DW Dads Best of 2013: Packing for Disney – I SHIPPED My Pants!

Happy Holidays!

As we wind down 2013, we are taking a look back at some of our most popular articles from the past several months. Over the next couple of weeks, we will re-share these tips and tricks, so our newest fans can check them out, or so those of you who have been with us from the beginning can check them out again!

Today’s article comes from August 9 and it offers some great tips about packing for your Disney World vacation. Enjoy!

If you have ever packed a bag for a week of vacation anywhere, you are well aware of the joys of trying to fit everything you need for your whole trip into 1 bag that cannot weigh more than 50 lbs.  One DWDads suggestion to alleviate some of this headache is to ship some items directly to your resort and pick them up at check in.  So you ask what can I ship?

Just as Kmart states in their commercial, you can basically ship ANYTHING to your resort (including your pants) within a few days of your arrival and it will be waiting for you when you check in.  For our last trip our family shipped many items including 2 cases of bottled water (about $10 shipped for 24 bottles on Amazon.com) which makes them about .40 each vs. $2.50 in the parks – SAVINGS $2+ per bottle.

Mickey Box

Other items which are great for shipping are baby items.  For a 10 day stay we needed 40-50 diapers and wipes for our 2 year old.  Since the volume of that box is so large and most airlines charge for bags these days, why not buy a small case from an online retailer and ship directly to the resort.   We are PRIME members of Amazon.com so we get 2 day shipping on all Prime items to any location in the continental US for free.

Here are some items I found useful from Amazon.com:

Glow sticks $9.49 (100 glow sticks @ < $.10 each)

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http://www.amazon.com/LumiStick-Brand-Glowsticks-Bracelets-Colors/dp/B000IZ9N78/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1376009789&sr=8-1&keywords=glow+sticks

NutriGrain Bars – $15 (48 bars for .31 each)

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http://www.amazon.com/Nutri-Grain-Cereal-Bars-Cherry-8-Count/dp/B000AYFCHW/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1375978342&sr=8-5&keywords=cereal+bars

Bottled water, snacks, and baby items, are popular items to ship to your resort, but just about anything can be shipped to Disney.   In 2010 we were in Disney for my wife’s birthday, and I shopped online for her birthday gifts – new sandals, and a necklace and had them shipped to the resort.  Once we arrived, I slipped them into a gift bag with some tissue and Presto she had birthday presents.  Another idea is to ship some Disney book/toy/stickers to the resort to have waiting for your child when they check-in.  There really is no limit to how you can use online shopping to enhance your trip.

 

Here are some simple rules for shipping to your resort:

  1. Make sure you have the correct physical address of your resort (LINK), and your name arrival date are clearly labeled.
  2. Shipments must be sent via courier services (UPS, FedEx, DHL) since US Postal Service (USPS) won’t deliver to the property
  3. Do the research ahead of time and schedule your deliveries to arrive a few days before your check-in date so that the items are waiting for you upon arrival.

https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/guest-services/mail-services/

EXAMPLE
J.R.Longino – GUEST
C/O Disney’s Pop Century Front Desk
Hold for guest arrival 11/06
1050 Century Drive
LakeBuena Vista, Fl 32830
 

Here is a list of the resort addresses (again this can ONLY be used for courier services, US Post office will not deliver to the property directly)

