Several years ago…in 2017 our family took a Disney Star Wars cruise and it was an amazing experience. First, a couple of photos…
and today in honor of Star Wars day and remembering fun times, I’ve created a LEGO model to commemorate the event…
We recently visited Disney for a week. Near the end of our trip our 6 year old daughter Brielle got very sick with a stomach ache. It cuminated in throwing up in the park near the Dumbo ride. Disney went into action. Immediately she was surrounded by a wall of Disney employees creating a feeling of privacy including an EMT with a stretcher. (Some of Mickey’s doctor friends!)
They tested her blood sugar level and found she was not running a temp. After seeing she was OK to go on, we were escorted to a nearby gift shop where they gave our family whatever drinks we wanted. Then our guest guide asked Brielle about her favorite princess. She then took us past the 40 minute wait line to the front to get a moment of time with Arielle, the Little Mermaid including a photo and autograph.
As we left the park, we stopped in a shop where another Disney employee noticed Brielle didn’t look like she was well. When he found out she had been sick he watched us to see what she liked in the store. Once he knew, he brought the $30 stuffed animal up to the counter and gave it to her at no charge. He said that they want everyone to have a good time and felt sorry that she was feeling sick…get well soon.
The following day Brielle was still not well enough to go to the park…but we had reservations for dinner at Cinderella’s castle. Not to be missed, we timed it right to gave her Tylenol, Pepto Bismal, etc…and were able to squeeze out a 3 hour window where she felt well enough to go, see all the princesses, and enjoy part of the evening.
We’re telling this story not to complain at all about our experience…but to celebrate the fact that Disney gets it. We talked to several “cast members” at Disney and heard no negative stories about working there.
So what lesson did we learn? We’re always going to have a sick kid when we’re at Disney. : ) Seriously, the Disney employees are empowered to make guest experiences great. How can you empower your employees to make smart decisions that make customers happy?
A special moment for me at Disney World was visiting Mickey Mouse at the Town Square theater where you can go backstage to see Mickey preparing to be onstage as a magician. I was given the special opportunity to perform some magic for Mickey! I did one of my favorite illusions where I multiply my money…Something that really doesn’t happen often at DisneyWorld. : )
Mickey watched intently and then he was so surprised that he stepped back in disbelief! It was an amazing moment and so fun to be able to provide a bit of magic to someone who has made magic happen for many millions of people.
Conan O’Brien once told a joke about a 94-year-old great-great grandmother that had become the oldest person in the world to earn a Masters degree. He said “She plans to continue her education. Everyone is excited for the 94 year old, except her student loan officer.” Seriously, you are never too old to learn something new…even a new language.
Learning a foreign language will make you feel like a kid again. It’s something new that will expand your horizons. You’ll be able to communicate with people you never could before, understand things you couldn’t, keep your brain active, and you may have a desire to travel to new places to test out your abilities.
In Europe many people speak three languages. Here in the U.S (and Minnesota)…not so much. It’s a shame. Maybe us Minnesotans would speak more languages if, for example, they spoke a different language in Wisconsin. Possibly, we’d like to speak with those people that are so nearby…unless they support the wrong football team. What if they spoke another language in Iowa? Well, most Minnesotans try not to talk with them either. So I guess that’s not a reason to learn another language. Moving on…
An ad for the language learning system called Rosetta Stone starts like this “What’s the fastest way to learn a language? ACT LIKE A BABY.” They identify three characteristics that make language-learning a success for kids that we can emulate as adults. (1) Learning starts in a immersion environment free from translation and explanations of grammar. (2) Learning accelerates through constant feedback. (3) Learning happens through play. They conclude with “A slow smile sneaks across the learner’s face after just a few screens. It’s a smile of recognition, as though the brain suddenly recalls what is was like to learn language as a child, athough it realizes, ‘Aha! I’ve done this before.'”
TIPS FOR LEARNING
Here are a few tips for learning a foreign language.
Don’t be Afraid to Try
My young daughter Arianna told me “We have to crap for Brielle.” “What?” I asked. Again she said, “We have to crap for Brielle.” I tried for clarification “Honey, What word are you saying?” “Crap for Brielle!” Then she applauded!…and I understood. Sometimes we know the words but still don’t communicate clearly. Kids are not afraid to try.
