Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party

Attending Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party was a long time in the making! Every year when fall would start to creep up we debated the idea of getting tickets. We attended Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party before so we wanted to check this event off of our list as well. We also love Halloween (cute version, not horror) so attending this event felt like the ultimate Halloween event to attend.

MNSSHP takes place at the Magic Kingdom from 7pm- closing time. However, Disney lets you enter the park at 4PM (yay). Tickets to MNSSHP is not priced at a regular day ticket, however its pretty close. So with that said, I would personally recommend going to this event if you have previously visited the Magic Kingdom on a “regular” day and received the “magic of Disney.” I recommend this because of (1) the price of the tickets are close to a regular day ticket, (2) the length of the event/time you will be in the park is less than a regular day ticket, (3) several rides are closed during MNSSHP, (4) the parades, shows, and fireworks are different than what you would see on a regular day trip.

TIP: Buy your tickets as early as possible because they can sell out.

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There’s a lot of special entertainment at MNSSHP including the BOO TO YOU parade, a great fireworks show, special Fall/Halloween decorations and lighting, unique (villain) character meet & greets, trick or treating through the park, and even just seeing other guests in Halloween costumes makes it a fun and unique experience!

 

 

As I mentioned before, the party officially starts at 7 p.m., which is when all of the party entertainment begins, but guests can enter with their Halloween Party tickets as early as 4 p.m. You will see plenty of other guests arriving at 4 p.m., and Cast Members in their Halloween outfit.

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Wear a costume! Almost everyone wears a costume to some degree and you’re honestly going to have a lot more fun if you do. You’re spending a good chunk of money to attend one of these parties; it only makes sense to get the full effect. It was fun to see what everyone (of all ages) wore and to see how creative some people and groups got.

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One thing I really enjoyed about MNSSHP was the characters! Usually during special tickets events characters that are not usually out, will make appearances. Also, the “regular” MK characters were dressed up in costumes for Halloween as well! For example, the 100 acres woods characters each had costumes on (Winnie the Pooh is a bumble bee, Tigger is a pirate, etc). Typically, characters have meet and greet stations but many of the unique characters that made an appearance for this event were floaters. Meaning they got to walk around the park freely (accompanied by a character attendant of course).

Mike and I dressed up as Pongo and Perdita from 101 Dalmatians. We got so many compliments and it was fun spotting out other fellow Dalmatians in the park. The highlight was when Cruella Da Vil spotted us across a crowd of people and pushed everyone out of the way yelling “PUPPIES, come to me my darlings!” and squeezed us tight when she got a hold of us. Everyone around us loved it as well.  IMG_1590

There are special Halloween snacks you can purchase during the event hours only. I got this Maleficent inspired ice cream!   Trick or treating around Magic kingdom is fun! Once MNSSHP officially starts you can get a trick or treating bag at any of the trick or treating stations. There are several spots to treat or treat, some lines look longer than others but they all move FAST! We made tried to hit up all of the stations and get as much candy as possible. The cast members are generous! They give big handfuls of candy. As I mentioned, several rides are closed during MNSSHP, that’s because those ride areas become trick or treating stations.

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The Boo to You parade was so good. Make sure to get yourself a front row seat early! Mike and I got dinner at Pecos, nachos and tacos to be exact. We took our trays out and sat down behind the parade ropes. We ate our dinner while we waited for the parade to start (40 mins). We figure we could either eat our dinner inside the restaurant and possibly not have a good view of the parade or take outside and eat it while sitting on the “front row curb.” There were two parts of the parade that made me jump, only because I was expecting the loud noise or the screams. The headless horseman was also a crowd favorite!

The Hocus Pocus show on the Magic Kingdom stage was nostalgic! I mean, the movie is such an iconic part of Fall/Halloween now. I was pretty surprised to see so many little kids know the words to many of the songs or to even really know the movie. Their parts are doing something right by passing down the movie to the next generation <3.

The MNSSHP fireworks were amazing! Definitely “darker”, villain-ish, and everything you would expect Halloween fireworks at Disney to be. They did not disappoint!

