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Adventures by Disney Archives

April 9, 2014

Do You Like to Travel?

AllEars® is considering hosting another Adventures by Disney trip in 2015.

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Previous AllEars® AbD trips have included:
Scotland, a Brave Adventure
Backstage Magic (California);
Southwest Splendors
Wyoming.

We'd like to know which trips you would be interested in joining in 2015.

Please take a few minutes to fill out our brief questionnaire:

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/AllEars-ABD

Thank you!

September 11, 2013

Adventures by Disney Scotland - Almost Time - Part 1

Deb's Digest Blog

Very soon, Linda and I will be on a plane to Scotland! We have never been and we are both quite excited about the adventure. Having done a few Adventure by Disney s (ABDs) in the past, we know it will be an awesome time.

This is an AllEars Group Adventures by Disney and we are excited to share the experience with our friends - new and old.

Scotland has been on Linda's bucket list and she hopes to golf and drink some great Scotch. Me, I'm just hoping with my limited palate and food allergies, I'll have plenty to eat. Never fear, I am bring a few boxes of my favorite meal bar with me.

To make life easier, we are staying at the Balmoral hotel, the same one we will stay at when the ABD begins. We have no specific plans for our pre-stay other than to get used to the time change and relax. Those AbD guides keep you hopping!

As long as we have internet service we plan to keep you updated on our Adventure! You don't need your own Twitter or Instagram account to follow us. Your internet browser will take you to our updates.

Deb's Twitter Account: https://twitter.com/AllEarsDeb

All Ears Twitter Account: https://twitter.com/allearsnet

All Ears Instagram Account: http://instagram.com/allearsnet

Deb's Instagram Account: http://instagram.com/allearsdeb

Here's a look at our itinerary.

This 9 day/8 night adventure begins and ends in Edinburgh with visits to Inverness, Isle of Skye and Isle of Lewis.

Adventures by Disney Scotland

Highlights include a private tour and dinner in Edinburgh Castle, checking out the Loch Ness center and flying to the Isle of Lewis to see the Callanish Standing Stones (like you saw in Brave!). We will be making scones, tasting whiskey, horseback riding and maybe even some Celtic dancing!.

So, please follow our Adventure with us!

FIRST-HAND REPORTS ABOUT ADVENTURES BY DISNEY

Read all about my Southwest Splendors Adventure by Disney!

Here's my trip report from the Backstage Magic Adventure!

Beci shared her Adventure by Disney to Ireland!

Erin enjoyed the Costa Rica Adventures with her family!


March 24, 2013

Scotland a Brave Adventure - Limited Space Now Available

Deb's Digest Blog

NOTE: I announced this special adult only Adventure by Disney Scotland journey last year and within 2 weeks all the slots were filled. We just had a couple cancellations and so the opportunity exists (if you act fast) to join this exclusive adventure. If you are interested, contact Adventures@MouseFanTravel.com

SCOTLAND -- A BRAVE ADVENTURE

Adventures by Disney Scotland

This 9 day/8 night adventure begins and ends in Edinburgh with visits to Inverness, Isle of Skye and Isle of Lewis.

Join me for an adult-only experience that only the Adventures by Disney folks can provide, September 15-23, 2013!

Itinerary Highlights

Day 1 - A Disney representative meets you at the airport and a driver takes to you the Balmoral Hotel. Everyone arrives throughout the day and we gather for a welcome dinner to meet our guides and fellow travelers.

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Day 2 - Our first excursion is to the Palace of Holyroodhouse where a Blue Badge Guide leads us on a tour of this royal palace that is one of the Queen's official residences in Edinburgh. The National Museum of Scotland is next, where a private guide provides the tour. After a group lunch in the Museum it's time for the Dovecot Studios Tour. This 100-year-old studio creates tapestries through a rich collaboration between the artist, weavers and commissioners. Late afternoon and dinner we are on our own.

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Day 3 - After breakfast we journey by coach to one of the most famous islands of Scotland -- the mystical, magical Isle of Skye. A visit to Ft. William where the sea meets the Rivers Nevis and Lochy, with mighty Ben Nevis -- the highest mountain in the British Isles -- towering in the background. Time on our own is included. Back on the coach to the Cuillin Hills Hotel, overlooking the waters of Portree Bay, with spectacular views of both the Sound of Raasay and the grand Cuillin Mountain Range.

Day 4 - Breakfast first and then we board the coach to the rugged Sound of Raasay. Our day includes hiking at Brothers Point and a ride to Quiraing. After lunch at Flodigarry Hotel, we walk along Staffin Beach and visit Kilt Rock. At the Isle of Skye Baking Company we'll learn how to make scones! Dinner is on our own in Portree.

Day 5 - On the coach to our next destination, Eilean Donan Castle. This majestic national icon sits at the dramatic junction of three great saltwater lochs. We can explore the Loch Ness Exhibition Centre and enjoy an exclusive Lunch at the Loch Ness Café. Then we board a motor launch for a trek across Loch Ness. We disembark at the ruins of this once-mighty fortress that commands breathtaking views of Loch Ness. Finally we arrive at the Kingsclub Hotel & Spa, Inverness, the new annex of the Kingsmills Hotel, and enjoy dinner.

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Day 6 - We board a flight to the Isle of Lewis where we tour: the Blackhouse of Arnol, No. 42, Gearrannan Village and see the Dun Carloway Broch, the Callanish Standing Stones and then lunch at the Cafe. We then fly back to Inverness for dinner at the Mustard Seed.

Day 7 - We spend the day at the Rothiemurchus Estate! Horseback riding, bicycle (or casual) walking tour, and lunch at the Druie Café Restaurant.

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Day 8 - Our final full day of touring! After breakfast at the hotel we board a coach for a scenic three-hour trip to the Scottish Highlands! Dunnottar Castle and Glamis Castle are on the list as well as a picnic lunch, private guided tour and archery lesson. We have a welcome reception at Edinburgh Castle. Once the castle is closed to the general public, we have a private tour of this magnificent monument and then an exclusive dinner at Edinburgh Castle.

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Day 9 - Breakfast and then transfers to the airport. Whew! What an itinerary!

Accommodations

While in Edinburgh we will stay in the Balmoral Hotel, a 5-star luxury hotel. The Balmoral was named as Scotland's Leading Hotel at the World Travel Awards 2011 and as the Top UK Business Hotel outside of London at the Condé Nast Traveller's Readers' Travel Awards 2011.

The Cuillin Hills Hotel , a four-star luxury hotel, will be our home for our two nights in the Isle of Skye. It's set within 15 acres of mature private grounds overlooking Portree Bay, with magnificent views over the Sound of Raasay to the Cuillin Mountain range.

While in Inverness, our home is the Kingsclub Luxury Spa Hotel. All rooms at the Kingsmills Hotel are ensuite with satellite TV, wifi, and tea and coffee making facilities.

DINING

The Adventure includes 8 Breakfasts, 6 Lunches and 5 Dinners. The guides will assist you by providing recommendations for the "meals on your own".


Want to join the fun? Download this pdf file and contact Adventures@MouseFanTravel.com


WHY ADVENTURES BY DISNEY

I absolutely love the Adventures by Disney product and my experience on my two trips were equally wonderful. Every little detail is taken care of for you. Your pre-trip planning consists of learning the rich history about the areas you will visit, not trying to determine where to stay and exactly what to do!

Before my first AbD, I found the offerings intriguing, but so expensive. Everyone I spoke with who had done an Adventure raved about it and said it was worth every penny. I had never done an organized tour before, wasn't sure what I'd think of it. I now stand with those folks and can only sing the praises about the incredible experience.

Here are some of the reasons I love Adventures by Disney:

A Disney representative meets you at the airport and a driver takes you to your hotel!

Everyplace we went, our rooms were ready and our luggage was already in them! No check-in lines, our guides had us all pre-registered and handed out the keys as we entered the lobby of each hotel.

Our guides were like the Energizer bunnies. No matter what time of day, where we were, or what the situation, they consistently went over and above. They made the Disney Difference.

We were treated like VIPs at almost every place we went. The Disney name goes a long way! We only had to mention at any of the hotels we were with the "Disney" group and folks couldn't do enough to make us happy.

Not every single moment is planned -- free time is built in for your own explorations.

Each stop we had local guides on the tour sharing their knowledge and expertise. They were able to answer just about any question asked and knew the special things to point out to us, things you wouldn't necessarily find in a printed guide.

It was wonderful to be able to look out the bus windows and see the scenery along the way. Since we weren't driving, one person wasn't missing the highlights.

All gratuities are included except for the Disney Guides.


FIRST-HAND REPORTS ABOUT ADVENTURES BY DISNEY

Read all about my Southwest Splendors Adventure by Disney!

Here's my trip report from the Backstage Magic Adventure!

Beci shared her Adventure by Disney to Ireland!

Erin enjoyed the Costa Rica Adventures with her family!

October 18, 2009

Backstage Magic Adventures by Disney - Day 6

Sunday October 18th -

Today's Theme: Now it's time to say good bye...

Character Breakfast at Storytellers Café - Enjoy breakfast at your leisure with Chip 'n Dale at Storytellers Cafe in your hotel.

Then it's time to return to the Airport!

Enjoy today's photos (Remember we are on West Coast Time):


Goodbye Breakfast: Michael and Jamie go over checkout plans

Michael and Jamie go over checkout plans

Cathy and I say goodbye - What an amazing Adventure by Disney!

Cathy and I say goodbye

VIP experiences to the end Mercedes van takes us to airport. Adv by Disney ROCKS!

Mercedes van takes us to airport

Beci: Its been a fantastic trip. Thank you all for making it magical. Anyone want to go with us maybe next year?

AbD group

HOW TO FOLLOW OUR ADVENTURE!
Once the Adventure by Disney begins on October 13th, there are THREE ways you can follow us! With new social networking, we plan to do something a little different.

TWITTER
There is a program called "Twitpic" that allows one to send photos via a mobile phone directly to Twitter. Beci Mahnken and myself will be posting photos "live" via the Twitter network.

Deb Wills: http://twitter.com/AllEarsDeb
Beci Mahnken: http://twitter.com/beci_mousefan

FACEBOOK
We also have our twitter accounts transmitting automatically to our Facebook accounts. So those of you who are "friends" can follow our adventures that way!

BLOGS

At the same time, AllEars team members Jack Marshall and Debbie Koma will be back home copying our Twitter photos and combining them this daily blog. So, you can follow us either here, on Twitter or on Facebook.

I hope this provides some cool ways for you to follow us on the adventure of a lifetime, an Adventure by Disney Backstage Magic.

October 17, 2009

Backstage Magic Adventures by Disney Day 5

Saturday October 17th - Is it really our last full day?

Today's Theme: Behind the Orange Grove

Character Breakfast at Goofy's Kitchen - Enjoy Mickey Mouse-shaped waffles and rub elbows with Goofy and his pals at this whimsical breakfast buffet.

Privately Guided VIP experience of Disney's California Adventure™ Park - Before Disney's California Adventure™ Park opens to regular guests, enjoy a privately guided VIP tour, including a behind-the-scenes look at the inner workings of the Park where you'll discover the inner workings of the Park and enjoy a private Turtle Talk with Crush*.

Lunch and Afternoon On Your Own at the Disneyland® Resort - Spend the rest of your afternoon on your own, enjoying more of the exciting activities at both Parks.

Farewell Dinner and Surprise - Share stories and enjoy fine dining at a special farewell dinner exclusively for you and your fellow Adventurers. Then get a first-rate view of the fireworks as the dazzling finale of your adventure.


Enjoy today's photos (Remember we are on West Coast Time):

Ready to begin our day with Adventures by Disney

Ready to begin our day

Goofy's Kitchen Character Breakfast

Goofy's Kitchen Character Breakfast

Beci: Memories.... From d23. That was a great night. Thanks guys. You know who you are. :)

memories

Beci: Last day of backstage magic starts with a breakfast at Goofy's Kitchen. Love ice cream in the morning!

Love ice cream in the morning!

Jasmine gives touring advice

Jasmine gives touring advice

Ratatouille Fans

Ratatouille pressed coins

Beci: Hey adventurers... We are going Soarin!

