Thursday, August 29, 2019

A Weekend Getaway

As I've mentioned, Eliot and I have made a gallant effort to make time for ourselves this summer.  This is the first summer in a few years that I feel like we've really enjoyed it.  Usually, we're holed up in our house working on ear orders every weekend.  Of course, for us summer isn't complete without a trip to Six Flags at least once.

Earlier this summer, Eliot and I got a special deal to renew our Season Passes at a discounted rate so we jumped at the chance.  At the time, we weren't sure when we'd be able to go but for about $50 per person it was a steal.  Even if we only used them for one weekend, it was totally worth it.

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This past weekend, it was time.  We'd been planning to head down all summer and this was our last chance to go while the waterpark was still open.  It was now or ever!!!  I made our hotel reservations, we packed up Friday night when Eliot got home from work and we were off!  It's about 4 hours from here and we didn't get there until midnight, but we were getting a weekend off for a getaway and we didn't care!

We got up Saturday and had breakfast at the hotel.  They had a buffet of eggs, bacon, sausage, home fries, waffles, bagels, and more.  It was pretty good.  Plus, it was included with staying there!  Then, we got dressed and ready to head to Six Flags.

First, we went to the waterpark for about 3-4 hours.  We went into the lazy river, and hopped from pool to pool.  We relaxed on beach chairs and both of us almost fell asleep.  Eliot even went on one of the water slides.  Then, we got changed and went back into the theme park.  Eliot rode Superman 5 times over a three hour span.  He stayed in line when it broke down a few times but was rewarded by getting to sit in the front of the rollercoaster.  At about 9:00 pm, we had decided it was time to go home for the night.  We had dinner at Chili's and then went back to our hotel and to bed.

Sunday morning we got up, had breakfast, showered, packed up and checked out of the hotel.  It was cooler on Sunday so we decided to skip the waterpark.  Instead, we went into Six Flags so Eliot could ride a few rollercoasters before leaving.  He went on Wicked Cyclone while I sat in the shade enjoying the cool breeze.  Then, he took one last ride on Superman before we headed out.

Next, we made our way to the Holyoke Mall.  Eliot had reminded me that it was the location of the closest BoxLunch store to us.  (It's apparently the only one in New England... get on that BoxLunch.)  I was dying to go since I've never been to one.  Eliot had only been to a store one other time and he promised we could go since I spent about 5 hours sitting around while he was riding rollercoasters.

I'm so glad we went!  Not only was it awesome to finally go into one, but we found so many cool things!  They had a lot of the new merchandise that was debuted at D23.  I enjoyed seeing it in person.  They even had the giraffe bag I had asked Nori to get me.

I also found the Gus Gus fanny pack that I really wanted.  It sold out online within three days of me first seeing it.  Apparently, everyone was obsessed with the fanny pack's nod to Cinderella's mice friends sewing her pink dress.  I immediately went through the two they had and picked the one I wanted to take home with me.

Eliot and I found a few other items to purchase before we headed out.  Thankfully, they were running a buy one get one 50% off deal so we did pretty well.  I also had $30 in BoxLunch rewards so we used that on the Princess Dress Loungefly mini backpack that I've been drooling over for a few weeks now.

After that, we had just enough time to drive up to the Yankee Candle Village.  They close at 6:00, but we knew we'd get about an hour and a half in before they closed for the night.  We got there and immediately went to get food first.  We hadn't eaten since breakfast and at that point we both really hungry.  The pizza was delicious!

After that, we walked around the store.  If you've never heard of it, it's enormous.  It's like an IKEA for candles, home goods, bake ware, decorations, toys, etc.  The first time I went was on my 20th birthday and I fell in love with it.  This time, we didn't have too much time to wander around browsing, but we still were able to make it through all of the sections we wanted to see.

I love it so much.  There's a toy section with Santa's workshop and a countdown to Christmas next to singing elves.  Santa was even inside his house on Sunday!  I wanted to go say hi but I didn't want to disturb him.  There's a place where it "snows" every four minutes with the same snoap (soap) that Disney uses on Main Street.

My favorite part of the entire store is the village section.  My Nana has a porcelain Victorian Village that my family bought her back when I was a child.  We'd get her new pieces to add to it each year and she always let me help set it up.  It's one of my most favorite memories from Christmas... and this room at Yankee Candle is like heaven to me.  There's an entire room that's set up with different village sets from Department 56.

