Monday, February 28, 2011

Getting ready!

We now have 8 days until we leave for the most magical place on earth!  I am getting so excited!  I'm watching the Orlando weather, and it looks like I'm packing shorts for us all.  We are doing some things this trip that we have never done before.  We are eating at Hollywood and Vine for the character lunch.  David & I ate there before but we've never seen the characters.  The characters we will see are the Little Einsteins and Special Agent Oso.  Piper is gonna flip!

But the meal I am most looking forward to is Chef Mickey's in the Contemporary for breakfast.  We've never done this before.  Piper is going to love seeing Mickey and Minnie up close!   I am planning to take lots of pics so I can blog about it when we return.

I've been packing for about a week, even though my husband keeps telling me to wait.  I'm like a kid, all giddy and silly about another trip! 

Piper, David, and I have been practicing singing all of the songs for the attractions. 
What are some of your favorite attraction songs?

See Ya Real Soon,

Friday, February 25, 2011

Foodie Friday - Raglan Road

The night after the race - our relaxation day - we decided to head over to Downtown Disney for dinner.  Previously, we had only been there once, eating at Portobello last summer, so we didn't have any specifics in mind.  We had an ADR for Paradiso 37 for our final night, so other than avoiding that, we were playing dinner by ear.

After walking around for a little while, we ended up at Raglan Road, an Irish Pub and Restaurant.  The menu looked incredible, with tons of delicious sounding options.

We started with Garlic Parmesan Truffle Oil Skinny Chips, which I unfortunately lost my picture of.. poop!  They were basically really tasty french fries - and a great way to start the meal!

My friend, Ruth, ordered their version of Shepherds Pie (Keen Eye for the Shepherds Pie).  Their contemporary twist on the standard dish neatly stacked the meat at the bottom with the potatoes taking over the top.  It was delicious, and definitely a nice treat only a day after running the parks!

Adam ordered with Slow Ribs- braised double shortribs with horseradish mash, roasted carrots and parsnips.  This dish didn't fall short, either.  He shared most of his vegetables with Noah, and even offered a few bites to let the rest of us try!
I, unfortunately, chose the wrong dish for the night.  I ordered the Raglan Risotto, described as Risotto with shiitake mushrooms, garden peas, shaved parmesan, rocket lettuce, and grilled chicken (or shrimp, if you so desire).  I'd never had Risotto, but had always been curious, so I jumped at the description.

While the chicken was good, the risotto wasn't cooked well.  It was obviously undercooked, even to the untrained risotto eater.  Rice shouldn't be crunchy, but this risotto was.  And, I wasn't feeling outgoing enough that night to complain, so I ate my chicken and saved room for dessert or a snack later on in the night.

All that said, Raglan Road wasn't a complete bust, I just think I ordered  the wrong dish.  It won't be at the top of my Downtown Disney to-do list, but I would be willing to try it again, as long as I ordered a different entree!

Oh, and for dessert?

A chocolate covered caramel apple Mickey Mouse with chocolate covered Marshmallows for ears from the Candy Cauldron.   Totally worth the trip to Downtown Disney, right there!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Thursdays with Mel... Strollers at Walt Disney World

During my Disney travels over the past twelve years, there was always an extra member of our traveling party... the stroller. Looking back I can honestly say I've done it all when it comes to theme park hopping with strollers. We have used our own, rented singles and rented the double. We once tried to go without a stroller when our youngest was 5 years old. Let's just say that lasted an hour, and we were in the rental line again.

Whether to rent or bring is a personal preference issue. My rule of thumb was always bring your own stroller for infants. For toddlers, and older kids who cannot walk tremendous distances, go ahead and rent.

And those of us who have stroller rental experience are happy to share the good, and the not-so-good aspects of the process. I like that I don't have to pack the stroller, clean the stroller and keep the stroller in my hotel room, where space is precious. The rental strollers are sturdy, maneuver easily and are pretty easy to push through the parks.

That is not to say there isn't room for improvement. So here are my Top 5 ways Disney can improve the stroller rental experience:

  • A rental option which allows a family to rent a stroller at their on-site resort. This would allow for usage outside of the parks. The grounds at some resorts, like the Port Orleans Riverside, can be quite expansive.
  • Strollers need a place for a real diaper bag. Those small, mesh hanging bags are just too small.
  • Strollers need to recline. Period. Enough said.
  • Canopies on strollers should retract. I hated that I could never see the expressions on my kids' faces because they were hidden under a stroller canopy that did not open and close.
Nope, I don't recline, and my mesh bag is tiny!