Soarin' queue

Beci: The park isn't even open and we are on the rides! I love Adventures by Disney!

Soarin'

Beci: The Adv by Disney group in Disney's California Adventure!

 Adv by Disney group in Disney's California Adventure

Time for Animation VIP Tour

Animation VIP Tour

Animation Academy

Animation Academy

Learning to draw Mickey

Learning to draw Mickey

Backdoor to Tower of Terror!!

Tower of Terror!!

Beci: Beth and Deb show off their handy work as we learned to draw Mickey

Beth and Deb draw Mickey

Beci: MEI & Mouse fan travel staff post-Tower of Terror drop!

MEI & Mouse fan travel staff

Waiting for Aladdin

Waiting for Aladdin

@disneyd23 Disneyland Frontierland

Disneyland Frontierland

Beci: It's the last night of our adventure and the group is gathering for a special farewell event

group gathering for a special farewell event

Beci: Stacia Martin is the special guest tonight and she's doing personalized pics for each family. Wow.

Stacia Martin

Farewell dinner. Mickey and Minnie say See Ya Real Soon!

Farewell dinner with Mickey and Minnie

Beci: Surprise! We have VIP reserved seating for the fireworks show!

reserved seating for the fireworks

Our final VIP Adv by Disney event - Reserved DL Fireworks seating

reserved seating for the fireworks 2

Halloween Screams at DL

Halloween Screams fireworks

HOW TO FOLLOW OUR ADVENTURE!
Once the Adventure by Disney begins on October 13th, there are THREE ways you can follow us! With new social networking, we plan to do something a little different.

TWITTER
There is a program called "Twitpic" that allows one to send photos via a mobile phone directly to Twitter. Beci Mahnken and myself will be posting photos "live" via the Twitter network.

Deb Wills: http://twitter.com/AllEarsDeb
Beci Mahnken: http://twitter.com/beci_mousefan

FACEBOOK
We also have our twitter accounts transmitting automatically to our Facebook accounts. So those of you who are "friends" can follow our adventures that way!

BLOGS

At the same time, AllEars team members Jack Marshall and Debbie Koma will be back home copying our Twitter photos and combining them this daily blog. So, you can follow us either here, on Twitter or on Facebook.

I hope this provides some cool ways for you to follow us on the adventure of a lifetime, an Adventure by Disney Backstage Magic.

October 16, 2009

Backstage Magic Adventures by Disney Day 4

Friday October 16th - this Adventure is moving too fast!!

Today's Theme: Walt's World

Character Breakfast at Plaza Inn - Start your day in Disneyland® Park eating breakfast with Minnie Mouse and her friends. Choose from an assortment of delicious morning treats at the all-you-can-eat buffet.

VIP Custom Tour of Disneyland® Park - Discover the secrets of Disneyland® Park in this privately guided backstage tour. Visit areas that are off limits to other Park Guests as you learn the fascinating history of Walt Disney and his dream.

Lunch at Café Orleans - Enjoy the view of the Rivers of America and savor the flavors of New Orleans.

Afternoon and Evening in Disneyland® Resort - After lunch, we continue the tour, including a privately guided VIP tour to Walt Disney's Apartment. Spend the rest of the afternoon and evening on your own at either Disneyland® Park or Disney's California Adventure® Park.

Enjoy today's photos (Remember we are on West Coast Time):

Grand Californian lobby waiting to start the day!

Grand Californian lobby

First DL visitors of the day

First visitors of the day

Beci: Deb, Beci and our guides Jaime and Michael AbD day 4

Deb, Beci, Jaime and Micheal

Amazing character breakfast at Plaza Inn

character breakfast at Plaza Inn

Adv by Disney VIP backstage tour, escorted on ride TWICE. No waiting!

Indian Jones attraction

Learning history of Walt and Jungle Cruise

history of Walt and Jungle Cruise

Big Thunder Pumpkin Ranch

Big Thunder Pumpkin Ranch

Scare-dy-crow Shack

Scare-dy-crow Shack

Beci: Halloween decorations at Big Thunder Ranch at Disneyland

Halloween decorations at Big Thunder Ranch

Lunch at Cafe Orleans

Lunch at Cafe Orleans

Beci: Mickey head beignets for dessert at Cafe Orleans. Yummy!

Mickey head beignets

Beci: Just had a ride on Pirates and as an Adventures by Disney guest... We were escorted on thru the backdoor and had our own boat!

The Mark Twain

A special ride down Main Street Omni bus

Omnibus

Riding Omnibus down Main Street

Riding in Omnibus

Beci: We are about to climb the staircase to view Walt's apartment above the fire station. I can't stop smiling!

DL Fire Station

Just visited Walt's Apartment and received a special pin!

Deb getting special pin

Special Walt's apartment light pin

Walt's apartment special pin

Beci: Just finished the tour of Walt's apartment and received a special pin in the shape of a lamp that lights up. Reserved for those who have visited the apartment.

Walt's apartment special pin #2

Adv by Disney 5 Fastpasses for any DLResort attraction

Adventures by Disney 5 Fastpasses

Special pin for repeat Adventures by Disney participants

pin for repeat Adventures by Disney participants

Beci: Dinner was on our own this evening and I was lucky to be invited by friends to dine at Club 33. We ended the night with a ride or two using one of the five fastpasses given to us by the guides. What a great night!

Club 33


HOW TO FOLLOW OUR ADVENTURE!
Once the Adventure by Disney begins on October 13th, there are THREE ways you can follow us! With new social networking, we plan to do something a little different.

TWITTER
There is a program called "Twitpic" that allows one to send photos via a mobile phone directly to Twitter. Beci Mahnken and myself will be posting photos "live" via the Twitter network.

Deb Wills: http://twitter.com/AllEarsDeb
Beci Mahnken: http://twitter.com/beci_mousefan

FACEBOOK
We also have our twitter accounts transmitting automatically to our Facebook accounts. So those of you who are "friends" can follow our adventures that way!

BLOGS

At the same time, AllEars team members Jack Marshall and Debbie Koma will be back home copying our Twitter photos and combining them this daily blog. So, you can follow us either here, on Twitter or on Facebook.

I hope this provides some cool ways for you to follow us on the adventure of a lifetime, an Adventure by Disney Backstage Magic.

October 15, 2009

Backstage Magic Adventures by Disney Day 3

Thursday October 15th - it's moving day!

Today's Theme: Making the Magic!

Walt Disney Imagineering -- See how the magic of Disney theme parks and resorts is made. Get a first-hand look at some of the creations conjured up by the architects, designers, engineers, technicians and others who make up the Disney Imagineers.

Walt Disney Studios -- Enjoy lunch at the Walt Disney Studio commissary and then browse through an assortment of memorabilia at the Studio Store. Afterwards, you'll learn the story of the Walt Disney Studio during your privately-guided tour.

Drive to Disneyland® Resort -- Head to the Happiest Place on Earth and Disney's Grand Californian Hotel® & Spa. This Craftsman-style hotel is within walking distance of both Disneyland® Park and Disney's California Adventure™ Park, as well as the Downtown Disney® District, a promenade with shops and restaurants. After you are checked in, you have time on your own to relax by the pool or go shopping.

Welcome Reception at the Wine Cellar and Hook's Pointe -- Enjoy Disney-style entertainment as you sample an assortment of appetizers, along with a selection of wines for adults and juice for Junior Adventurers. Afterwards, dine on the fine family fare of this lively pirate-themed restaurant.

Evening at Disneyland® Park
Enjoy a priority entrance into the Disneyland® Park and spend the evening on your own.


Enjoy today's photos (Remember we are on West Coast Time):

Hollywood waking up

Hollywood morning

More Disney stars on Hollywood Blvd

Donald's star

Walt's Star

Walt's star

Waiting for our bus to imagineering

Waiting for the bus

Beci: AbD group on the bus ready for the trek to imagineering!

On the bus

Beci: Ever wonder what lunch at the disney studios commissary looks like?

lunch

Disney Studios Commisary for Lunch

Disney Studios Commisary


Walt Disney Studios

Disney Studios

Beci: AbD group getting ready to tour the walt disney studios and the Disney archives. Woo hoo!

AbD group @ Disney Studios

Beci: Visiting stage 3 at disney studios

Stage 3 @ Disney Studios

Beci: We are about to tour the Disney archives!

Disney Archives

Beci: The AbD group at legends plaza

The AbD group

Beci: Disney archives researcher Ed with Beci and his latest copy of celebrations magazine

Beci and Ed

Imagineering Building

Imagineering Building

Learning all about the inside of the Sound stage

Disney Studios Sound Stage

Frank G Wells Building - Home to the Archives

Frank G Wells Building

Disney Archives

Disney Archives

Archives - Haunted Mansion items

Disney Archives - Haunted Mansion items

Cathy accepts an Oscar courtesy of the Archives

Cathy accepts an Oscar

Very first ticket to Disneyland

Very first ticket to Disneyland

Legends plaza at Disney Studios

Legends Plaza

Beci: Welcome reception at Hooks Point at the Disneyland Resort

Welcome reception at Hooks Point

Disneyland for Haunted Mansion (backdoored) and more ...

AbD group in DL


HOW TO FOLLOW OUR ADVENTURE!
Once the Adventure by Disney begins on October 13th, there are THREE ways you can follow us! With new social networking, we plan to do something a little different.

TWITTER
There is a program called "Twitpic" that allows one to send photos via a mobile phone directly to Twitter. Beci Mahnken and myself will be posting photos "live" via the Twitter network.

Deb Wills: http://twitter.com/AllEarsDeb
Beci Mahnken: http://twitter.com/beci_mousefan

FACEBOOK
We also have our twitter accounts transmitting automatically to our Facebook accounts. So those of you who are "friends" can follow our adventures that way!

BLOGS

At the same time, AllEars team members Jack Marshall and Debbie Koma will be back home copying our Twitter photos and combining them this daily blog. So, you can follow us either here, on Twitter or on Facebook.

I hope this provides some cool ways for you to follow us on the adventure of a lifetime, an Adventure by Disney Backstage Magic.

October 14, 2009

Backstage Magic Adventures by Disney Day 2

Today, Wednesday October 14th, is the first full day of our Adventure.

Today's Theme: Lights, Camera, Adventure

We have a full day on tap:

Behind the Scenes at The El Capitan Theatre - Step into Hollywood's past with a backstage tour of the ornate El Capitan Theatre, lovingly restored as a venue for Disney films and live shows.

Backstage at Jimmy Kimmel Live - Visit the former Masonic temple where this hilarious and wildly popular late night talk show is taped. On a backstage tour, explore this historic theater and hear some entertaining inside stories about the day-to-day excitement involved in producing a nightly comedy-variety show packed with celebrity guests and top music acts.

The Jim Henson Company Studio Tour and Lunch - This historic studio was built in 1917 by Charlie Chaplin. Now home to The Jim Henson Company, it's not open to just anybody! Enjoy a privately guided VIP tour that includes a video history of the company and a behind-the-scenes look at Jim Henson's Creature Shop™. End the visit with a specially prepared lunch prepared in the studio's private café

The Stars of Hollywood - On the trip back to the hotel, cruise by some of Hollywood's most famous landmarks. After the brief privately guided tour, stroll on the Walk of the Stars and compare your own hands and feet to the hand and footprints of your favorite performers at Grauman's Chinese Theater.

On Your Own in Hollywood - In the evening, you are on your own to relax or enjoy the wide variety of restaurants and activities in this vibrant area.

Enjoy today's photos (Remember we are on West Coast Time):

Day 2 of our Adventure by Disney begins soon!

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View from our hotel room AbD. Hollywood

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AbD group photo at Renaissance Hollywood Hotel

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Kodak Theatre

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Michael Manager of @elcapitan

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Breakfast! What a fun place!

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So much fun at Disney's Soda Fountain shop

Disney's Soda Fountain shop

Backstage day 2. Breakfast at Disney's Soda Fountain.

