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!

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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…
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…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.

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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.

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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.

 

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Aloha!

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.

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

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….before getting entirely soaked on Splash Mountain.

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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….
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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.
QueenMediaLLC@gmail.com

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

Do You Want to Build a Princess?

Sep 15
Elsa

I have a bit of a confession.

My daughter pretty much could care less about all the Disney Princesses and I’m not happy about it. Go ahead, lecture me.

I know, I know…I should be thrilled, right? She doesn’t want to be saved by the Prince (although, to be fair, not many Disney Princesses are saved by the man these days) she doesn’t want to wear the big dress and she could care less if she inherits a kingdom.

Can I just say, for the inner 9-year old in me, WHAT THE HELL???!!!!

I want a castle and a title and a TIARA and I don’t CARE if it’s anti-feminist or anti-whatever. Actually, none of those things are inherently anti-feminist because I WANT them, or for what they are…they are just a bit old fashioned maybe.

There was a time when my little girl would be all excited about the Bibbity Bobbity Boutique at Disney World or Disneyland and spend WEEKS trying to decide which dress and hairstyle she would choose…I swear. It happened once. Or twice. Maybe with my encouragement. Ok maybe with a lot of my encouragement.

And now? Now with Halloween around the corner and this AMAZINGLY FANTASTIC Queen Elsa dress she’s all ‘I want to be Grumpy Cat and hiss at people’ when she goes trick or treating.

Queen Elsa

Again…WHAT THE HELL????!!!!

I am so very proud of the young woman she is becoming. I truly am. I didn’t expect her to be just like me, or even half like me. I guess I just thought most little girls dreamed of being Queens. A vault of crown jewels. A really big closet filled with amazing dresses.
Did I mention the CROWNS?

I’m HAPPY to skip the whole Prince thing…doesn’t she want the power? The adoration of citizens of the country she rules? THE MANY TIARAS?

I don’t get it. I really don’t.

Do they make Queen Elsa dresses in a size .. errr… Mom?

No Request is Too Extreme

Aug 25
Dumbo

Ever want someone to love something as much as you do? To feel that feeling you feel when you feel allllllll the feeeeeelllls?

Ok that sounded creepier than I meant. Let me try again.

I had the privilege of taking my Goddaughter to Disneyland for her 1st ever visit. I wasn’t sure if she liked anything Disney past “childhood nostalgia” when I began planning our trip, I just knew that in times of crisis, or hurt, or pain, or in this case…the death of her Nana, my Aunt…Disney is my family’s escape.

It helps us leave reality behind and just focus on each other. Focus on fun. Focus on laughter and love and family.

But even bringing Birdy to Disneyland for that escape was going to pose a bit more of a challenge than I had realized. You see my childhood is wrapped up with her Mom, my Aunt, my other cousins, my Grandmother, my Mom and brother…in fact there isn’t a single part of Disney that I don’t associate with the family who was around as we watched every movie, as we got on every ride, as we were given special souvenirs by our grandmother. As my Aunt drove all of us kids down in her station wagon, my Mom passing out toys and gifts as drove over each state line.

In other words, this wasn’t just an ordinary trip to Disney*. It was a heavy trip. One that had to bring the magic, and bring it big.

Her first time. Both of us still grieving. Memories surrounding me to the point of near suffocation. Uncertainty of a different life awaiting her at home.

Was I just setting us up for disappointment? I mean, one trip to a theme park can’t solve all our problems. But it might make things feel a bit brighter for awhile.

You tell me:

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Birdy & the family as she sees Sleeping Beauty’s castle via Main St. USA for the 1st time.

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Her favorite movie is Peter Pan, guess what her favorite ride was?

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Birdy meets Eeyore. Shortly after Tigger snuck up behind her and raspberries her in her in the ear. It was pretty darn funny. Sneaky Tigger!

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I guess that means Splash Mountain is next, here’s where the teen is ready for the thrills

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We forced her to endure the cheesy Jungle Cruise jokes, because you just must

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We combined forces to try and beat Aaron at Buzz Lightyear’s ride…we lost, again.

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Dingglehoppers eating dinner at Ariel’s Grotto

The night ended as it should, with warm churros and fireworks and classic Disney songs that gave you goosebumps while memories flooded back.

