My First Adventures By Disney Vacation is Booked! FINALLY

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I am extremely excited to announce that after many years of trying, our very first Adventures by Disney vacation is now officially booked!  FINALLY!

Here is my Adventures by Disney story…….

About 3-4 years ago, I got the bug to want to travel Internationally for the first time.  Neither my husband or I had ever traveled outside of the country and although I am terrified of flying, something just clicked in me that made me decide that it was time!  Being a Disney Vacation Club member, I often get various Disney information in the mail.  One day I received an brochure that contained information about all sorts of glorious vacations (both International and Domestic) that were provided by Adventures By Disney.  I started flipping through the catalog and came across the pages for a trip of a lifetime to Germany.  I was instantly hooked… bait, line and sinker.  They showed the most amazing pictures of visiting beautiful castles (Neuschwanstein Castle: the castle that  Walt Disney himself used as motivation for Sleeping Beauty Castle), taking a Berlin Wall bicycle tour, learning to make pretzels, brewery visits, chocolate factory tours and of course, lots of yummy German food.  I was in a vacation  haze.  The trip would start in Munich and end in Berlin with stops in Rothenberg and Bamberg.    As fabulous as all this was, it was all wrapped up in a big red bow by adding the fact that this all was accompanied by all the Disney magic one would expect.  They would take care of all the transportation, excursions, many of the meals and hotel check-ins.  Being the person in our household that plans all vacations and events (which I do enjoy doing), it was still such a wonderful thought to realize that we could book this vacation and that is all I would have to do.  They planned EVERYTHING.  We just had to basically show up.  What a nice break that would be for me.
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Although I was completely on board 100%, my husband…. not so much.  This could be because I basically came home one day and said, “I am booking this trip to Germany”.  Not very nice of me to not include him in the decision making.  There were also all sorts of other wonderful locations we could go (Ireland, Italy, Switzerland, London, etc.).  His response was “OK” and he went about his business.  He never showed a great deal of excitement, but I felt I was excited enough for the two of us, so I went ahead and booked the trip.  A booking which included a $1000.00 deposit.

The trip was booked for the following year.  I continued to be super excited about the whole experience and kept reading the itinerary and continued to try and get my husband to rise to my excitement level (he was excited about the Berlin Wall Bike, but that’s all I could get out of him).   As the months passed by and the trip started getting closer, in true Tammy fashion, I realized that I had committed to more then I could afford and there was just no way I was going to be able to swing this trip.  We decided that we would postpone one year and go the following year.  I was pretty devastated, but my husband seemed okay with it all.

I postponed the trip to the following year.  During this time, we decided that we were going to get MARRIED!  Finally, after 14 years, we were going to take the leap and become husband and wife.  At first we thought we would just make the Germany trip our honeymoon, but as the wedding expenses started getting higher (amazing how much a wedding costs, even when you go relatively cheap),  I realized once again that we were not going to be able to swing the cost of the trip.  By this time, my husband was starting to get on board with the idea, so we were both disappointed, but we had the wedding to look forward to, so again, the trip was postponed to the following year.

This brings us to the year that I found out I would be going to France for a month for work.  I’m sure you can see where this is headed… there was no way I was going to be gone for a month in France and then turn around and take this elaborate trip back over to Germany.  Unfortunately, by this time, Disney had enough of our postponing and we had to forfeit the $1000.00 deposit.

So, life went on and I continued dreaming about eventually taking an Adventures By Disney vacation (to any location).  Which brings us to a month ago when out of the blue, I received an email saying that if we did not confirm and book a reservation by end of April (for travel within 2019) that our reservation would be forfeited.  Hmmmm… the reservation I already thought had been forfeited had now returned?!?!  This was such amazing news.  Now the problem was that we had to figure out which Adventures By Disney vacation we could afford to do in such sort notice.  They have what they call “short escape” trips which are usually 3-4 nights long.  We narrowed it down to Boston, New Year, Montana or good ole’ faithful Disneyland.  After much financial debate  (remembering that 2019 is supposed to be my getting out of debt year), we compromised and decided to do the Disneyland Resort and Southern California Short Escape.  Now this may seem silly, since this is only 6 hours from our home and because we have been to Disneyland more times than I can count.  However, I look at it this way.  1.) We are FINALLY getting to do an Adventures by Disney vacation.  I truly believe that once my husband sees the amazing service that is going to be provided, he is going to be as hooked on these Disney trips as I already am.
2.) We go to Disneyland every October anyway.  Instead of losing the deposit (again), it made more sense to put the deposit towards a trip we were already planning on taking.

