Thursday, April 17, 2014

Tomorrowland - Disneyland or WDW


Welcome to those of you joining me from My Dreams of Disney and those of you just hopping aboard. I am the 3rd stop on our Magical Blogorail

Tomorrowland - The Future That Never Was  


The 1990's retro-futuristic take on Walt Disney World's Tomorrowland is the Tomorrowland that I know and love.  Featuring Space Mountain, Buzz Lightyear, the Tomorrowland Transit Authority/People Mover/Blue Line, a few different alien inspired attractions, the Carousel of Progress, and the Astro Orbiter, this land has always been one I've loved.   Tomorrowland is also the land that has never been completed, had a consistent theme, or can possibly stay up-to-date with it's theme, thus inspiring the "retro-future" we all know today at the Florida park.

Disneyland Resort's Tomorrowland is fairly different.  Though I have yet to experience it in person, I'm always shocked to hear that their People Mover is inactive.  Disneyland's Tomorrowland seems to have an even less-consistent theme than WDW - it hosts many attractions shared on both costs, but with the expansive space available in Florida, the east coast versions are in many different locations.

The 5 Disneyland Tomorrowland attractions shared with Walt Disney World that are located in completely different areas... 
  • Star Tours - Hollywood Studios
  • Captain EO - Epcot
  • Monorail - more of an actual mode of transportation than attraction at WDW
  • Innoventions - Epcot
  • Railroad - WDW does not have a stop in Tomorrowland
  • Jedi Training Academy - Hollywood Studios
Walt Disney World's Space Mountain Kitchen - who doesn't want that?
There are a few similarities, even with their own touches - 
  • Space Mountain - ride vehicles are 2 per seat at DLR as opposed to single at WDW
  • Buzz Light Year Astro Blasters - DLR offers removable shooters - much better to aim!
  • Autopia - different ride vehicles at each park. Both drastically outdated!
I think the Astro Orbiter may be the most similar of the attractions between Tomorrowlands, but as I have yet to experience it, I may be wrong!


Personally, the Tomorrowland Transit Authority People Mover is one of my favorite attractions - an absolute must do every time, making Magic Kingdom my winning land.  I love the views, the narration, the special tour around the Magic Kingdom.  I wish the People Mover at DLR would re-open in time for my June visit!




Which Tomorrowland is your favorite?

Thank you for joining me today. Your next stop on the Magical Blogorail Loop is Disney Nouns

Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail should you happen to have to make a stop along the way and want to reboard:

1st Stop ~ Disney on Wheels
**3rd Stop ~ Disney Babies Blog
4th Stop ~ Disney Nouns


Monday, April 14, 2014

Disneyland 1st Visit

It looks like it's going to happen:

I am finally going to the West Coast to visit the Disneyland Resort (DLR)!!

As an East Coaster, Floridian, and life long Walt Disney World fan, and haven't spent much time in California.

But - as a travel agent, I've learned even more about the parks and resorts.  I have read about the 3 Disneyland resorts "on property" and the many Good Neighbor hotels - but I haven't had a chance to see them.


The sad part is - I won't be taking my boys and I'll only be there for 2 days, but it's still a trip to a new-to-me place and I'm excited to share my experiences with you!

What are your #1 recommendations for a first timer at the Disneyland Resort?  Do you have a favorite restaurant or hotel?



Monday, April 7, 2014

Diamond Horseshoe Revue

Following tradition from Disneyland, when the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World opened in 1971, the Diamond Horseshoe Revue opened up in Frontierland as a Western saloon show with dancer, singers, live music, and even Wally Boag, known for portraying Pecos Bill for many years at Disneyland's Golden Horseshoe Revue, acted there for 3 years!

Now, the Diamond Horseshoe is the occasional quick service restaurant - rarely ever open.

After eating there, I say - stop in and take a look around for history sake, but skip the food!  Blech!


The stage still looks great - we ate from upstairs to overlook everything!



Spring Giveaway!