 
*All hotels are in Lake Buena Vista, FL32830 (Except Animal Kingdom Lodge which is Bay   Lake, FL 32830).
Disney’s All Star Movies Resort 1991 West Buena Vista Drive
Disney’s All Star Music Resort 1801 West Buena Vista Drive
Disney’s All Star Sports Resort 1701 West Buena Vista Drive
Disney’s Art of Animation address: 1850 Animation Way
Disney’s Pop Century Resort 1050 Century Drive
Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort 900 Cayman Way
Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort 1000 West Buena Vista Drive
Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter 2201 Orleans Drive
Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside 1251 Riverside Drive
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge 2901 Osceola Pkwy.*
Disney’s Contemporary Resort 4600 North World Drive
Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa 4401 Floridian Way
Disney’s Wilderness Lodge 901 Timberline Dr.
Disney’s Polynesian Resort 1600 Seven Seas Drive
Disney’s Beach Club Resort 1800 West Epcot Resort Blvd.
Disney’s Yacht Club Resort 1700 Epcot Resort Blvd.
Disney’s Boardwalk Inn 2101 North W Epcot Resort Blvd.
Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort/Campground 4510 N Ft. Wilderness Trail
Disney’s Old Key West Resort 1510 North Cove Rd.
Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort 1960 Broadway
WaltDisney World Dolphin 1500 Epcot Resort Blvd.
WaltDisney World Swan 1200 Epcot Resort Blvd.
Shades of Green 1950   W. Magnolia Palm Dr.
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DW Dads Best of 2013: The Importance of Rope Drop

Happy Holidays!

As we wind down 2013, we are taking a look back at some of our most popular articles from the past several months. Over the next couple of weeks, we will re-share these tips and tricks, so our newest fans can check them out, or so those of you who have been with us from the beginning can check them out again!

Today’s article is from September 10, 2013 and it discusses the value of getting to the parks at opening time.  Enjoy!

A few weeks ago, I claimed to offer you the most important packing tip you’ll ever hear.  While that may be true, that tip will probably not have the kind of overall effect on your vacation like today’s tip will.  Today’s tip, though, is not without its detractors.

Rope Drop is Disney-speak for the opening of a park (for most parks, that is 9:00 AM, but it may vary by day and park).  It refers to the act of “dropping the rope” that holds back the morning crowd, something that only sort of happens anymore.

Getting to a Disney Park in time for Rope Drop can seriously increase the amount of time you spend riding and can eliminate some major standing-in-line time. The problem may be that you need to be willing to do something many people just refuse to do when they are on vacation: set your alarm.

First people (actually, only people) in line at Hollywood Studios!
First people (actually, only people) in line at Hollywood Studios!

Here is one example of what you would need to do to get to the park in time for Rope Drop. Of course, depending on where you are staying and how you are getting to the park, your experience may differ slightly.

1. Set your alarm for 6:30.
2. Shower and dress and be out of your room by 7:00.
3. Breakfast at the resort and out to the bus (or other mode of transportation) by 7:30.
4. Arrive to the park entrance by about 8:15.

This can be, admittedly, a lot of work. It can be particularly hard to pull off if you stayed out late the night before or if you have a big family all trying to get out the door by 7ish. If you can do it, however, you will be rewarded. Here are some of the advantages of Rope Drop:

1. Various Opening Shows

The Magic Kingdom has a Welcome Show that everyone should make an effort to see at least once. It takes place on top of the train station and starts about 15 minutes before park opening.  I don’t want to spoil the details, but I will say it is a perfect way to start a Disney day.  Hollywood Studios, Epcot and Animal Kingdom also have small opening ceremonies, but none are worth getting out of bed for.  They are not, however, the most important reason to make it to Rope Drop. That would be…

Magic Kingdom Welcome Show
Magic Kingdom Welcome Show

2. Low Crowds

You know how you are sitting there thinking, “OK, but I don’t want to wake up early on vacation.” Well, most people actually on vacation think that too.  So, while they’re sleeping in, those of us who got up early are riding the most popular rides with a fraction of the crowd that will show up by lunchtime.  Don’t get me wrong, the crowd isn’t non-existent, but it really is nothing compared to how crowded it may get later in the day.  Our family has had no problem knocking out every ride in Fantasyland within the first hour in July. To put that into perspective: There is a high likelihood that later in the day, one of those rides (Peter Pan’s Flight) will have a wait of almost an hour by itself.  This same thing can be said for all of the parks.

3. Get the FastPasses you want…for now

While the current FastPass system is still in place, Rope Drop is the only time to get some of the most popular passes.  Toy Story Mania, in Hollywood Studios, can run out of FastPasses by late morning. Get there at Rope Drop, and you’ll be riding with Buzz and Woody by the time the sleepyheads are pulling into the parking lot. The same thing can be said for Radiator Springs Racers at California Adventure.