There's a Margaritaville village, a Charlie Brown Peanuts village, a Halloween village, a Beetlejuice village, a New England village, a Victorian village, and so many more.  I could spend hours in this room looking at all of the details.  They've used foam to make the villages look like they're on a mountainside.  They also have caves and ponds carved out of the foam.  I love getting ideas for displays that we could make.  Plus, Eliot and I always enjoy going to see the Mickey Mouse village set.

But this time, there was a new addition... a Harry Potter village!!!  It was so cute!  There aren't too many pieces in the set yet either.  Maybe it will be my next village set to collect.  I already have two of my own village sets that I worked very hard to find back when I was first out of college and making really good money at La-Z-Boy.  I have all of the Mickey's Toontown Village set and I have most of the Main Street USA Village set that were both sold at Disney Parks years ago.  (They're really hard to find and almost always expensive when you do find them on eBay!)

After getting our fill of candles and decorations, Eliot and I decided it was time to start heading home.  I got my chocolate covered Oreos (only $1 each!) and a chocolate marshmallow pop.  He grabbed a few wax melt tarts of his favorite scent that were only 50 cents each .  Then, we got two of the clearance candles of our favorite Christmas scent.  We checked out and made our way to the car with our merchandise.

I drove around the building one time before leaving the Yankee Candle Village.  They always have the most beautiful gardens around the building!  (I should have taken pictures.)  We went down the road to gas the car up and get some water.  Then, we made our way home- pulling into our driveway at about 10:00 pm.

It was a quick weekend getaway, but totally worth it!  Eliot's parents are here visiting most of this week.  Then, this weekend we'll be at my parents' house and visiting Bar Harbor over Labor Day.  Next week will be a whirlwind as I'm preparing to leave that Saturday for Walt Disney World and my Disney Cruise!  I'm really glad we took a few days to get away together and relax before these hectic two weeks!  °o°

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Going to the Drive-In

It's no secret that Eliot and I have been super busy as of late, but we've still tried to make time to have a bit of fun.  The past few summers have flown by and I typically find myself wondering where it went once the calendar switches to September.  Thus, we've been carving out time to do a few summer activities in between all of the crazy.

With all of the new Disney movies coming out over the past few months, there's been a lot of potential to go to the movie theater.  We don't usually go that often, but we've been trying to make an effort.  (Even then... it took us about a month and a half before we finally saw Toy Story 4 in theaters.)  Instead of sitting inside the theaters to see a few movies, we've been able to go to our local drive-in theater!

Going to the drive-in has always been a treat for us as neither Eliot or I went to one as children.  (I also didn't grow up near one.)  Both my parents remember going to the drive-in as kids, but we didn't go to our first drive-in movie until Eliot and I moved up to Maine.  I remember driving by the one in Saco all the time when my family used to go camping in Old Orchard Beach, but for some reason, we never went to the theater.

This summer, we were really excited as the Saco Drive-In announced their schedule and there were a few weeks with back-to-back Disney movie showings!  Plus, it's only $20 per car to see both movies... which works out to $5 for each of us per movie- that's a steal!  So not only is it a fun experience, but it's also a good way to have fun without spending a ton of money.  (Gotta save up money to visit the mouse where we can!)

We usually make a plan to meet up so we can go into the drive-in theater in Eliot's car because it's taller than mine.  (He has a Jeep Patriot.)  This summer, both times we went, we also stopped in at a local favorite of ours (Amato's) to grab pizzas, drinks and snacks.  Then, we went to the drive-in early to get a good parking spot, get settled in and to enjoy a meal before our movies start.  It makes for a nice night out together!

The first back-to-back showing that we went to was Lion King and Aladdin.

I was so excited when I found out that the drive-in was playing a double feature of Aladdin and The Lion King.  I've been dying to see Aladdin again but I knew Eliot didn't want to pay to see it in a theater for the third time.  The week we went, The Lion King was the first movie at 8:45 followed by Aladdin at 10:55.

I dressed for the occasion with my new Aladdin t-shirt from Pixie Lee & Co along with my Simba necklace from Hot Topic.  A lot of people told me that they loved my outfit.

Eliot and I had a great time, even though the movies got out super late.  It was a bit hard to see The Lion King at the drive-in the first time as it's easy to get distracted by everyone around you.  Still, we enjoyed it.  Eliot dozed a few times during Aladdin but I soaked in every single second.  It was all I could do to not sing along to the songs since I had bought the soundtrack before seeing it this time.

The second back-to-back showing we saw was Toy Story 4 and the Lion King.