I’ve had my issues with learning French. One time I was the only American at the dinner table with a French family. At the time I knew enough French to get myself in trouble. I had my own rules for French. For example, I found that long English words are often the same in French but thay are pronounced differently. For example, “helicopter” is pronounced “hel-A-kop-tare” in French. Also, words that end in “ive” in English often end in “if” in French. For example, “massive” is “massif” in French. One older gentleman at the table was a baker and he was trying to explain something to me about the bread…that it was natural or something. So I said to him “C’est du pain, sans preservatif.”…thinking I was saying “It’s bread without any preservatives”. The entire table broke into laughter. What I really said in French was “It’s bread without condoms.” True, but not exactly what I had in mind.
Another time I had learned the words “par se que” (because) and “mai” (but) in the same day. After eating a huge dinner, I was offered more food. I thought that if I ate another bite I would explode like the man in Monty Python, so I said “C’est tres bon parse que c’est trop.” or “It’s very good BECAUSE it is too much.” I got them mixed up. Oops.
I could have let these incidents stop me from trying. Kids are much more patient in this regard because they make mistakes all the time. Learning is often a process of making mistakes and then changing what we know. In fact, making the mistake helps you remember to not make it again…or so we hope.
Talk With Kids
Not only is it easier to learn a foreign language like a child learns, but learning a foreign language is easier if you talk WITH children that speak that language natively. So you can put yourself in a situation where kids speak another language and might with you. For most Americans this might occur on a mission trip, or while volunteering in an immersion school. Here’s why it could help:
1. Kids speak slower and with simpler words and phrases.
2. It is not as intimidating to try speaking to kids as it is adults.
3. Kids are not afraid to continue speaking to you even when you don’t have a clue what they are saying.
4. Kids may not understand English and therefore you are forced to speak it for any understanding.
I remember one time I was talking to a kid in French to see how he would respond. He didn’t have a clue what I was saying. After listening and nodding in agreement for a few minutes, he said he needed to go… “I’ll talk to you later!”
Get Some Rest
Learning another language can be tiring. In fact, researchers have found that sleep boosts your ability to learn language. So…if someone ever catches you taking a nap just say “I’m trying to learn a foreign language!” Personally, I’d say adequate sleep boosts your ability to do anything well. You when you need a rest and get frustrated, take one…and pick up where you left off later. Repetition and trying lots of different ways to achieve the end is key.
While traveling alone in the Czech Republic, I had a strong desire to be understood. I would ask in Czech “Mluvíte anglicky?” (“Do you speak English?”) The common answer was “no”. The other person would ask in German (their second language) “Sprechen Sie Deutsch?” I’d reply “No” and then ask “Parlez vous Francais?” (as French is my second language). They would laugh at me as if to say “Yeah right, I’m going to speak French.” When I got tired of trying to understand Czech or German menus and saying “Nerozumím” (“I don’t understand”), I’d hit an Italian restaurant. Spaghetti and pizza are recognizable in any language…and it provided me a well deserved rest.
LANGUAGE LEARNING RESOURCES
There are many resources available for learning a language. Try any and all of them for greater success.
Lots of language resources come from England…and so learning from them can be complex. Once I was trying to learn Czech from a CD. The English made no sense. It went like this: “And now for some general queries. You’re in a large hypermarket and you want to know where the trolleys are.” What? I needed to translate the British English into English. “And now for some general questions. You’re in a large grocery store and want to know where the carts are.”
Listen to internet radio in your foreign language on Pandora.
French in 10 Minutes a Day Great book with stickers you can place on things in your house.
Phrase books can be helpful but I’ve found phrase books sometimes send you in the wrong direction. For example, one French phrase book must have been designed for wealthy travelers. It teaches you things like “Can you have my shirts cleaned and pressed?” I need phrases like “Could you remove the rat from the bathroom?” In another case, the book said I should call the waiter “Garçon!”. That didn’t work for me when I called over the distinguished waiter who was 30 years my elder by calling him literally “Boy!”.
French Language Map – Summary guide with phrases.
DVDs and Other Media
Turn on the alternate language track to watch your favorite movie in French or Spanish.
YouTube has some excellent resources including lots of kids videos of nursery rhymes and songs.