And finally.... drum roll... you know it's coming.....
  • Please, rent strollers in multiple colors! There is nothing more frustrating than happily leaving an attraction, only to return to the stroller bay unable to locate which one is yours. Not only does it look exactly like all the others (even though you tied your bright red bandana to the handle), but the ever-villigent stroller attendant has likely moved it from its original parking place. Multiple colors would at least help parent locate their stroller more quickly, and likely save well-intended, stroller-hustling Cast Members from enduring nasty looks from frazzled moms.
We all look the same...
Try and find yours, I dare you!

Overall, I am one happy stroller-renter. Or I was... my next trip will be completely stroller-free for the first time. Time sure does fly. Enjoy these times, they are gone in a flash! 

See you next week! You can catch me on Monday, Wednesday & Friday over at The Disney Lifestyle Blog. Happy Strolling.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

My Park Collection

If you read the blogs or visit the parks, you've noticed the Dooney and Bourke purse collections.  They have all styles of them, celebrating 40 years of WDW, cruising, Mickey, Minnie, Princesses, Fairies, etc...
One of the more simple ones.. and one of my favorites

Some people love them, some hate them.  I like some of them, but I'm not willing to spend $200 on any purse, especially not one that wouldn't be used every day.  To me, these would be great to use in the parks, but not for every day use.

Luckily, I found a more modest version and my Park Purse.
Sorry I couldn't find a better picture!  This baby cost me (I think) $29.95 and I love it.  They offered it in white and blue, and for $30, I had few qualms purchasing a bag with comics all over it. Of course, it's been sitting in my closet since we got home, but that's okay.

Now, what about for inside the purse?  The D&B wristlets are under $50, and definitely more affordable, but than I'd be carrying a wallet that costs more than my purse, and that's just not my way.  Plus, I found anohter pattern I adore, but couldn't pull it off at my age (the ripe old age of 29).
Mickey plaid!  Luckily, Melissa had some adorable outfits for Piper in this plaid, but I just didn't think I could pull it off.  So, I spent (about) $15 on this wallet last June.  I started off using it on a regular basis, but it doesn't have all the compartments and zippers I like, so didn't last full time.

But, this is my park collection.  I love it, but I'm not ready to be All Disney, all the time... at least not wearing it on my sleeve!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Noah on Space Mountain?

Wait.. wait.. You must be thinking I'm crazy.  No way could a 1 year old have taken a ride on Space Mountain.

And, of course he didn't.  But, he did receive a Future Fastpass for the day that he is finally big enough to ride!
Ever heard of or seen one of these awesome cards?  I hadn't until this trip!  Adam and I went up to the Cast Member at Space Mountain to get a Rider Swap pass, and the CM handed one of these to Noah!  And, after she realized that  he was going to lose or destroy (lose!), she handed me a card for him to actually use, when the day comes!
For now, Noah still has over 10" of growing to do, but we'll be ready when he finally reaches 44"!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Next Gen Disney Ideas

Just as I thought I was good to go with Foodie Friday, Disney had to go and make some huge announcements!

Yesterday, in an Investors Meeting, Tom Staggs, Chairman of the Walt Disney Parks and Resorts gave a speech about the future of Disney Parks and entertainment.

He stated that about 1 billion dollars is in the works to continue the advancement of the parks.  The queue experience, that is already taking place at the Winnie the Pooh ride (and is awesome!), will be added to several other queues - it is the new experience to keep guests happy.

Another possible update?  Having your room keys sent to you at home - like Magical Express tickets.  You leave for your vacation with keys on hand, bypassing the check in process.  This takes online check in to the next level entirely - no need to go into the lobby, you can go directly to your room at check in time.  Would they keep concierge and check in services available?  I hope so!