We are celebrating the coming of Spring and Easter with this fun giveaway from many great kids brands. Enter to win an amazing gift set of products that make life simpler and promote eco-friendly living!

Potting Shed Creations

Garden-in-a-pail kids! Living Easter Pail
Garden-in-a-pail kids! Living Easter Pail - Retail value: $28
Garden-in-a-pail kids! is a fun container garden project to plant and grow a living Easter pail with kids. A label is also included to personalize with crayons, paint or markers. Grass is ready in 5-7 days and makes a great centerpiece after jelly beans are collected or to display a few prized dyed eggs. Includes a recycled steel pail, bunny label to personalize, organic soil-les mix, organic coconut husks for drainage, and organic wheat grass seed with planting/growing directions enclosed in a easter egg.
Established in 1998, Potting Shed Creations designs and makes all of its products by hand, one piece at a time. Our design and production studio is a renovated 1970’s elementary school in Idaho. We use only the finest materials, are certified organic and inspired by nature, reclaimed objects, gastronomy, modern culture and Japanese minimalism. For more information visit pottingshedcreations.com.

Buncha Farmers Inc.

Buncha Farmers gift basket
Buncha Farmers gift basket including our stain remover, manuka honey soaps, hand sanitizer and skin cream - Retail value: $45
Buncha Farmers Inc. is committed to the highest standards of quality, satisfaction and fair pricing. We put a lot of thought and care into developing our products so that YOU, our CUSTOMER, can benefit and truly appreciate our efforts. Our focus is to make day to day living a little more rewarding and put less stress in your life. We also want to make your life as healthy as possible without sacrificing little pleasures that everyone looks forward to everyday. For more information visit bunchafarmers.com.

Bert&Bratt

Battery powered, Portable Sterilizer
Battery powered, Portable Sterilizer for infant items - Retail value: $45
Battery powered, portable sterilizer for infant items! Sterilizes pacifiers, sippy cup tops, bottle nipples and small teethers with just the push of a button. Gets items germ free in 4 minutes and uses NO WATER, NO HEAT and NO CHEMICALS. Easily fits into diaper bags and purses and goes wherever baby goes. Never be without a clean pacifier or feeding item again.
Bert&Bratt is a 100% female owned Canadian company. The product was dreamed, designed and manufactured by the head moms in charge, Tasha Bertrand and Annemarie Brattland. "This is a product that we, as mothers with young children, would have loved to have. We both hated having to run and find soap and water whenever something hit the ground. This makes moms lives easier and helps keep babies away from potentially harmful bacteria. When something is easy people tend to do it more often. We made cleaning infant items as easy as pushing a button!" For more information visit bertandbratt.com.

Baby Buddy

Baby Buddy Universal Pacifier Holder and Size It’ Closet Organizers
Universal Pacifier Holder in 3 colors and Size It’ Closet Organizers in 3 colors - Retail Price: $35
Our NEW Universal Pacifier Holder works with all pacifiers! Still handmade in the USA, our Baby Buddy pacifier holders feature our cute bear design and strong grip clip, but now are also available in 26 new fashion ribbon patterns! A durable "super grip" metal clip attaches securely to baby's clothing, car seat cover or stroller. Use with button or ring pacifiers using either snaps or the NEW Silicone Adapter Ring. Buddy Bear helps to keep baby’s pacifier within reach and off the floor. HANDMADE IN USA. BPA FREE.
Size It’ Closet Organizers are a Baby Buddy Best Seller! It doesn't take long for a little one's closet to become a jumble of clothing in many different sizes. These size dividers make it simple to keep the whole wardrobe neat and orderly. Set includes five plastic size dividers, removable labels for 15 sizes and six blank, write-on labels. Now available in EIGHT colors. MADE IN USA. Great to organize Easter clothes, or encourage spring cleaning and clothing donation.
The Baby Buddy brand features creative, innovative and quality products designed for parents and caregivers to use for children, from birth through toddler years. Baby Buddy accessories allow all caregivers to organize closets, brush those precious teeth coming in, enjoy bath and meal time and keep toys and pacifiers nearby and away from germs. Baby Buddy is a unique product line originating from parent company, Compac Industries Inc. For over 30 years, Compac Industries Inc. has manufactured and distributed products as a family operated, small business and a certified minority supplier. For more information visit babybuddy.com.