My suggestion is to try it once and see if it is worth it for your family.  Don’t try to get to the park for Rope Drop everyday; there is a good chance you’ll be miserable after a few days of answering the alarm during your vacation.  Then again, it may be a small price to pay to avoid the lines that’ll appear later in the day.

The Best Ways to Spend the Holiday Season in the Disney World Parks

Spending the Holiday Season in the Disney World Parks

As you might have already guessed the DW Dads really love the Christmas Season.  Although Disney gives you a taste of the holiday season all year long, starting in early November, Disney World starts to celebrate the holidays as only Disney does.  So if you are looking to book your trip anytime from early November through early January, you can enjoy some of the festivities.  Although there are so many ways to spend the holidays in Disney World, below are a few of our favorite suggestions. So if you are looking to make a quick getaway in 2013 or plan a trip for next season, let DWDads get you started with a quote.

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Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party

  • Location: Magic Kingdom (special event)
  • Dates: Select Nights – Early November–Late December
  • Times: 7:00 PM-Midnight (entry starting at 4:00 PM)
  • Cost: Tickets $62-71–ages 10+; $57-66-ages 3-9

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is a special ticketed Christmas themed event.  This event includes Special Character Meet & Greets including Santa, Mickey’s Once Upon A Christmastime Parade, Holiday Wishes Fireworks Display, Special Holiday themed stage shows, snowfall on Main Street and all the hot chocolate, cider and cookies you care to enjoy.   The event festivities begin at 7PM, but the ticket grants you admission starting at 4PM on the day of the party.  Since there are so many special attractions, setting a plan for the night is important.

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Tip:  Special Meet & Greets are one of the major attractions at these private parties.  All Seven Dwarfs only appear together during this event in Frontierland so the line can become VERY long.  If you want to meet these guys, we suggest you line up before the party starts about 6pm, this way you won’t miss other scheduled events.

Holidays Around the World Candlelight Procession

  • Location: Epcot – America Gardens Theatre
  • Dates: Every Night – Late November–Late December
  • Times: 5:00 PM, 6:45 PM & 8:15 PM
  • Cost: FREE with park admission – First come first seated

The Candlelight procession is held three times every night starting in late November at the America Gardens Threatre in Epcot.  A large ensemble choir joins a celebrity narrator to tell the story of Christmas with words and music in a very special way.  Some of the celebrity narrators for 2013 are: Whoopi Goldberg, Sigourney Weaver, Ashley Judd, Trace Adkins & Blair Underwood.

Tip:  To guarantee seating at the Candlelight Procession, reserve a Candlelight Dining Package available starting in July at many table service restaurants in Epcot.   This reservation not only provides you one three course meal or buffet, it also guarantees you a seat for the Candlelight Procession, and reserved viewing for IllumiNations. 

 

The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights

  • Location: Disney’s Hollywood Studios – Streets of America
  • Dates: Most Nights – Early November to Early January
  • Times: Dusk until about 1 hour after close
  • Cost: Free with park admission

Close your eyes and imagine Clark Griswold’s house in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.  Now imagine that Clark’s whole neighborhood joined in and decorated their homes.   If you can picture that in your head, you are just scratching the surface of the display that is put together on the Streets of America in Disney’s Hollywood Studios every year.  This tradition began in 1995 in Disney World after a real life Griswold family from Arkansas – the Osbornes – were no longer permitted to display their light display by court order.  Each year since then, Disney has proudly displayed this collection at Hollywood Studios.  The lights are turned on as dusk and are displayed on most nights when there is not a special event at the park until an hour or so after closing.  Although aptly named as a “Spectacle of Dancing Lights,”  words truly do not do this display justice.

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Tip:  On your way over to the Streets of America, stop and grab some treats (Mickey Ice Cream Bar or PB&J Milkshake from 50s Prime Time) and casually walk through the display just before park closing.  The lights stay on for about an hour after the park is closed, so you can enjoy a couple more attractions before ending your night with the show.