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Linda and Debra getting serious about pin trading early in the trip. Exclusives at the Disney Soda Fountain

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Ready to tour Jim Henson Studios

Jim Henson Studios


Deb, Chris and Beci inside Jim Henson reception

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Hollywood Walk of Fame esp for @dcdeb_allears

Hollywood Walk of Fame

An Amazing time at the Jim Henson Studios

Deb at Jim Henson Studios

Abd group just arrived at Jim Henson Studios

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Cathy holds a Jim Henson Emmy Statute

Cathy holds a Jim Henson Emmy Statute

@beci_mousefan and Chris have a moment with Kermit

Beci, Chris & Kermit

AbD group at Walt's Barn

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Walt Disney Barn at Carolwood

Walt Disney Barn at Carolwood

Miniature steam train inside walt's barn.

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Tonight's fun - Toy Story 3D double feature

Toy Story 3D double feature

Just steps from our hotel is this original theater....

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Mickey's Star

Mickey's Walk of Fame Star

3D glasses in place ready for ToyStory 3D

Toy Story line

AbD arranged for reserved seat tickets for ToyStory

Toy Story crowd

A musical number from @ElCapitan before the movie

Toy Story entertainment

Check it out! Snow White has a star on Hollywood blvd too!

Snow White star

HOW TO FOLLOW OUR ADVENTURE!
Once the Adventure by Disney begins on October 13th, there are THREE ways you can follow us! With new social networking, we plan to do something a little different.

TWITTER
There is a program called "Twitpic" that allows one to send photos via a mobile phone directly to Twitter. Beci Mahnken and myself will be posting photos "live" via the Twitter network.

Deb Wills: http://twitter.com/AllEarsDeb
Beci Mahnken: http://twitter.com/beci_mousefan

FACEBOOK
We also have our twitter accounts transmitting automatically to our Facebook accounts. So those of you who are "friends" can follow our adventures that way!

BLOGS

At the same time, AllEars team members Jack Marshall and Debbie Koma will be back home copying our Twitter photos and combining them this daily blog. So, you can follow us either here, on Twitter or on Facebook.

I hope this provides some cool ways for you to follow us on the adventure of a lifetime, an Adventure by Disney Backstage Magic.

October 13, 2009

Backstage Magic Adventures by Disney Day 1

It's Tuesday, October 13th and our Backstage Magic Adventure by Disney begins today.

Today's Theme: "It all started with a mouse..."

Since Cathy and I have been staying at the Grand Californian resort, our journey begins here with an early afternoon pickup.

Today is arrival day for everyone. I'm looking forward to spending time with old friends and making new ones!

Our first two nights we stay at the The Renaissance Hollywood Hotel and our Welcome Dinner is at the Trastevere Ristorante.

Enjoy today's photos (Remember we are on West Coast Time):


HOW TO FOLLOW OUR ADVENTURE!
Once the Adventure by Disney begins on October 13th, there are THREE ways you can follow us! With new social networking, we plan to do something a little different.

TWITTER
There is a program called "Twitpic" that allows one to send photos via a mobile phone directly to Twitter. Beci Mahnken and myself will be posting photos "live" via the Twitter network.

Deb Wills: http://twitter.com/AllEarsDeb
Beci Mahnken: http://twitter.com/beci_mousefan

FACEBOOK
We also have our twitter accounts transmitting automatically to our Facebook accounts. So those of you who are "friends" can follow our adventures that way!

BLOGS

At the same time, AllEars team members Jack Marshall and Debbie Koma will be back home copying our Twitter photos and combining them this daily blog. So, you can follow us either here, on Twitter or on Facebook.

I hope this provides some cool ways for you to follow us on the adventure of a lifetime, an Adventure by Disney Backstage Magic.

These photos are from Tuesday October 13, 2009:


Entrance to Downtown Disney from Grand Californian

DTD Entrance

DL Downtown Disney esp for @SidCahuenga

DTD

DL Downtown Disney walking toward parks

DTD #2

Leaving DL DD approaching park security

DTD approaching park security

DL Space Mtn Ghost Galaxy Not for Auld ladies Deb and Cathy ;)

Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy

Entrance to DCA esp for @littlegrammy

Entrance to DCA

Mr. Toad - esp for Kevin

Mr Toad

DL Amazing Disney Pumpkins

Amazing Disney Pumpkins

Mega WOW from 2 who have not seen movie!

Haunted Mansion

DCA World of Color Work esp for @markhp @marcmantoo

World of Color

More World of Color DCA work @Rayhp @mcbrisbin

World of Color #2

And still more DCA World of Color construction
World of Color #3

Adventure by Disney begins Lincoln Town Car service to hotel!

Town Car

Adventure by Disney Backstage Magic Group

AbD group

AbD Guides Michael and Daniel

Michael and Daniel

AbD Dinner at Trastevere

Dinner at Trastevere


August 31, 2009

Quest for the West - Day Seven

Dateline: August 31, 2009

Today's Theme: Happy Trails

The Itinerary

All good things must come to an end and so the Adventure by Disney Quest to the West officially ends today. While we do have breakfast together, some have already headed to the airport to begin their journey back home. The guides, Daniel and Landon, have been awesome.
Thanks to AllEars's Jack Marshall and Debbie Koma for posting all the photos throughout the adventure!

Enjoy Today's Photos (remember we are on Mountain time) :

Arrival at the Jackson airport. We are headed home.

Jackson Airport


blueline.gif

HOW TO FOLLOW OUR ADVENTURE!
Once the Adventure by Disney begins on August 25th, there are THREE ways you can follow us! With new social networking, we plan to do something a little different.

TWITTER
There is a program called "Twitpic" that allows one to send photos via a mobile phone directly to Twitter. Mike Newell and Beci Mahnken will be posting photos "live" via the Twitter network.

Mike Newell: http://twitter.com/MouseWorldRadio
Beci Mahnken: http://twitter.com/beci_mousefan

FACEBOOK
We also have our twitter accounts transmitting automatically to our Facebook accounts. So those of you who are "friends" can follow our adventures that way!

BLOGS

At the same time, AllEars team members Jack Marshall and Debbie Koma will be back home copying our Twitter photos and combining them this daily blog. So, you can follow us either here, on Twitter or on Facebook.

We have been told that there are areas where we will travel that have limited, if any, cell phone service, but we'll make it up once we get service back.

I hope this provides some cool ways for you to follow us on the adventure of a lifetime, an Adventure by Disney to Wyoming!

August 30, 2009

Quest for the West - Day Six

Dateline: August 30, 2009

Today's Theme: Untamed Nature

The Itinerary

This is our last full day on the Adventure by Disney.

Our morning activity is a horseback ride with cowboys.

We return to the Lodge for lunch.

This afternoon we have a choice of activities: Trail Ride, Fly Fishing or Canoeing.
Later a naturalist guide will take us on a Mountain Hike.

Then, it's the farewell dinner at the lodge.

Enjoy Today's Photos (remember we are on Mountain time) :

Morning from Brooks Lake Lodge

Good morning day 6! Breakfast then getting ready to saddle up for a morning ride.

Let's Saddle Up!


blueline.gif

HOW TO FOLLOW OUR ADVENTURE!
Once the Adventure by Disney begins on August 25th, there are THREE ways you can follow us! With new social networking, we plan to do something a little different.

TWITTER
There is a program called "Twitpic" that allows one to send photos via a mobile phone directly to Twitter. Mike Newell and Beci Mahnken will be posting photos "live" via the Twitter network.

Mike Newell: http://twitter.com/MouseWorldRadio
Beci Mahnken: http://twitter.com/beci_mousefan

FACEBOOK
We also have our twitter accounts transmitting automatically to our Facebook accounts. So those of you who are "friends" can follow our adventures that way!

BLOGS

At the same time, AllEars team members Jack Marshall and Debbie Koma will be back home copying our Twitter photos and combining them this daily blog. So, you can follow us either here, on Twitter or on Facebook.

We have been told that there are areas where we will travel that have limited, if any, cell phone service, but we'll make it up once we get service back.

I hope this provides some cool ways for you to follow us on the adventure of a lifetime, an Adventure by Disney to Wyoming!

August 29, 2009

Quest for the West - Day Five

Dateline: August 29, 2009 Yellowstone National Park

Today's Theme: Untamed Nature

The Itinerary

We board our motor coach and take a 1.5 hour tour through Yellowstone National Park. We will take a hike to the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone.

Lake Yellowstone is the location for our lunch today.

Time to check into the Brooks Lake Lodge and enjoy a Disney movie night.

Here are some additional facts about Yellowstone National Park (from the National Park Service website):
67 species of mamamals, 332 recorded species of birds, 16 species of fish, 6 species of reptiles and 4 species of amphibians reside in Yellowstone.
The Park has 5 entrances, 466 miles of road, 15 miles of boardwalk, 1,000 miles of backcountry trails and 301 backcountry campsites.

Enjoy Today's Photos (remember we are on Mountain time) :

Beci writes about 8 a.m.: "Good morning! The adventurers are on the bus heading out for day 5. Cell/net will be iffy again so well update when we can."

A beautiful water feature on our morning hike.
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Hiking the grand canyon of Yellowstone.
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Beci at the real Artist Point
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Barb and Bill at the real Artists Point
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The historic Lake Hotel is the location for lunch the to our home for the next two nights Brooks Lake lodge
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Lunch at the Lake Hotel. Having the Caesar salad with beef tenderloin tips.
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It really is all about the chocolate!
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Brooks Lake Lodge

On our way to Brooks Lake Lodge, we met some wild life... up close!
Bison Alert!


Arrived at Brooks Lake Lodge - Here is the beautiful view from my cabin porch.

Brooks Lake Lodge

Brooks Lake Lodge also comes with entertainment... Moose & Trapper!
Moose and Trapper

The Adventure group and "Moose" outside the Lodge.

The Group of Adventurers

Mike and Trapper
Mike and Trapper

Lots of space to stretch out and relax in the main bldg at Brooks Lake Lodge.
Brooks Lake Lodge Main Building

And a great view from the back of the main bldg too!
Brooks Lake Lodge View from back


Dinner at the Brooks Lake Lodge dining room. Then off to bed for a packed day of horseback riding, fishing, and spa treatments!

Dinner at the Brooks Lake Lodge dining room

blueline.gif

HOW TO FOLLOW OUR ADVENTURE!
Once the Adventure by Disney begins on August 25th, there are THREE ways you can follow us! With new social networking, we plan to do something a little different.

TWITTER
There is a program called "Twitpic" that allows one to send photos via a mobile phone directly to Twitter. Mike Newell and Beci Mahnken will be posting photos "live" via the Twitter network.

Mike Newell: http://twitter.com/MouseWorldRadio
Beci Mahnken: http://twitter.com/beci_mousefan

FACEBOOK
We also have our twitter accounts transmitting automatically to our Facebook accounts. So those of you who are "friends" can follow our adventures that way!

BLOGS

At the same time, AllEars team members Jack Marshall and Debbie Koma will be back home copying our Twitter photos and combining them this daily blog. So, you can follow us either here, on Twitter or on Facebook.

We have been told that there are areas where we will travel that have limited, if any, cell phone service, but we'll make it up once we get service back.

I hope this provides some cool ways for you to follow us on the adventure of a lifetime, an Adventure by Disney to Wyoming!

August 28, 2009

Quest for the West - Day Four

Dateline: August 28, 2009 Yellowstone National Park

Today's Theme: Trail Blazers

Today's Alternate Theme: All Good Things Must Come to an End, Sometimes Sooner than You Plan:

Deb: As you read this, Linda and I have sadly parted ways with our fellow adventurers and will soon be headed back East. Unfortunately, we are both suffering from "altitude sickness". On Wednesday afternoon we went to the Urgent Care Clinic to get things checked out. We each saw a different doctor and were both strongly advised not to go into higher elevations. Sadly for us, that means we are unable to continue our Adventure and travel to Yellowstone. The decision itself was not too difficult to make. After all, each of us must take care of ourselves and do what is best for our health. That said, it was also a very emotional decision.

Thursday morning at breakfast we spent time with each member of our Adventure group - saying goodbye. While only spending just a couple days together, we had already begun to connect and really really enjoy each other's company. What an amazing and wonderful group of folks to travel with. Special thank you to our Adventure Guides Daniel and Landon -- you guys are awesome and we so appreciate all you did! We hope everyone on the trip continues to have the time of their lives!

