Surprise! We’re going to Disney.

Big boy’s reaction is priceless and just what I wanted.

S is cold and not awake and isn’t quite clear until we get in the car what is happening.

I should have taken T’s reaction as a warning of things to come…


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DIY Autograph Books for Disney World

I am not so crafty, but I try. Sometimes I do it because my kids are begging me. Sometimes I do it because the occasion demands it.

Other times, like this one, I just want something special and different. Autograph books for Walt Disney World.

I just wanted something personalized, small enough for their little hands, and inexpensive.  I didn’t want them to have the very same, kind of cheap feeling, one that everyone else had. I wanted a lot of pages, strong pages that wouldn’t bleed through. I searched for a couple days online and finally settled on these.


I ordered them through Dick Blick Art Materials. They are a simple 6″ x 4″ sketchbook. It comes in black and kraft. They were $5.13 each. I got some stickers and scrapbooking notions from Michaels and, well, all done…

Autographbook for Disney
Mirage Sketchbook Kraft 6″ x 4″

I really love them. The kids will further personalize them as a craft on the plane with some stickers. When we come home I’ll get some photos printed and stick them in there. There’s even enough pages for me to make some notes for them about the special things they saw and did on their trip. And of course a special love note on the inside back cover from mama to each of them.

I also got them each a clickable sharpie in their favorite colors. They are big enough for the characters to hold and will show up really well on the pages.

So it wasn’t like a real craft, really? But I made it for them, and that’s what matters to me.

Seriously? SO excited.

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The Hidden Costs of Disney

So I hemmed and hawed and decided. Then undecided, then decided again. The money has been spent. I think I’m home free. Then come all the hidden costs of Disney. You think that you’re going to just buy some plane tickets and book a place to stay. Not so fast sister.

There’s SO MUCH more.


Before we go

I need to BUY…

  • Guidebook
  • Disney merch
  • Autograph books and pens
  • Activities for the plane
  • id bracelets for the kids

I need to BOOK or ORDER…

  • Stroller rental and a parking space at the airport (which is almost as much as a plane ticket).
  • Dining reservation that require prepayments.

While we’re there the possibilities are endless really…

  • Balloons, hats, pins, dresses, cups, books, stuffed things, snowglobes, shirts, stickers, more stuffed things.

These two are in the Wildcard category.

  • Food- Not so hidden – we have to eat, but how much will we actually end up paying? We decided NOT to purchase the Disney Dining Plan. So we’re on our own. Groceries to be ordered and delivered with the stroller.
  • Clothes- ok we don’t really need these. But? Rain jackets that fold up. Warm weather clothes for kids that live somewhere very cold and have grown out of their summer stuff already. Summer stuff?! Masks for the pool and a swim diaper for the baby. And dammit I’m going on vacation for the first time in 6 years. Mama is gettin’ a few new things! New shoes, new sunglasses, and maybe a pretty new dress.

I think I could go on and on!

How do you manage not going broke before and during your vacation? Do you set a budget? Do you stop caring about it at some point? How many snowglobes does one person really need?

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Booked! The five hurdles to Disney

This is the Disney Bible apparently.

This is the Disney Bible apparently.

omg omg omg omg omg omg – We’re going to DISNEY!

I am beyond excited about this. It’s a surprise so SHHHHHHHHHH.

It took a long time to get to the buy however. A long time.

  • First -the timing
  • Second -the money
  • Third -the when
  • Fourth -the where
  • Fifth -the planning


1. We decided to wait a while to go to Disney. My kids are currently 6,4, & 2. Maybe you don’t think that’s a while and that we should wait longer. There was a part of me that thought so too. But then there’s the second hurdle to Disney…

2. The Money. We had a good year this year and I have been socking away money into a savings account. When it hit the magic (pun intended) number, music played and lights shone. It was wonderful! Will we have the money in 2 or 3 years. I hope so, but it’s not guaranteed. So we have it today. Livin’ in the moment baby!

3. My children’s birthdays are all within 3 weeks of each other in the spring. I initially thought that a birthday surprise to Walt Disney World would be ah-mazing.

Then I started to do my research.

Other times are cheaper. I would have to take them out of school pretty much anytime we went because school vacations are out of the question. School vacations mean more money and more people. Both of these things I have a very low tolerance for. So if I have to take them out of school anyway ,I chose a time when the crowds are down, the prices are down, and the temps are still a leeeetle bit up. We’re from Boston, let’s admit that my kids will be in the pool no matter the temp ;-)

4. Where o’ where should we stay? Holy hell this was BY FAR the biggest decision. On property OR off property? I did some crowd sourcing (read: I bugged the heck out of my network on Facebook). People have lots of opinions on this. I priced everything out. Went back and forth, and then back again.

In the end I decided that it would be best for our family to stay ON property this time. Because of the ages of my children it seemed like it would keep the schlepping to a minimum and enable us to get back to the hotel for naps for the little and have the big kids still having fun.

We’ll be at the brand new Art of Animation, one of Disney’s Value Resorts. It has the biggest pool on Disney property, an arcade, and a playground to keep them busy when they’re not passed out from exhaustion and need MORE to do. We’ve booked a Cars Suite, which gives us the space we need. Since my 2.5 year old will not remember this trip, getting to see him live in the moment surrounded by the characters of his favorite movie will be priceless.