Muzzy – Great for young kids…a cartoon immersion series from the BBC. If you purchase this online, you actually get all 5 languages! (French, Italian, Spanish, German, and English)
Rosetta Stone – A great immersion system for learning a foreign language.
Mango Languages – Found at many libraries.
BBC Languages – Online help.
French in Action – The “French in Action” series is one of the best ways I’ve found to learn French language and culture. The characters in this series are very true to French life. It is an immersion course…so all you hear is French (no English) just like if you were in France. By associating movies clips, a story, and pictures to the words you see and hear, it helps you to learn visually so that you are more likely to remember the words and phrases.
There are many different packages including workbooks, textbooks, DVDs (52 episodes), etc. available from Annenberg Media that funded production of the series.
The complete French in Action DVD set is $450 through the Annenberg site, but you may be able to get it used on eBay for cheaper. You can also access the videos via the Annenberg website for free. Warning: You may find complete DVD sets available at highly reduced prices through http://completeseries.tv/french.htm or http://www.dvdhunters.com. DO NOT order from these companies! They are illegal bootleg copies of poor quality and it is impossible to reach their customer service via e-mail, chat, or phone so you are not even guaranteed the product will arrive.
Take a beginning class at a local community/cultural center or college. For example, our local Alliance Française offers classes in French.
Some Online French Help from About.com
French theme decorations might be the color of the flag of France: Red, White, and Blue. Get a big map of France map of France and posters of various places in France. The Eiffel Tower and the Arch of Triumph are always welcome.
In Paris you’ll find the performing arts such as magicians, jugglers, etc. Hire Tim Cimbura to entertain you with strolling magic or a complete show at your party and he’ll even include some French in the act getting your party-goers involved in the fun. This is a great way to really make your party unique.
Lots of movies on DVD have French language tracks. Pick one and watch it with French language and English subtitles. Some French themed American movies that are funny are: French Kiss, Madeline, and most recently Ratatouille.
MEDIA – DVDs and MUSIC
Play some traditional French accordion music in the background. Watch the incredible French countryside from the air with Visions of France. Get the tour with Samantha Brown in Passport to France. Learn the French language a bit.
Have fun ordering some real French reading material from Amazon.com in France. They will ship it to you! (Note: You need to be able to read French.)
WHAT TO WEAR
Crepes (like thin pancakes) are a fun and versatile French food. You can buy them pre-made and heat them up or make your own. They can be made sweet with bananas, Nutella, strawberries, jelly, etc. or salty with ham, swiss cheese, etc. like a sandwich. The whole meal can be crepes.
Crepe Recipe – 7 crepes ready in 15 minutes
Ingredients: 1 cup all-purpose flour, 1 egg, 2 cups milk
Combine ingredients in mixing bowl. Heat a large skillet or crepe pan over medium-high heat. Spray pan with non-stick cooking spray. Pour about 1/3 cup of batter into the pan. Lift the pan and turn it by rotating your wrist spreading a PAPER THIN amount of batter in the pan. Flip the crepe when it starts to bubble. When crepe is finished cooking, remove and repeat this process with the remaining batter.
Popular French Foods
Other French Food Ideas
In the Minneapolis area, here are some food places and restaurants to try for ideas:
If you’ve never taken a flight over to Europe, it takes about 7 hours to get there. I always take the chance to stand up as much as possible before getting on the plane. To help deal with jet lag, try to sleep as much as possible on the way over. Bring an inflatable neck pillow if it will help. You’ll need the sleep when you arrive. Also, drink lots of water or juices (apple, orange, or cranberry). Avoid coffee, tea, and alcohol. The first day in Europe I try to stay out in the bright sun and remain active so I adjust to the time faster. It might be a good time to rent a bike or go jogging in the afternoon.
On to Paris
All the standard sites are interesting: Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe (Arch of Triumph), a walk down the Champs-Elysees, The Louvre Museum, Palace of Versailles, Sacre Coeur and Montmartre. If you don’t have time to go up the Eiffel Tower, climb the stairs up to the top of the Arc de Triomphe. It’s an excellent view of Paris, the traffic, AND the Eiffel Tower…a good place for photos. Go through the tunnel to get there…don’t dodge the traffic and lose!