So, with all that said, Deb's photos have come to an end, but the Quest for the West blog continues! Follow each day as Beci and Mike post photos and continue the Adventure by Disney Quest for the West.

The Itinerary

Breakfast and Lunch are part of our Adventure today. After breakfast we are off to see Old Faithful at Yellowstone!

Lunch and then the Fountain Paint Pot Trail. There are fumaroles (steam vents), blue pools, pink mudpots and mini-geysers along the trail.

Back to the hotel and we are on our own for dinner and the evening.

Here are some facts about Yellowstone National Park (from the National Park Service website):
Established March 1, 1872, Yellowstone is the first and oldest national park.
It is the 2nd largest national park in the contiguous 48 United States, Death Valley National Park is larger.
96% of the park is in Wyoming, 3% in Montana, and 1% in Idaho.
The highest point is 11,358 ft at Eagle Peak.
Yellowstone is larger than the states of Rhode Island and Delaware combined.

Enjoy Today's Photos (remember we are on Mountain time) :

Good morning from the Snow Lodge from Mike Mary Tod Sue
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Good morning Old Faithful!
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Mike & Beci at Old Faithful. Now off on a nature hike of the upper geyser field.
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Firehole River, Yellowstone
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Old Faithful Inn. The inspiration for Disney's Wilderness Lodge & our dinner spot tonight.
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Adventurers on our nature walk thru the geyser basin
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Sam and Ashley enjoying the show
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Castle geyser showing off
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The group at Castle geyser
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Great afternoon checking out the local geysers. The pic does not do justice to the amazing blue color. Closest I have seen was in AK.
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Adventurers on the boardwalk for a closer view
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Ronia and the geyser
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Beci writes at about 10:30 p.m.: Had A wonderful dinner & nightcap at Old Faithful Inn. Tomorrow we leave for Brooks Lake Lodge. Yipppee! But the days are really flying by!

blueline.gif

HOW TO FOLLOW OUR ADVENTURE!
Once the Adventure by Disney begins on August 25th, there are THREE ways you can follow us! With new social networking, we plan to do something a little different.

TWITTER
There is a program called "Twitpic" that allows one to send photos via a mobile phone directly to Twitter. Mike Newell and Beci Mahnken will be posting photos "live" via the Twitter network.

Mike Newell: http://twitter.com/MouseWorldRadio
Beci Mahnken: http://twitter.com/beci_mousefan

FACEBOOK
We also have our twitter accounts transmitting automatically to our Facebook accounts. So those of you who are "friends" can follow our adventures that way!

BLOGS

At the same time, AllEars team members Jack Marshall and Debbie Koma will be back home copying our Twitter photos and combining them this daily blog. So, you can follow us either here, on Twitter or on Facebook.

We have been told that there are areas where we will travel that have limited, if any, cell phone service, but we'll make it up once we get service back.

I hope this provides some cool ways for you to follow us on the adventure of a lifetime, an Adventure by Disney to Wyoming!

August 27, 2009

Quest for the West - Day Three

Dateline August 27, 2009

Today's Theme: Yellowstone Journey

The Itinerary:

We say goodbye to the Wort Hotel and Jackson and head to the Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. A bit of history regarding the Grand Teton:


"The original Grand Teton National Park, set aside by an act of Congress in 1929, included only the Teton Ridge and 6 glacial lakes at the base of the mountains. The Jackson Hole National Monument, decreed by FDR through presidential proclamation in 1943, combined the Teton National Forest acerage, other federal properties, inlcuding Jackson Lake, and a generous 35,000 acre donation by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. The Rockefeller lands continued to be privately held until December 16, 1949 when impasse for additon to the national park was resolved. On September 14, 1950, the original 1929 Park and the 1943 National Monument (including Rockefeller's donation) were united into a "new" Grand Teton National Park, creating present day boundries."
(quoted from the National Park Service website)

Our first activity is to board the Jenny Lake Ferry and some hiking! Jenny Lake has a visitor center, so hopefully we can get our National Parks Passports "stamped".

Jenny Lake is 2.2 miles long, 1.2 miles wide and estimate to have depths of 260 feet.

The Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point hike is over natural terrain, steep inclines and we will climb around 400 feet. Our elevation at Inspiration Point is 7,200 feet!

After our hike we have a picnic lunch at String Lake to rest a bit.

Then we are off to Yellowstone National Park.

First stop is the West Thumb Geyser Basin. "West Thumb Geyser Basin is one of the smallest geyser basins in Yellowstone yet its location along the shore of Yellow-stone Lake ranks it as the most scenic. West Thumb derived its name from the thumb-like projection of Yellowstone Lake and the name was given by the 1870 Washburn Expedition. It was also known as Hot Spring Camp. West Thumb has less geyser activity than other basins. But West Thumb, for its size, has it all-hot springs, pools, mud pots, fumaroles and lake shore geysers."

After that, on to our next hotel, the Old Faithful Snow Lodge at Yellowstone. After checking in and getting settled, we gather for our welcome dinner at the resort!

Enjoy Today's Photos (remember we are on Mountain time) :

Barb & Bill at breakfast at the Silver Dollar Grill.
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The coach adventure begins!
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On the bus heading to Grand Teton National Park for a morning nature hike
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Grand Teton
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Boarding the ferry to cross jenny lake
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Group shot at Grand Teton
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Mike and Terry on a snack break on the trail to hidden falls
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Learning about the glaciers impact on the area which also served as our picnic spot
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Amber
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We have arrived in Yellowstone! First stop: Check out the thermal attractions at west thumb
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Crossed the continental divide and arrived at the Snow Lodge
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Yellowstone elk
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Cool! Or hot..I mean coolly hot, or hotly cool.
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Welcome dinner at snow lodge. Kathy is sitting in the chair that was occupied by President Obama a few days ago.
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A few of us rebelled and went for the evening show!
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Woohoo! It's the 8 pm show!
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blueline.gif

HOW TO FOLLOW OUR ADVENTURE!
Once the Adventure by Disney begins on August 25th, there are THREE ways you can follow us! With new social networking, we plan to do something a little different.

TWITTER
There is a program called "Twitpic" that allows one to send photos via a mobile phone directly to Twitter. Mike Newell, Beci Mahnken, and myself will be posting photos "live" via the Twitter network.

Deb Wills: http://twitter.com/AllEarsDeb
Mike Newell: http://twitter.com/MouseWorldRadio
Beci Mahnken: http://twitter.com/beci_mousefan

FACEBOOK
We also have our twitter accounts transmitting automatically to our Facebook accounts. So those of you who are "friends" can follow our adventures that way!

BLOGS

At the same time, AllEars team members Jack Marshall and Debbie Koma will be back home copying our Twitter photos and combining them this daily blog. So, you can follow us either here, on Twitter or on Facebook.

We have been told that there are areas where we will travel that have limited, if any, cell phone service, but we'll make it up once we get service back.

I hope this provides some cool ways for you to follow us on the adventure of a lifetime, an Adventure by Disney to Wyoming!

February 10, 2009

Adventures are Always Better with Friends!

Sound familiar? Yes, you've heard me say that before. And it's True.

Adventures by Disney

I'm talking about Adventures by Disney trips - and they are awesome!

Perhaps you read my Southwest Splendors blog from 2007.....

or perhaps you tried to sign up for our August 2009 Quest for the West to Yellowstone Adventure by Disney which sold out in 72 hours.


I have another great offer for you. Here's the official announcement:


Adventures are Better with Friends

Special Guest Deb Wills of AllEars.net joins host Beci Mahnken of MEI and MouseFanTravel on the Backstage Magic Adventures by Disney!

Dates: October 13 - 18, 2009 6 days and 5 nights in Los Angeles, Hollywood and the Disneyland Resort.

Adventures by Disney

Special Experiences:
Tour the Jim Henson Company Studio
Private tour of Walt Disney Imagineering
Private tour of the Walt Disney Studios
Backstage at Jimmy Kimmel Live
Behind the Scenes tour of Disneyland
VIP Experience at Disneyland Park and California Adventure.

This tour is open to all!!

Prices are lower than Adventure by Disney's regular rate:
$2,169 per adult / $1,909 per child (4-11) double occupancy
$3,037 per adult for single occupancy

The price includes:
2 nights at the Renaissance Hollywood Hotel
3 nights at Disney's Grand Californian Hotel
Most meals - 5 breakfasts, 3 lunches and 3 dinners
Guides, tours, activities per the Adventure itinerary
Gratuities for the bellman, housekeeping and drivers
All Taxes and Fees

What do you pay for?
Gratuities for the 2 Adventure Guides
Meals not covered be the Itinerary
Transportation to and from California
Incidentals

For more details visit: MouseFanTravel.com

Read All Ears Team Member Glo's Backstage Magic Trip Report!

I've been wanting to do this trip since it was first announced and I"m glad I finally can.

Come and join the fun before this one sells out too!


November 17, 2008

Follow Us On Twitter!!!!!

We are on Twitter!

You can follow Deb Wills and AllEars news here:

Follow all the Blog Central blogs here:

http://twittercard.com/js/allearsnetblogs


August 14, 2008

Quest for the West - Adventures by Disney

This blog was originally scheduled to tell you about an exciting Adventures by Disney trip that I will be hosting August 25 - 31, 2009.

I planned to share some details about the trip to see if you might join me!

Like... it's an adult only trip.

Like...we'd be visiting Yellowstone National Park and the Grand Tetons!

Like... Beci Mahnken of MouseFanTravel worked up an incredible deal for those who wish to adventure with us with the hopes we'd have enough folks sign up for it to be exclusive for us only!

Like Special Guests Steve Barrett (Hidden Mickeys) and Mike Newell (MouseWorldRadio and WDWToday Podcast) would be joining me on this Adventure.

"So what happened Deb"? you may be thinking.

This past Sunday I announced the Adventure on AllEars.net. By late Monday more than half the Quest for the West trip was booked.

Today, I am here to tell you the Quest for the West Adventure I am hosting is SOLD OUT.

Yes, within 72 hours, folks faxed their deposits to MouseFanTravel and we are now fully booked!

For those of you lucky enough to snag a spot... we are going to have a Fantastic Time! For those of you who missed out, MouseFanTravel is keeping a "waiting list".

And...for those families/adults that are still interested in joining an Adventure hosted by Beci and myself, fill out the blog comment form - be sure to select Deb's Blog and let me know what US Adventure you are seriously interested in.

We don't have any plans right now to add another trip, but you just never know what opportunities may present themselves!

Here are the US Adventures for 2009:

1) Golden Path to Yosemite: Lake Tahoe, Yosemite and San Francisco

2) Rocky Trails and Mountie Tales: Glacier National Park, Canadian Rockies, Banff National Park

3) Taming the Last Frontier Alaska: Fairbanks, Denali National Park & Reserve, Kenai Peninsula, Anchorage

4) Beantown: Boston, Newport and NYC

5) Backstage Magic: Hollywood and Disneyland® Resort

6) Spirit of America: Philadelphia, Washington D.C. and Williamsburg

7) Southwest Splendors: Arizona and Utah: Sedona, Grand Canyon National Park, and Moab


September 20, 2007

Adventures by Disney Tips

I just realized I never published these. While not a comprehensive tip listing, it will hopefully help those planning a Southwestern Adventure by Disney... Linda Mac provides the Sedona tips.

Try to arrive in Phoenix the day/night before the Adventure begins. Those who flew in the same morning the tour started were very very exhausted by the time we had dinner.

Skin dries out very quickly in the Southwest. Be sure to bring lotion and use it daily!

If you have motion sensitivity bring your "sea bands" or medication with you. There are a few bus rides that were very windy and could cause problems. One is the final morning trip to the airport at Grand Junction.

When flying out of Grand Junction - it is a VERY small airport. There is only a snack bar available for beverages and food. If you have a choice of whether to have a long layover there or in a major city airport, chose the major city airport.

Hiking shoes are not needed, but boy we were glad we had them on a couple of the trails!

SEDONA TIPS by Linda Mac

If you are craving a soda like I was after the dusty Cowboys and Canyons Jeep Tour, ask for one in the Sedona Heritage Museum' gift shop. They have cans for soda for only 75 cents but they keep them cold in a back room. As the week went on, I found myself craving water and not soda. Know that is a step in the right direction for me.