For both the Hocus Pocus show and the fireworks make sure to get to your viewing spot early. The area gets crowded and everyone wants a good viewing spot!

It was a fun event, I am glad we experienced it. I think over the entire trip and cost of the event was worth it. However, I think that once you’ve experienced the party once (it doesn’t change much year-to-year), you might determine that it’s simply too expensive to experience again. For a one-time event, it’s worth it if your budget allows.

Watch our MNSSHP video here.

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How to pay off Student Loans ASAP

A post written by Mike:

I want to start off by saying that the tips I mention in this blog post worked for my lifestyle and my specific loans. I hope you find my tips helpful and that they offer motivation to get those student loans paid off, without giving up your lifestyle.

I am not a planner, I am a procrastinator. This makes my wife and I complete opposites. She plans and is the type of person that makes lists for her lists. She played a huge role in helping me get organized and motivated.

Making payments on your student loans:

  1. You know those six months after graduation where you don’t have to make student loan payments (grace period)? MAKE PAYMENTS, I did not and I REGRET it. Three of my six student loans were actually earning interest during that time, while the others were not. Had I been making payments on the three that were earning interest, I probably would have paid less in total interest. So, check the terms of you student loan(s) for the grace period to see how to get the best value for your buck.

 

  1. Pay more then the monthly minimum payment requirement. After the six-month grace period, I was paying the monthly minimum requirement. I would look at the grand total (including interest) and feel helpless, hopeless, and dirt poor. It wasn’t until my wife said, “If you feel broke because of your student loan payments then why are you only paying the minimum? You realize your minimum payments cover the interest you earned and barely scrape your actual debt? You’re basically giving away money.” That truly stuck with me. My loans were on a 20 year-payment plan, but I paid it off in two years. Can you imagine how much of that would have been interest alone if I took the full 20 years to pay it off? I understand it can be difficult (and nearly impossible) to make one large student loan payment a month so my tip for this is to make MULTIPLE payments a month. I typically made 2-3 payments a month. The amounts I paid would often vary, I just had to be committed to putting every extra penny to the loans.

 

  1. Focus on the loans that have higher interest. For me, my larger loans also had the highest interest (go figure), it doesn’t always work out that way, so definitely compare your loans to decide which ones you want to focus on the most. For example, I would make the monthly-required payment (which was a total of the minimum required payment of each loan). And if I had an extra $200, I would apply that extra money directly to the loan with the highest interest.

 

Staying motivated and organized:

  1. Make a budget. My wife and I made note of all of our reoccurring expenses/bills such as rent, car insurance, phone bill, vet bill, etc. We then calculated how much we would spend on groceries, date night, social events, and eating out.

 

  1. I use the app, MINT, to make sure we stuck to our budget. My wife and I can go to either extreme… we either are very disciplined and strict with our budget or we go through the “treat yo self” phase. With Mint, you can hook up your bank accounts, credit cards, student loans, and any other reoccurring fixed expense. You can also add in your financial goals, such as saving up for a vacation. With all of that information, Mint will assess where your money is going by putting it into categories! It really helped us see when we were spending too much on entertainment (movies, shows, etc) or at restaurants.

 

  1. We are huge on visuals! As a teacher, I always have chart paper lying around. So, we hung one up on a wall that we always pass. At the top of the chart we labeled it with columns for date, savings account, student loan lump sum, and made a column for each credit card we had. Every time we made any payment, we would update the total debt or savings we had for each category. Having this visual and having to walk by it multiple times a day served as a reminder of what we wanted our goals to be, which was to have “0” listed under our credit cards and student loan columns. We wrote our debt numbers in RED, our payments made and savings deposits were written in GREEN. Having your debt in your face every time you’re about to walk out of the house served as a great reminder to consider where I wanted my money to go and how badly I wanted to get rid of debt! I don’t think we anticipated the impact of having a large chart would have on the speed of paying of my loans. Even now that my loans are paid off, we have kept the chart paper and relabeled our columns. We have some big saving goals coming up!

