Thursday, June 30, 2011

Blog Hop Thursday! Under the Sea!

Today is Thursday and the big news on the block is the blog hop topic for this week's Babes in Disneyland hop "under the sea". So let's get to the swimmin'!

Under the sea...hmmm...

I am in love with the Little Mermaid. It has always been a favorite. Like most girls my age, I played "Ariel" in the pool with my friends. We would bicker back and forth about whose turn it was to play Ariel and who was left the unwanted part of "sister"....PASS and no thank you...

I think I would rather be Flounder, Sebastian, or Scuttle (I really do a pretty wicked Scuttle impression "Mermaid off the port you doing kid! Whoa! What a swim!)! So there we are swimming away to our hearts content...fins instead of feet, red flowing hair, thingamabobs, the pool was transformed to our own ocean kingdom. Of course we sang all the songs and were always making excuses for Prince Eric's absence (there were no boys so Eric was "at work", "on the boat", "hanging out with the fellas" A LOT!). Those were the days.
Flashfoward and I am adult. An adult who is head over heels for all things Disney. So you can apprciate if I am a bit overzealous when it comes to Disney characters in the parks. I got to eat with Ariel and the other princesses back in November and you would have thought she was legit from the movie Ariel. We were BFF. I loved it (shocker). So, knowing my history it should come as no shock to you that I was over the moon about the upcoming additions to Disney World's Fantasyland ( say what? read on!) which included...gasp...a Little Mermaid ride!

My heart could not be more excited. A ride devoted to the Little Mermaid! Jeepers! I am beyond, beyond! So in anticipation of the Disney World opening I have been watching Youtube videos, keeping up with the production and design, enviously read and watched developments at Disneyland (the ride opens there first). I can't take it anymore. I want to be part of that world.
excuse me while I break out in song like Ariel!
"Thingamabob's I got plenty, but who cares, no big deal, I want more....I want to ride what the Californian's ride. I want to go on an undersea adventure. Ride in around in clammobiles Ariel and meeeeeee! I don't know when, I don't know how but I'm gonna wait for DW's now. Watch and you'll see, soon I will be, part of that world!"

Okay that little ballad was totally unpreventable, out of my hands, and 100% TRUE!

I can't wait! Until then I have my memories of childhood play, my copy of the Little Merimaid, other bloggers, Youtube, and a little thing I like to call "retail therapy". Some of these items are just Little Merimaid related and some of these items were created in celebration of the Disneyland ride (Ariel's Undersea Adventure) but, I still love them and I get excited about possible DW versions to come!!!!! Take a look at these awesome pieces and hopefully they will be able to tie my fellow DW fans over until the opening of our own Under the Sea- Journey of the Little Mermaid!

Ariel's Undersea Adventure Hoodie for Women
$54.95 for this cute Ariel's Undersea Adventure hoodie!

The Little Mermaid Figure Play Set -- 7-Pc.
$12.50 for this waterproof set...perfect for the little girls...I mean pool mermaids in your life PLUS, it has an Eric (no more excuse making!)

110th Legacy Collection The Little Mermaid Pin
$16.95 for this cute and collectible pin.  I love Disney pin trading!

Gold Sequin Ariel's Undersea Adventure Tote
$26.95 perfect to take to the pool big girl or little girl.  I love this bag even more after reading the product details: 75% glitter.  Seriously cute and sparkly!

Thanks for joining me today on this hop! 
:D  Ashley

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Hop to it! Wordless Wednesday!

I liked hopping so much yesterday...I am doing it again today!
Today I join the folks at Focused on the Magic for their Wordless Wednesday hop.  This is my first time hopping with Wordless Wednesday and I am super excited about meeting some great new Disney bloggers! The idea here is to post a photograph or video that is almost or completely wordless.  Today I post a photo from Animal Kingdom.  I took this about a year ago while waiting for friends to ride Expedition Everest!  Enjoy.  Oh, and......... HOP!

Focused on the Magic

Monday, June 27, 2011

Packing for the Parks...Summer Edition!

Back in December I posted an article called Packing for the Parks.  Today I am presenting a summer edition of my typical park bag (this would be what I would carry around with me during my day/night in the parks).  Keeping the heat in mind, I have created a new bagboard that I hope will inspire you as you make your way through Disney World in the summer sun!