Baby Spa

Baby Spa Baby Essentials Stage 1
Baby Essentials Stage 1 - Retail Price: $34.99
Includes: 3 in 1 Tearless Shampoo, Body Wash & Moisturizer, Moisturizing Body Lotion, Shea Butter Diaper Cream, Ultra Soft Baby Wipes (72 ct.), Travel Size Face Cream
Everything your baby needs for their first bath and diaper change comes wrapped in our nurturing Baby Essentials gift set. Just the right combination of wholesome skin and hair care essentials to keep tender skin healthy and nourished. Safe and gentle for sensitive skin in newborns through crawlers. Great gift for baby showers, coming home gifts or anytime. Contains organic enthnobotanicals, Songa, Kendi Oil, and Patented Swiss Moisturizer EG-28 to soothe, hydrate, and comfort tender baby skin. Includes ultra Soft Biodegradable & Organic Wipes.
BabySpa is a natural bath and body care collection for newborns through preschoolers made with special ethnobotanical blends that provide lasting hydration, soothing effects and sweet, comforting sensations. We believe natural is better, and therefore always use extracts and oils from plants, roots and flowers to deliver gentle, vitamin-rich skin care. Our bath and body care collection offers an easy to follow "stages" approach with products that are individually tailored to address the changing skin care needs for babies from infancy through toddlerhood. For more information visit babyspausa.com.

Yummi Pouch

Yummi Pouch reusable food pouches
Yummi Pouch Brights reusable food pouches - Retail value: $15
Yummi Pouch reusable food pouches encourage healthy snacks for active kids. Our eco-friendly food pouches are freezer safe, dishwasher safe, BPA-free, Phthalate-free, and can be filled with healthy blended snacks and easily taken on the go, no spoon required. Our vision is to help moms and dads prepare healthy snacks for their active kids. Yummi Pouches are perfect to be filled with nutritious smoothies and purees prepared in batches, frozen or refrigerated, and easily consumed on the go. For more information visit yummipouch.com.

Artterro

Artterro Art Doll Kit
Art Doll Kit - Retail value: $20
This Art Doll Kit includes fun friends to design, dress and treasure forever! Cut, sew and glue four unique dolls and turn them into bookmarks, room decorations, gift tags or even pins to wear. Materials include natural wool felt, handmade recycled paper and more.
Artterro is all about creativity! Our Eco Art Kits delight and inspire, making it so easy for kids and adults to enjoy art together. Twelve titles offer perfect birthday or holiday gifts for someone special. These affordable kits feature natural and recycled materials and are assembled by hand in Wisconsin. For more information visit artterro.com.

JJRabbit

JJRabbit Frog Cuppie
Frog Cuppie - Retail value: $8.99
It’s time to transition to a real cup; but, how do you do that without taking away the security and comfort of a sippy cup? With a hidden animal at the bottom of each CUPPIES, your little one will finish every time to see their favorite friend. Not only are CUPPIES the perfect training cups, they are made from plants. They are biodegradable and compostable.
JJ Rabbit is a design-first, eco-conscious children's feeding brand. We strive to thrill parents and kids with fun and functional products that make mealtime enjoyable and easy. We want JJ Rabbit to be the favorite cup or bowl or bib that your kid remembers when it's time for them to have kids. For more information visit jjrabbit.com.