 

  1. Our biggest motivation. We had a curve ball thrown our way this past January when our dog, Diggy, needed emergency surgery due to a ruptured disk in his neck. Our first priority was Diggy’s health. We put the entire bill on our credit card. For full disclosure, Diggy’s life-saving surgery cost a little over $10K. We were confident that this new debt would sideline us financially for many months. However, we decided to really buckle down and we were able to pay off Diggy’s expensive surgery within three months! We accomplished that by using the extra money we would have normally put towards student loans, towards Diggy’s bill. We put every possible penny towards the surgery bill. I realized that if I truly made paying off my student loan payments a top financial priority, I would be able to pay it off sooner then expected.

 

  1. We lived off of one paycheck. After Diggy’s surgery we decided to “live off of one paycheck.” With this new method, Raquel took over paying bills while dumping remainder money into our savings, vacations, or fun activities. Meanwhile I was able to dump my paycheck into my student loans.

 

  1. Accomplishment satisfaction. Another visual we created that helped was a goal chart completely dedicated to my student loan debt. My new goal was to have my student loan paid off by December 2018. On regular printer paper, Raquel drew X amount of boxes, each box belonging to a month until December. Inside each box was a total number of debt. Every time my debt went down and I hit a “new” goal, I shaded in the box with a highlighter. It might sounds crazy but I felt a lot of satisfaction knowing that I was hitting my goals and also seeing that I was slowly becoming ahead of schedule.

 

Hustle and Get Deals:

“Never depend on a single income. Make investments to create a second source.”

“Work hard, play hard”

 

  1. Raquel and I have a high work ethic. In addition to our “9 to 5” careers/salary jobs, we are ALWAYS on the search to make extra avenues of income. We dog sit, at one point we also delivered for Uber Eats, we sell items we no longer use, and use apps and websites that provide cash back on items we purchase, etc… If you are interested in knowing more about the apps we use to earn rewards, cash back, and some extra money let us know!

 

  1. We put everything on our credit cards (and pay it off right away) to rack up on reward points, which we redeem for restaurant/store gift cards, movie tickets, amusement park tickets, etc.

 

  1. A lot of the experiences we do are found from Groupon! Anything you find on there is already a good deal but you can also apply a discount code for additional savings.

 

  1. We grocery shop in bulk to save money. We have both a Sam’s Club and Costco membership. These memberships help save so much money not only on groceries but other items as well. We were able to get our Sam’s membership off of Groupon.

 

  1. There are so many different ways to save on vacation packages, flights, hotels, excursions and activities, etc. If you are interested in knowing how we travel at a low cost, let us know!

 

There are SO many ways we save and monitor our spending that I am sure we are missing a few tips!

 

This is not to say that we are perfect in our spending. HECK NO! We love to splurge every so often. You know, sometimes when you are at a certain store and their sales are SO good, that spending the extra few (many) dollars just feels so right. Maybe, you land five-dollar bus tickets to New York, or $50 flights, free hotel rooms, gift cards, or just simply need a few days away to stay sane. We absolutely love to travel, eat food, and try new things. As I grew up learning, “there is a time and place for everything”. One thing we have learned is that you need to quickly pay off debt, but stay sane while doing it!

As Raquel will put in another post, there are SO many free, complementary, or alternative ways to stay sane. One thing I love about Raquel is her ability to score amazing deals, discount codes, free items, or amazingly affordable vacations. Just from some of our recent trips and purchases, in 2018 alone, we have saved thousands of dollars.

Before buying something, ask yourself, “Do I need this? Can the money go to the loan/debt or savings instead? Can I find this cheaper on Amazon or get a code on Groupon?” So much more thought goes into our purchases, now.

We have been extremely blessed to have two continual incomes. But NO… we do not make bank. Paying off any debt takes diligence, a plan, motivation, a staying committed.   We did not create a plan or goal in one night. At the beginning, it was pushed by laziness, fear of never buying a house, and the reality that I WAS STUCK in debt. There was a lot of trial and error creating a plan. We found a visual that worked for us and stuck with it. Both of us learn visually, and so having our charts were extremely beneficial.

