Friday, October 21, 2016

Fun Find: Shop Disney Parks App

Hi friends!  Today, I wanted to share one of my favorite Disney mobile apps as today's Fun Find Friday.  (Confession: It's been out for a while now.)  The majority of you have probably heard about it already.  But if you haven't, you have to check it out!!!

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The Shop Disney Parks App is your one spot stop to shop for Walt Disney World parks merchandise.  (Say that 10 times fast.)  It's easy to browse through the app.  You can search for a specific item, or go through the featured categories on the main page.  If you forgot something on your trip, you can easily purchase it through the app.  Or, if you're like us and ran out of souvenir money because you went through most of it on your first Disney Cruise... you can wait until you're home to buy other treasures!

Eliot and I have known about the app since it first came out.  I have used it a few times to purchase park exclusive merchandise.  I ordered both my Haunted Mansion and Fantasyland tsum tsum sets through the app.  I found it really user friendly.

The first time we've been able to use the app while at Walt Disney World was earlier this month.  There's a feature on the app where you can scan a barcode and it will automatically pull up that item.  Then, if they don't have your size at that location, you can actually ask the app where else the item is sold on property.

Eliot and I both really wanted to get Orange Bird plushies this trip.  However, we didn't see them anywhere.  I hopped onto the app, searched for "Orange Bird", found him and then located where he was sold.  We weren't going to the Polynesian Resort, but we were going to be walking through Adventureland.  The next time we went to the Magic Kingdom, we tracked down the store and purchased our new friends!

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I also used the app to see if they had the Finding Dory shirt I've wanted since I saw it at Disneyland this spring.  I didn't buy it on my April/May trip since I really wanted to use my AP (Annual Pass) discount.  Then, by the time we went in June, the movie had been released and it was completely sold out.  Luckily, I used the app to find it at the Finding Nemo store inside of the Living Seas at Epcot!

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I think my favorite part of the Shop Disney Parks app, is that they also carry Disney Cruise Line merchandise.  Having just been on my first cruise, this was really exciting for me!  I made sure to check out the app before our cruise.  (I even took screenshots of all the merchandise so I knew what was available.)  Then, Eliot and I focused on purchasing items that were not available on the Shop Disney Parks app or on the Disney Store website when we were at Castaway Cay and in the stores on the ship.

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Before our trip, I also used the app to see what types of merchandise were available on the ship.  I planned an entire navy, white and pink outfit around this Disney Cruise Line Mickey Anchor shirt that I'd seen on the app before I even stepped onto the ship!

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Keep an eye out, because they do run sales occasionally.  I've seen 25% off sales that run through the weekend.  I've also gotten free shipping on an order before.  And, they will also give you your Annual Pass discount!  Which, if you haven't heard, is (finally!!!) back up to 20% for Walt Disney World AP holders!!!

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Finally, I want to point out that the app is currently only selling Walt Disney World merchandise.  However, Disney has stated they have plans to add Disneyland items to the app eventually.  It is called "Shop Disney Parks" after all.  In my perfect dream world, Disney would make merchandise from Japan and China available as well... but that probably isn't likely.  (Hey, a girl can dream!!!)

If you're interested in seeing what's offered, check out this link and it will direct you to the proper app for your mobile device.  I hope you enjoy using this app to check out the latest Walt Disney World and Disney Cruise Line merchandise!  °o°

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Fall 2016 IllusionEars Designs

Hi Friends!  I'm sorry I haven't posted sooner.  I've taken the past week to get well, rested and caught up on our everyday life!  Thankfully, I'm feeling much better now!

As I've mentioned, Eliot and I have been very busy making mouse ears over the past few weeks.  In fact, we've made 50+ sets of ears in the past month and a half!!!  Most of the ears were for my awesome Key to the World travel agent friends.  We sold about 30 pairs to them for our annual KeyCon conference!

Now that we're settling back into everyday life, I thought I'd show you a few of the new IllusionEar designs we've made recently!

I think my favorite of the entire batch are these cute Mickey Pumpkin IllusionEars!

Another Halloween favorite are these Mickey Ghost IllusionEars.

