Friday, September 19, 2008

Calling Customer Service! Are you out there? Do you still exsist?

What I want to know is, when did customer service go from a good thing, to a big pile of whale crap on the bottom of the ocean floor?

We decided, or maybe I just decided, get a new camera. I spent a while last night searching for a good one (unfortunately it had to be within my budget..LOL!) and finally settled on one. I called the store (none other but good ol' Walmart) and after the girl kept me on hold for about 10 minutes, she came back to the phone and said they had 2 in the back, but couldn't hold one for me. The store was about 45 minutes away, I still had laundry going, floors to vacuum, and emails to check, plus I wasn't planning on going that way till later. I nervously prayed that they would still have this camera when I got there. Maybe anxiety got the best of me, but I just about sprinted into Walmart's front doors and headed to the Photo Lab. My heart was racing, probably cause I was still carrying my 5 year old in my arms, and...I really wanted this camera. Well, lo and behold, who else is propped up against the counter in the photo lab than the meanest ol' bitty I've ever seen! She looked like she was ready to bite someone's head off, and I was scared it would be mine! I caught my breath, and told her that I was there to buy a camera, and she just looked at me like she didn't speak English! I froze as she said in her deep burly voice, "what camera do you want?" I told her, and she rolled her eyes at me!! She asked a girl on the floor to get it out of the locked case, but I told her that the woman on the phone said they were in the back. She asked me, "Well why didn't you tell me that in the first place?" OMG!!! I don't care how big or how mean this woman was, I was about to use all my might and pull her across the counter. But then I looked down at the little face that looks up at me, and took a deep breath and decided I'd kill her with kindness! Apparently it didn't do a bit of good, because she was the same ol' sour puss when I paid for my camera and walked away!

Another situation happened last week to Ryan. We are not really a big TV watching family, but my husband got an itch to get the digital converter boxes, so he and Maddy set out to find one. He called (again...none other than) Walmart and the guy told him they were in stock. When he gets there, there are none. He asked the guy about it and the guy told him that someone must have came and got them from the time he talked to Ryan on the phone until then, which was probably about 15 minutes. He told Ryan, "If you see someone walking around with one in their buggy, just take it out of their buggy. I don't care." WHAT?!?!

Customer service used to mean so much more. Nowdays, it's just about a paycheck. Why oh why can't we live like we did when we were kids? Why do things have to change for the worst? It really makes me sad, because my daughter will grow up experiencing this mess. We try our best to teach her proper manners and how to be nice to people, and then she goes out into the world and sees people acting like they do. It's sickening! I guess the only cure for that is to just stay out of Walmart!!

On another note, I want to say that I feel good! For the past two weeks, I have not been myself. Ever since we got back from Disney World, I have not been motivated to do anything at all. My body is at home, but my mind and my heart is still on vacation. I guess it was the fact that we got to spend every waking moment with Ryan, and then we had to come back to reality, and I just wasn't ready! I felt like a kid about to explode in a temper tantrum lately. Nothing has gone the way I wanted it to, and even though it's getting close to my favorite time of year, I still felt the need to hide like a hermit in my house. I have been dreading Ryan leaving for business, and that's probably the root of this funk I've been in lately. Things have changed, though. We started our Friday co-op back, and I have to say also, that we have some really great friends! I have found that if I put myself out there and actually do things instead of thinking of doing things, I am a much happier person. For the past two days, we have spent with friends and now I know that we all need friends to lift us up. I am so thankful for the people that God has put in our paths, and one couple in particular will be greatly missed when they move. To friends, to family, to Maddy, and to Ryan...thanks for brightening my day...over and over again! I'm gonna go play with my camera!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Disney Tips have arrived!