 

None of this would have been possible if we were not committed. We believed we would succeed and took the necessary steps. Even though we had our “cheat days”, we still pushed through. Sometimes this meant getting back out of bed to chart our small $100 or $50 payments, it was the act of holding ourselves accountable that helped.

For those of you that are in our boat or maybe about to take on a debt, just know YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Our way might not work for everyone. However, our core values behind paying off the credit card and loans will hold fast in any situation.

  1. See the debt
  2. Make a realistic goal for when you want the debt free
  3. Create a plan
  4. Make a chart or visual aid
  5. Start your plan
  6. Stay committed to your plan
  7. Do your best to have fun along the way

 

These steps and tips truly helped us get out of debt and grow our savings at the same time. We hope they help you or inspire you as well!

 

If I stay by Gayle Forman

Summary: 
Mia is a seventeen year old girl living in Oregon with her mother, father and little brother. She is very talented cello player. Mia’s boyfriend, Adam, also shares a strong passion in music. He is in a band that is gaining popularity and has started touring. Ultimately, with Adam’s band going on tour and Mia possibly attending Julliard for college, there relationship slowly starts to fizzle out due to the tension of knowing their paths will be going in different directions and different parts of the country. Mia has a lot of choices to make regarding her relationship with Adam and where to attend college. Should she follow her musical dreams or follow her heart? The biggest choice she has to make comes following the aftermath of a catastrophic car accident involving her family. Mia is the only member of her family to survive and she finds herself in a coma. While suspended between life and death Mia faces a choice that will decide her future.

Opinion:
I’ve seen the movie a couple of times and had no idea it came from a book so I was pretty excited to read it. There are specific scenes of the movie that make me shed a tear no matter how many times I’ve watched it. The book is no different when it comes to those same moments pulling at my heart strings. My heart always aches at the thought of Mia’s situation. The storyline is immensely devasting but I love it! It really makes you think about how every choice in life changes things. I won’t spoil the ending incase you haven’t seen the movie or read the book yet. But I have always wondered what the aftermath of Mia’s decision is. How it changes things and affects everyone else. I found out that there is a sequel to this book titled “Where she went” so I’ll be on the hunt for it!

25, A Quarter of a Century!

This past Saturday I turned 25, one of those milestone birthdays. I’m still trying to process how I feel about it; I mean I am a quarter of a century now! There may have been a slight midlife crisis. I decided to do kind things on the week leading up to my birthday.  I…

1.       Picked up trash. I live across from a school and now that it’s summer I’ve noticed a big increase in the amount of trash that is left on the field and court. I play tennis and often take the dog(s) and my niece over to the field and courts to run around and it’s not a pretty sight with all the trash. I took gloves and a trash bag and picked up as much as I could.

2.       I brought in chocolate chip cookies (store bought) to work! It was Thursday and I thought having nice treats helps push through the day!

3.       I left flowers at the cemetery.  This might sound morbid and it wasn’t my original idea but it turned out to be a memory I’ll remember forever. I got a dozen white roses and placed a single rose on different tombstones throughout the cemetery. My husband’s biological father was laid to rest in this specific cemetery, so we walked around until we found his spot. It was my husband’s first time visiting and we realized that his dad’s birthday was just the day before. It was over all an endearing moment.

4.       Donate food to the women’s shelter. I went through my pantry and picked out all the canned goods that would be expiring in the next few weeks. I also went to my local grocery store and bought a few items, such as cereal, pastas, and more canned goods.

5.       Donate different items to the Children’s Hospital. I spent the morning of my birthday dropping off coloring books and crayons. I had never been to the Children’s Hospital but got to see a little of all the great things that they do there to help children. There was an artist at the lobby who was playing guitar and singing. I also got to see children talking live at the Ryan Seacrest studio. I did have plans to donate blood as well (it would have been my first time) but unfortunately my iron levels were too low.