Wishy Life Buddies

Wishy Life Buddies
An Easter Tradition Book + Buddy - Retail Price: $30
Book, Plush Bunny 'Buddy', 7 Easter eggs & Wishy Dust
'Wishy Life Buddies: An Easter Tradition' provides families with a sneaky, seasonal pal who gives treats, rewards and encouraging messages to well-behaved children during the Easter Season. Children bring their 'Buddy' to life by naming him and sprinkling him with Wishy Dust. The book includes 'Buddy' and seven empty eggs that are hidden and filled each day for a week leading up to Easter Sunday. Eggs can be filled with anything from stickers and treats to messages and small gifts, but bad behavior results in an empty, unhidden egg. 'Buddy' departs on Easter Sunday and promises to return the following year to watch after his new friends and family.
Wishy Life, is a mother and daughter-in-law team. We wrote the book in hopes to have a lasting tradition with our family during Easter. After receiving praise from family and friends we decided to publish the book and bring it to the public for other families to enjoy as well. For more information visit wishylife.com.

Rock-a-Thigh Baby

A pair of Rock-a-Thighs
A pair of Rock-a-Thighs – WINNER'S CHOICE of size/design - Retail value: $14
Rock-a-Thighs are Made in USA, Eco-friendly, children's thigh-length socks (like legwarmers with feet). Developed by a Wisconsin mom of four daughters, these baby thigh highs are designed to cover those little ankles while staying up, and on, so no more missing socks.
Rock-a-Thighs are THE baby socks that stay on! They also make diaper changes a breeze, are a fashionable alternative to tights, and make excellent baby shower gifts. Available in six sizes from 0-6m up to 6-8yr. For more information visit rtbsocks.com.

San Diego Bebe

Double Blessings Who's Your Momma t-shirt
One "Who's Your Momma?" t-shirt, choice of size and color (red, turquoise, pink) - Retail Price: $25
San Diego Bebe is a deluxe nursing pillow that includes a cool built-in Privacy Cover and Comfort Bolster. Mom-inspired & patented, it is eco-friendly, hypo-allergenic, non-toxic, foam-free, and free of any fire-retardant chemicals or toxic glues. Available for singleton or twins! For more information visit doubleblessings.com.

Birds & Bees Teas

Birds and Bees Teas Easy Naps & Calm Nights tea tin
Easy Naps & Calm Nights tea tin - Retail Price: $18
Every family needs this tea in the pantry! A soothing and relaxing blend that encourages calmness and entices sleep. Perfect to sip after a bath on one of those restless preggie nights. It also makes our favorite drink for overstimulated toddlers, mix one cup of hot tea and a teaspoon full of raw local honey to a cup of cold organic whole milk for a lukewarm calming treat.
Our mission is to encourage the health and well-being of mamas and their families by offering 100% natural, organic and delicious herbal infusions. We strive to only use the best possible ingredients and share current information on safe, gentle and effective herbal tea use during pregnancy. Birds & Bees wants to share our love of loose leaf blends by encouraging mamas to create a daily self-care habit of sipping slowly. We believe that it’s important to support birth professionals, advocate for evidence based care and give back to the community through organizations that champion quality maternal health care for all. For more information visit birdsandbeesteas.com.

Wobabybasics

Wobabybasics Unders Unisex Briefs 3 Pack
Unders Unisex Briefs 3 Pack - Retail Price: $22
Wobabybasics new Unders Collection includes organic cotton brief and fitted boxer brief underwear styles for toddlers and kids up to eight years. Made from IMO/GOTS certified organic cotton with a touch of stretch, each unisex style is available in natural, bright primary solids and patterned fabric options. Each package of three underpants comes with a reusable cotton bag. Both the brief and boxer briefs have been designed to ensure the utmost comfort for next-to-skin wear with flat seams, printed care labels and encased elastic waistbands. With a generous, creep-resistant fit, parents and children will be sure to make these their go-to underwear choice.
Wobabybasics offers innovative organic cotton clothes for newborns to 8 years old. Inspired by children and their everyday movements, each collection consists of easy-to-wear, comfortable and practical organic basics, reversibles, accessories, layette, gift sets and kids underwear. As the healthiest option for babies and the planet, only certified organic textiles and non-toxic dyes are used. Naturally, Wobabybasics proudly supports local artisans and people-friendly production methods to uphold the highest social and environmental benefits. For more information visit wobabybasics.com.