One update that I'm curious as to how they would implement is a possibility of scheduling your fastpasses at home on your computer.  How would that really work?  I don't personally want to plan my trip out to the minute.  And, though I sometimes like to try, my overplanning doesn't always work.  Especially when traveling with little ones, flexibility is a must.  However, I have thought of a different way this might work - ready for it?  AN APP!  Okay, probably 80% or more of visitors have a smart phone.  Have an Android/Iphone App ready to go where we can get FP that day, instead of running back and forth thru the park.  No real planning ahead - we can take care of FP while we're strolling.  And, maybe while I'm planning a FP, I'll check in with Gowalla as well.. or maybe Gowalla can help with the FP... ooh, now I'm thinking...

They're also talking about giving visitors a bracelet with some technology that could alert a ride that it's your birthday or you're celebrating an anniversary.  How would this work?  Well, I play clarinet for a living, so I can't tell you details.  But, this could definitely have potential... I know I love having Cast Members wish me happy birthday, so as long as that doesn't go away, I could see this being fun, especially for little kids!

For more information, check out the article in the Orlando Sentinel, or read the press release!

What do you think about these possibilities?  So much creativity goes into these parks it's just crazy!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Thursdays with Mel... Say Cheese

It’s only natural to want a Disney vacation to be happy and magical, and we always leave the parks with wonderful memories which will last a lifetime.... however, every vacation has those moments. You know, the melt downs, the get-me-away-from-this-costumed-critter moments. Unhappy moments can be caused by a bout of homesickness or just plain exhaustion. Whatever the cause, some of these photos contain memories, that despite the expressions, still put a smile on my face.
"I don't want to take my picture with this mouse!"
"Yep, I took his water... haha!"
"No... No.... No!"

"I want to go home. It's our last night here.
Can we just go home?"

"Seriously, I have to hug her?"
What can I say? Some memories last a lifetime! See you next week, and come visit me each Monday, Wednesday and Friday over at The Disney Lifestyle Blog!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

We Have a Winner!

Congratulations, Beth, creator of the Magical Blogorail and Pursuing the Magic has won the personalized tote bag, compliments of Pixie Vacations!

Make sure to stop by her pages to share your congratulations!  And, of course, if you're in need of any travel planning, let Pixie Vacations help you save money and plan your next trip!

And, thanks to everyone for entering!  I love having so many new followers both here on the blog and over on facebook.  Hope to share Disney Magic with you all soon!


Windsor Hills

Planning for marathon weekend, I knew I needed to find a place to stay that could house not only the three of us, but my parents comfortably.  Even with just the 3 of us, a standard hotel room wasn't exactly a thrilling option- Noah tends to be a light sleeper, so tv would immediately be ruled out.

In June, this wasn't really a problem because we stayed out later most nights and all happily crashed as soon as we got back to the room, but marathon weekend?  This trip would be different.  We knew that we would have to wake up ridiculously early the morning of the race (2 a.m.), but wanted to avoid waking Noah (at all costs.  Really, that's good for no one.).  Plus, my parents were going to drive up from South Florida to babysit while we ran, and I didn't want to make them pay for their own room.

I originally looked into the Shades of Green- I'm active duty military, so this has always been an option- knowing that they had suites available. 1 bedroom, and another room with a pull-out couch was doable, but someone would still be sharing the room with the baby.  And, asking my parents to be quite enough not to disturb Noah?  Unlikely.  

After SoG, I looked into DVC rental points.  But, for a 2-3 bedroom for a week was out of my budget, even for the cheapest time of year.  

That's when I found Windsor Hills.  For the same price as we stayed for 5 nights at a moderate, we found a week in a 3 bedroom, 3 bathroom villa (townhome) with a private splash pool and kitchen.  Sounds too good to be true, doesn't it?

We stayed at Wishing Place Villa.  Honestly,I chose this unit because I liked the decor and the tv's.  Knowing that we would be spending a good bit of time there not in the parks, plus being bowl game season, I ruled out any house without quality televisions.  The community is only about 4 or 5 miles off property, and I think we got to the parks faster than had we taken bus transportation from some of the resorts!  Located off of 192 West, there are restaurants, grocery stores, and a Super Target within a short distance.  We couldn't check in until 4 pm, so we headed to our villa after a trip to Super Target.  

Once we checked in, we noticed that our particular villa was child friendly - no gates on the stairs (yes, stairs!), but all of the outlets were covered and there wasn't too much for him to get into.  Leading up to our trip, I kept worrying that somehow Noah would get outside and fall into the pool, but not only pool have an thick cover on top, but the sliding glass door leading outside had an alarm on it, so I didn't even worry about him somehow opening it!  