Take the metro (subway) everywhere. Once you learn how it works, it’s easy. The lines are designated by the destination at the END OF THE LINE. Hop on and get out where you need to. All the major attractions have stops. Now (July 2008), there is another option…rental bikes called Velib. They are everywhere in the city and make for a popular form of transportation. Take a leisurely boat ride up the Seine River from the Eiffel Tower to Notre Dame.
I just love to walk around neighborhoods, watch people in real life, or visit a small cafe. Most French people are very kind if you are considerate of them. They love to hear their own language…and if you make an effort to speak they will appreciate it. They may chuckle and answer back in English, but keep trying…it’s the thought that counts.
See a movie in French…maybe one you’ve already seen in America. Often, American movies will be showing. Make sure it’s “double” (dubbed) and not with “Sous-titres” (sub-titles) It’s kind of fun to see American actors speaking French. If it’s “version original”, then it’s in the original English…boring.
You can tell Americans because they often wear tennis shoes. French like darker colors in general.
Spend time in bookstores looking at the French books that people read. I especially like to look at children’s books, because they are easier to understand. It’s fun to see what kids read and learn with while they are growing up in France.
Often you can see some free street juggling or entertainment by the Centre George Pompidou. There’s an excellent street magician named Bebel who performs card tricks in the evening in the Latin Quarter (although it helps to understand French since he talks fast).
Food and Drink
France is known for excellent food. I love their breads and bakery items. They also have an incredible selection of cheese and yogurts. There’s nothing like it in the U.S. I don’t know why we can’t get it right.
Any bakery or “boulangerie” will have pain au chocolat (chocolate croissant) or pain aux raisins (a kind of a raisin danish). Both are excellent for breakfast with coffee, orange juice, water, or hot chocolate.
For lunch try buying a “sandwich au thon” (tuna sandwich), otherwise known as a Nicois. This is French “fast food”. It usually has tuna, mayo, lettuce, tomatoes, and hard boiled eggs on a good baguette. Orangina or a carbonated limonade are good beverages. French sodas aren’t as sweet as Coke. Road side stands sell good “frites” or French fries. Go shopping in a grocery store and try a yogurt. In France, yogurt is not a “diet” food.
French dinners can be a long event. Prepare to spend time, relax, and enjoy the experience of multiple courses. See if they have a “prix fixe” (fixed price) menu for the evening. This usually contains a good salad, entree, and dessert. Be surprised with something new and exciting.
The French have frequent and unannounced strikes. I’ve been stranded without a train or bus to the airport a couple times. It’s nice to travel to the airport the night before and just stay there. Then you’re assured that you’ll make your flight as long as you wake up for it. Last time I was there, the Charles DeGaulle airport terminal 1 (Roissy) has small and cheap pods (rooms) with showers called “Cocoon Rest Inn”. I had a hard time finding any info about it on the internet so I’m not sure if it’s still there.
It’s easier to adjust to the time on the way back but you’ll be very tired the first couple of days. You’ll easily wake up early in the morning. Make sure you don’t drive when you’re tired!
Have a great trip.
Visiting DisneyWorld in Florida can be an ultimate Child at Heart experience for anyone. Around every corner is something new and fun that you’ve never done before. It’s a world that was created to appeal to kids but also to the child at heart. If you can’t enjoy something about Disney, then you may have a condition that requires medical attention. (Kim & Jason call this “adultitis”.)
On the other hand, I’ll admit that it is easy to fall out of your great Disney experience and into a meltdown if you’re not careful. Crying and tired kids, long lines, bad weather, and other factors can make Disney a difficult place to be in spite of being the most magical place on earth. Here I’ll share some tips to ensure that will NOT happen to you. If you’re going to Disney, it can be the most wonderful trip ever.
PLAN, PLAN, PLAN
When you’re spending a lot of money to make your Disney trip happen, you want to make sure you’re getting your value out of your investment. Spending time to plan your vacation time before you actually get to Disney will help make it will go well. It will also help you to build excitement and anticipation for what is to come. It’s part of the full experience.
We began telling our girls about seeing Cinderella’s castle and meeting all the characters nearly one year in advance. We watched movies so they’d know the characters. In fact, we used the trip as motivation for our youngest to get toilet trained. She had it down “Daddy, When I go potty in the toilet every time I get to go to DisneyWorld!”. I can see a new commercial for Disney.