If you are an early riser, consider ordering something light for room service at the Amara Resort which I know opens at 7 am, maybe earlier. The Adventurers breakfast buffet does not begin till 8 am on your first morning. The room service menu is reasonably priced. A pot of coffee with all the fixins, toasted bagel with cream cheese and jellies and plate of mixed berries was $17.00 including tax, service charge and tip. It was enough for two people.

After your Sedona Museum visit is finished, that is the time to do your shopping. Most of shops close at 6 pm. So by the time you have dinner, most of the stores are closed.

There is a 7-11 type store just across the street and to the left of the driveway of the Amara Resort.

Take a card from the resort with the phone on it AND call for a golf cart to meet you at the top of the driveway/hill when you return from dinner, especially if it is dark. The driveway down to the hotel is steep and twisty so cars can't really see you as they round the corners. And after dark, it is pitch black. There is a stairway but it is hard to find and not much better from what I was told.

Watch out for the gopher snake at the Welcome Dinner!

If you are late night snacker, take a zip-lock baggie and make a little sandwich with a dinner roll and whatever you like. I made a little snack with the beef tenderloin and horseradish sauce.

Your room includes a refrigerator and small coffee maker and comfy robes.

On the Cowboy and Canyons tour is great fun but it is dusty and hot. Leave your "good" clothes back in the room and take extra water before getting on your jeep. There will be a cooler set-up for you outside the hotel. The next time water is available will be several hours later when you arrive at the Museum. The cooler is over at the Fruit Packing House where you will have lunch.

After lunch at the museum, if you are tired or not up for arts and crafts. The walk back to town and the hotel will take about 10 minutes.

Enjoy the beds while you are at the Amara Resort and Spa. They are the best beds you will have all week.

Sedona sells T-shirts made with real Sedona red dirt. They have cute sayings like "Life's Short, Play Dirty" and Older Than Dirt". I was told it would not shrink but to wash it separately. The day I worn it, a good part of my upper body was a rusty orange color as were my under garments and waist band of my shorts.

If you want a casual, counter type of dinner on your second night there are several places just to your right as you reach the top of the Amara Resort driveway. The resort also has a Cantina there with Mexican food, it is full service but very casual. All the spots have patios with great views, including Snoopy Rock. If you want ribs, try Sally's BBQ. It is across the street from the Amara Resort driveway. Sally's has a walk-up window and limited seating. You could even take the food back to your room. The ribs are the best smoked ribs I have ever had. As I was eating them, all I kept thinking was these ribs are worth a entire trip back to Sedona. Yeah, that good, at least to me. I have already order BBQ Sauce from their website.

This is easier said then done but don't over pack. There are laundry rooms at the second and third hotel. I took DVDs to watch and books to read. Big waste of luggage space as I was too busy or too tired to use them.

Favorite souvenirs for under $10 - 2008 Sedona Calendar and a bag of Desert Rocks which taste like M&M's but look like different color pebbles you would find on the ground.

September 14, 2007

Adventures by Disney - Reflections

It's been several weeks since I returned from the American Southwest. In some respects, it feels like yesterday, and then sometimes - it feels like a dream (sound familiar like a visit to Disney World?).

I have looked at the photos continually, reread my blogs and those of LindaMac and am simply amazed at the adventure. LindaLou and I keep talking about returning to Moab someday... and someday not too far away. Figuring it into our schedule is another thing LOL.

If I had to sum up the trip in just one word, I would say "VISUAL". In fact, sometimes it was visually over stimulating. There was so much to see, such incredible landscapes, colors, natural creations, that my mind can easily be flooded when I think about the trip.

38 of us lived together for a week. 2 Disney guides, 20 Adults, 16 kids, 1 bus, 1 bus driver, 3 hotels, 500 some bottles of water consumed and maybe a thousand miles!

I will admit, those first 24 hours I was wondering what I had gotten myself into with all the kids. I just wasn't used to that many in a "concentrated" area before. On the Disney Cruise Ship, it's easy to just wander to an adult only area. But, that wasn't possible here. I later found out, some of the kids were thinking the same thing in the beginning LOL. As the week progressed we all found our niches within the group and everyone came together to enjoy their vacation. Looking back now, I wouldn't trade it for anything. We met some great folks and shared some incredible experiences.

Before this trip, I found the Adventures by Disney offerings intriguing, but so expensive. Everyone I spoke with who had done an Adventure raved about it and said it was worth every penny. I had never done an organized tour before, wasn't sure what I'd think of it. I now stand with those folks and can only sing the praises about the incredible experience.

I have done National Park vacations before - planned them all our own, we did researching, reservations, driving, the whole thing. And yes, you could do it for far less money.

However - there is nothing like having "Disney" be your tour guide. Everyplace we went, our rooms were ready and our luggage was already in them! No check-in lines, our guides had us all pre-registered and handed out the keys as we entered the lobby of each hotel.

They did all the research of the places to see along the way. If there was one drawback, it was not being able to linger places or stopping at every place; but that was minor in the scheme of it all.

We had bottled water readily available to us anytime we were on the bus. No need to look for a store to purchase it or find ice and a cooler to keep it cold.

Our guides, Mike and Tiffany, were like the energizer bunnies. No matter what time of day, where we were, or what the situation - they consistently went over and above. They made the Disney Difference.

Some examples - The first night in Sedona, we told them we wanted to do a helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon. While they don't make any of the outside "excursion" reservations for you, they do recommend vendors to use. After calling, and getting a rude person on the other line, I asked Mike for another recommendation. He asked what the problem was, I explained and he said.. I'll call you back in a bit. On his own, he called the vendor and well, let's just say, when I called again, the person had a whole attitude adjustment. We were still unable to book what we wanted for our group size. At that point, we figured it wasn't meant to be. Yet, Mike persisted in finding us a qualified helicopter company that would meet our needs. He didn't stop until we got booked. We were amazed at his level of customer service.

Another example - One young man on the trip had to go to an emergency room in Flagstaff (we were in Sedona at the time). Tiffany and Mike did everything they could to help the family out with whatever was needed. And, as we headed on the bus from Sedona to the Grand Canyon, they talked with our great bus driver and figured out a place we could meet and pick them up.
We were treated like VIPs at almost every place we went. The Disney name goes a long way! We only had to mention at any of the hotels we were with the "Disney" group and folks couldn't do enough to make us happy.

Each stop we had local guides on the tour sharing their knowledge and expertise. They were able to answer just about any question asked and knew the special things to point out to us, things you wouldn't necessarily find in a printed guide.

It was wonderful to be able to both look at the bus windows and see the scenery along the way. Since we weren't driving, one person wasn't missing the highlights.

The Stars - the sky was so crystal clear, free of city lights and smog that the sky put on a special show each night. Lots of folks saw shooting stars at the Red Cliff Lodge. The constellations were so bright it was amazing.

I could go on and on, but I think you get the idea. It was an Adventure as only Disney could provide. It was an incredible vacation and one that was indeed better with friends, both old and new.

So thank you Mike, Tiffany and all the folks who traveled with us. Til we meet again...

I look forward to a future Adventures by Disney vacation!

Deb
(and LindaLou)

August 31, 2007

Adventures by Disney - Final Dinner and Goodbyes

After the rafting we returned back to the Red Cliffs lodge we all had a few minutes to go to our rooms and change, or dry off, or whatever. A box lunch was ready for us and boy was it good to eat LOL.

Again, many folks headed off to a variety of activities, but I opted to enjoy the lodge for the final afternoon and get a head start on packing.

Dinner that evening was on the patio of the Lodge. We had grilled rib-eye steaks and all the fixin's.

The sun was starting to set, not only on the day, but on this awesome vacation.

moab15.jpg


Our Incredible Adventures by Disney Guides - Mike and Tiffany
They made the trip extra extra special. We can't thank them enough for their knowledge, expertise, friendliness, and willingness to go well over and above!

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Glenn, Debbie and their girls
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The sun continues to set
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Tiffany and Bobby
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Raising our Glasses in Celebration of a Great Vacation.
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Scott and Tammy
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Michelle and Kate
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Birthday Man Mike
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One final glimpse at the sunrise over the red cliffs
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At the airport...
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"Til we meet again...."
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Next...reflections on a week in the SouthWest....


August 30, 2007

Adventures by Disney - Moab Part 6 - Our Last Day

A buffet breakfast was waiting for us in the main lodge building. We'd be departing at 9:00am for our River Rafting Adventure on the Colorado River!

The pre-trip materials described this as Class 1 and 2 rapids. Probably because of the lateness of the season, they were mostly Class 1. However, that was just perfect for our morning on the river.

river1.jpg


I brought a water camera with me for the rafting, afraid of ruining my good camera. Based on our experience, I would bring a small, inexpensive digital with me next time, along with a good ziploc bag.

river2.jpg


We drove to the launch spot and I'll give you one important word of warning! There are "portajohns" at the launch spot, but unless you are one desperate person, AVOID THEM! I usually don't have a problem using park portajohns but trust me, these were the grossest things I have seen in years.. I'll just leave it at that.

river3.jpg


You will definetly get WET on this trip. Lots of raft fights with water being thrown back and forth. Some folks enjoyed getting in the water and floating along with the rafts. Some of us prefered to just hangout in the raft and enjoy the incredible views.

river4.jpg


No matter what you choose, it's a wonderful time.

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Next...our final dinner together and heading home.

August 29, 2007

Adventures by Disney - Moab Part 5

After our amazing morning, we drove into Moab for Lunch on our Own. We had about 2 hours and thought it would be plenty of time to eat and do a little shopping. Not. While the restaurant we went to had decent food, we can't say as much for the service.

This is as good a time as any to tell you the service out west is not at all like back east. They do things at their own pace, and it's not on your time schedule. We tried to just relax and go with the flow, but sometimes we had a bus to catch or an event to get to. The exceptions to this were the outstanding overall service at the Amara and the Red Cliffs Lodge.

After lunch, we had just a few minutes to shop and LindaLou and I found a TShirt place right next to where we ate. We took the opportunity to get a couple tshirts.

Linda shopping in Moab


About 2:30pm we all met at the bus and headed back to the Lodge. Here are our incredible Adventures by Disney Guides, Tiffany and Mike. They were always taking care of those little details so we didn't have to be concerned with them.


Adventure Guides Tiffany and Mike

There was tons of stuff to do at the Lodge including ATVing, Horseback Riding, Hummer tours and much more. Everyone we spoke to loved their activities!

LindaLou and I decided to hang out at the lodge, relax, catch up with blogging and catch a nap before dinner.

Tonights dinner had the Junior Adventurer's at their own party which also included a showing of High School Musical 2. Adults had "on your own dinner" which most of us did at the restaurant at the lodge.

Soon, it was time for sleep, our last full day was just a few hours away.

Sunset at the Red Cliffs Lodge


August 27, 2007

Adventures by Disney - Moab Part 4 - Hiking to Delicate Arch

WE MADE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Our first glimpse. The photos here really don't do justice to the incredible expanse and majesty of this beautiful place.

First glimpse of Delicate Arch

Two hot, tired, but VERY HAPPY hikers!
LindaLou and Deb at the Arch

We sat on the wall for awhile and watched others from our group head across the very slick rock to get to the actual arch. Here's a photo of some of our friends.

Michelle at the Arch

Using my 10x optical zoom, we can now see it was Adventurer Michelle who was standing inside the arch!

Close up of Michelle under Delicate Arch


After admiring the Arch from afar, we decided to climb down and get a closer view. There was an approximate 3 foot "wall" to climb over to get to more slick rock to make our way slowly to the arch.

Walking to the Arch itself


Once we were part way to the actual arch, I turned back around to take a photo of the landscape.

Vista at Delicate Arch

LindaLou and Wanda carefully watch their step as they make their way to the arch.
LindaLou and Wanda carefully watch their step

Sharyne and her family stand under the arch.

Sharyne and her family


Linda and I under the Arch. We could have stayed there for hours, mesmerized by the view.
Linda and I under Delicate Arch


I looked up and took this photo.
Delicate Arch from underneath

Linda got back in line to share the arch with her sister, Wanda. Here, they are looking out on the other side of the arch.