Rhoost

Rhoost Finger Guard and Cord Winder
Finger Guard and Cord Winder - Retail value: $20
Rhoost's Cord Winder makes dangling blind cords a thing of the past, keeping your loved ones safe and your personal style intact. Features screw free installation. Our Finger Guard protects little fingers from door and hinges, keeping your loved ones safe and your personal style intact.
Rhoost designs eco-friendly and stylish safety and grooming products for the modern parent. No screws or adhesives required. For more information visit rhoost.com.


Enter to win this Fabulous Gift Set!

This giveaway is open to the US and Canada. Each page you follow is an additional entry.
Baby Be Mine giveaway prizes
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Friday, April 4, 2014

Have baby, will Disney: Trip recap

Welcome back to one of my favorite guest bloggers, Rebecca @RMZFarrell, who just visited the world with her new little man for his first trip!

It finally happened…I had my baby. On October 23, 2013, Ronan Lorenzo Farrell joined the world and our lives haven’t been the same since.

I always knew that the day would come when Ronan would have his first trip to Walt Disney World, I just didn’t think it would come when he was only five months old. But we had an opportunity to join some family members on a trip in March, and couldn’t pass it up. I had my doubts about how the wee man would handle the heat, crowds, loud noises and unfamiliar places (see previous blog post “If I Had a Crystal Ball”)…so I decided to take it one day at a time and roll with the punches.

In fact, the Disney trip followed several days spent in southwestern Florida visiting family and then driving from there to Disney. I flew alone with Ronan as my hubby had to work. The biggest problem I had was wrestling my stroller into the gate check bag, but the baby was an ideal passenger on all of our travel legs.

Upon arriving at the world, we checked into Bay Lake Tower. Staying in a 1-bedroom suite was ideal for our party. Ronan and I had the living room – me on the pull out sofa and him in a pack and play. Having the full kitchen and washer and dryer, not to mention being within walking distance of the Magic Kingdom, was amazing.

On our first day, we spent the afternoon at Magic Kingdom, arriving just as the new Festival of Fantasy parade was ending. The park was PACKED, as we knew it would be based on TouringPlans.com crowd level predictor and the timing with Spring Break. Frankly, I was ill prepared for just HOW nuts the parks would be and it really wore me down after a while.  

I was SO ready to get out of there – and dinner at Chef Mickey’s (my first visit) didn’t disappoint. The characters made the rounds quickly and the food was fantastic.

Our second day was an early start, heading over to Animal Kingdom (7am opening for Extra Magic Hours). We had hoped to ride Kilimanjaro Safaris before our breakfast at Tusker House, but the ride wasn’t yet open. So we went back to Tusker House about 30 minutes ahead of our reservation and were seated right away – skipping the photo line as Donald was not outside for pictures. The food was great, but Ronan was missing his nap and cried until I took him back outside, put him in his stroller and pushed him until he fell asleep. Once he was out, I took him back inside and was able to watch my nieces enjoy the character greetings and conga line around the restaurant.

It was a chilly day at AK, but that didn’t mean the crowds were lower. In fact, it was the most crowded I’ve ever seen the park. Our group did get in our safari, checked out Finding Nemo: The Musical and I rode Expedition Everest with my older niece (highly recommend the first seat – really cool experience). All three of the kiddos in our party LOVED Nemo, and my son was especially enraptured. I never thought he’d be able to sit still for 40 straight minutes, but I was amazed by just how much he enjoyed himself. Go figure.



That night, we once again enjoyed dinner at Chef Mickey’s. Even though our table was essentially under the Monorail track, the windows offered commanding views of the Magic Kingdom and we had great character interactions and delicious food.