So what makes the Adventures By Disney trip different then just going to Disneyland on our own?  Well, to start with, it’s the whole special treatment thing that Disney is so famous for.  We will get to stay in Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, which we have stayed at once before, but is just to pricey for a normal yearly trip.  Plus, even with all of our previous Disneyland trips, we will get to do some special things that we have never done before.  The group will get a special visit into Walt Disney’s apartment that is on Main Street above the fire house.  I knew that it existed, but I never thought I would get to go inside.  I’m almost giddy at the thought.  Plus we will get a special backstage tour of the park and a private tour of the Walt Disney Studios.  They will arrange character breakfasts and special dinners.  We will also get to have VIP entrance to the park (hopefully cutting down on those crazy long lines that we always end up standing in).

To say that I’m excited is an understatement.  I cannot wait for October to get here.  I am pretty positive that after the trip is over, we will end up booking another Adventures By Disney trip right away.  It’s really crazy because I’m normally the one that is very apprehensive and gets anxiety when put in a situation where things are new or unknown, however, when it comes to travel, it is my husband who turns into that person.  He is always a little reluctant about things until we actually do them and then is get so excited!  This happened with cruising.  I took him on his first cruise and now he wants to go every year!

We’ll be seeing you real soon Mickey!

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My Story: 365 day blog challenge Day 33

365 Day Blog Post Challenge 2019
Day 33
37. Your 10 greatest joys are….

My 10 greatest joys in no particular order:

1.) Random texts from those I love just saying they are thinking of me
There is just something so special about getting a random text from someone for no other reason then because they wanted to say they were thinking of you.  It does not happen often, but the few times this has happened, it not only brings me that instantaneous joy, but also puts me in a good mood for the rest of the day.  Just recently I was having a not-so-great day at work and out of the blue, I received a text from my god-daughter saying that she just wanted to say she loved me and missed me and that she hoped I was having a good day.  I found it interesting that she just happened to send that text on a day when I was having a rough time.  It made me smile from ear-to-ear and it pulled me out of the funk I was in.  It just goes to show that the smallest things can bring another person such joy.  We should all do more to bring joy to others life.  I love that girl.

2.) Taking pictures and revisiting those memories
I love taking pictures.  I have my camera (yes I still go old-school style and have an actual camera) or my cell camera out taking pictures wherever we are.  It does not matter the event or vacation, you can be assured that I will have pictures to document the memories.  The importance of documenting moments with photos is extremely high on my list.  Although I have pretty much always been that person that has her camera out snapping shots, the importance really hit me just recently when we attended a memorial for my friends husband.  During the celebration of life ceremony after the service, they showed the most wonderful slide show with photographs spanning his whole life.  It made me realize that this is exactly why I do what I do.  I take pictures so that down the road, I (or others) can look back and revisit the experiences that were important enough to for me to take the time to photograph them.
For a while I was big into making the photobooks of each individual event and adventure. There are times when I will just sit down and look through them all and remember all the wonderful memories.  With all the pictures I have, I probably could make another 200 books and still not be finished, but I am determined to try.
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3.) Disney
I have no other words then Disney brings me joy.  Pure and complete joy.  I cannot walk into any Disney location without instantly being overwhelmed with happiness and a strange sense of calmness.  I think the calmness comes from the fact that in everyday life I am very anxious and high strung.  Disney is one of the few places that all of those feelings vanish and I can just be at peace and enjoy everything around me.  Granted, I am not a big fan of crowds or screaming children.. and outside of Disneyland it would pose a problem, but inside Disneyland I seem to be more tolerable of the things that cause me anxiety in everyday life.

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4.) Planning Vacations
Yes, planning vacations brings me joy.  I know for some it is stressful, but for me, it is often one of the best parts of vacationing.  I love the organizing, the searching around for new and interesting things to do and the hunt for good deals.  I love keeping binders with reservation printouts and google map directions (I know.. there is GPS on the phone.. but what can I say, I’m a paper person.  I like to hold that piece of paper in my hand rather then the phone).

5.) Taking vacations
Getting away from life, whether it be for 1 day or 9 just makes me a much happier person.  My husband and I don’t often get to vacation on our own.  We are usually with various other people.  So part of the joy of vacationing for me is that during all of the pre-planning, I try and make sure that I am able to do special things to make vacations special for others.  If we can go on vacation with other people, and I can in someway make their experience better by having something planned that is going to bring them joy.. then that brings me joy.