Here are some steps in planning your Disney vacation:
1. Choose which of the four parks you want to see: The Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom. For each park you choose, plan at least one day to see some of the major attractions. (They’re all great…so you can’t lose.)
2. Choose how many days you’ll be there and the time of year. If you can, choose to go in the off season when you’ll have fewer lines and lower costs.
3. Sign up for Unofficial Guide to Disney site. http://touringplans.com
4. Choose the least busy days for your particular parks according to their web site advice.
5. Buy a couple of books about Disney. Read them and take some notes so that you have the info in at your fingertips. When you’re actually at Disney is not the time to start reading about it.
6. Choose your dining options. If you want Disney dining to be a part of your experience (and it can be very fun), make your ADRs (Advance Dining Reservations) for character meals and special meals at specific restaurants you want to eat at for each day. That reservation will be an anchor spot for the day determining which park you’ll need to be at for a specific time. Arrive for your reservation 15-30 minutes early, and you may be able to get in earlier or on time. Arrive late and you may have a more difficult time getting in. We did the Disney Dining plan and it saved us a lot of money and made things easy once we got to understand the system.
7. Buy your tickets and reservations online through The Magic for Less Travel or Disney’s web site. Having a travel agent (no cost) to help and answer questions is invaluable. Depending on your budget, you can choose from value, moderate, or deluxe accommodations.
Tip: When purchasing your Disney tickets, add the water parks as an option after you arrive IF the weather is nice. We ended up spending $200 extra for the water park option that we didn’t get to use because the weather was too cool for swimming.
8. Listen to Disney planning podcasts. This builds excitement, anticipation, and your knowledge about the parks. Here are a couple I found useful and fun:
Make a packing list. Here’s a list I use to make sure I haven’t forgotten anything.
Check your ADRs, flights, hotels, and car rental at least 1 month before the trip.
Clean your house before you leave. It’s really nice to come home to a clean place.
Set Some Ground Rules:
Rent a Stroller
If you have any kids under 50 pounds…rent a stroller. We thought our 3 and 5 year olds were pretty active and wouldn’t need them. We were so wrong. Disney is a lot of walking. We rented one from Magic Stroller and it was a great investment of $125 for 1 week. The stroller was delivered to our hotel when we arrived and we just left it there for pickup the day we left. The Disney strollers are expensive and quite utilitarian (not so comfortable for the kids). I also suggest paying $25 more for insurance and piece of mind that if it is stolen, it’s covered. Amazingly, we had no problems leaving our strollers in various places in the parks. Disney has people there to keep them in neat rows and assist you. We just never left anything valuable in them when they were by themselves.
The stroller worked great for reserving a place for us to watch a parade or fireworks, carrying kids and other essentials around, and giving the kids a warm, dry, out of the sun or rain place to rest their feet. The stroller also allowed our youngest to sleep through portions of the trip while we continued enjoying ourselves late into the night.
We rented a van from National Car Rental. It was convenient to drive to the Publix grocery store, the Animal Kingdom, and some dinner events at other resorts. We took Disney transportation (busses or boat) to the Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios. We stayed at the Beach Club resort so we walked to Epcot since it was so close.
Here’s a big tip: You CAN’T see all of Disney in one trip. Admit it. We were there for 7 very full days and we saw a lot…but we could have seen more parades, characters, fireworks, rides, restaurants, etc. We didn’t even get to go to one of the water parks due to weather. The important thing was that we had a ball. Everything we did was fun and we were enjoying the moments together as a family. At minimum I’d suggest spending 1 day in each major park: Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios.
So promise yourself that your will come back to Disney in the future. It will help you avoid killing yourself from exhaustion when you realize and become so frustrated that you can’t do everything in one trip.
We were surprised at how important meeting the Disney characters was to our trip experience. Watching our children look up with wide eyes upon meeting Minnie and Mickey was incredible. Several times it even became so emotional that little tears of joy appeared. Arianna loves to dance. One evening at Hollywood Studios she had the opportunity to dance with Minnie at the Clubhouse Mickey. She was so star struck holding Minnie’s hand that she forgot to dance just reveling in the moment. Disney has made it much easier to see characters, get great photos, and autographs than when I was a kid.
We took care of a light breakfast each day with some bars or muffins that we got at the grocery store. That allowed us to get going earlier and take advantage of the parks when they were least busy. The Disney Dining plan offered plenty of lunch and dinner food and snacks.