We decided to return to the Saco Drive-In to see another back-to-back Disney showing of Toy Story 4 at 8:35 and The Lion King at 10:25.  We really wanted to see The Lion King as the second movie since we had a hard time seeing it on the drive-in's screen the first time around.  (It wasn't dark enough outside.)

For this Disney double-feature, I wore my Toy Story Land t-shirt from BoxLunch.  I got a lot of compliments on my shirt this time too!

Eliot and I enjoyed seeing both the movies a second time.  We caught a lot more of The Lion King this time.  I was glad to see Toy Story again, even though we'd seen it the theater just days before going to the drive-in.  It was nice to hear all of the jokes again.  This time around, I was able to catch more of them since I knew the storyline.  I was still upset at the ending, but it wasn't as harsh because I knew it was coming.

As of right now, there aren't any more Disney double features scheduled so this is probably be it for us this drive-in movie season.  Both nights were a lot of fun and I'm glad that we made a little bit of time for ourselves to take a break from orders!  °o°

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Lion King Movie Review

"Remember who you are..."

There are some movie quotes that just stay with you.  This is one of them.  Anyone who has seen The Lion King remembers the iconic words spoken by Mufasa.  That's exactly what the 2019 re-make of The Lion King did... it remembered who (or in this case, what) it was when it originally debuted in 1994.

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I was excited when I found out that Disney was making a "live-action" like version of The Lion King.  Eliot and I had seen The Jungle Book and I was amazed at how life-like the CGI animated animals were.  I was interested to see how that would play out with another CGI re-make of an iconic Disney movie.

The Lion King was pretty much the same as the original.  The greatest differences were a few of the quotes from Timon and Pumbaa, but they were hilarious.  My favorite part of the movie was actually the replacement to Timon's hula dance.  (I won't spoil it if you haven't seen the movie... but I was roaring in laughter both times I saw it.)

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Of course, the parts that were the most iconic in the original were the most iconic in this movie.  I got chills and teared up quite a bit during the opening scene with all of the animals in the Circle of Life intro.  The other part that was a bit emotional for me was when Simba takes his place as king and walks up Pride rock after defeating Scar.

I'm always a sucker for the music and costumes, but since they're all animals, there weren't any costumes to drool over.  The scenery was beautiful and life-like.  The music was good.  I'm not sure if I'll go out and buy the soundtrack but I might get it eventually.  (It wasn't like Aladdin when I left the theater on a mission to purchase a CD of the soundtrack immediately.)  I did enjoy The Circle of Life, Hakuna Matata and Can You Feel the Love Tonight.  I missed Scar's song, Be Prepared, but they way they did it made sense in this movie.  I didn't hate it, but I didn't love it either.

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I think the biggest complaint that I've read is that due to the animals "realistic" look, they aren't able to emote as well as an animated version.  I have to admit, I agree with this thought.  I wasn't sucked into the animals emotions as much because they looked like real lions.  The animals weren't able to convey feeling through the looks on their faces and that made it hard to get as into it as I was in the original 1994 movie.

Overall, I enjoyed the re-make of The Lion King.  The animators did a great job of making the movie look like it was filmed in Africa with real animals.  Did it leave room for improvement?  I wouldn't say that, but I wasn't as emotionally invested as I was in the original.  I'm sure that I'll watch it again but it probably won't be one of the Disney movies that I watch on repeat over and over again.  °o°

Friday, August 23, 2019

A Wanna Be Where the People Are... D23 Expo 2019

I wanna be, where the people are.  I wanna see, wanna see the show floor...

The 2019 D23 Expo in Anaheim, California is officially underway.  Starting today, and throughout the weekend, thousands of Disney fanatics will descend upon the Anaheim Convention Center to witness the spectacular event filled with Disney magic.

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Unfortunately, we're missing out as Eliot and I made the difficult decision to skip it this year.  With my travel agent cruise days away, and our 2 back-to-back cruises in December, it just wasn't feasible.  I'm ok with the decision even though I'm a bit sad, especially since we're not sure if we'll be able to go in 2021.  I guess time will tell.

There are so many fun things to experience at the D23 Expo.  Here are a few of the things that I'm going to miss about not being there in person:

Show Floor- The Show Floor has tons of different booths from the different studios (Pixar, Disney, Star Wars, Marvel), different vendors, and more.  It's fun just to walk around the giant space with nothing but Disney everywhere.  It really is like going into the Oh My Disney website from Ralph Breaks the Internet.

Exhibits- This is one of my favorite parts.  This year, there's an entire 12,000 square foot exhibit of costumes from live action Disney movies and television shows.  Oh my gosh... the costumes and the details.  I could literally have spent hours just in there.