In the past, my birthdays were always big. Big as in, growing up I always had a party… clowns and puppeteers were included! As a teen and young adult, I always celebrated with a lot of friends – sometimes ALL week long. This year, I really wanted to keep it simple. I spent the evening at home having dinner and cake with my family – followed by opening presents! Afterwards, I went out for a few drinks with my husband at a new restaurant that opened a few minutes away from my house. I can’t wait to see what being twenty-five brings me, but it’s still weird to think I am closer to thirty than ever before.

One Year Anniversary

We recently celebrated our one year anniversary of being married! I can’t believe how quickly this first year went and how much we have accomplished during it. Our wedding day was super hectic, but I’ll save those details for later. We did a little traveling throughout the year; we spent a long weekend in NYC, went to Jamaica for our honeymoon, and visited Orlando, again. Our love for traveling and exploring is something we enjoy doing and we already have a few trips booked for the near future. We spent a lot of our year in the kitchen learning new recipes and trying to focus on healthier “clean eating options.” We spent every afternoon taking our dog, Diggy, on walks around the neighborhood. We have changed the setup of our place several times. We have spent countless hours binge watching Netflix or meeting up with new and old friends for happy hour. Mike went through his first year of teaching, we’ve started a few side jobs and we’ve picked up a lot of hobbies throughout the year. I am forever grateful for the adventures, memories, and accomplishments we have gone through in just one year, but I am most thankful for the growth that we have gone through as individuals and as a couple. We are on each other’s teams, always and no matter what – whether its cheering each other on or guiding each other in the right direction. We’ve set goals for our future and are working together to attain them. We made it a point to love each other in one another’s love language, and it has made us better and stronger. Mike, you survived the first year of marriage and there is no one else I’d rather eat year-old cake with, than you!

 

Traditionally the first year is paper. I framed the music sheet to our songs which are The Way you Look Tonight by Frank Sinatra and Classic by MTKO. I continued being crafty by making Mike a shirt that read “I survived my 1st year of Marriage,” and also gifted him a roll of toilet paper mainly because I thought it would be funny but also because the I can easily go through a whole roll in one day which really annoys Mike.

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Mike was equally crafty, I was super surprised! He got me the Beauty and the Beast coloring book that I had been eyeing, a handwritten love letter to accompany the card he got me, and two diy frames. One frame pin points where he lived, where I lived, and Disney (where our love story truly started), all into a heart shaped map. The other frame has our special dates!

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Side note** If you plan on freezing your top tier wedding cake, make sure to follow the directions given by your bakery or research methods to ensure that your cake will taste fresh a whole year later. The top picture is our cake a year later and on the bottom is what it was the day of our wedding. It held up decently for it being in the freezer for a year!

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Why I Started This Blog

Why am I starting this? Thats a pretty big questions and I could take at least an hour answering it. This is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. A space where I can gather my thoughts, memories, and pictures. I’ve always loved documenting my life. I think it stems for my love of photography. Growing up, my mom was always taking pictures or videos of our lives. She passed that on to me. I started taking pictures when I was about 8, with disposable cameras. I wish disposable cameras would make a come back. I got my first “real” camera when I was about 10, a Polaroid! Shortly after that, I got my first film camera. Through the years I have gone through several, and I mean SEVERAL cameras, usually upgrading along the way, but I still LOVE the vintage and film best. I was also that kid that kept a dairy. At one point, I even shared an on going “friendship dairy” with a small group of girls, we would pass a journal amongst each other… it was quiet special. I’ve lost all the journals through out the years. When Xenga (before myspace) was a “thing,” I was always blogging after school, so I think its time I pick it back up.

Other than my love of documenting, my grandparents are a big reason for this. Both passed away too soon. I deeply cherish the memories I have with them but I desperately wish I would have asked about their childhood, and life over all more. Having this digital space not only lets me look back on my own memories but will also be available to anyone who one day may wonder about me. My life has changed so much in the last few years. From graduating college, working at Disney, getting married, getting a real adult job, and turning 25 soon…. I want to make sure I remember it all.