Use Amazon Prime Now to deliver some essential groceries like water, snacks, etc. directly to your resort within 2 hours at a reasonable cost. This can save you some money and is very convenient.
The Disney Dining classifies food as (1) Quick Service – A place where you stand in line and get your food. (2) Table Service – A sit down restaurant (get reservations or ADRs for these). and (3) Snacks – Fruit, popcorn, drink, etc. Nearly anything under $6 at participating restaurants, gift shops, or food stands is considered a snack.
In fact, we ended up having extra snacks on our plan at the end. We stocked up on Minnie’s Cookies which we found in the gift shops. They’re individually wrapped so you can even bring them home. My favorite was chocolate chunk peanut butter. Yum!
Among all our amazing dining experiences, a few stood out…
Everyone at Disney addressed our girls as “princess” (especially when their hair was styled and they were wearing costumes). Some people even called them “your highness”. One time we were having lunch at Epcot and Arianna spilled chocolate milk on her shirt. Being tired, she began to melt down. A new friend from a nearby table chimed in…”I saw Sleeping Beauty do the same thing the other day. When a princess spills something, it’s OK. It won’t matter in the long run. You can just wash it later and everything will be OK. In fact, it looks kind of nice.” It saved the day.
It turns out she was a Disney employee in training. We had a great conversation. It was meeting people like that that made our trip so special. We also met a new friend from Africa at the Animal Kingdom lodge. We learned a lot from him about the country he’s from and had fun interacting with someone from the other side of the world. Disney employs people from all over the world. At the France restaurant at Epcot, I had the chance to speak French with several of the wait staff. It made the experience authentic…just as if I was in Paris.
Use the “extra magic hours” if you’re staying on site. This is when you can go into the park early or late if you’re staying on Disney property. It’s a great way to enjoy the rides with less people.
Use Genie+ (formerly FastPass)
Disney has special ways to get through lines faster with Genie+ that allow you to skip the wait on select rides throughout the day. It’s worth it to experience more during your day.
If you can’t get a FastPass for a favorite ride, be at the park gates at least 30 minutes before opening to do “rope drop”. See the opening ceremony and head directly for the most interesting attraction in the farthest reaches of the park.
I used technology effectively to help make the trip better. Since I was on vacation and I work with computers every day, I purposely did not use my laptop. My iPhone provided all the essentials to make the trip work. The best resource I found was “The Unofficial Guide to Disney World” and their mobile Lines web site that tells how long the wait is for each ride as well as park hours, etc. http://m.touringplans.com. It cost $8.95 for a year membership. Sign up at http://www.touringplans.com
Fall back is Disney’s paper maps. They don’t need batteries and are easy to read in the bright sunshine. All my dining plans were made well in advance to get ADRs…and I thought the wait times were not as accurate or easy to read as the Lines mobile site listed above.
I checked the Weather and the time of the Sunrise Sunset using free applications on the iPhone.
Ordering all your meals and looking at your phone all day will take a toll on the battery. Put your battery into low power mode. Order a back up battery and take it with you to carry in a fanny pack or purse.
I also used the iPhone keep up with Mail so I wasn’t overwhelmed when I returned. I had two specific rules for minimizing technology interrupting the fun: (1) If it was an important e-mail, I would file it in a folder for “Action When I Return”. (2) Anything else I would simply delete it. This really helped. I made the decision that I could do without most e-mail for 2 weeks without anything coming crashing down. It’s a good idea to keep backup copies of your travel documents in your e-mail InBox if you need to reference them or if you have a Mobile Me account, you can store copies of your travel documents on your iDisk.
Another technology bonus came via Facebook on the iPhone. I happened to see a friend I hadn’t seen for years post a photo with his kids in front of a ride I had just been to the day before. I didn’t have his contact information with me, but Facebook had his mobile number and so I was able to contact him. Turns out he was staying at the same resort and we were able to meet up and talk for a while.
Here are the attractions that we felt (as a family of two young girls, mom and dad, and sometimes grandma and grandpa) were the must sees for each park. (Updated rides 2/5/22)
FREE THINGS (no tickets required)
And now for some photos and videos to give you a flavor of the fun…
WRAPPING IT UP
You’ll have many memories from your vacation. Anytime you want a little reminder, take out your photos and videos or listen to Magical Mouse Radio. The music will bring you back there in a moment.
