Monday, August 24, 2009

Do they even have a 12-step program for Disney addicts?

Our next Disney vacation isn't until June 2011 - unless of course some miracle occurs and I win the lottery and can finally buy into the Disney Vacation Club, at which time we will be at Walt Disney World ASAP.

Anyway, back here in the 'real world'....

As I said, the next time the party of 10 will be embarking on another Disney adventure is in about 22 months.

So, I'm already planning for that trip. That's not too early, right?

I say it's never too early to plan for your next Disney trip. Heck, I was thinking about what we'd do "next time" while we were still in the parks way back in April!

I already have my spiral bound notebook ready and waiting... and it's quickly filling with notes for that next trip - where we should eat, how many 'table service' meals we should do in one day (uh, that would be ONE per day!), the pros and cons of various deluxe resorts - which brings me to this post. Sort of.

My mom stopped by today and as I sat down at my computer to respond to a tweet, she said "What are you doing?"

"I'm tweeting one of my Disney peeps on Twitter."

"You need a 12-step program," mom said.

"Why? I'm not on Twitter all day." (Nope, not all day.)

"Not for Twitter. You need an intervention because you're addicted to Disney," mom said.

Addicted to Disney? As if that's a bad thing!

I will be the first to admit that I am in all likelihood addicted to all things Disney. [And isn't admitting your 'problem' the first step? haha]. But it's a good thing.

To me, Disney is pure magic. It's a place where you can go and forget all your problems and smile and laugh and wear your Mickey ears proudly and just be happy.

I've been visiting Walt Disney World since I was a toddler (and that was a LONG time ago!). I've spent time at WDW in the middle of the summer with all the crowds, during October when you practically had the park to yourself (this was pre-free dining!), on New Year's Eve (and I vow to never again attempt the Magic Kingdom on New Year's Eve!), and in the late spring (after the Easter week crowds have gone home).

Now that I have my own kids I want to share the Disney magic with them as often as our budget will allow. My husband says "there are other places to visit besides Disney" .... which I'm sure is true and we will make it those places...someday.

For now, I will proudly admit my Disney addiction and will continue to plan our next family trip! [And I will also continue to wish upon a star for that lottery win so that I can buy my DVC membership!]

[If you want a better idea of my love for Disney, I suggest reading this blog post . Mike Scopa, a feature writer for says it best. And while I might not shed Mouse Tears at the same things, I could come up with my own top 10 list!]

*I've always loved Winnie the Pooh and Mickey Mouse and Cinderella. One of my favorite things when I was younger was this Cinderella wristwatch that my parents (or maybe my grandparents) bought me - it had three different bands (white, pink and blue) that you can change to match your outfits, and I loved that watch. I wish I knew what happened to it. I'd love to let Olivia wear it.

**Check out that photo ... don't you just LOVE it when a rainbow appears over the Magic Kingdom!?!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Get to the Point - Part 2

OK, so in the previous post the day-long rainstorm had FINALLY ended (yeah, thanks local weathermen for the original 30% chance of rain predication...guess you missed the mark on that one, eh?) -- and now we were headed back to the park.

Cedar Point isn't the type of park where you need a "gameplan" in order to make your day enjoyable - you either go there to stand in line (a lot) to ride the world famous coasters or you go to wander around and let the little ones ride the kiddie rides. That's about it.

But, I still have a few thoughts about how to make your trip more enjoyable for everyone in your party.

TLC's Top 10 Tips

1. If you have small kids, pack snacks. And sippy cups. There is NO reason to spend a ton of money on amusement park 'snacks' when it's just as easy to pack a tote bag or backpack and fill it with individual bags of Cheez Its, Goldfish crackers, fruit snacks, etc. [OK sure, the brochure says 'no outside food' but honestly, NO ONE checks your bag as you enter the park. And I've never seen the 'food police' walking around confiscating Cheez Its].

2. If you are staying at the Hotel Breakers (or any other resort), pack food for breakfast. At the Breakers your breakfast choices are VERY limited - you can either pay an arm and a leg for some Krispy Kreme donuts and Starbucks coffee ... or ... you can pay and arm and a leg for a breakfast buffet. We've done both unfortunately and I would seriously recommend bringing your own donuts or cereal and milk (especially if you get a room with a 'fridge)! I would also recommend bring some pop and/or bottled water to keep in the 'fridge too. Even if you're only staying one night.

3. Eat the 'world famous' french fries! Seriously. You must do this. Head to the back of the park, near the Gemini roller coaster and buy some fries. With cheese. And vinegar. You can thank me later.

4. If you are a coaster prepared to stand in line. There is no FASTPASS option at Cedar Point. You will wait. Sometimes for hours.

5. If you go this summer, be sure to stay until 'twilight' so that you can see the new "Starlight Experience" on the Frontier Trail. The CP Web site describes it this way: "Immerse yourself in a canopy of light! Walk the Frontier Trail for a multi-sensory experience, featuring lighted displays, music, splashes of light and over one million LED lights." We made it a point to stay until dark and it was worth it. A nice addition to my favorite part of CP (the Frontier Trail).