5. The planning was daunting. Sometimes I like to wing it. However, this is not one of those times. There is so much to know. SO MUCH. There are books, websites, and people that dedicate their careers to knowing what to do at Walt Disney World. I know how to ask question when I need to. I know when to ask for help when I’m in over my head. I also research and plans things to a fault. So I reached out to friends and family for help. I asked an official planner, Pixie and Pirate Destinations, for help. I recommend them highly. Christina was very responsive and thorough. Then I was introduced to someone local – if you give me a personal connection that’s who I’ll pick every time! I thanked the very helpful lady on the internet and went full steam ahead with Dawn at MouseChow.

So that’s where we’re at now – the planning.
The biggies are done. Plane tickets – BOOKED. Resort – BOOKED.




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To Disney World or not to Disney World?

We’ve been thinking about going to Disney World since N was born. Of course that seems impractical, going to Disney with a newborn. So we waited. Then we had another baby two years later, and another two years after that. So we waited.

So now there are three kids ages 6,4,& 2. We think that this might be a great time to start planning for Disney. Or is it?

I’m pretty cheap thrifty. The thought of paying that much for a vacation has me twitching. Will they even remember it? Should we wait until they’re older? Does that even matter? Should we stay on Disney property? Can that even BE cost effctive? Or should we think about staying off property?

So many questions. And from what I’ve found from the first few days of searching is that there are just as many answers. Different answers to the same question. Sigh.

I am a person that has traveled around the world following the sun. I didn’t plan much more than that. The thought of over planning something like this goes against my nature. But it seems that this kind of thing, unplanned, would outright waste money. That, completely goes against my nature.

Yesterday I spent much of the day online trying to figure it all out. Originally I thought surprising them for their birthdays would be awesome. But then I read somewhere else that end of January is cheaper. Since I have to take them out of school anyway, cheaper seems better. Plane fares are also slightly cheaper in January. Is that because it’s cold there? Cold in Florida? It happens right?

Also I’d be willing to ditch the whole thing all together. My kids don’t HAVE to go to Disney. Plenty of kids don’t. We could use that money for loads of other stuff. Seems, well unseemly. But I waaaaaanaaaaaa go. So there’s that.

I saw lots of tweets and post and status updates from friends on the Disney Moms panel at the opening of the New Fantasyland. Now THAT would be a good way to go – as press. Or does anyone know of any contests running right now where I could WIN a trip. That would be easiest I think ;-)

So here are the places I’ll be looking in the next few days to get my act together

The Moms Panel, natch. My bloggy friends know their stuff.

Mouse Savers

All Ears

And of course Disney World.

Ok so I KNOW you all have tips. Lay em on me, I’m all ears. Heh.

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Disney on Ice – Mickey & Minnie’s Magical Journey giveaway

Disney On Ice presents Mickey & Minnie’s Magical Journey – Make imagination your destination! 

Join Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse on a journey into the magical worlds of Disney’s The Little Mermaid, The Lion King, Peter Pan and Lilo & Stitch.  Discover Ariel and Sebastian’s enchanting undersea kingdom; visit the Pride Lands with Simba and Nala; soar through starry skies with Peter Pan and his sassy fairy friend Tinker Bell; and say “aloha” to fun with Lilo and Stitch. You’ll be captivated by the music, beauty and laughter in a journey so magical, you’ll never want to go home.

A couple of months ago the kids and I went to Disney on Ice – Dare to Dream, an event I have told you all I was dreading a bit. As it would turn out we completely loved it. I loved it. Most importantly, they loved it. Another opportunity to go to Disney on Ice and to giveaway some tickets came up. I said “Heck Yeah!”

This time it’s Mickey & Minnie’s Magical Journey! We get to go to Africa to see the Lion King, Swim Under the Sea with Ariel and Sebastian, do a little hula in Hawaii with Lilo and Stitch and fly to Never Never Land with Peter Pan and Tinker Bell.

Sign me up. Wanna go too? Tickets are here.

The show is in Worcester at the DCU Center Thursday, April 19th at 7pm.

Wanna win? We’re giving away 4 tickets! The Winner of the Family Four pack is Sara A. Look out for an email!

Here’s how to enter…

Mandatory entry is to leave a comment telling me who your favorite Mickey Mouse Club member is.

Extra entries:

Like The Life of Reilly on Facebook and leave a comment here that you did- 1entry
Share this on Facebook link below and then leave a comment here that you did – 1entry
Follow me on twitter @mamariles and then leave a comment here that you follow – 1entry


Oh and there may be a chance for a character meet and greet before the show at 5! Woot!


The winner is chosen from these blog comments, not on Facebook or on Twitter. If you like us on Facebook you need to come back here and tell us you did for an extra entry. Get it? Good. Now go.


Winner has 48 hours to respond before a new winner is chosen. This giveaway will close at 11:59PM ET, Wednesday, April 11th, 2012. Please leave a separate comment for each entry and remember to leave a valid email address.The winner will be chosen via the WordPress plugin “And the Winner Is” and will be notified by email and announced here on the blog. I received no form of monetary compensation for this post. I received tickets to Disney On Ice to participate in this giveaway.  All opinions are my own.

DISNEY ON ICE is a trademark and service mark of Disney. Disney images and characters ©Disney. All Rights Reserved. Image Credit: Used with permission from Feld Entertainment


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