Panels and News- This is the main event where Disney releases information about their theme parks and upcoming movies.  There are also panels where you can usually see some of the actors from the movies.  Last D23 Expo, Eliot's sisters and I went to the Princess panel and we got to listen to interviews with the ladies who play the voices of Moana, Tiana, Ariel and Belle!  It was so cool!

Fan Costumes- This is so much fun.  I love seeing the creative costumes!  People get really into it and the designs are so much fun!  I can't wait to stalk Instagram.

Cool Photo Ops- There are so many cool photo ops with props and more.  At the 2017 expo, they had Scrooge's Money Bin where you could jump into it and they took your photo.  This year, they have Sharpay's pink car from the High School Musical movies.  I've also seen a few fun photo backdrops.  And the Pixar Ball Wall is back!!!

Once in a Lifetime Experiences- There are also fun once-in-a-lifetime experiences like seeing Alan Menken in concert.  This was so cool that Eliot and I went to it twice last time.  We also got to take a photo with the cast of Descendants 2.

Merchandise- Finally, the merchandise.  My wallet is overjoyed that I'm home this year.  At D23, it's so tempting to spend money on limited edition merchandise.  I usually find myself with twice as much stuff as I really would have wanted.  Luckily, I won't miss out on this totally because my mother-in-law is en route as I type this.  Nori is going to the expo today and tomorrow.  Eliot and I wrote up a short list of things we wanted to her to try to get for us.  Thankfully, since we're not there in person, we won't be tempted more than we already have been.

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While I'm pretty bummed out that we're missing the D23 Expo this year, I know it's for the best.  Plus, it's not as bad as 2015 when Eliot was able to go and I had to stay home.  I wish I was there but since I'm not... I'm going to have a lot of fun reading everyone's reports from it!  If you're there, let me know what your favorite part is!  °o°

Friday, August 9, 2019

Haunted Mansion 50th

Welcome Foolish Mortals!  Today is the 50th Anniversary of one of my favorite Disney attractions, the Haunted Mansion!  It's been 50 years since the Haunted Mansion first started welcoming foolish mortals to it's haunted halls on August 9th, 1969.

Photo Source: Disney Parks Blog
The Haunted Mansion is my all time favorite Disney ride- along with Pirates of the Caribbean.  They're like kids... how can I pick a favorite?  But, if I really had to, it would be the Haunted Mansion.  I've always loved it.  I think it wins top spot because of the little details.  I love going through the mansion and seeing all of the rooms decorated.

We love the mansion so much that Eliot and I took a few of our Magic Kingdom wedding photos in front of the Magic Kingdom's Haunted Mansion!  I was so excited that we had time for it.  We only got to do one pose, but it was a lot of fun!  I'm so glad our photographer Stephanie was able to do this for us!  I'm a ghost... your ghost host!

Disney hasn't always had a lot of attraction merchandise available to purchase.  Thus, I've made quite a few Haunted Mansion designs for Happily Ever Hatter over the past 6-ish years.  (I'm also working on a few new designs!)  The Haunted Mansion inspired designs are some my favorites that I've made, but I think that my absolute favorites are my Haunted Mansion Maid and Butler ear hats.  They're so much fun!  I can't wait to put them in a display with our Haunted Mansion Portrait figures!

Thankfully, over the past few years, Disney has made it easier to bring something home other than the hitchhiking ghost that's following you home.  They've opened a dedicated Haunted Mansion store at the Magic Kingdom (Memento Mori) which has housewares, figurines, artwork, clothing, accessories and more!

Eliot and I have bought a few Haunted Mansion items over the years.  We absolutely love our Haunted Mansion cast member shirts.  We even wore them as our "costumes" to Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party in 2015.  We had a great interaction with Captain Jack Sparrow thinking we belonged "back over at the creepy house".

I'm really excited for all of the new stuff coming now that it's the 50th Anniversary this year!  I think I'm most excited for the new Disney Dress Shop dress!  However, I've also heard rumors that there will be merchandise outside of Disney- like at Hot Topic and BoxLunch.  I can't wait to see what's available!  Although, my wallet is terrified...

Happy Birthday Haunted Mansion!  May you have many more years of ghoulish delight!  Hurry back... hurry back... be sure to bring your death certificate!  °o°

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Toy Story 4 Review

Eliot and I did it... we FINALLY saw Toy Story 4 over the weekend!!!  I've been looking forward to seeing this movie all summer.  Yet, when I saw social media posts about how many of my friends cried when they saw it... I realized that maybe I shouldn't be in such a rush to have my heart ripped out of my chest.  I'd already bawled my eyes out at the end of Toy Story 3 after all.  Naturally, Eliot and I have been crazy busy, but we finally set aside some time to go to the movie theater to see it.