6.) My alone time
My work offers the option of working a 9/80 schedule.  This means that I work all of my 80 hours in 9 days and then I get a day off every other week.  I find a lot of joy on that every-other Friday off when I get have some quality alone time.  I personally think it’s important to spend time alone.  It gives your time to decompress and get some much needed space.  This is a difficult part of my relationship with my husband, because he is the opposite.  He does not like to be alone.. ever.  So he does not understand why I find so much joy in being by myself.  I think after 15 years he is finally starting to get it, but it still can be difficult.  I try to explain to him that sometimes a person just needs to have time to sit and watch old reruns of their favorite show without someone else there giving comminatory about how stupid they think it is.

7.) Having time to work on hobbies 
Since extra time is not something that I have a lot of, I usually don’t give myself the opportunity to spend time doing things that I enjoy.  As mentioned above, I love pictures.  So this has created an obsessive hobby of photobook making and scrapbooking.  I recently started getting into a form of scrapbooking called Project Life.  I purchased a ton of products to get started, but have yet to find the time to actually sit down and do it.  So, on the rare occasion I have time to do any type of hobby, it brings me a lot of joy.  It could be that I find more joy in it because the time I get to spend doing it is so rare.

8.) Paying off a bill
Having been in debt for so much of my life and always having those credit card bills hanging over my head, there is an extreme since of joy when a bill gets paid off.  I wish I could say that over the course of the last 35 years that once I paid off a bill, it would stay “paid off”, but that unfortunately wouldn’t be the truth.  Even though I know the joyous feeling of paying them off, it still apparently is not enough to keep me from charging them back up again.  I have gotten much better and this is the year of my debt free journey, so here is hoping that I have that feeling of joy more and more often in the upcoming months.

9.) Socks
There is not a lot to say about this one.  I have no explanation for my strange fixation for socks.  But they do bring me joy.  Socks are comforting to me.  I wear them all day and all night (minus the few times I wear sandals or go to the beach/pool).  I wear them to bed regardless if the weather is 45 degrees of 100 degrees.  I know it sounds crazy, but I just feel very uncomfortable without them.  I actually despise the feel of sheets against my feet.  You know the shivery feeling  you get with nails on a chalkboard?  That is how I feel when I have to have sheets rub against my feet.   Hey… what can I say… I’ve never tried to pretend I don’t have some serious “issues”.

10.) Lists:  making them and crossing things off of them
Sheldon Cooper said it best….”If there were a list of things that made me more comfortable, lists would be on the top of that list”.  How true that is.  Lists do all sorts of things for me.  They not only bring me joy, but they bring me comfort and a sense of calmness.  I would be lost without my lists.  I have them everywhere.  I have work lists, personal lists, grocery lists, food planning lists, money budget lists…. need I go on?  I clearly am obsessed with lists.  The only thing more joyful then making the list is crossing something off of it when you have completed a task.

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My Story: 365 day blog challenge Day 13

365 Day Blog Post Challenge 2019
Day 13
251. What makes you excited?

It seems as we get older, we tend to lose that ability to get excited about a lot of things.  I am no different then most.  I do not have a whole lot of situations in my life that make me feel excited.  Most of the things that make me excited are silly small things that most would find a little odd.

I get excited about getting into a freshly made bed with nice clean sheets.  There is something so comforting about the clean-crisp feeling and smell of fresh sheets.  I always sleep best on these nights.

Another thing that makes me excited are new socks.  I love socks.  I wear socks all the time.  Day and night, regardless of the weather.  It can be 100 degrees outside and you will find me wearing socks.  The only few times I don’t have socks on are when I am at the pool, the beach or the occasional time I wear sandals or heels.

I want to say that travel is something that gets me excited.  Internally I struggle between excitement and anxiety when we are about to travel.  I am definitely excited when planning the travel.  Once the day actually arrives however, the excitement changes to a pretty intense anxiety.  We don’t even have to be flying for the anxiety to hit.  Even if we are going on a road trip, the act of actually leaving is enough to trigger it.

If I had to pick one thing that I could honestly say brings me excitement each and every time it would be walking through he gates of Disneyland (or Disneyworld).  I turn into an 8 year old girl every single time we are about to enter a Disney park.  Seeing the castle for the first time on each trip always brings me this giddy excitement.  It is the only place where for a brief time I can forget about the real world and all the stress and drama.  My anxiety is distinguished and I can simply relax and enjoy.
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Paris Memories Part 2: Disney

Photo Jun 09, 12 04 27 AMI would imagine when most plan their very first international trip to Europe, their first thoughts don’t necessarily think of Disney.  Cathedrals, museums, and monuments maybe, but Disney?  I guess it takes a true love of all things Disney to be that person that gets excited when they first learn they are going to Paris simply because there is a Disneyland there.