Port Authority Basic Drawstring Bookbag
in Ocean Blue
A light weight bag like this one provide the storage you need without the heat of quilted/canvas fabrics.  I try not to pack things that cannot get we in this bag because you never know when you might get wet in a rain storm or on a refreshing water ride.  I really like the material this bag is made out of because it is somewhat "waterproof".
Coleman Company Cool Zepher Mini Fan
200001025 Personal Fan
You'll be thanking me when you bring your own fan into the parks.  The mark up in park is outrageous plus, these fans are small enough to be stowed during riding etc.  I really like to use a camping clip to attach mine to the outside of my backpack for easy access.  Make sure to take a pair of back up batteries.  You'll most likely need them!
Walt Disney World Resort Baseball Cap
 I have to have something to protect my eyes from the sun because I suffer from migraines, especially when I am out in the bright sun.  I figure you probably will be wearing your own sunglasses but, a hat is a good idea! 

Fossil "Weekender" Zippered Coin Purse
in floral
Easy access to your id, bank card, and Key to the World.  I like this small but handy coin purse when I am packing light!

Misty Mate
Misty 2.5
I have raved about these before.  You don't need any batteries and they can be filled and refilled with cold water from the fountains all day long.  They are small but they pack a mighty mist!  These are sure to cool you down!
Disposable Poncho
$1.00 or so each at your local Dollar store
I have to admit that I have had these cheap poncho's before and still ended up buying a Mickey poncho (they are just too cute plus I use it at home).  But, it is a good idea to start out with one of these babies in you backpack in the case of one of the quick and random Florida soakers!

Other Necessities that can be purchased at any drug store (CVS, Target, Walgreen's, etc.)

Lip Balm
I can't stand to be without lip balm so it goes with me wherever I go!

This is a must!  Reapplying throughout the day is made easy and affordable when you bring your own from home!

Anti Bacterial Hand Sanitizer
Kill those germs before you eat that Premium Mickey Bar or Dole Whip!

Keep fresh!

A retractable Sharpie
This will come in especially helpful if you are doing any character meet and greet signings

Water Bottle
Keeping cool and keeping hydrated are one in the same.  I like to freeze my water the night before so it will be cool throughout most of the day (they melt really fast)! 


I tend to get headaches when I am out in the sun for a long time.  Advil or Tylenol will help with this!  Bringing your own means you save money and you have it when you need it!

So, I am trying out something new to me (yeah, I am behind times again!).  It is called blog hopping.  Today I hop, or bounce that is with the folks at Magical Mouse Schoolhouse and this week's hop host site Disney in our Blood  (I actually found this site a few weeks ago and FELL IN STINKIN' LOVE!).  You can click Tigger below to view the hop and visit other amazing sites!  So let's get to it....

Magical Mouse Schoolhouse

Thursday, June 23, 2011

This is What Beautiful Memories are Made of! Part Two

I hope that you found the last few pointers for getting good pictures helpful.  Perhaps you have tried them out.  Let me know what you think in the comment section below!  Today I have part two with a few more pointers for taking photographs in the park.  Create beautiful photos and the the memories begin!

Point of View 
This tip is super easy and very doable!  Shooting from different points of view can create different messages for the viewer.  Taking into consideration what you are photographing will help with getting the point of view. So for example if you are taking a shot of your child as they watch a parade, get down on their level.  Pictures taken only from the photographer's eye level tend to have the same exact feel.  Consider mixing it up by taking photographs from down low, up high, on the subjects level, from the back, far, near, be creative!

 Look around when taking pictures to find arch ways, trees, open breezeways, holes, etc.  By using these naturally existing frames, you can draw attention to the subject of your photographs.  These are fun photos to take especially at Disney World because there are so many opportunities throughout the property.  

Leading Lines
Our eyes love lines in photographs.  The lines lead your eye to other points in the picture and even out of the picture.  It's easy to find these lines when setting up a photograph and use them to your advantage.  One of my favorite pictures to take in Disney World has leading lines...the waterway below the castle leads your eyes to the main focus, Cinderella Castle!

I would love to hear back from you once you get a chance to practice with some of these composition techniques and especially once you try them out at Disney World!  It would be cool to see some of your photographs using these techniques! 

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Disney Dispatch...(catching up on the past few weeks. sorry)!