Since I spent many many hours researching Disney World, and asking countless questions from friends who have been there before, I thought I'd put a list of tips together for those of you who are looking to visit Disney World! Keep in mind these tips are from two people with a 5 year old little girl, who learned their lesson on what to do and what not to do : )

*You will want to get a PhotoPass. The card is free, and you are able to view all of your pictures after your trip. You can spend around $13 for one picture, or you can spend around $100 and get all of your pictures, plus the copyright to print as many as you want. Pretty much a no-brainer if you ask me. We were able to get a lot of family shots this way. When you get the card from the Phtopass photographer, make sure you write the number down, just in case you lose your card. You can always get another card from a photographer, but if you don't write your photopass # down, there's no way to view your pictures from the card if you lose it. With the photopass, they will also do photo-edited pictures as well. Tinkerbell and Simba showed up in our daughter's hands! : )

*Photopass Photographers are not in the Character dining places, so you'll need to bring your own camera for character pictures at your table. If you chose the Princess Storybook Dining at Norway (Epcot), you will receive a 5x7 and four 4x6 of your child and one princess for free. I believe you get free Princess pictures at the Cinderella's Royal Table dining too.

*If you have a daughter, take lots of money! No joke! We thought we'd be able to hold off on buying things, but it is very very hard! Save up and treat your princess. How often do you get to go to Disney World anyway?! : ) In Downtown Disney, they have a toy store with some great deals. You can stuff a box with Mr. Potato Head (Disney Themed, btw) stuff for $19.00. The best thing to do is if you already have a potato head, just get the accessories, so that way you can get more, because you won't have a potato to take up space. You can also stuff a box of My Little Pony things for $18. They have all of the Princess clothes, and accessories for My Little Ponies that you can only get at Disney World. They also have a "Make Your Own Light Saber" station for the little boys in your life : )

*If you're going to Downtown Disney, get a map before you go. The place is huge, and you'll want to park close to the part you'll be visiting. If you're not going to any shows or the "nightlife" stuff, then you're probably gonna be going to the Marketplace side, which is where all of the toy stores, Christmas stores, etc are.

*If you do Character dining at 1900 Parkfare at the Grand Floridian, request a table in the center of the restaurant. You will get to meet all of the characters regardless of where you sit, but Cinderella and Prince Charming come out for a dance in the center of the restaurant, and Prince Charming will dance with the little girls sometimes.

*If you have little kids, start with little rides first. Trust us, we learned this the hard way, by taking our daughter on the big rides first. After a scary ride on Splash Mountain, she thought all of the rides were scary....even Winnie the Pooh : )

*In Magic Kingdom, get seated for the parade at least one hour before the parade starts. As the time gets closer, it's very hard to find a seat. The best place for the parade, and fireworks afterwards, is on Main St. USA right down from the bridge that crosses over into Tomorrowland, looking toward the castle. Make sure you look up to the right of the castle before the fireworks start, because you might just see someone flying from the castle! ; )

*In Magic Kingdom, right after you pass the bridge into Liberty Square, there is a lady that does silouhettes. It is only $8.00 per person and you get two copies. It is very cool, because she cuts your child's profile out of paper, just by looking at them! If you get any kind of drawing anywhere else, you'll spend a fortune! This was a really neat thing to have, and very inexpensive.

*If you are doing a character dining for lunch, schedule it for an early lunch. If it's a buffet, they will still have breakfast food on the bar, so you can get the best of both worlds! : ) My hubby enjoyed this at the Play N Dine at Hollywood Studios!

*The best way to meet characters is to do character dining. We went during off season, so we met a lot of characters in the parks, but I would imagine it's pretty hard to meet them during peak seasons. If you have a little princess that wants to meet all of the princesses, the best place is at Akershus Royal Princess Storybook Lunch in Norway at Epcot. All of the princesses come around to your table, so you don't have to worry about standing in line in the parks to meet them. The Hall of Fame tent in Toontown at Magic Kingdom is good for meeting several characters at once...and it's no standing out in the heat!

*If you choose to use fast-passes, get them early. Some of the most popular rides only allow a certain amount of fast passes per day. If you choose to use the fast pass, make sure it's something that you really want to ride. If you get a fast pass at 1:00 and it tells you to come back at 3:00, you can't get another fast pass until you ride the ride at 3:00. If you don't mind being split up on rides, the easiest and fastest way to ride is using the single rider que. You can pretty much walk right on the ride, and beat the line!