Linda and Wanda under Delicate Arch

Hamming it up for the camera.
Linda and Wanda under Delicate Arch

Our Adventure Guide, Tiffany, photographs folks in the arch!
Adventure Guide Tiffany

One of our Adventurer's...
One of the Catania men

Kate and Bobby and their kids under the Arch!
Kate and Bobby and their kids


One of our Junior Adventurers
One of our Junior Adventurers

Way Way WAY TOO SOON, it was time to head back down the mountain.
LindaLou, Wanda and Guide Mike
LindaLou, Wanda and Guide Mike

Debbie and Glenn
Debbie and Glenn


Scenery


The final phase of the hike which was on, thankfully, a well defined trail.
Final part of the trail, Mike and Deb

Soon we were back on the bus to check on our friend who was unable to complete the hike. We were very happy to see him smiling and doing great!

A ride back into Moab for some lunch and shopping and then back to the Red Cliff Lodge.

August 26, 2007

Adventures by Disney - Moab Part 3 - Hiking to Delicate Arch

Hiking to Delicate Arch

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Delicate Arch is something both LindaLou and I have been thinking about since we booked this Adventure by Disney. We read about the challenges associated with this hike, especially in August and made it our trip goal to prepare for the hike. We both worked out in our own ways to prepare for the hike. We are both very glad we did.

The Arches National Park website describes the trail as follows:

The first half-mile is a wide, well-defined trail.
Open slickrock with some exposure to heights.
Upon reaching the slickrock, follow the rock cairns.
The trail climbs gradually and levels out toward the top of this rock face.

Just before you get to Delicate Arch, the trail goes along a rock ledge for about 200 yards. This ledge is about 3-4 feet wide with a sheer drop off. The only good thing about it was that the ledge titled into the rock wall, so it was easier to "hug".

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The Hike!

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The Delicate Arch hike begins at the Wolfe Ranch Parking area. Though it is only 3 miles roundtrip, the estimated time to complete the hike is 2-3 hours. The Park guide lists it as a strenuous hike!

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The Elevation at the Arch itself is estimated at 4,829 feet. As we had a 480 feet rise in elevation during our trek, we started out somewhere around 4,400 feet. The first half mile was a well defined trail. We were slowly but steadily climbing upwards. I was really glad I had my hiking boots on as it helped me with traction and getting a firm stand on the rocks.


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Our guides Tiffany and Mike talked to us several times the day before and the day of about the hike. It would be rough, yet worth the view once we arrived. We were encouraged to bring as much water as we could carry as there was virtually no shade along the trail.

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I carried 3 bottles of water, one with energy drink; LindaLou carried 4. Our group was well prepared, however we were shocked at how many people we saw hiking the trail with no water at all. I find this very foolish given the heat and nature of the hike.

Soon our well defined trail turned to "slick rock" and we had to follow the trail markers (which wasn't always easy).

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We took frequent rest stops.
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About 1/3 of the way up the trail, one of the folks we were traveling with stopped in his tracks with possible heat exhaution. LindaLou and Kate were near by as the 3 of them (along with guide Mike) were the "caboose" of our group. Fortunately, after a few minutes, the person was ok enough to return to the bus. Our Adventure Guide Mike superbly handled this medical event and took control calmly. He did everything you could ask for and more.

Here's the last 200 or so yards along the ledge!

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Tiffany held up the group so the rest of us would catch up. She's encouraging us by pointing around the corner, where we will finally see the Delicate Arch!


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to be continued.......

August 25, 2007

Adventures by Disney - Red Cliffs Lodge and Moab Part 2

Sunday August 19, 2007

The next morning, LindaLou and I were up bright and early and caught some of the sunrise. The view from our patio was just beautiful.

Sunrise at Red Cliffs Lodge, Moab UT

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Because it was Sunday, the ranch held a special sunday brunch and we were spoiled! Made to order omelets, pumpkin pancakes, huge assortment of muffins, pastries, juices, fruits, sausage, bacon and more. Really nice!

Ronia was very excited about having "Made to Order Omelets". Actually, we all were.

 Sunday Brunch at Red Cliffs Lodge, Moab UT

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I enjoyed a made to order omelet with ham, tomatoes, broccoli and cheese, a pumpkin pancake, strawberries and "meal in a muffin" savory muffin. YUMMMMMM

Sunday Brunch at Red Cliffs Lodge, Moab UT


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At 8am sharp we loaded the bus for Arches National Park. The group stayed together for the first part of the tour. We picked up Dave, our local guide, and then made a quick stop at the visitors center. Those of us with National Park Passports were able to get them stamped and then quickly return to the bus.

From the National Park Service website: "Arches National Park preserves over 2,000 natural sandstone arches, like the world-famous Delicate Arch, as well as many other unusual rock formations. In some areas, the forces of nature have exposed millions of years of geologic history. The extraordinary features of the park create a landscape of contrasting colors, landforms and textures that is unlike any other in the world."

As with most of the places we visited, it is very hard to verbalize the incredible sights we visited. The pictures barely do the majesty of the country justice. Along the way, our guide Dave explained about the formation of the arches. Some of them will not last too many more years, as the erosion will eventually break them apart. In fact, Dave told the kids that some of what we saw may not be there if they returned as adults.

Our first stop was Balanced Rock. The following description is from the plaqard at the viewing location. "The forces of erosion are sculpting more than just arches in the Entrada Sandstone. At Balanced Rock, the caprock of the hard Slick Rock Member is perched upon a base of the Dewy Bridge Member, a mudstone. This softer pedestal weathers more quickly than the resistant Slick Rock above. Eventually, the faster-eroding Dewey Bridge will cause the collaspe of Balanced Rock."

Balanced Rock Arches National Park


Total height of Balanced Rock is 128 feet. The boulder weighs over 3500 TONS!

We then drove to the location where the group split in two. About 2/3rds of the group opted to hike the 1.5 mile Delicate Arch trail. The others stayed on the bus for a tour of several different arches, including a viewing area for Delicate Arch.

Linda Mac will blog about the Arches National Park bus tour and LindaLou and I will take you on our strenuous hike up to the Delicate Arch.

Arches National Park Visitor Guide (pdf)

August 24, 2007

Adventures by Disney Red Cliffs Lodge and Moab Part I

Saturday August 18, 2007

As mentioned in the previous blog, we left Monument Valley and had our 2nd 3 hour bus ride of the day. We were fairly worn out, not to mention dusty, from the off road adventure, but the scenery was so magnificant it was hard to sleep.

We finally arrived at the Red Cliffs Lodge just outside the town of Moab. Oh My Gosh. We fell in love with this place. Nestled amoung the mesas and buttes of the Red Cliffs, this working ranch was our home for the final three days of our Adventure.

Upon arrival, we were directed to a room in the main lodge for an orientation by the resort manager, Sandy. We had beverages and cookies while she explained everything about the resort we would need to know. Sandy was most enthusiastic and really got us all excited about our stay.

Orientation at Red Cliffs Lodge

We were then given our room keys and when we opened the door our luggage was sitting there. I can't tell you how great it was to always have our luggage taken care of. At every resort we arrived at.... either the hotel staff or our Adventure Guides had all our room keys ready for us in envelopes and we could immediately go to our rooms. Our luggage was always there waiting for us. Then, at our leisure, we provided the front desk with a credit card for incidentals. Whenever we were checking out of a resort, our luggage was picked up in the room and loaded on the bus. It was a GREAT convenience!!!

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When we arrived at the room, we were blown away. Simple, rustic, yet very roomy with a kitchenette, sofa, table, on the lower level and the "loft" had the beds, dressers, tv etc. We also had a very nice patio area to sit and relax. There were 2 room views available: river and creek. We were fortunate to have a river view and were able to enjoy a couple beautiful sunrises and sunsets! WOW! We loved the location.

River View Room at Red Cliffs Lodge, Moab UT

River View Room at Red Cliffs Lodge, Moab UT

River View Room at Red Cliffs Lodge, Moab UT

River View Room at Red Cliffs Lodge, Moab UT

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Our dinner was in the winery tasting room in a separate building and was quite good! As we walked to dinner we passed a wedding taking place on the lodge grounds at sunset. What a romantic location and view!

Sunset Wedding at Red Cliffs Lodge, Moab UT

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After dinner it was time to turn in. We had a big day in store for us at Arches National Park!

August 22, 2007

Adventures by Disney Day 5 - Monument Valley Part 2

Our time in Monument Valley continues.......

I decided to play with the camera settings a bit and changed the light source from outdoor sun to indoor Tungsten. You can see how it really brought out the blues and created a neat effect. This spire formation is called the Three Sisters.

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Here's a view of the buttes from inside our Off Road Vehicle.

View from the Off Road Vehicle

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This very nice Native American man posed for photos of himself on the horse, just like in the westerns! Then for $2.00 each, we could get on the horse and have our photo taken. This was very popular with everyone on our tour.

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It was a perfect afternoon. Between the incredible structures, having our photos taken on the horse and our great guides we were all very happy with the tour.

Back on the bus for another 3 hours to Moab UT and the Red Cliffs Inn!!!

Deb

August 21, 2007

Adventures by Disney Day 5 - Monument Valley Part 1

Saturday, August 18, 2007 - Part 1

t was time to move north and change hotels once again. Today would be the longest day on the bus. Two long trips of 3 hours each! We traveled from our lodging outside the Grand Canyon in Arizona, to the Red Rock Cliffs of Moab Utah!.

Luggage had to be ready to go by 6:30am.

We had breakfast buffet (basically scrambled egg, bacon, biscuits and gravy, coffee and juice. It was a "value" resort type breakfast.

We then left for Monument Valley. The bus ride was 3 hours, no rest stop break, but there is a restroom on the bus. There was water and snacks on the bus as well. The Disney movie Brother Bear played on the small monitors, but with everyone talking on the bus it was kind of heard to hear. I used my ipod with noise reduction headphones and took a nap!

There were lots of scenery changes along the way. We drove out of the Grand Canyon National Park, so got some glimpes of the canyon. Soon we were seeing buttes and all kinds of rock formations. A number of the formations we saw along our entire trip had names. On this drive, we saw Owl Rock:

Owl Rock

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We arrived at the Gouldings Lodge at Monument Valley for lunch and our off road trip.

The menu was basic, plenty of food. The only problem we had was the service was VERY slow. I'll put the menu at the bottom of this blog entry with a couple food comments.

Soon we were off to our tour of the magnificant Monument Valley! Many movies have had scenes filmed here. In 1939, Director John Ford's film Stage Coach, starring John Wayne was the first of many westerns shot here. Just a few of the other movies included Forrest Gump, Back to the Future 3, the Eiger Sanction with Clint Eastwood, Mission Impossible and Thelma and Louise!

Monument Valley comes under the jurisdiction of the Navajo Nation Parks and Recreation Department. The rock formations range from 400 - 1,000 feet tall. Only a limited number of the monuments are available for public viewing. The remainder are part of the Navajo sacred land. Some areas are only available to the public via a recognized tour operator.

Our group of 36 was split into 2 groups and each had their own off road vehicle. Our Navajo guide was very knowledgable, but it was often hard to hear her voice clearly. We were sitting in the open air portion of the vehicle and the driver is in a "cab" like a truck cab.

Off Road Tour Vehicle

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We drove into the valley and then had a photo stop at one of the famous buttes, "The Mittens".

Deb and LindaLou enjoy the Mittens

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Here's a group photo of our entire Adventures by Disney group at the Mittens!

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Goulding's Lodge Group Lunch Menu - Select one.

Navajo Taco

Chef Salad
Soup and Salad Bar (very basic salad bar, soup was good)
Beef Stew with Navajo Fry Bread
Navajo Taco (many folks had these and enjoyed them - very large! - pictured above)
Chicken Strips
Fry Bread and Honey
Ruben
Triple Decker Club
Tuna Salad
Hamburger
Patty Melt
Chicken Breast Sandwich - very good
Beverages


Stay tuned for more photos in Part 2.

August 19, 2007

Adventures by Disney - Grand Canyon Day 2

I have fallen woefully behind in the blogging, but that's because our days are really full of great activities. I really do hope to get caught up.

