Saturday, October 26, 2013

Trip planning looking good

Trip Update:

UPS showed up yesterday with SB's Magical Express luggage tag!  So we all have our luggage tags now!

As of now we have:

Room reservations
Dinning Plan
Park tickets for Disney
Park tickets for Universal
Air plane tickets
Travel insurance
Name and colours on Magic Bands selected
Our Fast Pass selection have been made (Sorry ladies, I didn't discuss this with you.  Did my best guess on what you would find of interest.)

Two of us have received our flu shots.  SB is still getting over her lung infection so was not able to get hers.  JT still wants to get hers.

All of us have our prescriptions filled.  Yeah, I know, too much information.  But it is important.  You can't deny that!

We still have to buy Christmas decorations.  Yep, you read that right.  Pop Century is a large resort.  Over 2,500 rooms.  It's fun and does help when guests decorate their windows.  We're hitting the dollar stores to buy decorations for our rooms.  Mainly window stickers that peel off,  These do not create more work for the Mouse Keepers after we leave. 

 I'll post a photo of our decorating efforts (if possible) when we get there.

And here's a thank you:

I posted the other day that I could not add link lists to my blog.  It's fixed!  Thank you Google Help Team!

On a tech note:

While shopping at Staples I found information on a new service (and phone for traveling).

Roam Mobility for the traveler.  They offer Canadians a low cost cell, text and data service.  You can purchase just the SIM card or buy a phone for traveling.

We won't be needing one of these.  But what a great service. I know of several families who came home to huge cell phone bills on top of their travel costs.

The link to Roam Mobility is with the Disney Trip Planning list.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Nothing exciting - just stuff

Trip stuff:

Monday morning I called Magical Express again to see if they could provide a UPS tracking number for SB's luggage tag.  I had called them early October when we received the Magical Express voucher and only my tag was included.  Surprise, there is no record of my calling.  The employee took the information and promised it would be shipped out immediately.  Here's hoping it arrives this week.

SB could use some good news (like "Hey SB, your luggage tag is here".  She's on antibiotics for a lung infection and could use a pick me up.  Her doctor is hoping the infection will clear up before we leave.  I'm hoping she will pick up some air plane ear plugs.  She said her ears were bothering her and I know that flying when you already have an earache is no fun. 

Tech stuff:

I'm trying to get some links on this blog for my favourite quilting and trip planning sites.  I can add links to other people's blogs with no problem.  But not to other sites.  I'm still waiting for Google Help Desk to get back to me.  If you ever see some websites on the blog you'll know that the problem was fixed.

We managed to get iTunes accounts set up for Mom and for JT.  Now they both have a flashlight app on their phones.  Not really all that exciting, but could be useful.  The main reason was to show them how to get apps on their phones.  Now they can have fun finding all sorts of apps to play around with.  I also showed them how to use free wi-fi when it's available.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Still more trip planning

Mom calls to let me know that she still has not received anything from UPS.  She and JT should have their Magical Express voucher and luggage tags by now.  I still have not received SB's luggage tag, although we do have our voucher and I have my luggage tag.  So what now?

I decide to re check and re check and re check our reservations.  Both on-line and paper.  Finally I spot the problem.  I'd feel bad that it took me so long except that the other ladies checked and they didn't spot it either.  There was no apartment number on Mom's reservation.  The mail man has no way of knowing what mail box to put the envelope in.  UPS would probably believe the envelope is going to a house since there is no apartment number.  So they would feel that the address is incorrect.

Here I am, at 7 am walking to my son's to use his phone.  He has a long distance plan and there is no way I'm going to call Disney without either using VOIP or a phone that has a long distance plan.  The time on hold can seem endless when you call them.

Turns out that Mom's address is so long there is no room in the address field for the apartment number.  Disney IT people end up getting involved to correct this.  An e-mail has been sent to me with the correct address on the reservation. 

I have to meet up with Mom and her friend at the mall to give Mom her hand me down cell phone (I just got a hand me down from my son).  While waiting for them I check my e-mail (the mall has free wi-fi and I do not have a data plan - too cheap).  The e-mail from Disney is there....but the apartment number is wrong.  The first two numbers are switched. 

Give Mom her phone, stop at Rogers to help her get her name corrected and then walk home.  This time to use VOIP to call Disney.  A cast member came on line immediately.  He made the correction and sent another e-mail.  Then I was off the the quilt shop to help sew up tote bags for local women shelters.

Fast forward 5 hours and Mom calls to say that UPS has arrived with the Magical Express voucher.  She had called a week ago and asked where it was.  The Mear's employee took down her address (correctly) and apparently their computer system doesn't have an issue with long addresses.  She is still waiting for the Disney Resort vouchers and souvenir luggage tags though.

We are still waiting for SB's luggage tag.  I had called Magical Express (Mears) the day before Mom did, but it still has not arrived.  It's not the end of the world as we still can use the Magical Express to go from the airport to the resort.  But it would be nice if SB didn't have to collect her luggage at the Orlando airport and haul it around with her.  Keeping our fingers crossed that the luggage tag will get here!