I practically begged Eliot to make the Mickey Candy Corn IllusionEars.  Cute!!!

Of course, Eliot's got a few tricks up his sleeves as well.  He surprised me by designing these New England Patriots IllusionEars!  I can't wait to make myself a pair!!!

Speaking of sports, a ton of my Key to the World friends are from Alabama.  I told Eliot that we had a ton of Crimson Tide fans so he put this design together for me.  We sold four pairs of these to my football loving friends!  Roll Tide!

Another one of my favorites are these Food and Wine Festival IllusionEars.

We made a Disney Dream design for the cruise, but I didn't get any good photos of the completed designs before we gave them to my friends!  (This picture is from when we were starting to prototype them.)  We'll have to make another set so I can get pictures!

Eliot's also working really hard on some tsum tsum designs!  Here's a sneak peek of a few that I posted on my Instagram page.  (We should have product photos soon!)

Finally, we also released a Key to the World Travel logo IllusionEars design.

These particular designs were exclusively released to my Key to the World friends for this 2016 year.  The Halloween and Food and Wine designs will be available to everyone though!  (As well as many sports teams...)  We haven't released them in my Happily Ever Hatter Etsy shop yet, but they will be listed soon!

Unfortunately, we knew that with our trip to Walt Disney World and the cruise, we wouldn't be able to fulfill orders for the Halloween and Food and Wine ears in time for this year's Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party and Epcot's International Food and Wine Festival.  However, the good news is that we're already working on Christmas designs.  Hopefully we'll be able to release some of those over the next few weeks!

There's definitely a lot of designing going on for our IllusionEars collection.  I'll be sure to post more product photos when I have them!  

Monday, October 10, 2016


We've all been there.  You're getting back from a week long vacation at Walt Disney World.  You had a magical time and for the most part, the "real world" basically ceased to exist.  Now, it's time for re-entry, the process of coming out of your fairytale vacation and getting back to your everyday life.  And we all know, re-entry completely stinks.

Thankfully, this time hasn't been as hard as past times.  I can honestly say that I've had another successful departure from the Magic Kingdom without bawling during my last glance at Cinderella Castle.  Maybe part of that was because I was ready to get out of Hurricane Matthew's path.  Maybe it's because I knew that four short months from now, Eliot and I will be back at Walt Disney World for Princess Half Marathon Weekend.

Either way, this hasn't been quite as awful as it could be.  I'll have had four days to catch up on rest, since I don't have to go back to work until tomorrow.  Unfortunately, the four days of rest wasn't enough to clear my head cold from my system.  In fact, it's only gotten worse which is unfortunate since this week is the longest work week I've had in a year.  (I have a conference for my day job Friday and Saturday.)  Here's hoping that I get better soon.  Otherwise, I'll be the one at the back of the conference sneezing and coughing my head off.

I brought a little more Disney magic home with me.  This time, I opted to bring one candy apple, a cake pop and a marshmallow pop- all personal favorites of mine, and all completely delicious!  This is one of the best cures for post trip blues.

We've also been going through all of our merchandise.  Eliot and I pretty much broke the bank with our Disney Cruise and Castaway Cay purchases.  We basically spent our entire souvenir budget on those items, but since it was our first cruise, I have no regrets.  It just means I had to break into the cash I've tucked away for months for our few Walt Disney World treasures and Walmart finds!

Moving forward, we're ready to get back into the game.  It's going to be a busy few months as I'm going to start seriously training for the Princess Half- as soon as I can breathe normally anyways!  Eliot has a million new ideas for IllusionEars, and we'll be launching a ton of those new designs for Happily Ever Hatter soon.  I'm also inspired with tons of new ear designs.  Hopefully, I'll be able to make a dent in those too!

I'm also getting ready to launch my next big business adventure over the next few weeks.  I got a ton of compliments for my items while on our cruise and trip.  I'm really excited for what this might have in store for me!  I'll be working on Christmas designs in the next few weeks!  So stay tuned!

