A cool way to beat the heat at Disney World (or anywhere, really)!

I don't know about you but the "Dollar Bins" by the front door at Target lure me in every trip like a moth to flame.  I find lots of great stuff in there for my Disney trips, as well as inexpensive Disney themed stuff for the kids.  During this week's shopping adventure I scored the coolest (pun intended) personal mister that has not only earned a spot in my park bag, but my pool bag as well.

This fairly small mister is about the size of a flashlight, but is a bit skinnier.  You unscrew the top and fill with water to you get to the "fill line".  Secure the top and then store in a cooler or other cool spot.  When you are ready for a little heat relief you use the bottom of the unit as a piston to pump air into the container and put the contents under pressure.  About a dozen quick pumps gets the job done.  Then you just press the button near the spray head to release a fine mist.  Fantastic!

I tested my new find out yesterday after a hot walk around the block on a muggy 90 degree day.  It worked like a charm.  The mist was very fine and with one quick spray, did not leave me wet at all.  A longer spray did allow my arms to feel a little damp - either way made me feel much cooler.

The device does not hold a lot of water, which is nice as it is not to heavy to carry around or even attach to your wrist or belt loop.  Of course that will mean that frequent refills will be necessary on long days, especially if you have a large family.  So keep an extra bottle of water handy or just fine a water fountain.

With only one day of moderately heavy use (my kids are fascinated!) my little mister seems to be holding up well.  I am hoping that the manual nature of the pump will mean a longer life, 'cause I really like this little guy!  So my verdict is head out to Target this weekend and scope out the dollar bins and see what you can find.  It was in the $2.50 section, and so far is worth every penny - even if it ultimately finks out on me sooner than I would like.  I think I am going to stock up over the weekend, so if you live in central NC consider yourself warned with a fair head start!  Viva la Target!


Disney Must Do's That are Not Official Attractions

For me a trip to Disney would not be complete without flying over the streets of London with Peter Pan, or being totally immersed in the California skies on Soarin'.  Everyone has their obvious list of attractions and shows that are not to be missed.  As and Disney geek knows, there are so many other great things to enjoy besides things beside the ubiquitous wait time clock.  Here are a few of my favorites..
  • Riding the monorail to Epcot.  Our last visit we stayed at a monorail resort and the monorail served as our primary source of transportation.  If our next visit is less of a "splurge" trip, somehow, someway I will manage to get over to the TTC to ride the monorail to Epcot - even if I stay on board and return right back to the TTC.  While I love zooming quickly and quietly across the property, my favorite part is the bird's eye view of the park as you approach the monorail station.  Finishing my morning coffee on the monorail while my girls wiggle with excitement is bliss.
  • Dole Whips.  For the uninitiated, a Dole Whip is a signature taste of Disney deliciousness.  It is a non dairy, pineappley, (Yes, I just made up a word.) frozen, soft-serve treat.  It is kind of has the taste of a sorbet but with the texture of soft serve ice cream.  I am not sure why I am so fascinated by Dole Whips.  My husband pointed out that while they are good, they seem to have reached mythic proportions in my own head.     I guess it is because it combines something cool when I am hot,my favorite fruit, and Disney...and it is not a diet buster.  In the now infamous words of Charlie Sheen...WINNING!
  • Get an Early Morning ADR in the Magic Kingdom.  I love scoring an 8:15 or so breakfast at the Crystal Palace or Cinderella's Royal Table.  I love strolling down Main Street with just my little strollers used as battering rams, no polite stampede.  Stopping in front of the castle for pictures of my princesses (usually in their favorite princess dress) with nobody else in the background is a must.  Hands down those precious snapshots become my trip favorites.  You will also find PhotoPass photographers stationed along the way ready to take your picture.  The photographers are not busy, so sometimes they get a little creative.  On our last trip we got a few pictures of us walking up to the castle holding hands...just us!  When else can you have the entire kingdom to yourself?  Plus, once you eat you will be poised and ready to go ahead of the masses at the front gate!
  • Boating to Downtown Disney from the Port Orleans Resorts.  There is nothing like a relaxing float down the Sassagoula River at the end of a long day.  I love checking out the Treehouse Villas as I float past (maybe someday!) and enjoying the peace and quiet as we cruise to Downtown Disney.  After a quick spin through the World of Disney store I am back on the boat to return to Port Orleans French Quarter and some freshly made beignets (a diet buster for sure).  My favorite time to go is after I have put the kids and husband to bed, so I can enjoy the quiet (and let's face it...not have to share my beignets!)  Which brings me to my next item...
  • Going out Solo.  I adore my husband and love my children to bits.  That being said, I also love to kiss them all good night and head out solo.  Sometimes it is to shop in peace at Downtown Disney, but most of the time, I head out to enjoy which ever park has magic hours.  I pop on my headphones, and off I go.  The freedom is amazing!  I stop whenever and where ever I want to take pictures.  I duck into any store that looks appealing without having to explain that we are not actually going to buy anything.  I don't have to struggle with strollers or worry about holding hands so nobody gets lost.  I eat my own snack.  I drink my own drink.  I ride what I want.  I totally enjoy myself for a few hours.  That being said, I am quite happy to have the crew back together for rope drop the next morning.   
  • Watching Wishes from the beach at the Polynesian. There is nothing better at the end of a long day than to hit the beach at the Polynesian to watch the fireworks over the Magic Kingdom.  If you are out there long enough, you may also see the Electrical Water Parade float by.  Watching the fireworks from the parks is amazing, but is it equally as amazing from the Polynesian.  You can still hear the music, but you have a totally different perspective of the scale of the fireworks.  This is especially true if you are watching one of the special fireworks shows during the Halloween or Christmas Party.  Since they shoot a series of rockets from satellite locations (not just from behind the castle) I think the best view is actually not in the park, but a little further away!   
In a perfect (Disney) world, you can eat dinner at 'Ohana early in the evening.  Walk over to the TTC to ride the monorail to Epcot and back.  Return to the Polynesian and swing by Captain Cooks for a Dole Whip.  Then head out to the beach to grab a hammock and wait for Wishes to start.  Hopefully, things will time out so you can see the Water Pageant as well.  It will be your own little slice of Disney heaven, with no park ticket required!  Just send me a picture, so I can live vicariously through you!