By the way, with all the walking to my son's to the mall, back home, then to the quilt ship, I put in some good training for walking in the parks.  Fitbit showed almost 16,000 steps.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Magical Express and more mail!

The Magical Express voucher for Mom and JT has not arrived.  When I called to request SB's luggage tag (which was missing from our voucher package) I was told that Mom's and JT's would arrive the next day.  Mom stayed home to accept the delivery from UPS.  Believe me, it's not easy getting that lady to stay home.  She is always on the go.

Mom called the Magical Express 1-866 number on Thursday evening.  She was told that they would ship it out right away.  Now we are confused.  Are they re-shipping?  Or had they not shipped in the first place.  Like I said..very confusing.

Now for the fun part.  New Mail!

DH and I were just going out the door for a breakfast date when the mail arrived.  In with the mail was an envelope from Disney!  It contained our Mickey Mouse luggage tag souvenirs. 

Along with the vouchers for our refillable mug, dinning plan, discounts, etc.

Unfortunately SB wasn't home so we couldn't deliver her luggage tag immediately.  It's these things that keep the excitement going.  At least it does for me.

In the spirit of keeping the excitement going:

Mom, SB and I are heading over to JT's on Tuesday afternoon for popcorn and Disney movie or two.  And possibly trip talk.  A lot of the attractions at WDW either now have movies based on them, or the attractions are based on a movie.  While you can definitely enjoy the attraction without knowing the movie, it does increase the fun when you are familiar with the theme.  It's so neat when the imagineers nail a part that you really enjoy.

It would be nice if Mom receives both the Magical Express voucher and luggage tag along with the Disney Travel voucher with the Mickey souvenir luggage tag so she can bring it to JT's on Tuesday.  But with  Monday being Thanksgiving here in Canada it's doubtful.  But I can hope.

I'm also going to give JT and SB my copies of the Unofficial Guide to Disney World.  I have 2010 and 2012 editions.  While a lot has changed the books are still great at letting you know what is available and that you may not want to miss.  Also loads of information about how to get to the parks, what to expect, weather, expected crowds, what to pack, etc.  Hopefully they'll spend a few minutes taking a look at them.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Magic Bands and luggage tags

It's Magic!

So I have the My Disney Experience app on my phone, I've set up my Friends and Family on the app.  Now to get the offer to test Disney's new Magic Bands and Magic Plus.  I log into Disney's web site every day and finally it's here.  The option to customize our Magic Bands and select our fast passes.

Wouldn't you know, there is a problem.  I have to confirm my shipping address first (they mail out the Magic Bands in the US).  So I confirm my address and get the message that they do not ship outside the US.  Then I can't go any further.  No matter what I do, the site does not let me proceed.

So a quick e-mail to help desk, a wait of only 2 days (and this was over a weekend) I get the answer.  Put a space between the first 3 characters in my postal code and the next 3.  Just like it's supposed to have.  No idea why it wasn't there to begin with.  My bad?  Or the site's?  A quick edit and I'm selecting colours and characters.  And believe me these ladies are characters.

Mom's Band will be green and on her profile she is Daisy Duck.
Mine is blue and I'm Minnie
SB is red and she is Merida
JT is grey and her character is Alice in Wonderland

Now for the fun stuff.

I made tentative fast pass selections.  What I was really hoping for was fast passes for the night time shows like Fantasmic, Illuminations and Wishes.  Maybe even for the parades.  Anything to avoid having to stand too long.  Because of knee and back issues none of us are great at just standing.  It hurts.  Walking is no issue.  Heck, I've been known to run with the local police when they are in training.  (Okay, it happened once, but it did happen and I have witnesses.)

I digress....

Fantasmic fast passes were there and I managed to get them for two nights.  But the others didn't seem to be available.  Disappointing since quite a few of the Disney podcasts indicated that they should be.

Everything works well when accessing "Experience" from the web site.  The app on my phone seems to be slow and I really have to get used to navigating it before we go.

So what's the big deal with using the Magic Bands and Fast Pass Plus?  We get to go early to one park.  Then head to another park late in the afternoon and don't have to wait in long line ups.  Usually the fast passes are gone by morning so avoiding the line ups is impossible.  With choosing the attractions and times in advance I was able to select evening times.  Mom and I are ruthless about getting to the parks early.  We plan on dragging the other two ladies with us, willing or not (just kidding).  So getting on attractions in the morning probably won't be an issue.  It would be getting to the evening park and not being able to share our favourite things with JT and SB that would be a downer.

I will be checking frequently to see if any other attractions open up for fast passes.  Fortunately what I've selected can be changed right until the day we go to use them.  

UPS shows up

I'm watching the evening news and the UPS truck shows up.  First, I'm not expecting anything.  Secondly, it's really late for a delivery. 

The driver is used to coming to our place (DS has his internet purchases come to our place since I'm home during the day to accept them).  He comes to the door smiling.  Going to Disney?  That's when I realize it's our vouchers for using Disney's Magical Express.  Cool.  When I open it up there is the familiar yellow luggage tag for myself as well as the voucher.  But no luggage tag for SB.