Finally, Eliot and I are going to try to finish painting the upstairs of the house.  We've had good intentions, but it's been hard to get motivated when it's been so hot.  Now that it's fall and things are cooling off, we're ready to finish the master bedroom and our master bathroom.  Both rooms are almost done, so that's really exciting!  Next, we'll move onto painting the rest of the house.  And then comes the fun part... decorating!!!

As always, re-entry into the "real world" after a Disney trip is not my favorite, but it's good to have a lot to look forward too.  The Disney magic never truly leaves us.  And I have to admit, it is good to be home.  °o°

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Hurricane Matthew

As many Disney fans know, Hurricane Matthew has caused quite the commotion at the Walt Disney World Resort over the past few days.  Eliot and I were actually right in the middle of the shuffle, as we were scheduled to leave the Orlando area Thursday night- which ended up being right before the storm set in.  I thought I'd share a little about our experiences so you can know what to expect should this ever happen to you.

First and foremost, you should know that Disney will go above and beyond in a situation like this.  When Eliot and I weren't sure if we would even be able to leave Florida as scheduled, Disney told us there would be plenty of rooms for us to stay in should we need to extend our stay.  They also told us that we'd have a place to stay if we arrived at the airport only to discover that our flight was cancelled.  That was a huge relief, but that's getting a little bit ahead of the story... 

My family, Eliot and I had been watching Hurricane Matthew before it was officially a hurricane.  Before we left Maine, we were aware of the tropical storms forming.  All of my Key to the World travel agent friends were also watching it- you tend to do that when you know you'll be out at sea for a few days!  We were lucky that the storm stayed far away from our cruise.  The only less than perfect weather we got was a thunder and lightning storm during the afternoon at Castaway Cay.  Last Monday, we arrived back in Orlando relieved that our cruise went off without a hitch.

But we knew Matthew was going to follow us.  In fact, the Disney Dream cruise after ours, was changing their itinerary and being diverted to Mexico to avoid the Bahamas and the storm completely.  (Side note: After the fact, we also found out they had to stay at sea longer than expected because Port Canaveral was closed and they couldn't dock.  They also had to start rationing food.  But we also heard that they flew in extra entertainment and did whatever they could to make people comfortable.)

By Wednesday, we knew the storm was coming towards Orlando and everyone was getting prepared.  Eliot and I went to the local Walmart to check out some of the Disney merchandise.  We kept getting hurricane warning cell phone text alerts from the National Weather Service.  Everyone at Walmart was stocking up on food, water, batteries, and other necessities.  Gas stations were crazy busy with people filling up.

For Eliot and I, preparing for a storm is old hat.  In Maine, each winer we get many winter storms that cause us to prepare to be hunkered down at home.  We're used to stocking up on water, batteries, filling the bathtub with water, and preparing to lose our electricity.  I had to remind Eliot that people in central Florida are not used to that phenomenon.  You could cut the tenseness with a knife.  People were panicked, and with a category 4 or 5 hurricane coming towards us, I really didn't blame them.

However, Eliot and I weren't panicking.  Jeremy left Wednesday morning as he was originally scheduled.  Mom, Dad and Nana were planning to leave Thursday morning as planned.  Their only change of plans was to drive up as far west as they could to head towards Tennessee in order to avoid I-95.  Eliot and I were the last scheduled to leave.  Our flight was at 6:02 pm Thursday night.

We didn't start to worry until Wednesday night.  Hurricane Matthew was all anyone was talking about.  We started to talk to a few people while waiting for the Main Street Electrical Parade.  I slowly started to worry more.  Eliot had his phone out every few minutes checking the forecast.  The panic in the air was slowly seeping in.

Eliot and I went about our business and tried to keep the real world out of our Disney experience.  To no avail, it still snuck in.  There was a lady at the Emporium basically playing 20 questions with the cast members at the register.  The poor cast members didn't have the answers she wanted, so she kept prodding them.  It was clear that they were trying their very best in a tough situation.

We returned to Pop Century and went straight to the front desk.  We'd heard rumors that Pop Century was completely booked.  After getting reassurance that we'd have a place to stay either way, we were feeling a little bit better.  (Also, it's proof that you should never listen to rumors.)