 

Mickey’s Jingle Jungle Parade Animal Kingdom

  • Location: Animal Kingdom
  • Dates: Every Afternoon – Early November – Early January
  • Times: 3:45PM
  • Cost: Free with park admission

This popular music-filled street celebration is a variation on Mickey’s Jammin’ Jungle parade and is full of holiday spirit.  The daily parade has festive music and Mickey and all his friends get you into the holiday spirit as they parade through the park.

 Tip:  There are stone “benches” that are between Pizzafari and the restrooms on the same side as the restaurant.  These natural seats are right on the parade line and nicely elevated to give you a good view of the parade.  They are close by the bathrooms and typically there is an ice cream cart nearby.  Since the parade line runs right by you, your party can sit at these benches while enjoying an ice cream or beverage and wait for the parade without fear that someone will stand in front of you.

12 Months of Christmas in Disney World

So, your friend just came back from Disney World and told you how it was the most magical place to be in the whole world for Christmas.  You’d like to jump on a plane and be there right now to bask in the balmy holiday season of sunny Florida, but you just can’t make vacation plans in the fall and winter.  Is there any way to visit Disney when it’s convenient for you, but still enjoy Christmas while you are there? You bet!

Most Disney fans know that visiting the parks at Christmastime can be one of the most festive and enjoyable vacations that your family can take.  What happens if you can’t visit during the holidays, but you still want to feel some holiday cheer while you are in the World?  Well, as usual, Disney has you covered, with Christmas-themed experiences that span three of the four parks and a few spots outside of the parks.

The most obvious place to go to feel the Christmas Spirit all year round is one of the four Christmas shops that populate Disney World.  Ye Olde Christmas Shoppe is located in Liberty Square in the Magic Kingdom, and while it isn’t the biggest Christmas shop on property, it does weave itself into the story of its host land better than any of the others.  The Shoppe is actually three separate late 18th century locations that have been combined; they are the home of a music instructor (Ichabod Crane), a woodcarver’s shop (the Woodwrights) and the home of German folk artists (the Kepples – a nod to Walt Disney, whose grandfather’s first name was Kepple).  The exterior still maintains the appearance of three separate facades; the stores are connected inside, but have each maintained their respective personalities.  This is not only a great place to shop for Christmas souvenirs, but Ye Olde Christmas Shoppe also really helps to tell the story of Liberty Square.

There are two other Christmas shops within the parks that help to tell the stories of their locations.  The first is housed in the Germany Pavilion of Epcot’s World Showcase: die Weihnachtsecke. This shop offers many Christmas items, specializing in those that exhibit German craftsmanship.  This is also a perfect place to get a pickle ornament, a German Christmas tradition.  The other in-park shop is It’s a Wonderful Shop, located in the Streets of America section of Hollywood Studios.  Like many spots in this section of the park, it is dressed to appear as though it is being used to film a Christmas movie: decorations are visible, but props and “off-camera” areas are left untouched.  These two are small shops, but offer nice, quick doses of holiday cheer.

They’re sweating from making snow angels. In Florida. In July.

The biggest Christmas Shop on property is located in Downtown Disney and anchors the Marketplace: Disney’s Days of Christmas.  This massive shop houses everything you can think of to hang on a tree, place on a mantle or top an antennae. While the other shops offer better theming, this is definitely the place to go if you are looking for the widest selection. There is also personalization offered on most items. (Tip: Get off the bus at the Marketplace end of Downtown Disney and make this one of your first stops.  By the time you are done walking the other shops and are returning to your bus, your personalized items will be ready!)