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I was correct in my assumption that it would be an emotional movie.  Thankfully, we were at the super late movie and there were only four groups in the theater- all young adults.  I don't mind going to movies with kids in the audience, but I wanted to really soak this movie in.  And I didn't want to be sobbing in front of a bunch of children who wouldn't get the deep emotional connection that we have to the characters.  After all, these characters have been part of our lives for 24 years.

I liked the movie... I want to say that I loved it, but the ending shook me.  However, it was everything that I expected it to be.  I can't say that I was surprised by the ending.  I think deep down, I knew it was coming.  I had heard that this was being considered the last of the Toy Story movies... unless they found a really good story to tell for a 5th installment.  I won't lie, I'd love to see another movie 10 years from now with Andy somehow getting Woody and the gang back to give to his children.  Talk about tears!

The animation was spectacular.  It never ceases to amaze me how animators can make the toys and world totally come to life.  You can see the world from a human perspective, but they flawlessly make you enter the world from a toys point of view as well.  The montage with Andy and Bonnie and the toys was beautiful.  It was a great way to recap everything that had happened over the past 3 movies.

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The new characters in Toy Story 4 were fun.  I found myself growing more attached to them than I have with the introduction to Bonnie's toys and the Sunnyside Daycare toys.  Ducky and Bunny were so funny.  They brought a lot of much needed humor to the storyline.  I also enjoyed Duke Caboom, Giggle McDimples and Bo Peep's sheep- Billy, Goat and Gruff.  It was also nice to see Bo Peep in a strong female role.

My absolute favorite part of the story was Forky.  I knew that I'd love him.  I could tell from the previews that he would be funny.  I found myself roaring with laughter at his antics.  He had the best lines.  I couldn't help but fall for the cute little utensil.  And the ending scene in the credits with Bonnie's other new toy... priceless.

My love for Forky was so strong that we'd already bought a few Forky things before I'd even seen the movie.  I have a keychain that my brother Jeremy gave me.  Eliot and I bought a few Pop Vinyl figures.  Then, I bought us matching Forky t-shirts a few weeks ago.  Eliot surprised me with a little Forky figurine when he came home from work one night.  And another night he brought home a Toy Story 4 t-shirt for me and a Forky t-shirt for himself.  In fact, we wore those when we went to see the movie!

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All-in-all, I did enjoy the movie.  I can't say that it's one of my favorites but I did like it.  It was a great way to tie everything up for the characters.  And, as much as the ending completely broke my heart, it was the only way to end the story.

Thank you Woody, Buzz and gang for welcoming us into your world and giving us 24 years of magic.  I will always love you to infinity and beyond.  °o°

Thursday, August 1, 2019

August 2019 Calendar

Happy August Friends!  The dog days of summer have arrived here in Maine.  We've had multiple 90+ degree days over the past few weeks.  In fact, the past three days, Eliot and I have left the air conditioners running continuously.  Even when it cools off at night and the temperatures dip into the 60's or 70's, it's still not enough to keep the house cool.  I definitely don't want to wish the rest of summer away, but I'm looking forward to cooler nights and less mosquitoes.  But, there's still a lot of summer fun to be had this month!  I better get to planning using my August calendars!

I'm so humbled and honored to continue the tradition of posting my free printable calendars for other Disney fans to enjoy.  This is my 5th year!!!  I started making these back when I started my blog in 2014.  I first designed them as a way to track Eliot's and my RunDisney training and it's come so far!  I was so happy with how they turned out that I had to share them with everyone else.  To date, my printable calendars have been used for Disney trip countdowns, Disney themed classrooms, training calendars for runDisney events and to surprise kids with a Disney vacation!

Here's the link to download the August 2019 PDF version of the printable.

Here's the link to download the Blank August 2019 PDF version of the printable.

Feel free to link this post up to Pinterest or Facebook so your friends and family can have a fun Mickey and Minnie calendar too!  Let's spread the Disney Magic!!!  °o°

Note: I've made calendars through 2019.  I don't post the PDF links on my blog until the beginning of each month.  If you're looking for a particular month and would like me to email it to you ahead of my post going live, you can send my blog an email at mydisneylifeblog[at]  I'll send you the PDFs directly as soon as I can!  :-)