Friday, 16 August 2019

Giving Thanks in Everything

Dadilo is celebrating his birthday today but he is sick, bedridden and in the hospital for quite some time. Mama passed away early this year and I heard an unexpected news that I couldn't accept because I thought it was all set and laid out perfectly for me.  This has impacted the plans I've made for the financial difficulties we've had with Mama's and Dadilo's health conditions. 

1 Thessalonians 5:18 "In everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."  I know what Paul is saying, but I am not sure how I can possibly do this.  Maybe if it said, "In good things give thanks."  I'd know exactly why we should obey this command because it makes perfect sense. But when we consider the phrase "in everything", we begin to question whether all -encompassing gratitude is even possible.

Life includes many painful experiences - loss of loved ones, financial downturns, illnesses, natural disasters, accidents, and broken relationships are just some of the possibilities.  How in the world are we supposed to thank God in the midst of all these?

It's in the whole counsel of His Words that we learn to know who He is and what He does. Then we'll understand why we should be grateful and how we can give thanks in everything, even those that don't seem worthy of gratitude at all. We don't have to  look around at our circumstances and think that we are helpless victims of fate or evil. Every event and situation that comes our way has first passed through the hands of the loving heavenly Father. Although we may not understand what He is doing, we can find peace in knowing that He is in control.

Gratitude is not dependent upon good circumstances but is based on our confidence and trust in the Lord and His promises. It's the evidence of submission to Him and dependence upon Him, and the result is peace that transcends comprehension, a relationship with Christ that is steady and unwavering, and a powerful witness that influences those around us.

If you are a child of God through faith in Jesus, He is with you in whatever situation you are facing today.  Although you may not be able to see the good He's working at the moment, can you trust that He is?  The most priceless good He brings comes in eternity; therefore, our greatest gratitude in every situation is for the salvation of our souls.  After we've received His temporal benefits, unimaginable blessings await us in heaven, let's be faithful and thank Him today. God will use your witness of gratitude in everything to touch the lives of those around you who are struggling with hardships, loss or pain.

Thank you Lord for Dadilo's life, for our families and lives filled with blessings, struggles and hope.

Thursday, 18 July 2019

Life is what we make it

I am turning 51 today and I am so thankful for the life I'm blessed with. Thank you Lord for my life. One of my birthday wishes is for our family to continue to serve the Lord. This was fulfilled this week as we volunteered for the kid's camp (vacation bible school) at Church on the Queensway.

Only Alexus is participating in the camp and both Aloysius and Kyle are volunteering as audio video tech staff for the kindergartens. I am so proud and thankful.

"Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift. Matthew 6:14 "

I have another wish, that my service offering will become truly meaningful if I have asked and have been forgiven by those I have wronged or felt wronged.  To you, you know who you are, I am really sorry. I admit I have said hurtful words in the process of interfering with your causes or have not done what I am supposed to do but have no control over. I can only pray for God's supernatural power to restore our relationships. I hope that you forgive me and that we will continue to live and love as how God intended our lives to be - free from anger, hurt, worry, grudges but only love, kindness, joy, peace, forgiveness.

I pray to God that you will give me that chance to be reconciled with you so we can live our lives in the way God designed and we can both live happily and peacefully. 

Life is too short to be negative. The outcome of our life is the result of how we view and live life - if it's full of anger, hate, regret, envy, complaints then the result will be the same. If it is full of love, hope, faith, kindness, joy, gratefulness then it will produce the same, the cycle continues. Wouldn't it be more productive to live in the latter? God will add and multiply. I hope that one day you will also see life as how I am seeing it now. We never know how much longer we have in this life so we make it worthwhile, make a difference, be an instrument to spreading love - It is what the world needs now. I'm sure when we reach the end of our tunnel, we can smile and anticipate God's telling us "Well done."

My other wish is to share a song to you, something that I heard our Pastor sing and is also very close to my heart :

My life is in You, Lord, my strength is in You, Lord
My hope is in You, Lord, in You, it's in You
My life is in You, Lord, my strength is in You, Lord
My hope is in You, Lord, in You, it's in You.

I will praise You with all of my life
I will praise You with all of my strength
With all of my life, and all of my strength
All of my life is in you.

Happy Birthday to me. Checkout I'm 51.