Day three of our vacation took us back to Magic Kingdom for more Fast Pass attractions and VIP seats on Liberty Bridge for the Festival of Fantasy parade. The parade is, in a word, INCREDIBLE. The floats are HUGE, colorful and imaginative, the characters current, and it’s a spectacle to behold. That night was dinner at Cinderella’s Royal Table, past baby’s bed time, which resulted in me trying to eat a delicious salmon dish with one hand while bouncing him to sleep in the Ergo carrier. He did get a sweet kiss from Snow White, though, and my nieces loved meeting all of the princesses.

Getting OUT of the park that night after the Main Street Electrical Parade was an exercise in extreme patience. They opened up the backstage bypass exit, but the crowds were so thick that it took us about 15 minutes to get from the castle to the Plaza cut through. I was never so glad to get out of a theme park.

Our final day in the parks was supposed to be at Hollywood Studios – but we changed our plans to go back to Magic Kingdom and finish up the attractions we hadn’t been able to see due to the high crowd levels and being slowed down by stroller parking, nap times and long lines. We caught rope drop again and banged out several rides quickly before enjoying a tasty lunch at Tony’s Town Square. The whole group relaxed in the afternoon and then headed to Pioneer Hall for the Hoop Dee Doo Review. It was a fantastic way to end our trip – the food and service were top notch, the show a hoot, and the kids really enjoyed themselves. And who am I kidding – I had an absolute ball, too. I love the corny jokes, audience participation and any excuse to hoot, holler, clap and bang on a table.

Saturday morning I had a not so magical experience with the Magical Express. It wasn’t anyone’s fault, but a word to the wise, if you’re travelling with an infant in arms as I was, YOU CANNOT CHECK IN FOR YOUR FLIGHT AT YOUR RESORT. I had to take my own bag through the line at the airport and check in there. It was a pain in the neck, but we made it work…getting to the airport two hours before our scheduled departure gave us the peace of mind (and time) we needed to check in, eat, use the facilities, get through security and be the second family to board the plane.

Lessons learned
  • I could have skipped buying the $25 infant noise cancelling headphones. He didn’t need them.  
  • It would have made sense to pack a more user-friendly diaper bag; I used a hiking backpack with five different compartments and was constantly hunting for stuff.   
  • I should have purchased two gallons of spring water to fill bottles and drink.
  • Pack at least one change of warm clothes and a sweatshirt or rain jacket with a hood for everyone in your party – the central Florida weather is unpredictable at best.
  • The baby care center at Magic Kingdom is small and can be quite crowded – plus you can’t take your stroller inside. Not much in the way of comfy seating to feed baby, either. It was nice to have a changing area, but the whole place just plain smelled bad, was noisy and not enjoyable.
    

**In sharp contrast, the Animal Kingdom baby care center is bright, clean and has much less traffic. I enjoyed in tremendously, especially having a place to sit in a rocking chair and feed my baby.**

Tips

  • Be sure to include your infant in the number of people in your dining reservations so that they make room for the baby.  
  • Many restaurants have ‘slings’ where you can put your car infant’s car seat/carrier, but strollers are not allowed.
  • Try to stay close to the parks so that you’re not far from your room should a meltdown occur
  • Keep your dining reservations as close as possible to your child’s regular meal times or dinner may include overtired kiddos (and adults)
  • In peak periods, take advantage of Fast Pass Plus to visit the most popular attractions and be sure to get in as early as possible to hit others

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Rides and Attractions (enjoyed with the baby in his Ergo carrier)
-         Magic Kingdom
o   Dumbo (FP+)
o   Jungle Cruise (FP+)
o   Pirates of the Caribbean
o   Haunted Mansion
o   Peter Pan (FP+)
o   it’s a small world
o   Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid (FP+)
o   Princess Fairytale Hall (Snow White and Rapunzel)
o   Prince Charming’s Regal Carousel
o   Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
o   Tomorrowland Transit Authority 
-         Animal Kingdom
o   Kilimanjaro Safaris
o   Finding Nemo: The Musical