*Ellen's Dinosaur ride is pretty neat. However, depending on what your beliefs are, you might want to skip it. They talk about how the world came into existence by the Big Bang, and for us, personally, we believe it was God that created the world and not from something just all of a sudden exploding, so if you choose to ride this ride, be warned!

*You'll want to get drinks in bottles instead of cups with lids. You're allowed to take bottled drinks into shows and rides, but not drinks in regular cups with lids. You'll have to leave those outside.

*Epcot has a KidCot thing, but all it is, is just coloring. You can color a mask and go around to the different countries and get a stamp from the different countries, but it wasn't worth spending time on in my opinion.

*If you're looking for something really educational, go to the American Theater in Epcot. It's got a lot of information on the history of our Country.

*Epcot has the best fireworks I have ever seen in my life! Don't miss them!

*Animal Kingdom is not worth spending the money on! It is very hot and humid and almost imposible to find your way around, even with a map! You almost need a GPS in that park..LOL! They have a neat safari ride, and the Everest coaster is really cool, but it's not worth spending your quality time on. We won't be doing Animal Kingdom when we go back.

*If you have a small child, definitely check out Turtle Talk With Crush from Finding Nemo at Epcot. Crush interacts with the kids, and the kids love it!

*Be sure to check out some of the 3D shows. Be prepared, because they do have special effects!

*When you get into the park, be sure to pick up a times schedule in addition to a park map. The times schedule will tell you what time everything is open, the shows, parades and fireworks times, and where the characters are and at what time.

*As far as the hotels, you get what you pay for. The budget hotels are pretty small, but it was fine for the 3 of us. If you stay at a higher-end hotel, you get to ride the monorail to the parks, instead of the bus.

*Take VERY comfortable walking shoes, and if you're not already walking everyday, start now! LOL! We were very sore from all of the walking, because we weren't exactly used to it. We would have enjoyed ourselves much more had we not been hobbling around from sore feet! : )

We hope you'll get some use out of these tips, and keep in mind, these are just our personal opinions! : ) Hope you have as much fun as we did! : )

We saw the magic....and then we cried!

Getting Sprinkled with magic Fairy Dust!
Isn't she beautiful!
A picture I will cherish forever! This was her expression after seeing the castle for the first time!
A Tigg-er-if-ic TiGgEr and Maddy!
Sitting by the fireplace in Minnie's House
Ariel's Grotto! Maddy was soaking wet from playing in the fountains, but I guess it fits!
Cinderella's Castle before the fireworks.
" Welcome to MY place!"

Princess Jasmine and Princess Maddy...and Dumbo!
Princess Cinderella and Princess Maddy
Our Princess with her favorite Princess of all times....Princess Belle!
Play N Dine at Hollywood Studios.
What happened to my roll of film?!?! LOL!

We're back! We had such a great time at Disney World! We've got lots of pictures to share, so these are just a few of the hundreds! There's so much to tell you about our trip, but I'll stick with the basics, because there won't ever be enough time to explain to you what fun we had!

We started the trip by taking Maddy to the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique for a make-over. We were hesitant to do this, because it's pretty expensive, but the memories we all share from the experience was worth far more than what money could buy! Maddy chose the Princess Package and they fixed her hair up like a princess...complete with a crown and "fairy dust"..aka glitter! We left the Boutique and went to have supper with Cinderella, Prince Charming, Anastasia, Drizella, and Lady Tramaine. It was quiet an experience. They all played their parts very well. Maddy was a little hesitant to have her picture taken with Lady Tramaine (Cinderella's step-mother), but we talked her into taking a picture. Maddy and Lady Tramaine have the same expression in the picture! A big frown!

After supper we went back to our hotel for the night. We stayed at All Star Movies in the Mighty Ducks building. We had a huge 3 story duck hockey mask on the side of our building, and our pool was called the "duck pond." It was a pretty decent hotel for the money.