Saturday, 1 December 2018

My Disney World Trip VOP Project - VOC Rides and Shows (Part 4 of 4)

VOC or Voice of the Customer is the term used to describe the stated and unstated needs or requirements of the customer.  The objectives of a project depend on what the customers requirements are.  In this case the customer are my kids, my main stakeholder and project sponsor is my husband.  All of their “voices” need to be heard. Before the trip, I asked my children what rides they wanted to do, shows they wanted to see or even characters to meet.  Since they are all in tweens and teens, their memory of the Disney Channel days is dim so we had to watch the Disney movies again so they will be familiar with the stories and characters.   Our trip went well, based on the three constraints (cost, time, energy) although not 100% in the scope were done.  

Liked Best

It took a while before I can complete this post (this is part 4 – previous parts link above)

because my kids just handed me their feedback today, 2 weeks after the trip.  Well, they said it was hard to choose their favorite rides, attractions and shows from all the 4 parks. I only asked 5 from each park and rank per level of likeness (ranked by all 5). Here is the verdict:

Magic Kingdom

  1. RANK #3 Splash Mountain - they remembered that 50-ft drop
  2. Space Mountain – the dark rollercoaster ride that really scared me
  3. Big Thunder Mountain – the drops and fast turns were exciting
  4. Pirates of Caribbean – they liked all the animatronics rides but this one stood out
  5. Seven Dwarfs Mine Train – the kids were not thrilled anymore after experiencing all the mountains, but they all liked it anyway
  6. Astro Blasters – shooting is our favorite
  7. Monsters – “we were already laughing but Mom is still staring at the screen” (slow or couldn’t get the joke, or just needs to be ready to be focused on camera LOL)

Hollywood Studios

  1. Fantasmic Show – because this is included in a dining package at Hollywood and Vine, we were in a good spot and walked in a VIP lane
  2. Star Tours
  3. Toy Story Mania
  4. Indiana Jones
  5. RANK #4 Jedi Training and meeting all the Star Wars Characters


  1. RANK #2 Soarin
  2. RANK #5 Mission Space
  3. Test Track
  4. Frozen – only Mom liked it. This is where Alexus asked, “How come this is called Fastpass lane when the line is slow?” he was so loud that the cast members heard it to say this is a popular ride and new.

Animal Kingdom

  1. RANK #1 Avatar’s Flight of Passage
  2. Kali Rapids
  3. Festival of Lion King

I used Fastpass to book most of these rides and shows but for some of them we rope drop or line up as soon as we arrive.  Definitely, FOP, Slinky Dog, Soarin, Test Track and all roller coasters for me are worth the fastpasses.  Shows and meet and greets, you can rope drop or wait for  low wait times.  I’ve observed that during lunch time and when there is a parade, the wait times are shorter so check MDE app often.

Liked least

In as much as I liked meeting the characters up close and have a photo with them, the kids didn’t like it.  We lined up for Cinderella and Elena meet n greet near the Castle because it says on the My Disney app that it only takes 10 minutes to wait but it ended up 60 minutes. Of course, my Alexus complained. “Why are we lining up this long?” “Can we not use a Fastpass for this?” “Who is this character we are meeting?”  Meeting Star Wars characters was a different story.  The kids didn’t mind waiting and the area where we are standing in queue are all decorated with Star War’s elements and Storm troopers are walking around so I think it kept them interested.

What would you do better or try next time?

The following are the rides that we really liked but were not able to go to. We either missed it during our FP schedule (we are only given a 1-hour window), we didn’t get a FP reservation (all schedules were taken) or it broke down while we were already lining up:

  1. Slinky Dog – Hollywood Studios
  2. Rock n Roller starring Aerosmith – Hollywood Studios
  3. Everest – Animal Kingdom
  4. Navi River – Animal Kingdom
  5. Mission Space (Mars) – EPCOT
  6. Tower of Terror – Hollywood Studios
  7. Beauty and the Beast live – Hollywood Studios
  8. Dinosaur – Animal Kingdom
  9. Illuminations – EPCOT
  10. Watch the March of the First Order in full – Hollywood Studios

Notice we missed rides and attractions at Holllywood Studios because of too much time waiting in line to meet and greet Kylo Ren, BB-8 and Chewbacca.  This means that there is a need to go back after the Star Wars Land is completed and more rides are available.  I hope the Project Sponsor /CFO will agree to the Phase 2 of the Project LOL!

Meet and Greets to do

Because the kids didn’t like to wait in line for the meet and greets, the next time will need to include character breakfasts or dinners to meet them and get more personal interaction.  Dining plan is a must in the next trip because each character dining will make you fall off your chair after seeing the bill. This is something for the CFO to consider.  

  1. Winnie the Pooh and Friends – Crystal Palace
  2. Cinderella’s 2 sisters – Back of the Castle
  3. Princess Jasmine and Aladdin – Morocco
  4. Mulan - China
  5. Belle and Beast – book dinner at Be our Guest
  6. Rapunzel and Flynn Rider – Trattoria Al Forno
  7. Ariel and Prince Eric – Trattoria Al Forno
  8. Or dinner at Akershus to meet all Princesses – I hope he agrees because he liked the encounter with Cinderella– kinikilig pa nga eh hahaha

Overall, I would say since the kids enjoyed and were happy, we are all happy – project was successful.  Our experience was not the same as how younger kids would describe it. Yes, we can call it fantasy land but we have a more mature outlook now that the kids have grown. There is a certain experience that I couldn’t put in words but earns my respect and admiration for Disney.  All the theming, processes, planning, communication geared towards ultimate customer satisfaction.  Service was impeccable – every cast member is knowledgeable, helpful and ensured that we are safe, informed, satisfied, served right.  One of my sons who has an entrepreneurial spirit told me that “Disney is very good Mom, all the shops are in the right locations – after each popular ride to keep the guests buying stuff. I wonder how much Disney earns daily.” The Disneyworld experience is an eye opener for us. I know we already tried our best to make it memorable and maximized our investments, but we gained more. The Innovations stirred our creative minds, new plans and upcoming attractions we saw opened our eyes to how vast and endless possibilities there are.  Disney gave us insights more than the fantasy.  Magical if you would say, yes, we had a Magical Disney Experience.

We thank the Lord for this answered prayer.

Wednesday, 21 November 2018

My Disney World Trip VOP Project - Saving Time and Energy (Part 3 of 4)

I like planning. It's my second nature. A carefully planned and organized strategy is needed to accomplish the specific objectives. For this project, we wanted to enjoy the trip, to try and experience most if not all the activities or attractions that Disney can offer.  I know there are people who will just go with their instincts without any plans at all, I don't see anything wrong with that but it's just not my thing.  Even with little plan, I believe I'm going to achieve my objectives.

Human factor
Like any DMAIC projects, the only way to ensure that your plans will work is if you have all the stakeholders informed and aligned to the plans for the day. No room for tantrums, or other plans. Their own preferred rides need to be told and included during the planning stage. Our Epcot day was the only day our 2 families got separated because Carlisle didn't feel like going to the park that day but he decided going later but that meant they were behind us for an hour and we didn't see each other at any of the rides. The good thing is, they were able to go back and repeat the rides they liked and enjoyed them. VOC is important.

Other essentials - people thirst, get hungry, get tired or grumpy. You need to stop once in a while and let the kids and adults drink water, have some snacks and rest for a bit. This is the perfect time to go to no lines, stationary rides like people mover or the trains or watch shows or hang around gift shops to take a breather so that energy levels go up again. The magic bands shown above are your personal link to all Disney related stuff, your room key, your entrance ticket, your fast pass, your photo pass ticket, sometimes it works like wallet too so ensure that these bands are always on your wrist and your children's. By the way, they always think that they are doing a fast pass when the magic band is scanned.

TIME and ENERGY constraints
Saving time is linked to saving energy and motion. If you noticed in my previous post, my plan started with the rides, the fast passes and getting around the Magic Kingdom park per area (in one direction). The intent is to always save time and energy.

Hotel room location
If you can, try to request for the room near the lobby, the food court or the bus station.  Some resort complexes are so big that if your room is located at the far end, you will need more time to reach your room or the bus stops. I saw families with young children and I could feel their frustration when these children who are tired becomes grumpy or will cry a lot on the Bus and on the way to the hotel room - the farther the room, the longer the agony.  The farther room locations I saw were Little mermaid building of Art of Animation and 90's building of Pop Century resorts.  These 2 resorts have buses directly coming from and going to these destinations so guests have an advantage. All-star hotels share the buses so they will need to pick up and drop off guests from all the 3 all star hotels. That is something you need to consider when choosing the Disney hotel you're staying at. These are the value resorts I'm referring to, there are other moderate or high end resorts where waiting is minimal, but the cost is more. The choice is yours.

Matching shirts have advantages
It is easier for us or any family member to see who is missing or how to catch up when we know what they are wearing. Wendy and family wore bright coloured matching shirts so we see them easily if someone got lost in the crowd. Another way that worked was when Alexus had to go to the washroom and they had to leave the line, they were able to spot us right away when they returned because of the matching shirts that Wendy and family wore that day. They also look good in pictures.

"Why do we have to line up everywhere?"
My youngest Alexus is very expressive of his thoughts. These were his comments each time we line up for something. It starts from the bus stop at the hotel, then at the security check, entrance at the park, before you pose for photo pass, meet a character, watch a show, order food, ride or even a fast pass ride. He even told a cast member that the line was not supposed to be called a fast pass because it is slow.

Waiting game strategies:
1. At the Bus stop leaving the hotel - wake up early, eat breakfast at your room or eat the sandwiches while lining up. Check the park opening hours. The objective is to get on the bus early so you could "rope drop" and go to the ride you didn't save fast pass for without waiting that much.

2. Security check- do not bring too much, a back pack should be enough. There should be only one person per family lining up at security and those without bags can go through the line and go straight ahead the park entrance. They can go to their first ride or character meet and greet while those who went thru the security check catch up with them.

3. Watch a show - always check the show times on the app and just line up on stand by lane at least 5-10 before the show starts. Everyone will be able to sit just make sure that your party are on the same line.

4. Order food thru the mobile order app. - you will be able to see the food on the menu, click and order then wait for your notification while sitting at your table. You will only need to be at the counter when the food is ready for pick up.

5. Ride- try the single rider so you don't have to line up as a group, we did this at Test track in Epcot. Sometimes if the line is short you are allowed to repeat the ride to fill up the space, we did this on the Kali Rapids ride. While waiting at the stand by line plan for your next ride, use the app for the wait times, have a back up in case the ride breaks down or the weather acts up.

6. Take advantage of "Extra Magic Hours". Onsite disney hotel guests are given extra hours to get into the park and avail of shorter lines. We were able to do this and finish all the rides at EPCOT before entering the Pavilion and complete the 11 countries visit in no time. We arrived early before 8:00 am and was able to leave the park at 4:00 pm completing everything we planned for the day. With the extra hours, the kids were able to go swimming at the hotel pool. You could also use that extra time to do hotel activities like scavenger hunt, watch movies outdoors, do s'mores, check out Christmas decorations at fancy hotels by resort hopping or joining activities at other resorts. When we went to Polynesian they have a great show - activity for kids. That gave us time to explore the high-end resorts and ride the monorail gong to Contemporary, Polynesian and Grand Floridian hotels.  This is also an opportunity to go to Disney Springs if you haven't included it in your plan to do some shopping or eat  there.

Of course, you and your family would want to spend more time together in your rooms and hang out while resting your tired feet and review how the day went to repeat the good and forget the bad. It's fun to reminisce the reaction to the rides, shows and character meetings while mumbling on your favourite snacks and watching TV. At the end of the day, you will realize that you maximized the time and enjoyed most of Disney, getting ready for another fun-filled day.

My Disney World Trip VOP Project - FASTPASS (Part 2 of 4)

Before I continue the part 2 of my Disney World Travel Story,  I will share some of the Lean terminologies and how I was able to apply these to the project. The word "value" is familiar to you, you want to get the most value for the money you spend, the time and effort you exerted. We live by these principles and my kids know that whatever we do, we get something of "value" out of it. VOP or Value Optimization Project is a term we use in the workplace for all the Lean Six Sigma projects we are doing. Going to Disney is a VOP that is why in my first blog post, the title included Project.  I don't think this will end up completing the DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control ) cycle but you will get the picture when in one way or another you will see the phases in each scenario.  The intent is for you to understand that not only in this trip but in any situation, you can do process analysis, continuously improve and achieve results.  


Today, I'm going to talk about FASTPASS, some ride description and what to do (and not to do) at the parks to save time.

Wastes and how to prevent them

I hope you are already familiar with the 7 types of wastes .  The types of wastes we encountered the most in our trip were: Inventory, Motion and Waiting.  

Inventory (COST) - the food servings are huge. On our first night,  our dinner orders came with fries and for the leftovers from all the 3 children combined, I think there was a big platter of fries. To think, they were fries eaters. We couldn't finish them because Lito and I ordered adult entrees which we couldn't finish either.  Maybe we are really small eaters but I think the food leftovers are a huge waste.  It could have fed more children with those fries. Sayang talaga.  So in the following days, either I ordered a kids meal for myself or Lito and I shared an adult entree.  

Motion (TIME, ENERGY) - before we go to each park, I make it a point to study the map and review the plan for the rides or attractions we are going to do. We don't want to end up doing a Spaghetti Diagram (right picture) as there will be lots of Motion waste. 

One of the perks of staying inside the Disney World hotel is the FASTPASS reservation for popular rides 60 days before the trip.  If you are staying outside WDW, you are also given a fastpass opportunity but only 30 days before.  Imagine I already have made plans for the parks and the rides we are going to 60 days before.  The timing, duration and wait times on the Fastpass ride and the next rides need to be considered.  

Fastpass Tip #1 - Make your last day the Animal Kingdom Park day, and Second to last day is Hollywood Studios Park day.  Why?  Because the most popular and difficult to reserve (if you are on wrong timing) rides are from these parks.  Avatar's Flight of Passage (FOP) in Animal Kingdom and Toy Story Slinky Dog in Hollywood Studios are too popular (and probably still new) that even if they don't have a Fastpass reservation, people will still line up for it (yes, we saw people on stand by lines with wait times of 160 minutes)  I will discuss other rides worth your Fastpasses in another paragraph but for now I will focus on these 2.

When your Fastpass Day arrives, you should have a list of the rides in each park and the timing (AM or PM) handy.  There will be more chances of you getting the Fastpass if you start on your last day then backwards because not all reserving for Fastpasses will even have that park in that day in their list.  Example:  We went to 5 parks during our trip (November 12-16).  My Fastpass day was September 13. On that day, I was to reserve for all the days during my trip. People usually think that they need to start Fastpass reservation on their first park day when in reality they can start with any day. I am saying to focus on the last day because not all have that day in their plan. Some people will only have 3 park days, some 2 and so on and so forth.  So start with your last day and choose Avatar's Flight of Passage right away.  If you have small children, you need to consider height restrictions (should be 44 inches tall) because this is a single ride or choose among you who will watch over the kids while you are taking this ride which is a must by the way :) This is highly recommended and our family's favourite, one of my kids even said, "This ride beats them all". I hope you take my word for it.  Do the same with Toy Story Slinky Dog.  We didn't get a FP for this ride because there was nothing available on our Fastpass day and we can only choose 1 FP from Toy Story land.  We waited in Stand By line but the wait time was 90 minutes but eventually we did not get the chance because the ride broke down. Have a back up plan when ride breakdowns happen.

Fastpass Tip #2 - Choose between Rides, Shows or Character Meet and Greets.  Because our family already agreed that we will all do roller coaster rides, my Fastpass list consisted all the Mountain Rides at Magic Kingdom, and all other roller coaster rides from other parks.  Character Meet and Greets also take up most of your time and getting good seats in shows like Fantasmic merit a FastPass for those who are not into thrill rides.     

Fastpass Tip #3 - Choose all the morning fastpass schedule, if you can, select the rides that are close to each other so you can prevent spaghetti diagram, finish right away and you can add more Fastpass after you finish all 3.  You are only given 3 FP in a day but if you finish them all, you can get another one after you entered in the last one, then you can get another one again and so on.  Example: Magic Kingdom - We had our Big Thunder Mountain Roller Coaster Fast Pass ride after Splash Mountain which are both located in the same area - Frontierland and were able to finish right away, had more time to find a good spot in watching the parade between Frontierland and Adventureland. At Epcot - Fastpass at Mission Space and Test Track, Magic Kingdom Day 2 - choose Space Mountain and Tomorrowland Speedway.  These are only examples, you can choose based on what your family prefers.

After you completed all your Fastpass reservations, the next thing you should plan is where are you going next after each Fastpass ride.  Look at the Magic Kingdom map below:

Depending on where your Fastpass ride is, you should focus on that area. Example; Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is at Fantasyland where you want to go next is probably the next attraction with the least wait time in that area (use the My Disney Experience app for this). To prevent Spaghetti diagram, just go One Direction - remember the boy band? LOL.  Our last stop at Fantasyland was the Barnstormer roller coaster ride which was near the Train Station (see arrow). We took the train going to Frontierland which was on the other side. This saved us time and restored our energy while resting our feet from walking.

You can find other touring plans on the internet, on Pinterest, and from other Disney frequent visitors.  I actually checked them out but I created my own because I really want to save on energy and time (remember our Time and Energy constraint?). Below was our touring plan for the Magic Kingdom park Days.  The arrows indicate which way we are supposed to go to reach our destination. The check and cross marks are based on priority or if it was a Must-do or can-be-skipped activity:


In the next blog post, I will discuss some waiting game strategies and how we tried our best to avoid waiting (there is always waiting in line at Walt Disney World).  More on the ENERGY / EFFORT Constraint. Stay Tuned. Meanwhile, @ Animal Kingdom

Sunday, 18 November 2018

My Disney World Trip VOP Project - Cost (Part 1 of 4)

WHAT: Our Walt Disney World Trip in Orlando, Florida
WHEN: November 11-17, 2018
WHERE we stayed: POP Century Resort
WHO: Castillo and Ordaz Families

WHY: It's Mickey's 90th birthday, my 50th birthday and Alexus' 10th birthday and our 20th wedding anniversary celebration all in one and we all deserve an amazing vacation.

I will share our Disney experience in the context of Project Management and Lean Six Sigma concepts. Based on my notes from University of Toronto, a project is a temporary endeavour undertaken to create a product or service. For this blog post, the product will be the outcome of the trip. Now in order for a project to be successful, it has to be within the three constraints; COST, TIME and SCOPE but I will replace the last constraint with energy or effort as it is more applicable to this project.

When you hear Disney, you know it is expensive. The biggest constraint for us is cost and I guess to most of you. This is my way to help those who are hesitant to go because of the cost. The Walt Disney World experience is expensive but still possible for those with less budget if you plan and organize well.

Timing is important. Plan ahead, use the crowd calendar to see when is the least crowded and book those dates because that is when the value resorts are least expensive. There are lots of infographic images on Disney calendar at Pinterest. I used one and the room rates are cheaper but the crowd volume is still the same. I think there are no less crowded dates at the parks. Disney Value resorts are Art of Animation, Pop Century, All-Star Movies, All-Star Sports, All-Star Music and The Campsites at Fort a Wilderness Resort. Last week of August, January, February and hurricane season are less crowded. Get the Magic Your Way Package (Park Tickets, Room and Dining plan). There are offers for free dining and room discounts on certain dates. After you decide on a date and booked the MYWP and an offer like free dining or room discounts becomes available, Disney will apply that to your package. You can call Disney and ask an authorized Disney Travel Agent to assist you on these. One of the perks of getting the MYWP is the bounce back offer where a unique discounted rate for booking a resort room is available to resort guests currently staying for future dates.

Offsite hotels - I only mentioned about staying onsite because of the many benefits in staying with Disney hotels. Free airport transfers, airline checkin at the hotel for some US airlines, faster access to the parks - this is a perk for time constraint which I will discuss later but most especially the Disney theming in the rooms and the total Disney experience. There is a certain vibe when you are onsite, the smell, the theming, the personalized approach and ultimate service from Disney staff.  The hotels near WDW are okay, some of them have Disney themed rooms and free shuttles to Disney Springs, this is where the terminal of  buses going to the parks are located. The prices are cheaper all right but you have to check the fees.  When I was looking for hotels offsite, I discovered that most of them charge resort fees per day. This adds up to your hotel cost, the total would be more than the price of a value resort room per night. Cost and time going to the parks are cons of staying offsite. These made me choose to stay onsite. At the end of the day, we are only going to sleep there anyway.

By the way, we opted to remove housekeeping for the duration of our stay. That meant $10 per day per room. The replenishment of supplies will still be done, just call and request for towels, soaps or coffee. Because we had 2 connecting rooms for a family of 5, we received $100 worth of gift cards that we can use to buy souvenirs or even pay for food. All we did was took out trash and let the kids continue doing their chores of tidying up and making up their beds.