We went to bed Wednesday night knowing that our flight should be ok provided the hurricane stayed on it's current track.  Thursday morning, it looked like we were still going to be ok.  Eliot and I helped Mom and Dad pack the car up.  We bid farewell to them and Nana.  Then, we packed our own bags and got ready to go have a few more hours of fun at the parks.

On the way to the buses, I noticed that the trash cans at Pop Century had all been tied to the poles.  At the Magic Kingdom, all of the pumpkins and most of the Halloween decor had been taken down.  The park wasn't busy since so many people were preparing for the storm.  The line for Space Mountain was only about 20 minutes.  Eliot and I only had about 3 hours there, and we had already made FastPass+ plans.

Eliot and I went about our business.  Shortly after arriving at the parks, I saw a notice on Facebook from all of my travel agent friends.  All the Walt Disney World theme parks were closing at 5:00 pm, and they were also going to be closed on Friday.  At the time, Eliot and I already knew that the Halloween Party had been cancelled.  But for Walt Disney World to close all of it's parks for a day, that's almost unheard of.  In fact, this is only the fifth time the parks have been closed since they opened in 1971.  (3 times for other major hurricanes and on 9/11/2001.)

It honestly amazed me how ignorant some guests were.  The family behind us on the train were still making their plans to go to Hollywood Studios on Friday.  Eliot and I turned around and told them the parks were closing early, and going to be closed Friday.  Their answer was "that sucks."  I wanted to yell, "you are aware that there's a major hurricane coming straight for us," but I held my tongue.  I know Disney is everyone's happy place, but the real world still exists outside of it.

Our time at the Magic Kingdom flew by, and before we knew it, we were getting ready to leave.  Eliot checked the 2pm National Weather Service update and it still looked like the outer bands wouldn't be arriving in the Orlando area until about 8:00 pm.  At this point, we had enough information to finally make the decision to catch our Magical Express and try to get out of there.

Meanwhile, everyone at the resorts were told to prepare to be stuck inside all day Friday.  People were stocking up on food and water.  The line at the check in and guest services areas of Pop Century were insane.  The line for guest services was twice as long as the queue was set up.  People were checking in, checking out early, getting refunds for the Halloween party.  It was crazy.

Eliot and I caught our bus and it was almost empty.  You could tell that most people had already left or their flights were cancelled.  Eliot told me that Delta, United and Southwest had all cancelled a lot of their Orlando flights.  JetBlue cancelled all of theirs after 8:00 pm.  We were going to be one of the last flights to leave.

The airport was eerily quiet.  We took our time and had dinner before going through security.  The line for security was the shortest I've ever seen at MCO.  A lot of the airport employees were leaving early if they could.  MCO had decided that they were closing at 8:00 pm Thursday, and that the airport would be closed all day on Friday so it was down to just the people who needed to be there.

Getting onto our flight was interesting.  The skies looked a bit ominous, and it had started to rain.  Everyone was a little bit restless and uneasy.  Our plane from New York arrived and we were told that our flight was going to try to get out of there.  The crowd around the boarding gate was insane.  No one was listening to the JetBlue attendants and I'm pretty sure I unintentionally ran someone over with my suitcase trying to get through to board the back of the plane.  (JetBlue boards from back to front.)  It was not a pretty scene.  If everyone listened, we probably would have gotten on the plane a lot faster.

Finally, everyone was on the plane.  It was still raining and I happened to see a bunch of fire engines and an ambulance driving down the tarmac to a gate a few down from ours.  I don't think it had anything to do with the storm, but it added to my unsettled feeling.  I said a few quick prayers for our safety, texted my brother and parents and took a few deep breaths.  After what felt like hours, we were taxiing down the runway and third in line to take off.

Take off was a little bumpy, but no where near as bad as I was expecting.  Once we were at about 30,000 feet, we leveled off and I looked out to see the clouds below.  We had in flight wifi, so I updated my friends and family on my Facebook status.  When we were over Maryland and I could see the sunset, I knew we were going to be ok.

Being at Disney in the middle of preparations for Hurricane Matthew was definitely an experience.  However, I have the upmost confidence in Disney, and not once did I ever feel unsafe.  I was a little uneasy at the airport, but Eliot and I knew the two safest places for us were probably on Disney property or at the airport.  We knew both locations would take good care of their guests, and they both would have proper emergency procedures in place should the need arise.