I recently wrote about the special memories I had from my first day in Paris when I went on my walking food tour.  I would have to say that having the opportunity to visit Disneyland Paris tops the list of my amazing Paris experience.  I was lucky enough to get to share the day at Disneyland Paris with my cousin Jeannette.  She flew in to spend a week with me.  This was actually one of our last adventure days before she left to go home.  A good way to end things with a bang as far as I’m concerned (although I didn’t let her stay to watch the fireworks, because I was so exhausted…. so maybe it wasn’t much of a “bang” after all).  🙂

Now I admit I had some pretty grand notions of what my Paris Disneyland experience was going to be like.  I was so excited that I spoke about it often to my coworkers prior to the anticipated date.  I was only slightly deterred by them telling me that if I frequented California Disneyland, I would most likely be disappointed with the Paris version.  Seriously… how could one every be disappointed with Disney?  I would not let my excitement be squashed.  I was going to go and experience the Disney magic in all of its glory.

My first thoughts of Paris Disney?  I will admit, I was a little surprised at the size.  Having been to Disneyland in California hundreds of times, and Walt Disneyworld in Florida 4-5 times, it was in fact smaller.  However, I found it very charming.  And that castle… SERIOUSLY?  Being a native California girl, I feel like I’m being a traitor when I say that this castle is way more spectacular then the one in California.  The outside has much more of that fairytale look, not to mention the inside has a fire breathing dragon!  I seriously got goose bumps.

I was very excited to see that not only did they have some rides that they do not have in California or Florida, but they also had some modifications to similar rides.  For instance, The Indian Jones ride in California is completely different then Paris.  Not really knowing much about the Paris version of the ride, I of course was willing to check it out and give it a try.  Little did I know that the ride in Paris is actually a roller coaster that goes upside down (I don’t do upside down!).  We were already to the front of the line when this was discovered, so I had to suck it up and go on.  It wasn’t to terrible and I’m definitely glad I tried it…. at least once.

I wouldn’t be doing the day justice if I didn’t mention the Raratouille ride. Although they don’t have this in California or Florida, I was still much anticipating this one after watching many YouTube videos about Disney Paris.  This ride was super cute and has you being chased around inside your little rat-mobile as if you yourself were a rat.  Adorable!

Although I believe there are pretty mixed feelings about the It’s a Small World ride, I personally love it.  It’s is one of the few rides that lasts more then 30 seconds and is a wonderful place to rest your feet after walking all day.  The Paris version was great because we got to see a larger section on America which was pretty cool.

There were many times in the day when I would get lost in the Disneyness of things and forget that I was in another country.  Disney is such a familiar place for me, that it was easy to feel at home there, even though I was thousands of miles away.
There were certain rides that would pull me back to reality though.  Although I was in Paris, and shouldn’t have expected otherwise, I still found it fascinating to go on some of the more familiar rides (Buzz Lightyear, Snow White and the Seven Drawfs and Pirates of the Caribbean for example) and have them be speaking French.  It was a reminder that I wasn’t in California this time!

As for my general opinion of the park, I would say it was well worth the hour and a half train trip there.  Would I do it again?  ABSOLUETLEY (because that would mean I would get another trip to Paris).
Specifics on my park experience?  The food was… well I’d rank it as “okay”.  I didn’t eat anything that made me say “wow”.  With that being said, I didn’t eat anything that wasn’t decent either.  My only regret is that we didn’t make reservations to eat in one of the theme restaurants like Bistrot Chez Remy.  I believe that would have heightened the eating experience a lot.  The crowds….  average for Disney.  I would say maybe slightly more wait time in line at the rides, which could simply be that the park itself is smaller.

Overall, a total thumbs up!  IF I ever get to return, my hope is to stay in the Disneyland hotel that is actually located directly OVER the entrance of the park.  Can you imagine the amazing views from your room at night when all the lights come on?  That is something that is going on my bucket list.

I am not sure if I would ever be able to find anything negative about Disney.  Which is why in 2018 I will have my feet in three different Disney locations.  Paris was the first.  California the second and Disneyworld in Florida will be the third.

Love you Mickey!  Until next time.

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