The next day we went to Magic Kingdom. Seeing Maddy's expression after seeing Cinderella's castle for the first time was absolutely priceless! All she said was "LOOK!" Of course Ryan and I cried like a baby! I don't know why we get so emotional when she gets so excited, but we do. Maybe we just love her like crazy! : ) We made the mistake of taking her on Splash Mountain for her first ride. She wanted to ride it, but I don't think she expected it to drop like it did. After Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (small coaster), she was very hard to convince that the other rides would be okay. Ryan and I thought we were going to pull our hair out because of how she was acting. Now we can laugh about it! She would always ask questions like, "Is it gonna be dark? Is it scary? Does it drop?" It was pitiful, but at the same time, when you're trying to get a child to ride Winnie the Pooh and she's freaking out, it was quiet stressful! After she rode all of the other rides and she realized that it wasn't a scary ride, she was perfectly fine, and she rode them again...and again..and again! I got to ride Dumbo for the first time! There's a story that goes behind that! When I was 6 years old, I went to Disney World and was in line to ride Dumbo when a big thunderstorm hit. I didn't get to ride Dumbo, and I threw a fit all the way out of the park screaming, "I WANNA RIDE DUMBO!!!" My parents will never let me forget that, but now I can tell them that "I GOT TO RIDE DUMBO!!!" : ) We had supper with all of the Pooh Characters (Pooh, Tigger, Piglet, and Eeyore) that night. Maddy enjoyed meeting all of the characters.

We spent the next day in Hollywood Studios. It's a really cool place! Maddy got to play in the Honey I Shrunk the Kids area, and it was made just like the movie set. Blades of grass were 10 feet tall, and the kids could crawl through the fake ant hills. It was really neat! I got to ride the Tower of Terror finally! It was definitely a thrill ride! We saw the Beauty and the Beast Show, and had lunch with the characters from Playhouse Disney. Maddy got to meet two of the Little Einsteins and Jojo and Goliath from Jojo's Circus. The kids get to go up to the front of the restaurant and dance. Maddy loved dancing with the characters! We also took a movie ride to see how they film different movies and had to walk through the Villian side. They had costumes that the villians wore in the actual movies. Maddy was excited to see the witch's costume from Enchanted that Susan Sarandon wore.

The next park was Epcot. Of course, Maddy was freaking out in the big ball, but now she says she liked it. Go figure! LOL! We got to ride on Ellen's Dinosaur ride, the Star Wars ride, Finding Nemo, and got to meet Crush from Nemo! They have an interactive show called Turtle Talk with Crush and Crush is on a big screen, and moves his mouth and interacts with the kids. It's really cool! We visited all of the countries, which was neat! We had lunch at the Akershus Storybook Dining at Norway. All of the princesses came around to our table to meet Princess Maddy, and she was sooooo thrilled! The fireworks at Epcot are a must see! They were amazing!! I've seen great fireworks, but nothing like they have at Epcot!

Wednesday we spent the day at Animal Kingdom. I was less than impressed! The safari ride was neat, and the Everest Roller Coaster was wicked, but other than that, it wasn't exactly a good park. They do have an awesome Nemo show, that is inside, in the cool! It was just really hot that day, and very humid. We left Animal Kingdom and had supper at Chef Mickeys. Mickey, Donald, Goofy, Pluto, and Minnie came to our table for pictures. Maddy liked Donald the best because she said he was soft! The food was really good....all of it!

We spent the last two days in Magic Kingdom. Maddy's favorite ride was Small World and Peter Pan's Flight. Favorite ride, after she got over her fear, of course! I think we rode Small World about 10 times, and Peter Pan at least 6! Ryan surprised her with a big Princess Minnie and a Small World pin when we got off our 3rd ride on Peter Pan. We bought her a Dumbo too, which is now her prized possession. It's a baby Dumbo, and I have to admit he's sooooo cute! They're inseparable now! Thursday we ate at a nice Italian restaurant that was themed after Lady and the Tramp. Friday we ate at Liberty Tree Tavern with Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, and Pluto.

We got to meet just about every single character except for Daisy. It was a great time to go. The crowds weren't bad at all, and the most we had to wait to ride a ride was 20 minutes. It was such a great trip, and we now have memories to last a lifetime. We're already looking forward to going back, after my feet re-cooperate from all of the walking! LOL!