Okay, school is crazy at the end of the year.  That's my excuse and I am sticking to it!  So...

I am back posting links to some Dispatch articles from the past few weeks.  Sorry!

Click away and enjoy!

People plan for their Disney vacations with all the diligence and attention to detail that made the Invasion of Normandy such a rousing success. But things can still go wrong. And things will go wrong. As they did recently for me

On a recent trip to Disney World, I had some problems, but with the power of Hakuna Metztada,I  dealt with them. Now, however, a bigger crisis looms. Will I be barred from breakfast over an ADR error? Or did I finally paint her mouseterpiece?

I made a solemn vow: she would find one of the paint brushes Disney hides each day on Tom Sawyer Island. No matter what! Sounds easy? Not. It was hot, it had rained, my hair was frizzled, and I was frazzled. Where was the paint brush?

May 26 Patriotic in the Parks                                                                                       You don't need a grill, burgers, and beer to prove your patriotism this Memorial Day. If you happen to be at Disney World, you won't even need the sparklers; what you will need is right here: Ashley's suggestions for finding America in the parks.                                                           

June 2  Finding Hawaii at Disney World

I am  is going to Hawaii! For the next few weeks, I'll be looking at how you can find Hawaii yourself: in Disney World!

JUN 9 Finding Hawaii at Disney Resorts
Last week, I found Hawaii (or at least things Hawaiian) at Disney World. Now, exhausted from too much island merriment, even if it all did happen in Orlando, Florida, I head to the Disney Resorts only to find more... things Hawaiian!

Happy Reading! 

:D Ashley

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

This is What Beautiful Memories are Made of! Part One

I am by no means a professional photographer.  I like to take pictures but the truth is that other than the 2 years of photography courses I took in high school and the 5 hour workshop I attended last fall...I got nothing!  I shoot mostly on automatic.  I am confused about f stops and apertures and shutters and thingamajigers.  But, I am educating myself currently (I just learned what an ISO is and it has rocked my photography world).  Even with my limited photography knowledge, I do make it a point to learn more and more.  I do think I have a good eye for setting up shots (or otherwise cropping them into submission).  I have always loved art and have taken just about every course offered and available to me via high school, college, and even in grad school!  One site I have been checking out (after hearing my sister rave about it) is the Pioneer Woman.  She's basically a cool do it all type of woman (look out Martha Stewart!).  One of the many sections of her blog focuses on photography and it is very helpful.  You should check it out for real!
So what does this all have to do with Disney World?  Great question!  This year Disney kicked off the "Let the Memories Begin" campaign.  What better way to let the memories live than to take excellent photographs? It is such a waste to just take so-so photographs!  I mean business when I take photographs and my motto is shoot away giving yourself options later on!  I seriously take about 1,500 or more pictures on a typical trip to Disney World and then put the best out there for the public to see on facebook and blog posts.  Shoot first ask questions later! So I am pairing up what I have learned (bear with me please) and some examples that I have taken of these composition techniques. This is part one and today we'll be looking at the rule of thirds, focus, and repetition.  So here are some composition basics to help you create a lot less "duds".  Give it a shot and I know you'll be happy!

Rule of Thirds
In the visual arts there is a rule called the rule of thirds.  This rule will help to create interesting photographs.  Here is how it works:
Break an image down into thirds both vertically and horizontally (creating 9 sections).  there are four spots where the vertical and horizontal lines intersect.  These spots indicate the most interesting parts of a photograph.  Typically with basic point and shoot pictures not much thought is taken into consideration when setting up a photo.  The object here is to not make the focus of you picture take place in the center square (this tends to be boring visually).  You would be surprised by how much thinking through this rule of thirds will improve you photograph.  Don't worry, photographs can be altered via computer photo programs if you didn't exactly nail it.  
Here are couple of examples from my  of a photograph taken with rule of thirds in mind:
Let's take a look at a before and after editing adventure:
Here's a picture of me in Epcot

Not terrible but not fascinating right!  Notice I am positioned right in that middle square!  Oops!  Well let's apply the rule of thirds and do some cropping!
so here's my attempt to make it a bit more interesting...
I think it is more interesting without all that wasted green tree in the left of the picture. 

Think about what you want the focal point of your photograph to be.  Thinking about focusing while taking a picture can totally change the effect of the photograph. Aperture and depth of field go hand in hand but I am going to let you google and research on that one...sorry!  Putting the emphasis on the central focus by creating a shallow depth of field will create stunning photographs!  