The kitchen came fully stocked with cups, plates, silverware - I only wish they'd supplied salt and pepper, but I guess you can't assume people won't take those home!  There was a high chair provided, that we kept stored in a closet, so he wouldn't push it around the house (like everything else).  
He liked the living room!
1 bedroom with a queen bed and full bath was downstairs - this was for my parents for the first few nights, and my friend Ruth after they left.

Upstairs, Adam and I had the master bedroom - with a King bed and full bath, while Noah's room had bunk beds, a pack -n play, as well as toddler rails for the beds, if necessary.  The hallway connected the 2 rooms upstairs also stored a small, but new-ish washer and dryer, which we used several times.

My only worry signing up - how do I know that these people aren't going to take my money and run?  Well, I found them 2 ways - through a search of Windsor Hills Villas by owner and Florida Sun Vacation Rentals.  I found too many options to count, and narrowed down by decorating style and quality of tv.  Yup.  No flat screens, we're not staying!  Hey, we did have a few days in Orlando before going to the parks, plus we still had bowl games to watch!

The day after the race, Adam was recovering from being sick, my parents were gone, and I had to entertain Noah without going too far.  We headed out to explore the community.  Small, but adorable.  I didn't want to pay the $10 deposit (fully refundable, but I wasn't carrying cash) for access to the playground and it was a little too chilly to want to swim, we went for a walk and discovered a cute field that I let Noah run around in. 
I took about 30 pictures of him frolicking in the grass.  He had a blast, just running around and playing with the grass.  After a few months of winter, he was enjoying being allowed to romp!

The owner, Beth, was fantastic - she sent us information throughout the process, as well as friendly reminders for payments (which I needed!).  We were equipped with a list of local restaurants and stores, so we knew what was around the area.  The only problem we had while we were there was with the internet, but I think it might have just been my computer acting up.  I contacted Beth (via phone email), and she contacted the rental company within an hour.  

We've looked into DVC multiple times.  I love the idea of being part of the club.  And, comparing the prices to paying for the same quality of resorts, I see how people buy in.  But, knowing Windsor Hills is right there, I can't justify the purchase (nor is it reasonable for us right now, anyways!).  The only trick is they don't supply extra toilet paper, paper towels, soap, etc...  There was a nice welcome package and each bathroom had a starter roll, but that went quickly with 4 adults!  Luckily, we planned ahead and added it to our Super Target shopping list. 

If you're looking for a longer stay where you might not want to be in the parks every day, you should definitely check into Windsor Hills/Wishing Place.  We had a great stay and hope to stay there again soon!

What are your favorite places to stay off property?  


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A Cut Above the Rest, For Sure!

As you may remember reading in past posts (I mentioned it at least 5 times), we planned for Noah to get his first haircut at the Harmony Barbershop.  I made a reservation for it as soon as I heard they made reservations, and planned our park days around having 11 am on Sunday open for his appointment. 
Unfortunately, Adam getting sick made it impossible for us to be in the Magic Kingdom at 11 am the day after the race.  Not getting home from the hospital until after 3 a.m. and Adam still feeling terrible, I knew I couldn’t make it there on my own.  I was so sad, but couldn’t show it because I didn’t want Adam to feel guilty about getting sick, but it was seeming that all of our plans would be cancelled (Kouzzina, Le Cellier, and the haircut). 

Since you’ve already read (hopefully!) my Foodie Friday posts about Le Cellier and Kouzzina by Cat Cora, you know that we did in fact get to enjoy both of those restaurants.  But, what happened with the haircut?
I called the reservation line to cancel the appointment and asked about rescheduling.   I was thrilled when the Cast Member offered me a 1 p.m. appointment on the following day!  She couldn’t give me a reservation to Le Cellier, but I didn’t mind that at, as long as Noah could have his hair cut!

Stickers, stickers, everywhere!
After a wonderfully relaxing morning in the Magic Kingdom, easily riding everything in Fantasyland and a few other areas, we headed back down Main Street U.S.A. and made our way to the Harmony Barber Shop.  As soon as we walked in the front door, it started drizzling outside.  The timing couldn’t have been more perfect, because within minutes the sky opened up and a powerful thunderstorm rolled in.  I even heard talks that most of the rides were down because of the storm.