There are a few other locations to get your year-round Christmas fix during your Disney World vacation.  The first is Winter Summerland Miniature Golf, which tells the story of a holiday-themed vacation spot for Santa’s off-duty elves.  It’s a little off the beaten path, but Christmas fanatics won’t want to miss it.  Two attractions also offer some allusions to Christmas.  Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress features four scenes, each set in a different time of year.  The final scene, which reeks of the ‘80s, is set during Christmas in the home of the story’s family.  A much more subtle reference is made in the final scene of Soarin’, which features a flyover of Anaheim’s Disneyland during Christmastime, made most clear by the Clark Griswold-inspired lighting of it’s a small world in the upper right-corner of the park.

So, don’t be a Grinch if you can’t make it to Florida during the actual Christmas season.  Take advantage of these experiences to keep a Disney-themed Christmas with you all through the year!

Disney’s Best Christmas Programming

One part of the holiday season that I looked forward to the most as a child and I still treasure today are watching “Christmas Specials”.  My father used to record Christmas themed programs onto VHS tapes (sometimes he even tried to edit the commercials out).   We would enjoy those tapes throughout the month of December into January.  DVDs, BlueRays, DVRs, and streaming content to our mobile devices, have made these programs more readily available today.

Although not all of my favorites are by Disney, here are the DWDads – Top 5 Disney Christmas movies:

1) Mickey’s Christmas Carol – (1983) as part of Mickey’s Magical Christmas: Snowed in at the House of Mickey Mouse – Currently steaming on Netflix; Airing December 18 @ 7:30PM on ABC Family

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2) A Muppet Chrismas Carol – Airing Friday December 6 @ 6:30PM on ABC Family

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3) The Santa Clause Series – Parts 1, 2 & 3  – Airing multiple times in December on ABC Family including all three starting @ 6:00PM on December 21st;

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4) A Christmas Carol (2009) Available on DVD @ Amazon for under $10

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5) Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas (1999) – Currently Steaming on Netflix

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ABC family each year puts out a schedule of 25 Days of Christmas.  Be sure to DVR your favorites on this this.

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Save an Extra 10% on Every Disney Vacation

Frequent Disney travelers have become accustomed to Disney running regular special offers throughout the year.  With the right amount of planning, patience and luck, most visitors will not need to pay rack rate for their vacation. But, let’s be honest, who wouldn’t want to save a few extra bucks? Here is a relatively easy way to save an extra 10% on your Disney vacations.

The key to your savings is that you live near a Target store.  One of the items that Target sells by the registers is Disney gift cards; they are usually sold in $50 and $25 amounts.

disneygiftcard

These cards can essentially be used for anything related to Disney, including at the Disney Store, Disney World, Disneyland or Disney Cruise Line.  Since Target technically categorizes these as “entertainment” cards, there are a couple of discounts that can be used to purchase them:

1. Target REDCard 5% Discount

REDcards

 

If you use a Target REDCard on any purchases at Target, you get an automatic 5% discount.  The REDCard is available as both a Debit card and a Credit card, and you can use it as soon as you apply in store for it and are approved. While this 5% discount does NOT apply to Target gift cards, it will apply to the other gift cards (“entertainment” cards) that Target sells, including the Disney cards.

EDITED – Target still allows the 5% discount using a REDCard, but has changed it’s policy regarding the Pharmacy Rewards Coupon, originally posted below.

2. Target Pharmacy Rewards 5% Coupon

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Target runs a Pharmacy Rewards program that offers an additional 5% savings, if you’ve earned it.  To earn the 5%, you must enroll in the program and get 5 prescriptions filled. Once your fifth prescription is filled, you will receive a coupon for 5% off a shopping trip.  This coupon can be combined with the REDCard discount, effectively saving you 10%.

Since the cards are in $50 increments, you will need quite a few to pay off an entire vacation.  While it is certainly possible to purchase thousands of dollars worth of these cards, it may require several trips to Target, which in turn would necessitate several pharmacy reward coupons. So, it is best to give yourself plenty of time to purchase all the cards.  Then, it’s the fun part: paying for your trip with dozens of gift cards.  Disney cast members will sit patiently on the phone with you while you read each gift card number, but here’ s a better idea: let DW Dads book your trip and we can take care of this part for you!