Here is an example of shallow depth of field (the foreground in focus and the background is blurred/softened).    I believe I took this photograph on automatic mode but the only thing I did was put the dial on the portrait mode (nothing fancy). 

oh, and by the way...
You can also go another route where everything is in focus.  

This one is easy.  Taking photographs with lost of the same thing creates visual interest. I am guilty of being obsessed with this particular technique but hey, I like order and pattern!
Here are some examples:

That's it for today, check back soon for part two! Thanks for reading and have a wonderful day! :D

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

You Asked....

Yay! I have my first question...
Here goes nothing!
Question originally posted on Yahoo! Answers by Timothy about 10 months ago.  It got a lot of good answers but I thought I would put my spin on it!


Can you visit a Disney world hotel without having a ticket to the park?


In a word...YES!  Any guest can visit Disney hotels.  There is some concern with parking (you have to have a parking pass in your dash but no worries if you pay to park or are staying on resort you are covered here!).  The other thing you could do is to take a bus and leave your car in the lot of the park you were visiting.  So, this question leads to another question.  "Why would you want to go to hotels?" Timothy eluded to this in his question with shopping and eating.  I am just going to "unpack it" a bit more in true Ashley fashion!
Exploring resort restaurants will lead to happy endings!  There are a handful of much coveted dining reservations that do not take place in an actual theme park but rather in a Disney Resort hotel.  For example, 1900 Park Fare has an excellent character buffet style breakfast.  It was a blast, the food was great, the characters were amazing, and the best only cost us 1 table service credit!  There are many other great resort restaurants that you should take a chance and try! 
While you can find most of what's in the resort shops in the parks there are a few items specific to resorts (things following the theme or carrying the name of the resort).
Being Nosy and Checking out other Resorts 
Call me out on this if you want but I like to walk through the lobby and check out the digs!  Hey it does the hotel better justice than a photo and it lets me know the feel and if I would like to go back for a stay!  For example, last year we went to Disney at Christmas and ate at the Grand Floridian.  You can't miss out on the decorations in the resorts.  We got to see the Christmas trees, the giant gingerbread house, and ooh and ahh over the lush ammenities (that hotel is now at the top of our Disney bucket list!).  Just think if we hadn't eaten there we wouldn't have seen all the great things (ps you don't have to eat there to walk into the lobby for a look!). 
Alright...bring on some more questions!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

3 Degrees of not Becoming a Piece of Bacon in the Parks! A Guide to Cooling Down!

Is it stinkin' summer yet?  It feels like it.  I know temperatures in the parks have been up there this week so I am doing a quick post on creating your own personal, portable AC in just 1-2-3!  You've heard of the six degrees of Kevin Bacon well just think of these as the 3 degrees of not becoming a piece of bacon in the frying pan that is Disney World in the heat! These are three easy ways to cool down on the cheap! If you want even more then check out these ways to beat the heat!

A few fans never hurt!
Cheap.  Lightweight. Lifesavers.  Seriously don't leave home without one!  You can purchase these for under 5 bucks at Wal-mart and Target.  I usually buy a kepo clip to hook mine and make it hands free but this cool guy comes with a clip!  Awesome and SO worth buying ahead instead of in the parks (GREAT MONEY SAVING TIP!).

Hydration Please!

Drinking water is SO important in the heat!  We should all make sure to get lots of water throughout the day.  I like to do this by freezing a couple of bottles of water and sticking them in my park bag.  By the time I am in need of a sip or two the ice has begun to melt.  I like this tip especially because it helps remind me to drink water and not just sugary soda.  Smart and safe is the name of the game!
Misters are also great for keeping your skin and body hydrated and cool.  Once again I am confessing my undying love for the Misty ROCKS!  Seriously light and portable and no batteries needed!  Just throw it in your back pack and a cool refreshing mist is just a stashed Misty Mate away!

Lighten up!

Lighten up your clothing.  There are so many neat scientifically designed clothing items.  I love sundresses for girls and lightweight tops and shorts for men.  Thinking about clothing can really help with the hot parts of the day.  Of course you might be obliged to go 'home' for a break during the middle of the day but if you are anything like me you press on and get going  so make sure to think ahead when dressing for the day!