They asked us where we were again, and we replied “the Disney resort” and heard “oooooh, I didn’t realize it was like this…”

By this, I assume most people mean so much like a five star resort and not simply a theme park extension with nothing but screaming kids and characters.

While yes you will see the occasional Mickey in his Hawaiin shirt taking photos with the tourists, it’s only at select times in select areas. And he and the others are easily avoided if you want to play down that portion of the vacation. In fact, we only caught a glimpse of the characters a few times out of our balcony window. That was it.

Upon check in we were offered some wonderful water with tropical flavors and fruit and comfy couches to rest our travel weary bodies on as Linda, our cast member, checked on our room.

Linda immediately saw we had requested a wheelchair accessible suite and the only 1-bedroom suites she currently had ready were not wheelchair compliant. I told her that I was in much better health than when I had booked our vacation a year ago, so we didn’t need the wheelchair room.

Linda burst into tears. Got up. Hugged all of us. Hugged me a gazillion times. Made me cry. And then began all over again congratulating me and running off to get me another button to wear, this one reading that I was celebrating my good health, written in Hawaiian, of course. You know, the buttons just like they give you a one of the Disney parks.

As the tissues continued, our room magically became available and she made sure we also were given lunch accommodations at Ama Ama, the very beautiful and right on the beach restaurant. So off we went to drop off our bags and then head down to enjoy the view and some wonderful locally sourced fish and veggies with a view that made me cry all over again.


The waves rippled into the cove before us, the wind was sending the smell of plumeria occasionally wafting across the table as the kids ate fresh fish and I exhaled for the first time in 12 months.

We were officially on vacation.

Now I intentionally skipped over the “dropped off our bags” portion of the check-in process, because I wanted to take you straight to my ‘exhale’ moment. However I need to go back and explain to you just how awesome our 1-bedroom villa was.

I could live there. In fact, I would like to live there. In fact, let’s all go live there right now.

A balcony off the master bedroom. A balcony off the living room where the couch pulled out into a double bed AND under the tv another bed pulled out, which made my 9-year old the happiest girl on earth, and she called it her own and made it her little hide away for our entire vacation.

The views were perfect. We could see the coves and the ocean. We could see the pools and the people below. We could hear the music, smell the salt water and flowered’ air. We could watch the sunset from our balconies.


We had a kitchen, washer, dryer, even an eating area so we could sit and eat like a real family. Which we did for several meals before heading out to explore the resort.

I should note we spent the majority of our time at the resort. One day we left and took a boat ride to snorkel with sea turtles and dolphins…

…an awesomeness I will explain another post… but for the rest of the time we were at Aulani and soaking up every moment. There was no need to go anywhere else. Zero. Zip. Zilch.

You want a pool? There are several to choose from, including ones for adults only. You want water slides? The have those too. You want treats and drinks and SHAVE ICE and DOLE WHIP… by GOD you can have shaved ice and DOLE WHIP…with no lines.

Can you imagine no lines for Dole Whip at Disneyland? No, I can’t either.

I should also note, I’m now I shave ice addict. I crave it. I must have it. I want more NOW NOW NOW.

Ok, trying to calm down.

There are gift shops, of course. There are restaruants that range from the quick service type to the more fancy sit down type…but you can still walk in with your sundress on over your bathing suit. It’s Hawaii.

The cast members were very, very helpful. The lazy river was our family’s favorite…we would all grab tubes and just float along the little trail they made and every so often the kids would take the water slide into the lazy river and join us with a splash. It would take us through caves and the kids would try and steer our tubes right under the water falls. You know, the usual hijinks. Little pirates.


There was the beach, where you could grab a few chairs and umbrellas and sit and watch the kids wander out into the coves- all with sand bottoms where minnows and other fish would tickle their toes and they would squeal with delight and scream for you to COME SEE COME SEE and of course by the time you got over there the fish were scared off. But you might catch some very snappy crabs scurrying along the rocks between the coves. Also making the kids scream COME SEE COME SEE.

There was also paddle boarding and kayaking and Hawaiian crafts and such good food we ate and ate and just fell into the lazy river and then wandered upstairs to our room with yet another shave ice and got comfy on our beds watching the sunset and enjoying the Hawaiian music coming from below.


Sure we wandered across the street where there is a market and some other stores and places to eat. But really, it was all beach, lazy river, shave ice, balcony. Rinse, repeat.

I cried when we left. I actually, for real cried. Aulani was my dream vacation for my 40th birthday and I didn’t want it to end, ever. Much like when we visit Disney parks, we forget our troubles and just enjoy. I happily forgot my troubles and simply enjoyed.

And ate a stupid amount of this Hawaiian mistress of simple flavored snow was warm ALL THE TIME but NOT hot. And if I got hot I simply dipped my toes in a pool or into the sand or the wonderful ocean waters of the cove.