Last call for a chance to win a 5 Night trip to Disney World (with Deluxe hotel and tickets for a family of 4)!

I just wanted to remind everyone that TMC  Travel is raffling off a 5 night trip to Disney World tomorrow (Saturday May 14, 2011).  Tickets are still available.

Each ticket is $100 and only 100 tickets will be sold.  Pretty good odd!  And the best part of all?  We hope that we will raise over $10,000 for Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy.

For more details, see my previous post HERE.

Please get in touch with me asap if you would like to purchase a ticket!


Happy Birthday to The Mouse Connection!

Well, the Mouse Connection is officially a year old!  I have really enjoyed blogging about how to "do Disney" over the past year.  Some months I was a better blogger than others, but regardless, you came and you read...and I appreciate you doing so!  In the past year there have been 2 column designs, 87 posts (a bit short of my twice a week goal), thousands of visitors, and probably at least that many misspellings and gramatical errors.  (My mother is an English professor, it clearly is not in the genes!)

I started this blog as a labor of love and to give my clients a crash course in Disney 101.  I have been amazed at how many others have followed along the way.  Who knew that people from every corner of the globe actually cared about my Disney ramblings?!?!  The best part of all is when I get an email from a reader who lets me know that a trip really made their vacation better.  It honestly makes it all worthwhile.

I thought it would be fun to list the most popular blog posts that I have done in the past year...counting down from number five...

5.  Aloha! Welcome to Disney's Polynesian Resort

4. Got Kids? Get Glow Sticks!

3.  Going to Disney: How to Tell the Kids

2.  Fun Facts: Magic Kingdom Tunnel System

And hands down, the most popular post:

1.  Fun Facts: Cinderella Castle

Of course, I have a few favorites as well...

The most often linked to post...   Keep up with your Kids!

My goofiest post...  A Dozen Great Uses for a Ziploc bag

My most commented on post...  Diary of a Park Bag

My most self serving post...   Why use a Travel Agent for your Disney Vacation?

And finally, the post I am the most proud of...   Win a 5 Night Disney Vacation and Help Raise $10K for MD Research

So thanks for coming along for the ride.  I am looking forward to another year together!


Win a 5 Night Disney Vacation from TMC Travel - The Mouse Connection and help raise $10,000 for Muscular Dystrophy research!

The ladies of TMC Travel are thrilled to announce that we are raffling off a 5 Night Disney vacation! We are working to raise funds for Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy, the largest non profit organization in the US focusing on curing Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.  Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy is the most common fatal genetic disorder diagnosed in childhood, affecting approximately 1 in every 3,500 live male births (about 20,000 new cases each year). 

This charity hits particularly close to home for me, as my friend's son is living with Duchenne.  Allison and I were pregnant with our second children at the same time.  Her son Matthew was born just a few weeks before my daughter.  As he started to grow, his parents noticed some delay in his gross motor skills.  Testing revealed the devastating diagnosis - a fatal form of Muscular Dystrophy. 

While Matthew may look like a normal, newly minted 5 year old, his future will not be normal.  He will likely be wheel chair bound by age 12 and later become a quadriplegic.  His life expectancy is less than 30 years.  His parents Allison and Bobby made an instant decision; they are fighting for their son's life with all the tools in their arsenal.  They work tirelessly with Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy to raise funds to educate, find a ways to lessen symptoms, and ultimately find a cure. 

These amazing warrior parents have enlisted the help of their friends to help raise funds by hosting events in Matthews honor.  In fact, there is an event coming up this weekend, and I am thrilled that TMC Travel is able to donate a trip to be raffled off by the Imagine How chapter of Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy.  Our goal is to raise over $10,000 by selling only 100 raffle tickets for $100 each. 

If a 5 Night Disney Vacation at a Deluxe resort including 5 day tickets for a family of 4 sounds like fun to you please contact me at for more details. You have great odds of actually winning this trip - 1 in 100!  Again, tickets are $100 each and ALL PROCEEDS WILL DIRECTLY BENEFIT PARENT PROJECT MUSCULAR DYSTROPHY.  The drawing will be held on Saturday, May 14.  Please contact me prior to that time so that I can make sure you have a chance to buy a ticket. Ticket sales are capped at 100, so don't wait to long and miss you chance!

If you are the lucky winner, you have a year to complete your travel and I will personally assist you with all of your travel plans, from picking the perfect Deluxe resort to making your ADR's. Even if you don't win the are still a winner by helping this family and others fight the good fight! Imagine How you can help save the lives of the children suffering from this disease.  Good luck!!!

If you would like to learn more about sweet little Matthew and his amazing parents, please visit or check out this video: