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PassPorter News Brought to you by PassPorter Guidebooks
  March 27, 2008 * Issue 8.13
In This Newsletter

From the Authors: Ships Book Shipping, E-Book Selling, Coming into Los Angeles!

Disney Feature: Wild by Design Tour

Behind The Scenes Feature: Disney Moms Panel Part 3

Updates: What's New and Changed

Tips: Super Sippy Cups, Splendid Showers, Charge It!

Captain's Corner: The Inventor

PassPorter PhotoPick: Feeding the Bird

Q and A: Help with fear of snakes!

Our Sponsors: We Recommend...
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What's New and Changed

Here are a few items of relevant news:

The Disney Cruise Line has announced plans to stay at Port Canaveral through 2023. The two new ships, due in 2011 and 2012 will use Port Canaveral as their home port at least through 2014. (No word in where or whether the Magic and Wonder will go once the new ships arrive.) As part of the agreement and in order to accommodate the new ships, which are significantly larger than the Magic and Wonder, the Canaveral Port Authority will be making upgrades to the Disney Cruise Line terminal. The enhancements will include extending the dock, enhancing the terminal building, and constructing a multi-level parking garage.

The scam artist that we reported on earlier this month has been apprehended. 23-year-old Jason MacLaren, a former Walt Disney World Cast Member, is accused of scamming Disney Resort guests out of more than $30,000.

Tickets for Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party go on sale May 1, 2008. Ticket prices have not been announced. The dates will be: November 10, 11, 14, 16, 20, 21, and 30, December 2, 4, 5, 7, 9, 11, 12, 14, 16, 18, and 19.

Our thanks to and from which we get some of our news leads.

Hear some news? Be a "PassPorter Reporter" and send it to us!

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Disney Tips:
From Fellow Readers

Our readers deliver a wealth of information! Here are the winners in this month's tip contest:

"When dining with small children (those that use sippy cups), pack a disposable sippy cup and inside you can put a disposable bib, place mat, coloring page, crayons, and a pack of crackers. This helps keep them entertained while you wait for food and gives them a little snack. It also has the added benefit of a sippy you can throw away when you are done instead of trying to wash it on the go."
-- contributed by Terra M.

"As a cruise passenger, you have complimentary use of the on board fitness center, but you don't have to be workout junkie to enjoy the facilities! While most staterooms have split bathrooms, they don't have more than one shower. If you are running late for that reservation at Palo because your significant other is taking too long in the shower (or you just want to indulge yourself), you can use the showers in the fitness center/spa. These are not your typical health club communal showers... These are the finest showers traveling the seven seas! The water pressure is much better than in the staterooms, and there is a lot more room. The men's locker room attendant on the Wonder advised me to use the shower on the far right, with the waterfall spout. It was the best shower of my life! I will go back at least once on every future cruise! Make sure to get a locker as they come stocked with flip flops and a bathrobe."
-- contributed by Jeremy P.

"Early in the day at Disney World one year, we were videotaping our granddaughter with one of the characters. Wouldn't you know it, the battery went dead. We replaced it with the spare one and that one was dead also. A Cast Member overheard us discussing the dead batteries. He offered a solution -- bring our charger, cord, and dead battery to Guest Relations and they will charge it for us for free. We just had to make sure that all three items were labeled with our name. We went to Guest Relations and they were happy to accommodate us in recharging the battery. We came back in a couple of hours and picked up our fully charged battery (and the cord and charger) and were happily off to video the rest of our day. Since then, I made up address labels with our name, address, and cell phone number and attached them to our batteries, charger and cord. We will never be without a charged video battery again."
-- contributed by Catherine K.

Send us your tips! You may see them in this newsletter and win a copy of PassPorter!

Want more Disney tips? For Walt Disney World fans, we've collected 500 of the best tips submitted by readers over the past six years. All have been edited for accuracy and categorized. For details, visit the PassPorter Disney 500 info page or the PassPorter store. For Disney Cruise Line fans, we have an e-book with 250 cruiser tips, as well as a special cruise line comparison section and seven customized packing lists. For information, visit the Disney Cruise Clues info page.

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Captain's Corner:
Treasure Hunting Game

Play our fun and quirky treasure hunting game, hosted by Captain Jack Skatt from our book, "PassPorter's Treasure Hunts at Walt Disney World." 

The Captain makes a study of the delightful details -- sometimes hidden, sometimes in plain sight but often overlooked -- at Walt Disney World and aboard the Disney Cruise Line. Using notes from his journals, he will lead you to this "treasure" at Disney with clues, questions, photos, or riddles. Your challenge is to discover the answer by searching your memory, visiting Disney, or even just looking really hard on the Internet. If you think you've found the answer, e-mail it to -- the first person to correctly submit the FULL answer will receive a free PassPorter enamel pin or PassPorter name badge pin. (Please note: Players can win once every 3 months.) 

Here is this week's journal entry:

"Like any Disneyphile worth his salt, I know that Walt Disney adored trains. I've discovered many tributes to Walt's passion throughout the parks. Case in point, there is a little plaque honoring Thomas Newcomen, inventor of the steam engine in 1712. Most people walk right by it, or over it, without every realizing it's there."

Where can you spot this plaque at Walt Disney World? For bonus credit, locate the photographic evidence in the PassPorter Photo Archive and post a comment with the photo!

Send your full answer to -- the winner will be notified by e-mail and announced in a future newsletter, along with the correct answer!

Congratulations to C Viles who was the winner of last week's trivia contest! C Viles was the first person to identify the location of the clock as the lower level of the Main Street  Station. MaryEl8775 was the first person to find the photo on our web site. To view the original clue, see last week's newsletter.

If you enjoy treasure hunts, we've got an entire book with over 100 distinct treasure hunts and over 1500 questions, complete with clues and contributions from Captain Jack Skatt. Get more details on "PassPorter's Treasure Hunts at Walt Disney World" book at
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PassPorter PhotoPick

Each issue we choose a special photo from the PassPorter Photo Archive which highlights something beautiful, interesting, humorous, or timely at Disney or around the world. Here is this issue's PassPorter PhotoPick:

Feeding a Duck in Mid-Air
contributed by pixiedustgirl13

(click the photo or link to see a larger photo with details)

You can nominate photos as a PassPorter PhotoPick by giving ratings in the PassPorter Photo Archive (you'll need to be logged in to do this). If you'd like to contribute your own photos to the Photo Archive and be considered as a PhotoPick, please read our Photo Upload Guidelines for details and benefits.

chezp 768 photos
Meggera 347 photos
akleos 320 photos
Dopey007 270 photos
OffKilter_Disneymom 261 photos
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Q and A:
With Jennifer and Dave

watermelonpatty asks: "I have a really dumb question. I have an irrational fear of snakes. I've been to Walt Disney World several times but I'm afraid to go to Animal Kingdom in case I see a Cast Member with a real one around their necks or arms walking around the park or maybe even little kids with rubber ones. I'm going back to Walt Disney World and so many people have told me that I HAVE to go on Expedition Everest and see the Tree of Life and so many other things. I'm not a big animal person so I don't care about missing the safari and all that stuff but I'm wondering if I'm worrying over nothing and missing out or if my fears are correct and I shouldn't bother going and being terrified. (Keep in mind, I have fainted and gone into hysterics at the sight of them! Not even ones on TV are ok.) Any thoughts or advice?"

Dave and Jennifer answer: "It's not a dumb question at all! Most of us live with one kind of fear or other. For you and Indiana Jones, it happens to be snakes (why does it have to be snakes?).

The cast member-holding-snake does happen from time to time (but it's not very common) -- mostly around the path into Camp Minnie Mickey, and you can see snakes exhibited and sometimes hand-held at Conservation Station at Rafiki's Planet Watch. They're also exhibited in Pangani Forest Trail. You can see snakes carved into the woodwork in several buildings, painted on walls (but you have to be looking for them)... Does anyone remember if there's a fake snake on Pumbaa's float in Festival of the Lion King? Don't look too carefully at the Tree of Life, because there are some snakes sculpted into it (much easier to see if you go to It's Tough to Be a Bug, so avoid that one).

But for the most part, Animal Kingdom isn't necessarily worse than the other parks when you know where not to go. [I imagine you also know to avoid the Great Movie Ride at Studios, Honey, I Shrunk the Audience at Epcot, and it's a small world and Jungle Cruise at Magic Kingdom (among others)?]"

If you head for Expedition Everest (and take in Finding Nemo the Musical nearby, hit Chester &Hester's DinoRama, maybe catch the afternoon parade... you'll have some enjoyable times.

Have a question? Post questions at -- and if you're lucky, you may find that folks have already asked and answered the same question that's on your mind!
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Future Newsletters:
Want To See Your Name in Print?

PassPorter News is published weekly, and this means we're always in need of articles! We're on the lookout for guest columnists who want to contribute articles to this newsletter. No professional writing experience is necessary, just a desire to share your experience with others! Not only is this a great way to give something back to the PassPorter community, but you get to see your name in "print" and receive a $25 gift certificate for use at

For details and our article submission guidelines, please e-mail Articles about Disney and general travel are welcomed!
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Our Sponsors:
We Recommend...

PassPorter only accepts advertising from services of the highest quality -- we recommend these companies because we use them ourselves. Please support our sponsors and, in turn, support this newsletter! This week's sponsors are (in order of appearance):

Mouse Fan Travel -- PassPorter's Decade of Dreams Offer -- Disney Cruise Line Special Offers

Quicksilver Tours &Transportation -- Save $5 off airport round-trip transportation in a town car

From the Authors: Ships Book Shipping, E-Book Selling, Coming into Los Angeles!

Hi, {{user("firstname")}}!

Who cares about the weather? Why don't we just cut to the chase!

PassPorter's Disney Cruise Line and its Ports of Call 2008 is in stock! All pre-orders of all versions have shipped! At this point, we can safely say that
new orders of our cruise guide will ship the next business day. 

Our newest e-book, PassPorter's Answer Book: Expert Answers to Common Disney and Travel Questions was released to PassPorter's Club passholders this past Monday (ah, the advantages of membership!). Today, it is available for order (and immediate download) in the PassPorter store to everyone! This is a great compendium of helpful information from the same experts who help folks day in and day out at the PassPorter message board community, our message board Guides.

We're happy to announce that PassPorter Travel Press will be exhibiting at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books on April 26 and 27, 2008 (next month). Dave will be on hand to represent us. He'll have selected PassPorter books available for sale, autographing pen in hand, and we're planning a PassPorter Meet sometime during the event (come join the discussion to set the day and time). Admission is free (parking is $8.00), so it's quite a deal! If you can get to the UCLA campus, we'd love to see you there! We're in booth 657, in  Zone F - Dickson Court North.

Will you be joining us for PassPorter's Decade of Dreams Tour? PassPorter is celebrating our 10th anniversary in 2009 in a year-long celebration from coast-to-coast! Everyone is invited and all are warmly welcome to join us at all or part of our celebration. We are combining small parties (meets) with grand, multi-day trips, including a 7-night Disney Cruise, a 4-night stay at Walt Disney World, and a Disneyland visit that includes park time and an Adventures by Disney expedition. See our Tour Schedule for the latest details.

PassPorter's Club Update
  • More than 1300 vacationers are now enjoying access to all our e-books, e-worksheets, and super-sized photo archive images.Thank you for your continued support!
  • Our newest e-book, PassPorter's Answer Book is now available for download. This 85-page e-book is full of the detailed, up-to-date information on the topics that really matter to you.
  • We have two brand-new e-worksheets for you to use to plan your next trip (click the link to go directly to them): the Daily Meal Log e-worksheet and the Deluxe Dining Plan e-worksheet!
  • More details at

  • In this issue, Featured Columnist Cheryl Pendry takes Walt Disney World's Backstage Tour, Wild by Design, Then, Disney Moms Panelist  Kim LaPaglia is back with the final installment of her series on The Disney Moms Panel. Finally, Jack Skatt is back with a brand-new Walt Disney World Treasure Hunt. Have a great week!

    Dave and Jennifer Marx
    PassPorter Authors

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      Disney Feature: 

    Backstage Tour: Wild By Design
    by Cheryl Pendry, PassPorter Featured Columnist

    There are many opportunities to step behind the scenes at Walt Disney World, from mastering a Segway to exploring the Utilidors underneath the Magic Kingdom and learning about festive traditions from around the world.

    When you think about the array of tempting choices, it's no surprise that the Wild by Design tour ended up being one of the last behind the scenes tours that we've sampled. At first glance, it doesn't seem to be the most interesting way to spend three hours. My trusty PassPorter told me that it was a three hour walking tour, which would give us the chance to "learn about the represented cultures, historic artifacts and storytelling" of the Animal Kingdom. I thought it would be interesting, but not a great deal of fun. It just goes to show how wrong you can be!

    You meet outside the entrance to Animal Kingdom and it didn't take us long to realize that there weren't going to be many of us on our tour. The fact that there were only four of us made it that much easier for us to ask questions of our guides. Yes, you read that right -- even with only four of us, we had two guides to take us around the park.

    As you might expect, our tour started where your journey into Animal Kingdom begins, in the Oasis just beyond the entrance gates. It's an area that many people race through, anxious to make their way over to Kilimanjaro Safaris or Expedition Everest, but it's somewhere to explore at your leisure. If you do take that time, you might notice the rich theming here that gradually transports you from the world outside into the park that awaits you. That's just one of the things that were pointed out to us as we made our way towards Discovery Island.

    If you've ever admired the bright colors of the shops on Discovery Island, then next time you visit, take a very close at each of them in turn. They all have their own specific theming, representing different aspects of the animal world. In one, you'll find animals full of spots and stripes, while another showcases animals from all points of the compass.

    From there, the tour takes you into three of the different areas of the park in turn, starting with the one that I've never been entirely sure about -- DinoLand USA. I don't know about you, but I don't feel that it fits into Animal Kingdom and I've never really understood why it's in such a beautifully themed park. Now having learned the story behind DinoLand, I can't say I like it any more than I did before, but at least I now appreciate why it's there.

    The whole thing revolves around Chester and Hester, a pair of lovable rogues, and their attempts to make money from the dinosaur skeletons that were found here. Like any good story, there's a moral to it and, in this case, it's all about over-commercialism and making money from the animal world. There's no such moral needed in Asia, but there is still a story to this area of the park. It's perhaps one of the more subtle ones to be found in Disney. Look around carefully on the ground - and the park's newest attraction - and you might get a clue as to what it's all about. As you approach Expedition Everest, you're near the top of the mountain, and on the ground around you are hoof prints. Head towards the Kali River Rapids and those hoof prints become cart tracks as you enter the town at the base of the mountain.

    Even though this tour is called Wild by Design, it's not all about the theming of the park. You can't talk about Animal Kingdom without referring to animals and this tour is no different. During our three hours, some of the highlights were talking to the animal keepers and, in particular, our meeting with Debbie, who is one of the team looking after the gorilla families in the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail. Talking to her about their interactions was absolutely fascinating and I could easily have spent three hours with her alone. I got the impression that whatever you asked her about the gorillas, she would have an answer ready for you. She's clearly a lady who enjoys her work. The same thing could also be said for our guides, Tony and Julie. We were stunned to find out halfway through the tour that this was only Julie's second tour. It really didn't show at all and had this not cropped up in conversation, we would have guessed that she had been giving this tour for years.

    All in all, we feel this is a great part of the line-up of tours at Walt Disney World. Sure, it may not have the glitz and glamour of some of the other tours on offer and it may not take you backstage (the closest you'll get is access to parts of the park before they open to the public), but it's still a worthwhile and fascinating way to spend three hours. If you've got an interest in Animal Kingdom and how it was designed, then this is a tour that is well worth taking. The Wild by Design tour is offered twice a week, on Thursday and Friday mornings at 8:30am and lasts for three hours. It costs $58 and is only available to those aged 14 and upwards. A light continental breakfast is included in the price of the tour.

    About the Author: Cheryl and husband Mark live in England and love to travel, particularly to America. They were on the first sailing of the Disney Magic around the Mediterranean and have recently returned from 19 nights in Walt Disney World.

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    Did you enjoy this article? Have questions? E-mail us at or visit to discuss your travel plans. Also check out our Article Collection for more great information! 

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    Behind The Scenes Feature:

    Behind The Scenes: The Walt Disney World Moms Panel - Our Last Days
    Kim LaPaglia, PassPorter Guest Columnist and Walt Disney World Moms Panelist

    (Part three of three part series. Click to read parts one and two)

    Maybe it was the special good-night snack. I slept much better this evening although I was still too excited for a normal night's rest. My life at the moment was certainly far from ordinary. The next morning dawned warm and sunny as I enjoyed the walk to the Coronado Springs Convention Center. I wondered if Leanne had arranged the surprise weather as well. I knew anything was possible at Walt Disney World.

    I entered the Walt Disney World Moms Panel training room to enjoy breakfast and was greeted by what were now familiar faces. As we sat at our computer stations, we were finally able to see what the site would look like to visitors. As we learned how to navigate the administrative side, we were given practice questions to work on. Typing my first practice answer, I tapped the keys hoping to offer my best personal experience.

    How many business trainings have you been to where a blue fairy godmother named Ivanna Dream enters? Ivanna had read our bios, and with her sarcastic sense of humor proceeded to draw attention to each of us. The room was filled with laughter as she continued to "quiz" us on Disney trivia. And then... Leanne had another announcement.

    We would get to meet Meg Crofton, the first female President of Walt Disney World and it would be commemorated in photos. For a group of "Moms" and Walt Disney World fans, this was extraordinary, life-altering news.

    Next, a lovely lunch was set up in the outdoor courtyard, directly off our training room. I grabbed a plate of food (as did the other Moms) and rushed back to the room to prepare for our next task; a photo and video shoot at the Magic Kingdom. Between bites, I paced the room while practicing my video bio. I also changed into my "starring moment" ensemble. We had been given tips on what to avoid (clunky jewelry, for instance). I chose my favorite turquoise color and black pants. In hindsight, I wish I had worn capris which would have looked more like I was spending a day in the parks. But at 5 ft tall (okay short), I was worried about appearing even less vertically challenged. Truthfully, I was more worried about my video bio than my attire. If only I had just sat in the Acapulco room and enjoyed my lunch like our one "Dad," Bret!

    At 12:15, our minibus headed to the Magic Kingdom. The bus parked backstage and we entered near the Plaza Restaurant. We headed to the Rose Garden area to the right of the Castle. It was roped off and set up for a photo and video shoot. My husband was allowed past the ropes to watch the production. It was sunny and hot, but our thirst-quenching wish was soon granted with bottles of water. This afternoon was a complete whirlwind. We were led out towards the hub and soon after, a horse-drawn trolley pulled up. The horse was taken away and we took a group photo aboard the front of the trolley. By now, we had many spectators, again wondering who we were. I can not even begin to tell you what it felt like climbing aboard the trolley with my new friends. It was magical, dreamlike, and fun. The photo really captures our memorable moment.

    As we returned to the Rose Garden, I believe a magic spell was cast over me. My nerves were now calm and I did nothing but enjoy every second of the afternoon. I had a great time watching the smiles on everyone's faces. I took time now and then to look at the people staring at us. I frequently glanced at Cinderella Castle to imprint this day in my memory. We each had individual shots taken. Candice Coleman from the Disney News Bureau also interviewed each of us. It was much easier to have a conversation led by her enthusiasm than to remember what I wanted to say with just a camera staring at me.

    We were called over to do our video bios, where producers at three camera areas were available to help us. When it was time for mine, I asked the producer to break mine into segments. She asked me to tell her about myself and then share my favorite park tip and so on. While I did this in only a few takes, I wish I had spoken more eloquently. I also wish the sun hadn't been glaring in my eyes causing me to squint. What mattered most was that I was finished.

    When Mickey made his entrance, I felt like a child entering the Magic Kingdom for the first time. I couldn't contain myself and started yelling "Mickey!" I quickly calmed myself as not to interfere with the video bios being made. As you can imagine, the boss' arrival really made quite a stir and guests were trying to figure out what was going on in the Rose Garden. Believe me; I still couldn't believe this was happening. I felt magical merriment all day.

    Meg Crofton arrived and she was absolutely gracious. Meg was so elegant in her Mickey Red suit with her "Meg"Cast Member pin. She and her husband had read our biographies over the weekend. I was stunned. She asked us what the most exciting thing we had done over our weekend was. Brigitta said, "Meeting you!" We all agreed. What struck me was that Meg really gets why people are so passionate about Walt Disney World; that it's the experiences we have rather than a single attraction or hotel that make us return again...and again.

    We took more photos. Each of us with Meg, each of us with Mickey, our group with the Moms Panel logo sign and so on. Click! Our enchanted day was captured. When our starring moments were finished, we were given free time in the Magic Kingdom until 5:00 pm. As we made our way to the Jungle Cruise, we thought about going on It's A Small World, but the line was too long. Perhaps we had been spoiled from the VIP entrances that we had enjoyed during the previous day's tour.

    We went to the Jungle Cruise for a boatful of laughter. Next, Michael and I left the group so I could phone my son who was now home from school, and then do some shopping. Michael left to play and I returned to the bus at 5:00pm. Back at Coronado Springs, we had a short time to get ready and at 6:00pm. we were back on the bus, headed to Epcot.

    Again we arrived via a backstage entrance and went directly to Tutto Italia, the restaurant in the Italy pavilion. We sat at two round tables with Moms Panelists and Cast Members enjoying great conversation and delectable food. Near 8pm we were led to the Candlelight Processional to enjoy VIP seating. We were led past all of the guests waiting in line and directly to our seats in the third row, where we enjoyed the heartfelt show.

    As if the day wasn't magical enough, we were then taken to a private Illuminations dessert party. We were in Morocco now. There was a bar doling out beverages and a dessert table with an assortment of tasty treats. Our families (and friends) were invited to join us. Beth and Laura had their families in attendance. Bret had his sister and some friends. The conversation, drinks, and fireworks were sparkling.

    It was very late when we returned to the Coronado Springs Resort. Some of us were not ready for the revelry to end so we stopped at the outdoor bar. It was another warm evening. It was nice to chat and get to know each other better.

    Finally this enchanting day had to end, or so I thought. Our surprise tonight was a framed picture from our first evening with all of the panelists at the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights. Here we were captured with the giddy looks of children on their first trip to Walt Disney World. At last, I slept peacefully.

    On Sunday, we had a later flight so Michael and I had breakfast at the Pepper Market before going to Downtown Disney to shop. I was happy to run into Darcie one more time and we chatted before reluctantly sharing a good-bye hug. After shopping, Michael and I relaxed at the pool before finally dragging ourselves to get ready for the trip home. I was happy to see another panelist, Michelle, waiting for the VIP Tours transportation. This gave us time to chat on the way to the airport.

    At home, I slowly acclimated myself back to reality until was launched on January 7th. Answering my first question was so exciting. We had been told at training that our answers could express how we truly felt and the moderators would not be editing our content. If we didn't like a hotel, restaurant, price, etc., then we could share our honest views. We could send people to other sites that we felt were helpful in planning a vacation. I received some requests for interviews. Our local TV station came to our house and our family excitedly watched the 6:00 show that night (as well as set the DVRs in our house to record). I had two local newspaper interviews. One printed a TOO large photo of me with my "boss," Mickey.

    We now have monthly conference calls so we can touch base with the Cast Members. We offer suggestions to make the site more user-friendly. I hope that guests (especially first-time visitors) will continue to find information to help ease their Walt Disney World vacation planning. We have all been pleased with the success of the site. Thank you to the many friends from PassPorter and DisBoards that have been cheering us on.

    What's next for me? I have been asked (along with Darcie) to attend an informal media event April 18-20. I hope that whatever comes after the Walt Disney World Moms Panel, that it involves writing, Walt Disney World and my new lifelong friends. So for now, I'll close this saga with 12 words: Beatrice, Beth, Bret, Brigitta, Darcie, Erin, Heather M., Heather R., Kara, Kim, Laura and Michelle.

    Click here to read the first part of Kim's series on the Disney Mom's Panel.

    Click here to read the second part of Kim's series on the Disney Mom's Panel.

    About the Author: Kimberly LaPaglia thrives on answering questions about Walt Disney World vacations. Stay tuned for her last day of training which includes the Walt Disney World Moms Panel photo shoot and what it's been like since the site went live.

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    Did you enjoy this article? Have questions? E-mail us at or visit to discuss your Disney vacation plans. Also check out our Article Collection for more great information!


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