After another "buffet" breakfast at the Grand Hotel, we loaded the bus about 8:00am for the Grand Canyon. We met up with our local guide, Robin, and proceeded to take a bus tour of several spots along the south rim.

I want to share some photos of the various families and friends on the wonderful Adventure by Disney. Oh, and have I mentioned today how incredibly awesome Tiffany and Mike are? They are!

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Annette, Beci and Michelle from MouseFanTravel.com along with some youngsters!

Annette, Beci and Michelle from MouseFanTravel.com along with some youngsters!

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Ann and George Freeman

Ann and George Freeman


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Deb Wills and Linda Mac

Deb Wills and Linda Mac


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Adventures by Disney Guide Tiffany

Adventures by Disney Guide Tiffany

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Michelle climbed down to a very small overlook rock! She was braver than I!

Michelle  at the overlook rock

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Sisters LindaLou and Wanda

Sisters LindaLou and Wanda

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The Catania Family

The Catania Family


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The Keating Family

The Keating Family


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We had several options after our morning tour of the Canyon. The Adventures bus would make several shuttle runs during the day back and forth from the hotel to the canyon.

Ann and George, LindaMac, LindaLou and myself has prearranged a 1 hour helicopter ride of the canyon. LindaMac plans to blog about that. I'll just say for my 2nd time in a choper.. it was awesome.

After that, we headed back to the hotel. I wasn't feeling good, so I stayed to myself the rest of the day. LindaLou, George and Ann when to see the Imax movie across the street. Tickets provided by the Adventure Guides. Linda really enjoyed the movie and felt it was worth seeing. It included some history of the canyon. Be aware that during the movie there is a sensation of being on the canoe in the river and could cause motion sensitivity.

Dinner tonight was "on our own" and guides Mike and Tiffany invited anyone interested to dine with them. Just about the entire group decided to do W.E. Cook Pizza Pasta for dinner. (I went to McDonalds and had a really good salad with grilled chicken.)

A early bed time for most as luggage was being picked up at 6:30am for our very long bus day.

Other Adventures by Disney Blogs (of this trip)
MouseFanCafe

AllEars team member LindaMac
To be continued.

August 17, 2007

Adventures by Disney Grand Canyon Day 1 Part 2

We were up early this morning and had breakfast in the Grand Hotel restaurant. We arrived at the hotel yesterday after our fantastic 1 hour taste of the Grand Canyon. We were all feeling pretty great when we arrived at the hotel.

I must admit, I had no idea what to expect from the hotel. I had read the "fair" reviews of the hotel on several places online. Prior to the trip, I spoke to my travel agent and expressed my concerns. She assured me the Disney Adventure Team was working with the hotel to ensure a positive experience.

When we pulled up the grounds were simple, yet clean. The lobby inside, rustic, few amenities, but clean. We got our room keys and had about an hour before dinner.

Grand Hotel Lobby

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The room is basic but, again, was clean. It was no Amara, but no one said it would be. I think the rooms have ammenities of a Disney value/moderate resort. The restaurant food, I would consider Pop Century level (Disney value hotel). This is a no frills hotel. However, our time in the room was going to be very limited considering we are at the Grand Canyon.

Grand Hotel

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Grand Hotel


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During dinner last night, an adult Native American man sung, while a young boy (12 years old), dressed in traditional attire, did several dances for us. He was quite good! The hard part about this was they were explaining the history of the various dances, in the midst of all of us eating a buffet. So it was noisy. After these gentleman, another Native American entertained the dining room with wooden flutes - and he had quite the assortment. Wonderful soothing music and very enjoyable to listen to.

Native American Dancer

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Our great guides, Mike and Tiffany talked to us about the next days adventures and time tables for meals, tour and "on your own" time.

LindaMac, Wanda, Ronia, LindaLou decided to have a night cap at the hotel bar.

LindaMac, Wanda, Ronia, LindaLou

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And as I slowly made my way back to the room, I spotted half of our Dynamic Duo Guides, Tiffany, at the lobby piano!

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We all went to sleep with great anticipation for our full day at the Canyon!

Also blogging on this Adventure is Beci Mahnken at http://mousefancafe.com/.


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August 16, 2007

Adventures by Disney - the Grand Canyon

Today was an incredible day, with lots of great stories to share...but allow me to skip ahead to this afternoon....... about 4:00pm.

As we pulled up to the entrance of the Grand Canyon National Park, I already felt my body about to explode with anticipation. Seeing the Canyon in person has been on my "life list". You know, those things you really want to do before it's your time to pass.

We drove a couple miles in the bus and finally got out. Most of us walked quickly to the rest rooms after our 2+ hour bus ride.

We gathered as a group and Tiffany went over safety instructions and what we could do with our hour.

As we began walking towards the canyon, our pace quickened. We felt like running...... Time seemed to pass so slowly as we approached the road we needed to cross. We could see in a distance that the canyon was close by, but still could not see it.

Linda and I, with others we were traveling with approached the barrier and each of us stood quietly in our tracks. Our eyes were rivited to the land that lay before us. The tears welled up in my eyes and soon I began sobbing at the magnificant land before me. I looked at Linda, Wanda, and several others in our group and we all stood their sobbing.

No photo will ever do it justice. No words will ever explain the feeling of seeing the Grand Canyon for the first time. We stood there in awe. Then began moving around the walkway. And each time you changed positions, the canyon took on a new dimension.

For some reason the words to America the Beautiful started echoing through my mind. I hadn't heard that song in a very long time...but suddenly, it took on a whole new meaning.

I still don't know quite how to explain to you what it was like this afternoon....

Here are a few photos.....

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Adventures by Disney - Sedona Jeep Ride

When we head out today, we enter a no cell service very very limited internet service period for a couple days.

In case I don't get the other pics up from Sedona, I had to leave you with this one:

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Currently 6:18am Sedona time.

August 15, 2007

Adventures by Disney Day 2

Our first full day on the Adventure. We all arrived at breakfast around 8am, much more rested than the travel day.

Once again, the Amara Resort provided us with outstanding service and excellent food. (dinner the first night was as awesome). Our breakfast buffet included great coffee, delish fruit, Eggs Florentine, Smoked Bacon, sausage, oatmeal (that was really good), pastries, juice, french toast, cereal. You barely had to look up for a server to refill your coffee and they were there for you. We'll really miss the folks who served us at the Amara. The rest of the staff were equally as wonderful. They get great marks for customer service, food, cleanliness, and view. I'd come back here in a heart beat.

Oh, and they have a spa also. LindaLou had a massage today which she deemed "marvelous". Steam room was wonderful with eucalpytus aromas. Robes, towells, Elemis products to use in the ladies locker room. (Elemis products in the resort rooms too). All the amenities you could want. The quiet area (prior to your treatment) had quiet music, a peach tea with antioxidents, fresh fruit, nuts, cold water with fresh lemon slices. Automatic 18% gratuity, but Linda says, no push to buy products. A win, win, win.

Our first activity today was billed as the Canyons and Cowboys Jeep Tour. We went for an off-road trek into the majestic canyons of Dry Creek Basin! You certainly knew the tour was full of Disney folks as several times on the jeep, everyone's arms went in the air and well all hooped and hollared! There were some incredible rock formations. Our driver, Taz, was great pointing them out to us.

We had a couple stops along the jeep ride where everyone piled out and got to take photos and enjoy the magnificant views. Just breath taking!

Our second stop was the old Van Deren Cabin where the cowboys told us about the Homestead Act and how this "famous" cabin came to be. A number of western movies have been made in this area as well as in this cabin.

As we left the Red Rock area, the jeeps took us to the Sedona Heritage Museum. There were interesting artifacts of a time long gone including cowboy gear, an old schoolhouse room, old kitchen and more. There was even a room celebrating some of the movies that have been filmed in the area.

It was then time for lunch. The food was tasty, but I would have like a full sandwich, not a half. The other thing about lunch is that we were in an open air "barn-type" structure with no airconditioning. It made for an uncomfortable time.

Our cowboys entertained us once again with lots of show and tell and stories of the cowboys of old. It was quite interesting.

After lunch many folks stayed to do crafts - soap sculptures and dream catchers.

I, and several others, walked back to the Amara Resort. LindaLou had stayed behind this morning since she caught a nasty cold. Plus I wanted to take a shower. The jeep ride was very dusty!

This evening a group of us dined at the Cowboy Club in town. The food was excellent. My buffalo filet was as tender as you could imagine. The pork chop special, ribs, everything was very good.

The night air was perfect, a cool breeze and just warm enough to enjoy the walk back to the hotel.

If you have any questions, send them along via the feedback form. I"ll do my best to answer them. It maybe quiet here during the next 2 days. Not sure how much internet access will be available at the Grand Canyon hotel. I understand it's just wireless in the lobby only.

I'll get today's photos up when I can.

In the meantime, check out LindaMac's Southwest Adventure Blog and Mike Scopa's Live at WDW Blog.
Happy Trails from Sedona where it is currently 11:00pm. Our wake up call is 5:30am!

August 14, 2007

Adventures by Disney Day 1

We finally left the Phoenix airport about 1:30. Loaded ourselves onto a motorcoach and off we went to Montezuma's Castle.

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The drive was about 90 minutes. Along the way, both guides, Mike and Tiffany, talked about the area and introduced us to some of the geology, scenery and customs we'd learn about during our week.

At some point, we stopped off and Jack, our local guide, joined us on the bus. He gave some intoductory information about the Castle.

As we got close to Montezuma's Castle, the weather turned decidedly nasty. Mike reminded us it was Monsoon season and that storms could come in very quickly during the afternoon. In fact, we hadn't been off the bus 20 minutes and we scampered into the Visitors Center to escape the short shower.

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It was quite fascinating to sea the Castle built into the rock. We walked along a trail that included the view of a river, then back on the bus.

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As we approached Sedona, the rock formations and color changed slowly and then dramatically. The red rock is an incredible site to behold.


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After 40 minutes, we arrived at the Amara Resort and Spa. VERY nice, comfy rooms, great dinner, fun entertainment. Since it was a travel day for so many, it was an early night and we all went to our rooms happy and tired.

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Breakfast is at 8am. Then at 9:15 we meet up with some Cowboys and take a Jeep Ride in the Red Rocks.

Oh, and be sure to follow my friend Mike Scopa as he blogs live from Walt Disney World!


Adventures by Disney - It has begun!

It is time! We have been at the Phoenix airport for a couple hours waiting for everyone in our group of 36 to arrive. There are 19 folks in the group I am part of, honcho'd be Beci of MouseFanTravel.

GuideTiffany with Ann and George in the background

After arriving at the airport, we were eventually greeted by one of our Adventure Guides, Tiffany. She arranged to get our bags skycapped and on their way to the hotel. We are now waiting outside a Starbucks in Terminal 4 waiting for everyone to arrive. Tiffany pictured above. Below is Wanda (LindaLou's sister and our friend Ronia).

Soon we will be on our way to Sedona - 1.5 hours to Montezuma Castle and then another 30 minutes from there to our hotel.

Wanda and Ronia

August 13, 2007

Adventures by Disney - Phoenix Day 2b (Monday)

(click on any photo for larger version)

Phoenix

After our mighty fine breakfast we looked for a grocery store for some bottled water to purchase, got a few other items and off we went to the Desert Botanical Gardens. Located in Phoenix, the gardens are 145 acres in the midst of the red rock buttes.

Just about everything I read about Phoenix listed this in the top 5 things to do - Linda and I agree. It really was awesome.

Admission is $10. I pulled out the American Express card and the lady told me they offer a 15% discount for using Amex. I almost fell over, no one ever seems to offer a discount for using Amex. LOL.

She explained the lay of the land to us, gave us maps and we were soon on our way. We also purchased, for a nominal fee, the trail booklets so we'd have a more informed way of knowing what we were looking at. For families, there were also "scavenger hunt" booklets for the kids. We saw several groups with them and they looked to be enjoying themselves.

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Phoenix


The main trail, Desert Discovery Trail, was about 1/3 of a mile. If you did that plus the 4 other trails, the mileage was about 1.5. However, don't be fooled thinking "piece of cake". It was already in the mid 90s just before 9am. For us "east coasters" the wide variety of cactus were all new to us so we spent a fair amount of time looking at the different species and reading about them.