At the end of the day, Eliot and I were both ok.  I wish I could say the same for our east coast communities and the people of the Bahamas and Haiti.  My thoughts and prayers are certainly with all of them.  Hurricanes are serious business, and they're always a possibility if you vacation during hurricane season- April to November.  If you ever find yourself at Walt Disney World during a hurricane, stay calm, listen to cast members, be prepared, be informed and watch the local weather forecasts.  Finally, Disney's first priority is always guest safety, so you can be sure that it's a safe place to be.  °o°

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Disney Pixar Blog Hop October 2016

Welcome to the Disney Pixar Blog Hop!

Disney and crafting are a magical combination, and we are so happy you joined us to day for this blog hop.  Some of the crafters participating in this event have been doing this together since 2011!  Over the years the hop has grown but one thing has always stayed the same . . . amazing crafting projects that feature your favorite characters from Disney and Pixar movies.

For 2016 we are going to have a hop every other month for the entire year!  If you missed one of the hops we already had this year, you can still go back and see the projects.  For February click HERE, for April click HERE, for June click HERE and for August click HERE. If you are on Facebook you can like the group page so that you can be the first to learn about each upcoming event.  Just click HERE to go the the Facebook page.

To make sure you don't miss any of the fun, be sure to start at Shawn's blog to see all of the projects.  Just click HERE to head over to Shawn's blog and then follow the hop line up at the bottom of the post to see everyone's projects.

Pink Polka Dot Minnie Mouse Sun Hat

As some of you know, Eliot and I just went on our first Disney Cruise last weekend.  (It was incredible!)  The past month, I've been working on so many projects for this trip.  I had originally wanted to post a Halloween project for this month, but I simply ran out of time.  Instead, I thought I'd share a quick tutorial of one of the things I made!  Here's a Pink Polka Dot Minnie Mouse Sun Hat that I made for our cruise!

I found this hat on sale at Target a few weeks ago for less than $5!!!  I'd already gotten a few other hats, but I had an after thought that I should have gotten a few extras for projects.  I was so excited to find this one!  After a bit of thought, I decided to make it Minnie Mouse inspired!  I love how cute it turned out!  Minnie is my spirit animal, and this is the perfect Disney inspired accessory for fun in the sun!

Want to make your own Pink Polka Dot Minnie Mouse Sun Hat?  Here's how I did it:

Sun Hat
Pink Spray Paint
White Spray Paint (not pictured)
White Acrylic Paint
Circle Sponge Applicator
Paint Brush (not pictured)
Mod Podge (matte)
Hot Glue Gun
Optional Accessories: Flowers, Rhinestones, Buttons, etc.

1.) Prepare Your Sun Hat
Take any tags or plastic pieces off of your sun hat.  If you have one with darker colors, you might want to spray paint it white first.  (I found this allowed for better coverage when I went to add the pink!)  I used two coats of white spray paint, followed by a concentrated layer where the hat originally had a black edge.

2.) Spray Paint the Hat
Once your hat is prepped, spray paint a few coats of hot pink paint.  Make sure your layers of paint are light and even.  It's ok if it takes a few coats.

3.) Add Polka Dots
When the hat is fully dry, place it on a newspaper or protected surface.  Use your white acrylic paint and circle sponge applicator to paint polka dots all over the hat.  Try to space them out a little bit so they don't take over the hat!  If necessary, add another coat on top of these once they're dry.  I only used one coat of paint on mine, but I made sure I applied it thicker the first time.  (The paint might leak through the hat since it's woven.  Make sure you have something underneath the hat to collect paint.)

4.) Seal Paint
Once your hat is completely dry, use your paint brush to paint a layer of matte Mod Podge over the entire thing to seal the paint in.  It's ok if it looks white.  It will dry clear!

5.) Attach Ribbon
After the Mod Podge is dry, you can add ribbon and decorations.  I used a polka dot ribbon and placed it around the bottom base of the hat using my hot glue.  I made the ribbon ends overlap on the side of the hat.