There are certain risks associated with this plan. For example, while you should be able to return the gift cards (as they are considered merchandise), you will have abide by the Target return policy.  If you are outside of the return window, and you have to cancel your Disney trip, you may be stuck with hundreds or thousands of dollars in Disney gift cards.  Some guests have started small, only buying enough gift cards to pay for souvenirs and food.  Even that is a great way to save a little extra money on your next Disney vacation.

Hallmark Keepsake Disney Ornaments 2013 – Updated

During DW Dads’ Christmas in July celebration, we previewed this year’s Disney-themed Hallmark Ornaments.  Since then, some new ornaments have been released, so now is a good time to update the list and head out to your local Hallmark store. For the sake of those of you who could use a reminder, or those of you who are new readers, here is the updated 2013 list of ornaments:

Added – Mater Peekbuster ($17.95)
Motion-activated Mater makes noises when someone spies on the gifts!

Mater Peekbuster

Mater Peekbuster

Added – Mickey Mouse Clubhouse ($14.95)

Mickey Mouse Clubhouse

Mickey Mouse Clubhouse

Added – Yo ho! Let’s Go! ($12.95)

Yo Ho! Let's Go!

Yo Ho! Let’s Go!

Added – Jack’s Sleigh O’ Scares ($19.95)

Jack's Sleigh O' Scares

Jack’s Sleigh O’ Scares

O, Hunny Tree ($29.95)

Baby’s First Christmas ($14.95)

Baby's First Christmas
Baby’s First Christmas

The Band Concert ($34.95)

Mickey’s Gumball Machine ($17.95)

Mickey's Gumball Machine
Mickey’s Gumball Machine

Bob Cratchit and Tiny Tim ($17.95; 5th and final in the Mickey’s Christmas Carol series)
Brave Little Tailor ($12.95; 2nd in the Mickey’s Movie Mousterpieces series)

Bob Cratchit and Tiny Tim Brave Little Tailor
Bob Cratchit and Tiny Tim
Brave Little Tailor

Two to a Chair ($17.95; pull string to see Mickey and Minnie cuddle)

Two to a Chair
Two to a Chair

A Hunny of a Holiday! ($14.95)
A Bounci-ful Christmas! ($12.95)

A Hunny of a Holiday! A Bounci-ful Christmas!
A Hunny of a Holiday!
A Bounci-ful Christmas!

Various Princess/Minnie Mouse Ornaments ($12.95-$19.95)

Various Princess/Minnie Mouse Ornaments
Various Princess/Minnie Mouse Ornaments

Cinderella’s Castle ($24.95)

Boo and Mike ($24.95)

Boo and Mike
Boo and Mike

Crush and Squirt ($17.95; 3rd in the Disney/Pixar Legends series)

Crush and Squirt
Crush and Squirt

Dusty ($14.95)

Dusty
Dusty

Buzz is on a Mission! ($17.95; push the button to hear Buzz talk)
Astro-saurus Rex ($14.95)

Buzz is on a Mission! Astro-saurus Rex
Buzz is on a Mission!
Astro-saurus Rex

The Rainbow Connection ($19.95)

Agent P Saves the Day! ($14.95)

Agent P Saves the Day!
Agent P Saves the Day!

Pirates of the Caribbean ($17.95)

Jango Fett ($14.95)

Jango Fett
Jango Fett

AT-ST ($29.95; press the button to hear sounds)

AT-ST
AT-ST

Yoda ($14.95)

Yoda
Yoda

Wicket and Teebo ($17.95; set of 2; 17th in the Star Wars series)

Wicket and Teebo
Wicket and Teebo

At Jabba’s Mercy ($32.95)

Iron Patriot ($14.95)
Here Comes the Spider-Man! ($17.95; press the button to hear the song)

Iron Patriot Here Comes the Spider-Man!
Iron Patriot
Here Comes the Spider-Man!

Don’t forget that there will be some new Disney ornaments available in the fall. Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter or subscribe to us here on the blog to keep up to date with all of our newest articles!

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