We had such a great time together, we know we’ll be back to Disney. Got to get to planning…
Here it is January 24th. It’s a cold, cold, cold day in Minnesota. Outside it’s around 11 degrees and it’s been cold for a few weeks. In fact, many people have colds. We’re pretty much stuck inside. It’s the time of year when most people in the northern states get the blues and lust for a warmer environment.
With the economy the way it is, many people have chosen to forego the family vacation to a sunny beach paradise. If you’re one of these people and you’ve cut the travel budget temporarily here’s exactly what you need: A complete “staycation kit” for under $100. If you are not aware, a “staycation” is a vacation that is spent at or nearby your home enjoying all that your present environs have to offer.
The point of all this is to get the feeling of being in a tropical paradise without actually going. It can be done. One key is to hit all the senses: sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste. When you do, you’ll feel more alive immediately.
Let’s get started. Most of what you’ll need you’ll already have around the house. A few things you’ll need to purchase. Gather the following items:
Beach Towel – Touch
Sunscreen – Smell and Touch
Pineapple juice, Coconut Cream, Orange juice, Rum flavor concentrate, Crushed ice (see recipes below) – Taste
Hawaiian Shaved Ice Party Package – Taste
Swimsuit, Shorts, Flip flops, Sunglasses
Hawaiian Shirt – Sight
Sunny Window – Sight and warmth
Waves The Best Caribbean Beaches and Hawaiian Dreams DVD – Sight and hearing
Glade Hawaiian Breeze Air Freshener – Smell
Jet X20 video game for PS2 or Kawasaki Jet Ski video game for PS2 – Sight and hearing
Palm Trees (optional) – Sight
Sea shells (optional) – Sight and touch
Add a couple of kids under the age of 10 and you’ll really add to the fun and realism (optional)
The best time to do this is during the afternoon. Put on your swimming suit, flip flops, and sunglasses. You’re going on an adventure right at home. Find the sunniest spot in your house…a window with the sun pouring in. Turn the thermostat up to 75 degrees and it’l be warmer than it is in Florida right now! Place the palm tree next to the TV and insert the Waves DVD. Grab your beach towel and lay it out on the carpet. Now spray the glade in the air for a tropical smell, slather on some sunscreen, and lay out for a while. Let the sound of the ocean and warmth of the sun soothe you. Read a book if you like on your beach.
After a good relaxation, get out the ingredients to make some refreshing tropical drinks.
Pina Colada (virgin, non-alcoholic)
7 oz Pineapple Juice
2 oz Coconut Cream
1 cup crushed ice
Add the pineapple juice, coconut cream and crushed ice to a blender; blend at high speed. Pour into glass. Garnish with a maraschino cherry, a pineapple wedge, and serve.
Blue Hawaiian (virgin, non-alcoholic)
4 oz. Pineapple Juice
3 oz. Coconut Cream
1 oz. Orange juice concentrate
1 cup crushed ice
6 drops Rum Flavor Concentrate
Blue food coloring
Blend with crushed ice to desired consistency. Garnish with a pineapple slice and serve.
Another option is to make your own Hawaiian Shave Ice. You could even make a picnic lunch to eat on your private island or call “room service” and get a pizza delivered (Domino’s nearby?).
Our kids took this to the next level. They easily went along with the charade without even thinking. It was just another fun game for them…”the Hawaiian beach game”. They even used their imaginations to blow up a inner tube and jump into the water. (The shower is really near by.)
As you stimulate your senses, you’ll feel what it’s like to be in a tropical paradise without all the expense and hassle of traveling…at least for an afternoon. I highly promote travel to a warm destination. It’s definitely the best experience overall but sometimes it isn’t practical financially or in your schedule and the right thing is to stay home. These staycation ideas give you some of the fun. This may not help the economy but it will surely help your spirits.
Take lots of photos and don’t forget the Sunless Tanner when you go back to work to make everyone jealous of your time in the sun.
P.S. My wife and I also used the Waves DVD on a staycation anniversary celebration at a hotel nearby the Mall of America. It was dark outside and the sound of the waves really made us feel like the ocean was right outside our window even though it was in the middle of winter. The whirlpool hot tub helped, too.