6.) Add Decorations
If you'd like, you can add more decorations to your hat!  I used the extra flowers I had from my Tinker Bell Fairy Garden Lantern project.  Using hot glue, I attached three of the flowers over the location of the ribbon overlap.  Now, you can't even tell it's there and the flowers look really cute too!

I'm sure Minnie would love this fun and stylish hat!  I know I certainly do!  °o°

Before you go, make sure to enter to win our prize for this hop . . .

We have a prize from Paper Wizard!  You could win one of their Mouse Wreaths, which is pictured in the image below!  This is perfect for a Disney scrapbook or to turn into a home decor item.

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a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Good luck, and enjoy the rest of the hop!

The full blog hop line up is below.  

Friday, October 7, 2016

Back from Disney

Hi Friends!  Eliot and I are back from a wonderful, Disney magic filled vacation!  (And work conference for me!)  I can't even figure out where to begin.  It was so magical!

I'm so happy to report that our Disney Cruise was incredible.  I was very worried about being seasick the entire trip.  In fact, my whole family was a bit worried.  We were all fine and had so much fun.  Three days flew right by and wasn't enough time to do everything.  Castaway Cay was beautiful!  I can't wait until our next Disney Cruise!  (We don't have one booked yet, but I'm hoping that changes soon!)

Walt Disney World was amazing as usual.  We only had a few days but we still got a lot done.  Things were a little bit hectic towards the end of our trip.  Eliot and I got on one the of last flights leaving Florida before Hurricane Matthew arrived.  Thankfully, we got out just in time and we arrived safe at home early this morning.

I will tell you more about our trip over the next few days!  For now, I need to get some rest.  I'm returning home with a head cold and sinus pressure and I want to get well before I have to return to work next week!  It's good to be home!!!  °o°

Sunday, October 2, 2016

WDW 2016 Bucket List

Before our cruise, I was in Walt Disney World for a few days for my KeyCon travel agent conference.  Right now, we're on our Disney Cruise, but we're returning to Walt Disney World tomorrow for a few more fun filled days!  Of course, that means I need to have my Walt Disney World Bucket List ready!

Since I started my blog, it's become a tradition to make a bucket list for each of my Disney trips.  I've found them to be very helpful.  They make me more focused and I feel like I accomplished something at the end of my trip.  I've also been able to make sure that I experience a few new things each trip!

It's been a year since we were at Walt Disney World, and I've been writing things down as I think of them.  And I've come up with the following goals!

Melissa's Walt Disney World 2016 Trip Bucket List:
°o°  1.) Buy a Mickey Mouse Balloon
°o°  2.) Take a picture at the purple wall
°o°  3.) Attend Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party
°o°  4.) Go on the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Ride
°o°  5.) See Animal Kingdom at Night
°o°  6.) Take Photos at the Hubgrass
°o°  7.) Get a Pop Century Waffle
°o°  8.) Visit Disney Springs
°o°  9.) Go on the Frozen Ride
°o° 10.) Try the Enchanted Pumpkin Spice Cupcake (at Gaston's) 
°o° 11.) See Mickey's Friendship Faire Castle Show
°o° 12.) Get a Poison Apple Mug
°o° 13.) Attend the Food and Wine Festival
°o° 14.) Take pictures of the donkeys and Duffy
°o° 15.) Get a Sprinkles Cupcake
°o° 16.) Take photos at the Tangled Restroom Area
°o° 17.) Go to the Pop Pool Bar
°o° 18.) Try Candy Corn Ice Cream (at Storybook Treats)
°o° 19.) Get an Elliott Candy Apple
°o° 20.) Meet Joy, Sadness and Baymax

I think this bucket list is definitely do-able!!!

In addition to my Walt Disney World Bucket List, I've got a few more goals:
°o° 21.) Go to the Outlet Stores
°o° 22.) Visit the M&M Store
°o° 23.) Go to the local Walmart (search for Disney stuff!)
°o° 24.) Go to the courthouse to get another copy of our marriage license
°o° 25.) Go to a local restaurant off property

I'll check back when Eliot and I return to let you know how we did!!!  °o°