A quick perusal of the vouchers shows a phone number to use if there is any problems.  And it's toll free.  And it can be called at all hours not just during business hours.  I called and told them about SB's luggage tag and was promised it would be sent out right away.  I also asked if Mom's package had been sent and was told it was in transit and should arrive the next day.

So I called Mom and told her.  She said she'd stay home.  Unfortunately it did not arrive.  We're hoping that it does show up soon.  All would not be lost if it does not arrive.  She and JT will still get to use Magical Express.  Once in Orlando they just go to the Magical Express desk and show their confirmation number.  Not sure how the luggage gets handled.  Just hoping we won't have to find out and that she will get her envelope today.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Castle tote bags!

When we went to Disney World last year I carried a home made backpack.  On it was the names of the podcasts I listened to.  The pack served it's purpose.  Which was to increase our fun by getting us involved in some very interesting and fun conversations.

Last year's backpack:

So for the all ladies trip this year, I just had to make a bag for each of us to use.  At least for the Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party.

After a lot of frustration with a sewing machine that is skipping stitches, a purchased pattern that didn't work out......
I am almost finished the tote/backpack bags!

I really did not like the first one that I made following the pattern.  It was way too large and did not have anything to keep contents from spilling out.

So I re-designed.  It's still a bit too large.  But it now had 3 Velcro secure pockets, one small zippered pocket inside the main part which also has a zipper.

To use as a tote bag the straps are attached to the two loops on either side at the top of the tote bag. 

To use as a backpack. one end of the strap is attached to the loop at the bottom, then the strap is pulled through the loop at the top centre of the bag.  Then it is attach at the bottom loop on opposite side of the bag.

I did cheat and purchased adjustable straps for 3 of the bags.  On the one that I'll be using I made the strap since it will be used as a backpack only.

I still have to write the names of all the WDW trip planning podcasts that I listen to on my bag.  That part is always nerve wracking since there is no way to correct mistakes.  Once on, the writing is there to stay.

Here's the Castle Bag:

Hope the ladies like it!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Sewing frustrations & trip insurance

I know I've been quiet.  Let me rephrase that.  I haven't been posting very much.  Quiet...not really.  The air around me is blue.  Very blue.   I'm under a time gun and naturally my Janome sewing machine has developed attitude.  I have 4 castle tote bags to make by the beginning of November.  These are to be used on our trip to Disney World. 

Actually, there will be 5 made by the time I'm done.  The first one I made exactly as the pattern said to.  No zippers, outside pockets, way to large to use comfortably, complicated to make etc.  So for the 4 tote bags that we will be using I designed my own. 

The inside has one zippered, one hidden and 3 easy access pockets.  These are in the main pocket which is also secured with a zipper.  The front and back outside of the tote have 2 more pockets each.  One is secured with Velcro and the other is open and will be good for tissue and the like.  The straps will be adjustable for either backpack or tote handles. 

I'm "fancy" stitching the Tinkerbell widows on the towers and above the door and there are huge spaces with no stitching.  I use a new needle and that seems to fix the issue.  Next I decide I want to zig zag the main seams for added security.  Again skipped stitches.  Change the needle and clean the machine again.  When this didn't help, I changed the needle again, changed bobbins and changed threads.  My Janome is back to  it's beautiful stitching - most of the time.  I will be able to finish the project.  Just don't look at the inside stitches. 

I was hoping to get a quilt top done that will be a Christmas present for my DS.  Doesn't look like that will happen.  Sorry Son.   When we get back it will be time to decorate, bake and all the rest that goes with the Christmas season.

Hopefully I can get the machine in for a servicing while I'm away.  As I don't drive, any trip to the sewing centre has to be coordinated with my DH or BFF.  Why don't the techs make house calls?  I'd pay extra for that service!

The real question here is why am I fixating on these bags?  They are a surprise for the ladies.  They will probably only be used one day and then everyone will go back to their favourite thing to carry while touring the parks.   One is a purse type, one doesn't know what she should use and one uses a fanny pack.  I am definitely the backpack type.  Also, cloth bags don't really hold up well at WDW.  Not if it's raining.  And it rains a lot.  Plus think of the luggage space these will take.  But I've gone this far and can't stop.....back to the Janome.

Now back to trip planning:

A week ago I called Travel Guard to purchase trip insurance.  I requested the package be sent by mail and I already have it.  I find this company excellent to deal with when purchasing.  No idea what they are like for making claims.  And I'm hoping I'll never need to find out.  They are the company that Disney uses for their guests (you can purchase it when you book your stay at the resort).  So I'm hoping that's because it's a reliable company.  I will not use RBC insurance which is what WestJet uses.  Too many complaints about that company when it comes to making claims.  Mom and SB have purchased their insurance from Travel Guard as well.  JT will be doing so as well.

This afternoon I will be away from the sewing room.  Going with JT to Costco to help her pick out some new luggage for the trip.  We're getting more excited all the time.  I can't wait to show SB and JT Disney World.  It's always fun seeing people's reactions the first time they go!