In fact, if any of you are there now, please feel free to find a way to bring me some of the magical ice with Japanese fruit flavors and condensed milk and the warm air and water that made me feel alive and pain free.

I’m not kidding.

I’ll pay you.

I’ll pay you lots.

In short, Aulani is the best family resort I’ve encountered as of yet. It will be hard to top.




















































































Nov 23

The family and I are getting ready to celebrate my 40th (and my husband’s 42nd) at Disney’s Aulani Resort & Spa in Hawaii.

I can’t even BEGIN to tell you how excited we are to be taking a trip as a family and to be headed somewhere OTHER than a doctor’s office. And the best part? It will be a birthday I will never, ever forget.

We’ve never been to Hawaii and don’t have the slightest idea where to begin…I am sure we’ll spend most of our time at the resort, but we do have a car rented for a day to explore the island a bit.

I would LOVE you recommendations on what we can do that day we have the car. Keeping in mind I can’t walk more than a mile and the sun wears me out fairly quickly. So we’re hoping for some sort of marine preserve where the kids can see sea turtles and a fabulous place for lunch.

So please, share your ideas with me as this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for us! And it’s only a few weeks away!!!!

Aloha! hockeygame1

I’m Late! I’m Late! For a VERY Important Date!

Oct 23

We had so much fun at Disneyland the other weekend I’ve been entirely too caught up in reliving the moment, I forgot to tell you.

But never fear! There is STILL TIME to enjoy what is, arguably, one of the best times to hit the parks: Halloween!

This year we had triple digit weather for the annual Vest family trip and I have to admit, it slowed us but did not stop us from having the time of our lives.

Two scooters this time around (per usual we rented from an outside vender, have them drop it at the bellhop of the Paradise Pier) leaving our bags with the bellhop and awaaaaaaay we gooooooo!

Ok we were a bit slow.

My husband was getting used to his scooter and I was just trying not to STICK to mine from the heat. We went straight over to California Adventure for a little Family Media Day party (thank you Disney!*) where we were treated to fun and games and goodies and fast passes! Then we decided we needed some Soarin’ – where my son could gaze at the many pilots who came before him and I could see and smell the wonders of our home state.


Then it was over to Disneyland where we had to admire the biggest and best pumpkin in the park


….before getting entirely soaked on Splash Mountain.


Well worth it on a hot, hot day.

Keeping mind we were still dealing with triple digits, we hits few more rides, and had a great meal at Storyteller’s Cafe, and then promptly crashed in the hotel room. The hotel room with my very, very favorite beach ball pillows. Seriously, I love those pillows. Why? I have no idea…they are just stuffed beach balls. But the first time we ever stayed at this Disney resort the kids were just over the MOON about the pillows, so whenever I see them I get all misty.

Disney does that to some of us.

The rest of the park experience didn’t last long for two of us. One little girl, and one boot wearing, scooter driving man were very, very comfy laying on those beach ball pillows and watching tv. So my son and I decided we’d go see the fireworks and spend some much needed one-on-one time out in the parks.

I have to admit, my son and I had a great time. We ended up spending most of it in the arcade in Tomorrowland where he played every game in sight, and I concentrated on the classics like Frogger and Pole Position. We also stopped in a store on Main Street I’ve always wanted to spend some time in, but never quite made it in until then…Houdini’s Magic Shop. Apparently the whole Halloween theme was entirely taking over.

My son was mesmerized by just about EVERYTHING inside, including the ‘spirit’ lights of which he just had to bring home….

It honestly was one of those nights with my first born I will never forget. He even kissed me on the cheek before we snuck into our hotel beds and thanked me for some great Mother/Son time.

Due to my delayed posting, it’s my understanding Mickey’s Trick-or-Treat Party is already sold out for the season-but call daily for cancelations. You never know when you might get lucky. If you are looking for a little magic, this is the place where it happens. So call, seriously.

I also can’t recommend enough the Happiest Haunts tour. Yes, it’s a few extra bucks, but SO MUCH FUN for anyone from 1 to 100. We walked (or in our case drove) the park with our tour guide who will show you all the hidden and not so hidden treats throughout the lands…AND, if you are lucky, you just may be joined by an extra ‘spirit’ guide. Someone you might have to get back to his/her special place of residence…let’s just say it’s a spooky mansion…befoere the park closes. Your tour will include tricks, treats, and sweets and even the VIP treatment on some of the season’s special rides. That ALONE makes it worth the money.

There really is nothing like Fall at Disneyland…except for maybe the winter holidays at Disneyland. But between the two comes something very special this year: my 40th birthday at Disney’s Aulani resort in Hawaii.

You are allll invited.
I’m not kidding. Want to come? Email me for details.

…and for that, I promise not to be late.