If you still choose to stay offsite, the hotels near Disney Springs are my best bet and also those near the entrances. For the villas or houses for rent with pools by VRBO, those from Windsor Hills are highly recommended by those who stayed from my Canadian Disney Addicts group.

Park tickets
The more park tickets per day you buy, the cheaper the cost. There are four parks and 2 water parks at Walt Disney World. You can also buy a park hopper where you can do 2 parks per day.  Depending on your family's preferences, you can choose to do whatever suit your needs. We are first timers in WDW that's why we chose to do 1 park per day and a 2nd day at Magic Kingdom.  We also availed the Canadian Residents Ticket offer, so watch out for that kind of deals. But you cannot convert it to Magic your way package, you can only choose one offer. You can also buy cheaper tickets at or AAA/CAA.

Food is important because you need energy to do all those walking, standing in line, and waiting. But everything in Disney is expensive including food.  Because my kids are picky eaters and we didn't have MYWP, we decided not to include the dining plan and just pay as we go. We only had 2 Advanced Dining Reservations (ADR) Hoop De Doo Revue (Dinner Show) and Minnie's Holiday Dine at Hollywood and Vine (Buffet with character experience and reserve seating at Fantasmic Show). ADRs are one of the perks of staying onsite. You and your family are given priority to reserve for Table Service Restaurants 180 days before your trip.  I would say the first ADR was amazing and we got the value for money. I felt like our date was perfect except for very late showing and arriving late to our hotel.  The other ADR was just okay because of the character experience and Fantasmic show reserve seating. But when we think of what we paid for and compared it to the food that our kids ate at the buffet, the cost was too much for only chicken nuggets and fried chicken and ice cream that the kids consumed. Halos mahulog lang naman sa silya si Lito nung nakita niya ang bill, ano daw yun? yung tipong me usok sa tenga after the 2nd and 3rd look hahaha, even I myself couldn't believe that the cost per person was $60, the old rate was only 48 for adult price and 36 per kid. After the price increase this October, the total cost change   We are just thinking the cost is in exchange for the long queues at meet and greet for Mickey and friends and also for the Fantasmic show. If I were you, I would just use a fast pass to do these. It was not worth it. Other than these two which took most of the pie share of our food budget,  all our other dining were from Quick service restaurants and I found them to be more sulit (value for money). I chose those that serve more filling food like rice and pasta. I also chose kids meals or Lito and I would share an adult entree because the servings are big enough for 2.  If you plan to include a dining plan either Quick Service only, or Table Service and Quick Service, the following are recommended based on our experience and my friends from the Canadian Disney Addicts group.

Quick Service Restaurants we tried and must try food list:
1. Landscape of Flavours - Art of Animation (Grilled Fish, Chicken Bowl,  Tandoori Chicken thighs)
2. Everything Pop - Pop Century (Chicken Parmesan, Pot Roast)
3. Captain Cooks -Polynesian Resort (Thai Coconut Meat balls, Asian noodles)
4. Aloha Isle - Magic Kingdom (Dole whip soft ice cream)
5. Pecos Bill - Magic Kingdom (3way tacos, fajitas, smoothie)
6. Columbia Harbour - Magic Kingdom (Lobster Roll, Seafood Platter)
7. Cosmic Ray's Starlight Cafe - Magic Kingdom
8. Gaston's Tavern - Magic Kingdom (Cinnamon Rolls)
9. ABC Commissary - Disney Hollywood Studios
10. Backlot Express - Disney Hollywood Studios
11. Satuli Canteen - Animal Kingdom (Beef Bowl with Rice, burger bun pao)
12. Eight Spoon Cafe - Animal Kingdom (Mac n Cheese with pulled pork)
13. Flame Tree Barbeque - Animal Kingdom (pulled pork burger, turkey leg)
14. Be our guest - Magic kingdom
15. Katsura Grill - Japan Epcot (teriyaki, maki rolls, green tea colada)
16. Sunshine Seasons - EPCOT (rotisserie chicken, pork loin, Mongolian beef, pasta)

Below is the summary of our food expenses, I ordered grocery (milk, eggs, ham, cheese, bread, jimmy dean frozen breakfast and snacks) online and have it delivered to the hotel lobby. There are microwave ovens at the food court for these. This saves time and money for our breakfast. Do not forget to order water bottles as each bottle at the parks cost USD3.99. You can also bring water container, fill it up with water and ice from the food court of your hotel and get a refill at quick service restaurants. Another must do to save on snacks is to buy a refillable popcorn bucket and get a refill of only $2 each time during your entire stay.