6. Visit Camp Snoopy and Planet Snoopy -- if you have kids. Several years ago, Snoopy and friends showed up at CP. These two areas are great for the little ones -- they are full of rides for kids of all ages (and most of the rides are "parent friendly" too). And, if you're lucky, you just might run into Snoopy, Charlie Brown or Linus while in Camp Snoopy. [Camp Snoopy is located near the Gemini, while Planet Snoopy is located off the Midway].

7. Ride the Cedar Point & Lake Erie Railroad. Round trip. It's a nice 15-20 minute train ride. A good way to rest your tired feet.

8. If you're staying at the Hotel Breakers, take some time to play in the sand. Or at least let the kids play. It might not be the Florida coast...but the Lake Erie shoreline is pretty (and the water is clean) pack those beach toys and chill out in the sand for a while.

9. If your budget can handle it, I would recommend buying a two-day Ride and Slide ticket. We bought ours at the hotel for $63.99 per adult (junior tickets were cheaper). With these tickets you can visit Cedar Point and Soak City (the water park) over the course of two days. For example: we spent Saturday at Cedar Point and upon leaving we had our hands stamped with a waterproof (but NOT sunscreen proof) stamp. We were able to return to the park after the rain stopped and only had to show our hand stamp. The next day we went to Soak City in the morning and then headed back to CP in the afternoon.

10. Look for bargains when it comes to eating. One of the best deals we found was Saturday night when we were wandering around trying to figure out "what's for dinner?!?" Near the Midway we found a Johnsonville Brats stand and for $5 you could get a bratwurst, chips and pop. That is a good deal! Oh, and there are NO lids available when you buy a pop at any food stand. I find this odd and a bit irritating...but maybe that's just me. If you're looking for somewhere to sit and grab a bite to eat with the kids, try the Joe Cool Cafe - located across from Planet Snoopy. You can order Pizza Hut pizza (yum!) and THEY HAVE BEER (parents, I know you will appreciate this!). It's not really a "bargain" but it's better than grabbing more 'amusement park' food! [I should also mention - there is a certain sub sandwich place right outside Soak City and you will pay $7 for a 6-inch sub and $14 for a footlong sub. There is no $5 footlong at Cedar Point.]

OK...that's all. So, keep your hands and arms inside the ride at all times and enjoy your day at Cedar Point!

(Cedar Point is open until until November 1 this year. Halloweekends start September 18.)

Get to the Point - Part 1

Growing up in Northwest Ohio, the start of summer was always marked by the seasonal opening of Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio.

And, as a child, we always spent one hot and humid day at Cedar Point - riding the rides, eating the world famous french fries and ending the night with a purchase of saltwater taffy (which would never really get eaten!).

Last summer, we decided to introduce our kids to Cedar Point and, of course, they loved it! We went again last fall for the "Halloweekends" - where the park is decorated for Halloween and there is "fun scary" and "scary scary" stuff for kids of all ages.

Well, this summer we decided to make a mini "staycation" out of our trip to CP - and so, the "party of 10" [from our Disney adventure] headed east toward Sandusky a few weeks ago.

We had reservations at the Hotel Breakers - which is the 'flagship' resort for Cedar Point. It was built in 1905 and well, let's just say it's showing its age. My husband and I had stayed at the Breakers last summer - but obviously we had a room in the "newer" section in 2008 because our room this year was nothing to brag about. It was old. That's all I can say about it.

(The hallway of the Bon Air section of the hotel - where we stayed this year - reminded me of the hallway from The Shining. All that was missing were ghostly children on tricycles calling out "Redrum! Redrum!")

OK, sorry...I digress. All in all, the Hotel Breakers is NOT that bad. It's old, yes, But that gives it a little bit of charm too. The lobby is nice and it IS right on the it has that going for it. My recommendation if you are going to stay at the Breakers would be to REQUEST a room in the newer sections of the hotel and stay OUT of the older sections.

For the price they charge (a one night stay with park tickets for 4 people in a non-lakeview room with 2 queen beds = $403, according to the CP reservation site) you need to be in a MODERN room. (That price quoted IS in the Breakers tower or the Breakers East section - both of which I believe are newer and include a dorm size refrigerator). [As it was, our rooms were NOT in the newer section and they still cost about $220 a night! That being said, my parents have vowed to NEVER return to the Hotel Breakers.]

A few positives of staying 'on site' at the Breakers -- we were able to get into Cedar Point an hour before the park opened (this is more of a 'good' thing if you're one of the avid coaster riders that swarm to the park every summer). For us, it just meant we could take the kids to 'Planet Snoopy' an hour early. We were also able to buy our two-day "Ride and Slide" tickets at a discounted price as resort guests.

Another 'plus' to staying on site was this -- we could go back to our hotel for a while and rest. This was a saving grace for us on this trip because it RAINED. A lot. I'm talking epic rain here people. My dad spent about $70 on ponchos for the group because it was the ONLY way we could even walk through the park to get to the few attractions that were open during the deluge.

Finally, by 2 p.m. we were tired of being rained on and so we headed back to the hotel to dry off and watch The Weather Channel. Thankfully, by 4 p.m. the rain was gone and the sun was out and we were back in the park!

[As an aside, when it rains at Disney World you can just put on your ponchos and still have enough to do to make the rain seem not so bad. This is NOT the case at Cedar Point.]

Coming up....what to do and what not to do on your trip to Cedar Point.