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Phoenix

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Phoenix

There were a number of placards explaining the terrain and vegetation which were both informative and interesting. The sky was so blue that it made for some wonderful photos. Here's LindaLou at one of the signs.

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Phoenix

We enjoyed looking at the famous "Saguaro" cactus, grown only in the Sonoran Dessert in Arizona and 2 small areas in California. The first branches take 50-100 years to appear. This cactus reaches it's full height of 40 feet in 150-200 years.


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Phoenix
This particular cactus was found frequently on all the trails were walked. While we didn't get photos of any of the wildlife, we were a little surprised to see as much as we did. The expected bees and small lizzards, but also squirrels, cotton tail rabbit, and what seemed like a chipmonk.


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Phoenix

We also explored the Plants and People of the Sonoran Dessert Trail. This area was very well done. There were exhibits showing the huts people lived in, what the cooking area looked like and sometimes even the wooden corals for the livestock.

During the centuries that people lived here they found a homeland with more than 400 ediible plants and many many others will medicinal, construction or other purposes.


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Phoenix
While we never found out the name of this tree, Linda shows how green the entire tree is, including the bark.

Linda headed into the gift shop and I wandered back to take a quick walk through the Wildflower Trail.

It was quite fascinating and we were both really glad we spent time here. After about 1.45 minutes, the heat had gotten to us both and it was time to head back to the hotel and cool off.

Tomorrow is a big day - our Adventures by Disney begins!!


Adventures by Disney - Phoenix Day 2a

(Click on any photo for larger image)

We woke up bright and early this morning. Linda told me that the message light was blinking on the phone "It's your suitcase I bet!" So I immediately called bell services and sure enough, Southwest had delivered it during the night. YEA!!!! I wanted to hug and kiss it when it arrived...but I settled for being very grateful.

Phoenix We wanted an early start today. The plan was to go to the Desert Botanical Gardens around opening time, 7am. At 6am I was off to the Café for some Starbucks. Here's a photo just after the sun came up.

Also, I'm thinking it was the fatigue talking yesterday when I said we really like the room. After considering it is supposed to be such a luxurious resort and the "premium" room category, we have decided it is lacking and we are disappointed. The nice thing about the room is it is spacious, has 2 sinks, and we received nice bathrobes. In terms of amenities, there aren't many. Our "premium" view looks at a fence hiding a maintenance area. There is no hair dryer in the room. Plus there are little annoying maintenance issues in the room. Would be ok if we were not at what is considered an upscale resort. We won't even get into prices for food, Starbucks ($4.75 for a grande regular coffee), $23/day for valet parking etc. If this is a premium room, not sure what the standard is. Grounds are magnificent and well kept. Staff is very very helpful and friendly. But, I wouldn't recommend it on Disney Vacation Club points unless your pockets are very deep!

After a crazy time change day yesterday, the first order of business was a good breakfast! We got several recommendations from the hotel concierge. Then decided to ask the bell services guys, who gave us MUCH better suggestions. And that's my tip. For things like breakfast and lunch, ask the guys and gals working at the hotel where they like to eat! The concierge suggestion was at the Golf Club across the way. Not!

We ended up at U.S. Egg at 3828 N Scottsdale Rd, Scottsdale az. It's owned by 4 brothers and there was plenty of good home cookin! Linda had the cornbeefhash with scrambled eggs, English muffin and hashbrowns. I had the "Protein Pancakes" which were really yummy and reportedly only 15 carbs for the pair, but my blood glucose meter would tell you otherwise LOL. Nonetheless, they were great! Filled with blueberries, sliced almonds and granola. Yea, the granola told me the carbs must be net. But still, I haven't found anything like that at home. The meal with 2 coffees and a juice was around $20. Great service, 2 different managers swung by to ask how things were - overall worth the price. We might even return tomorrow. useggrestaurant.com

Next - the Desert Botanical Gardens

August 7, 2007

Adventures by Disney - Preparation

It's now 2 weeks until -- let me rephrase that. I started this 2 weeks before the trip, but all the prep work has overtaken a lot of my writing. A little of the prep work does have to do with this trip, but the bulk of it is getting everything in place for the AllEars.net website, newsletter and blogs before I do. Then, there is something called a "Day Job" that pays the mortgage. Oh and I'm on the team currently reviewing the 2008 PassPorter's WDW. Did I mention email? So you can see, I have quite a lot to do before any extended trip out of the office.

Whew !

On Sunday, LindaLou and I will head west for the start of our Adventures by Disney. Joining us on this adventure will be AllEars team member LindaMac, MouseFanTravel notables Beci Mahnken, Annette, and Michelle, other folks we know and love and then a whole group of people we don't know at all. It's always great seeing dear friends and making new ones!

You may recall back in April, I wrote a couple blogs about our early planning. We have a pre-stay planned for Phoenix. We fly out August 12th to spend two days in Phoenix and then the tour begins Tuesday August 14th.

As a recap, since it's been so long since I blogged about this trip.....

Here's how it all began. Dreaming of the Grand Canyon - April 2007

Then in my Planning the Adventures entry, I spoke about our initial plans for the trip.

Now back to today...and we are really getting excited!!!!! I know the heat is going to be very intense, not looking forward to that part, but we are going to be as prepared as possible.

I've already blogged about the SugarFree sports drink powder experiment I did :)


Deb's Merrell Moab Ventilator Hiking Boots About 6 weeks ago, we decided to buy some decent shoes. Based on reports we had read, we really don't need them....but both Linda and I have weak ankles and decided that we wanted something sturdier than our sneakers! We went all over town in search of good hiking shoes.

I ended up purchasing the Merrell Moab Ventilator Hiking Boots - Women's at REI for $75.00.


LindaLou lucked out and found her shoes pretty early in the process at Sports Authority.
Her Women's White Ledge Waterproof Mid Gaucho cost $63.00.

Linda's White Ledge Waterproof Mid Gaucho Next it was time for socks. I learned doing my 60 mile walks that wet feet (from sweating or whatever) cause blisters. It's almost as important to have the correct sock as it is the correct footware. With the temps in the high 90s, sweat will be an issue. I normally wear Thurlo crew socks. Very comfy and good moisture wicking. So for the SW trip, I decided to purchase a few pairs of Thurlo Light Hiking Crew Socks. I've tried them out several times with my new shoes and love them! It's hard to find them discounted online, but Amazon has as good a selection as anyone else. Unfortunately, my Amazon order arrived and they only sent 2 correct socks and 2 wrong ones.

Linda Lou decided to go with her trusty stand by Wright Socks. These socks are double layer. The sock is constructed with two layers of fabric and are made of Dri-Wright polyester, nylon and lycra. The Dri-Wright is for maximum moisture control and the interaction between the layers absorbs friction and prevents blisters. When wearing these socks, my feet stay dry and cool. They can be found on Amazon.com for a discount.

One motto I learned from a walker coach years ago is never use anything for the first time when it matters. In other words, test out your clothing, equipment, etc long before your actual trip or event. You don't want any surprises at the last minute.

We've been out now several times hiking (well, east coast hiking) in our newly purchased shoes and socks. So far so good and we feel confident these will serve us well on our trip out West.

Deb and Wanda on Sugarloaf Mountain
Nearby is a mountain with hiking trails, Sugarloaf Mountain, though I'm sure my friends from out west would call it a small hill - elevation is about 1,200 feet. It's got a 2.5, 5.5 and 7 mile trail. We've been practicing on the 2.5 and 5.5 mile ones. Linda's sister Wanda, who will be on the trip with us, has joined us as we hike. We've all learned a few lessons..or should I say relearned a few things that we forgot about and were reminded of...like not having enough water with us. hmm... well, better to be reminded of that lesson now.

It's not that the Adventures by Disney will be so rough and rugged, but we do want to be in good shape so it doesn't tire us out.

I've also been hiking in the same clothes I wore on the Mediterranean Cruise... my LL Bean sun protect long sleeve pants and shirts. For a variety of reasons, I'm not supposed to expose my skin to the hot summer sun. The clothing is very lightweight and breathable and works well. Of course, it wasn't cheap, but what is?! LL Bean was actually much less expensive than some of the other brands I looked at.

What else? We've put in orders to stop the mail, the paper, have friends watch the house and have our list of last minute items to do around the house.

I think that about takes care of our preparations for the trip. Of course, we still have to gather all our belongs, take small children by the hand.. oh.. wrong trip -- we do still need to pack. Remember that 3 page packing list LindaLou shared with you for our Med Cruise? Well, she's working on modifying it for our Adventure.

Look for our daily (whenever we have internet access) blogs from the SouthWest beginning this weekend!

Deb and LindaLou

May 1, 2007

Planning the Southwestern Adventures by Disney Trip

Next Steps..... Book our flights, decide on pre and post stays, if any.

This turned out to be more of a challenge than I anticipated. The Southwest Adventure is a one way trip. It starts in Phoenix and ends in Moab, with a drop off at the Grand Junction Airport in CO. Let's just say Grand Junction is a rather SMALL airport LOL!

This trip is about trying different things -- so experimenting we are.

We used Rapid Rewards (free) tickets on Southwest to fly into Phoenix. Linda and I decided to go in on Sunday. We'll be using Disney Vacation Club (DVC) points to stay at the Arizona Biltmore Resort and Spa. I have never used my DVC points outside of the Disney World resorts, so this will be new for me. The Arizona Biltmore is part of the Concierge Collection of the DVC Exchanges.

For the trip home from Grand Junction...well, that required a lot of research on flights!! Turns out most flights jump over to either Denver or Salt Lake City and then "home" from there. We decided to book a United flight. Of course, the flight from Grand Junction to Denver will be its own adventure -- it's a 20 seater plane. Linda did remind me (while I was freakin out about it) that we rode a 6 person float plane in Alaska... I guess instead of looking at the glaciers, we'll have plenty of other scenery to enjoy.

Next up -- start planning what to do in Phoenix on Monday - We decided to rent a car and get one with GPS so we can find our way around easier.

Our only thoughts are that we don't want to do things that we will be doing on the Adventure (Sedona, Grand Canyon, Moab). Plus we don't want too much outdoor activity -- gotta save it up for the ABD.

Here are some websites I found that have been helpful:

http://www.phoenixcvb.com/

In the Yahoo Travel Section I looked at Phoenix, things to do.
Highly rated and some interest to us would be:

Desert Botanical Gardens (rated 4.5 stars by reviewers)
Camelback Mountain (rated 5 stars)
South Mountain Park Scenic Drive (4.5 stars)
The Heard Museum (4.5 stars)
Mystery Castle (4 stars)

So what exactly is in Phoenix to see and do?
Have you spent time in Phoenix?
What would you suggest we do with our free day?
Any ideas for lunch or dinner?

Let me know your ideas through our comment feature!

Deb
Life -- IT too short!

April 15, 2007

Dreaming of the Grand Canyon

I've always wanted to visit the Southwestern United States. Years ago, when my travel didn't include so much Disney, I loved experiencing the National Parks of the US. I can clearly picture my adventures in Yosemite, the BadLands, Mt. Rushmore, and Crater Lake - ah those bring back great memories. Yet, the Southwest has always eluded me.....

Until now....

The phone rang one night as I was working on an upcoming issue of the All Ears® newsletter. It was Beci Mahnken, my travel agent from MouseFanTravel. Beci told me that she had worked out a special Adventures by Disney Trip to the Southwestern US and was able to offer a discount too! After hearing a few of the details, I quickly logged on to the Adventures by Disney Website and became fixated on the Itinerary...... Sedona, the Grand Canyon, the Archs, Moab. Most meals included...oh and the hotels look awesome!!!

From there I went to the National Park Service website for the Grand Canyon. The photos alone brought tears to my eyes...... I called Beci back to tell her I was ready!!!! Let the planning begin.

Sound interesting? You can join us!
Read more about the trip!

I'll be writing more about this Adventure by Disney and update you on my planning soon!

Deb
Life -- it too short!

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About Adventures by Disney

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to Deb's Digest in the Adventures by Disney category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

AllEars® Meet and Greet is the next category.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.