Other Essentials

Buy your Mickey Ears, Rain Ponchos, Autograph books, Souvenirs and other accessories like glow lights from a dollar store before the trip or at Walmart near WDW.  Wendy got our Mickey ears from Claire's. They cost Double or Triple at Disney, they are all made in China anyway. There are lots of matching shirts at Walmart with generic print shirts (Dad, Mom, Brother, Sister) in different colors) or you can order online too.

The weather in Florida is unpredictable and rain might appear anytime so bring the poncho, you could use that at wet rides like Kali Rapids or Splash Mountain. The cost of Poncho at Disney is $10 for a kid size.

Getting there (air or land)
I waited for Boxing Day to get a good deal. Choose the non-popular airlines, we chose Air Transat because of the price, it's nonstop and they have a good kids club where my birthday celebrator received perks. He is the reason why we doing this trip because he is celebrating 10 years. I'm happy because Alexus is happy.

Other airlines that are worth checking out are Southwest, Frontier, Spirit in US (BUF for those from ON). Airlines flying out YYZ with good deals are Air Transat, West Jet, sometimes Air Canada offers good deals, Sunwing (they have good Disney packages that are worth checking out).

More savings are in store for those who will drive down South.  You just need to plan on your vacation days, consider hours of driving, driver reliever, hotel to stay in the middle of the trip.

I hope this helps. Thanks for reading. I will discuss the next constraints "TIME" and "ENERGY /EFFORT" in my next post.

Saturday, 25 August 2018

Confidence is a choice

Many people think that the only way to be confident is to be successful.  While it is easier to believe in your abilities when you have proven success, it is not the only way to feel a sense of confidence. Confidence is a choice. It comes from choosing to focus on your strengths and knowing that you are good.  It comes from choosing to be positive with yourself.  It comes from focusing on what you need to do rather than uncontrollable, situational factors. My friend Christeen Lewis always tells me, "Focus on what you can control."   Confidence comes when you're not worrying about being the best, but focusing on being your best.  But how can I start, how will I do my best?

True source of Confidence

Most importantly, confidence comes from the Lord your God who created you, gave you the skills, knowledge and strengths.  As a consumer, are you not choosing the product based on the brand or who the maker is?  When you buy from a tested brand, you are confident that it's good quality.  What more about our Creator, we are wonderfully made. If you believe that the same God who gave you the confidence before, will do the same today, what else could go wrong?  I remember my old motto,  "I will do my best and God will do the rest".  We hold on to His promise in Proverbs 3:6 - In everything you do, put God first and He will crown your efforts with success

How can I create confidence?

The first step in creating confidence is Preparation.  In sports, champions are not created overnight. If you fully engage physically and mentally in practice, you will feel more prepared in competing.  Focused practices allow you to trust that you did everything you could to enable yourself to perform your best.  Even if in my mind, I know what I'm going to say for a meeting I'm facilitating or a training to deliver, I still prepare a cheat sheet, and practice many times  -in front of a mirror, in front of my kids, or record myself in a video or audio recorder to see how I can build more confidence and improve on the delivery. Do you think that the Hollywood actors or even your favorite stars can execute perfectly what the scripts say in one reading or sitting? Practice makes perfect and build confidence.

Second, it is important to Act Confidently.  Our mind reacts to what our body does.  If your head is down, your muscles are tense or your shoulders are hunched, your mind will sense your self-doubt.  So always make sure that your body language and your communication with yourself and others portrays confidence. Even when you don't feel confident, act confidently.

Finally, realize you don't need other people to tell you that you are good. Back to the athletes example, many of them wait for their coaches to tell them that they are good in order to believe in themselves.  You may want others to tell you that you are good, but it's not something you need.  Believe in yourself and believe in the One who created you and destined you to be great.  Set your mind that you have that confidence within.  Whatever your mind conceives, the body achieves.

Choose to be confident.  You have a reason to be.