We had done nearly everything. The Haunted Mansion, Pirates- my Aunt’s favorite. Admittedly my sunglasses needed to stay on for that one for a bit, tears continuing to well in my eyes. And even her favorite, Peter Pan, was ridden twice…

We slept soundly, snuggling newly bought Pooh & Piglets, Marie & Lady, even a special pin with Mickey marking my son’s first flight lesson was given a place of honor on the bedside table.

As everyone quickly drifted off to Neverland I was convinced reality was left behind, if just for a little while. Everyone seemed content. Full. Happy.

My suspicions confirmed in the morning. As we all begrudgingly packed and readied to leave I heard,

“Auntie Erin, can we just LIVE here? I feel like this is just where we should be, on a spiritual level.”

And I exhaled. Mission accomplished. Although something tells me I had a little help from above. But that’s why we go…it’s where magic happens, and healing begins.

Birdy not only found the second star to the right, she pulled it into her heart and will keep it there, always.

Besides, when you wish upon a star, makes no difference who you are, anything your heart desires will come to you.

*Thank you Disneyland PR for media access to the parks for our family.

She’s Never Been to Disney

Jul 25

My Goddaughter is visiting California this summer…and she has just told me she’s never been to a Disney theme park.

Never to Disney World.

Never to Disneyland

You know what this means, right?

Jenna

Run!

Jun 3

I want to run in one of these runDisney things so bad it hurts.

PHYSICALLY HURTS.

While I’m getting better, it’s still a long road to ‘running’Land. So Im working out in the pool.  I’m swimming and doing my doctor prescribed physical therapy.. blah blah blah. But really, I’m dreaming about picking out some cute costume and running across a finish line that includes Disney characters.

Hey, we all have our motivations. Mine is a Disney run.

Disneyland has announced a Star Wars run  in January.

Maybe, just maybe….

Why yes I AM going to treatment in a braid and pjs #suckit

The Magic, Fancy Memories That Flood Back

May 10
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I have this vague recollection about a trip we took to Disney World with my family…but in my younger years. So that would have meant my Grandmother, who lived in Central Florida, would have been involved or taken us.

I remember becoming entirely in love with this maroon/pink umbrella, or parasol. It had my name on it- and believe me, back when I was a little girl I was one of the only ‘Erin’s’ around. So being able to get something with my name on it was a very big deal.

But it wasn’t just that it had my name on it, there were also pretty flowers. Hand painted. I can vividly remember it being my pride and joy for so very long after the trip. I would twirl it around, laying it on my shoulder like I was Scarlett taking a stroll on a warm Southern day.

Or I was holding it high in the air, pretending the wind would carry me away and just like Mary Poppins it would magically, and gently set me down.

It made me feel special, but more than that…it made me feel fancy. There was something about Easter time and wearing a bonnet and having a parasol. We had always taken those trips in the Spring.

So years ago on a trip to Disneyland I spotted the stand where I could see an artist recreating what I had so, so loved as a child…those beautiful parasols. I quickly ordered one for my daughter, who…being maybe 18 months at the time quickly destroyed it.

Then came our latest trip to Disneyland for the Social Media Mom’s Celebration. I knew it was finally the right time to try this again, and even if my daughter showed little interest or destroyed it once again…I was getting MYSELF one too.

So purple for Hala and the very same maroon/pink for me. Our names in cursive. The flowers just perfect. And just like that I was transported back to feeling fancy in Florida and then back home in Michigan.

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It now makes me feel fancy at our home in California where I’ve added it to my growing Small World doll collection. (China, India, Kenya, and a very old one with a key from Poland. The ride was my grandmother’s favorite and my mother’s) All memories that just make me smile every time I enter my bedroom.

They take me back to when something as simple and wonderful as a hand painted umbrella could make a young girl dream of bigger things. Of how I would need a larger one when I was an adult because of course only fancy ladies used them…of how my grandmother and mother had a hand in making sure I finally had something with my name on it because I was never included in the tourist keychains or A-Z named orange bobble heads from the roadstop gift shops. No, I had something even better.

And I was fancy.

*I was invited to attend the DSMM Celebration. I paid my own conference fees and received gifts during the conference. All opinions, experiences and thoughts are my own.