When we walked in, there was another family seated, with their 2 children getting cuts.  We were helped by the Cast Member at the register, who informed us that she would be cutting Noah’s hair.  Though Michal, who I had read so much about, wasn’t to be seen, loved our girl!  She sat Noah down on a booster, pulled out a roll of Mickey Mouse stickers, and started sticking them all over him.  His shoes, hands, cheeks, belly, and more had stickers, which kept him entertained for several minutes while she started working. 

I held him in place while she worked quickly, and when he started getting fussy, she pulled out more toys to entertain him.  To our surprise, he didn’t fuss at all during the process.  While she was trimming his hair, she saved some strands in a paper towel for us to save.  After the cut, she wrapped it up completely, sealing it with another Mickey Mouse sticker, handed Noah some more stickers, and gave him his “1st haircut” mouse ears.  He wasn’t so thrilled about the ears – they barely stayed on for a picture!

As we checked out, she filled out a certificate, honoring his 1st haircut and placed everything in a bag for us to take along with us.  The price for all this was $18, and I gave a $3 tip for her wonderful service and cut.  I can’t even imagine a better first haircut experience!  If only we could stop by WDW every time Noah needed a trim…
Not too expensive!!
 Have you been to the Harmony Barber Shop?  I think we’ll be back again!
Thanks for stopping by,

Monday, February 14, 2011

Hidden Treasures - Rafiki's Planet Watch

On previous trips to Disney’s Animal Kingdom, we had a short list of must-see attractions: Expedition Everest, Kali River Rapids, and the Kilimanjaro Safari.  This trip changed all of that.  

We headed to Animal Kingdom on our 2nd day of park hopping to realize that we only had a couple of hours in the park before it closed.  Then, we headed the wrong direction to Everest, going straight to the Kilimanjaro Safari.  Even with level 1 crowds, there was still a 50 minute wait and no more fastpasses available.  We love the ride, but didn’t want to waste our entire afternoon in DAK waiting in line.  So, we walked right next door so I could ask a Cast Member about Rafiki’s Planet Watch and Conservation Station.

I’d seen the sign before, but really had no idea what to expect.  I didn’t even know if it was age appropriate.  The Cast Member informed me that it was absolutely appropriate for young children, and even had a petting zoo for them to get up close and personal with some of the animals.

What we discovered was so much more than a petting zoo.  A short train ride, with passengers facing out to see the backstage habitats and veterinary areas, takes guests from Africa to the Conservation Station, a hidden gem I had no idea existed.

Arriving at Rafiki’s Planet Watch, we followed the paths up towards the station and the outdoor petting zoo.  Loaded with goats and sheep, there were kids running around trying to pet or brush the animals (brushes provided).  There were several other animals in a non-petting part, including a large cow, a camel, and more. 
Noah showed a little interest in the animals, enough to spend probably 25-30 minutes out there before we decided to check out the inside of the Conservation Station.  As we had been informed on the train ride over, there were over 100 hidden mickey’s inside the station, so we had to stay on alert!  Inside the station, there was much more than just hidden mickey’s; there were labs where kids could see what veterinarians do, as well as live exhibits.  We happened to see a live exhibit of a baby alligator that we could get up close and personal with, though no touching on this particular day because the handler was new to working with these little babies. 

The Cast Member’s working there knew a lot about the animals, answering questions and offering their own information.  I had a great conversation with a Cast Member telling me differences between the Alligators and American Crocodiles, offering information that I would have never known, or even thought to ask.  Plus, after our conversation about pin trading (and how I’m always on the lookout for a new Mickey Mouse for Noah), she found 2 for me to see and gave me one, no trade!

Animals, science, conservation aside, there was another magical aspect to RPW - CHARACTERS.  First, we saw Jiminy Crickett, standing with a short line taking pictures.  Jiminy was incredibly friendly and played with Noah multiple times during our stay.  Then, we walked around and saw Pocahantas standing alone smiling.  We took several pictures with her as well (Adam definitely loved taking pictures with her!).  Then, we saw Rafiki himself!  With NO LINE waiting to meet him.  How is that possible?  I don’t know.  Maybe it has something to do with the fact that Disney won’t release the Lion King.  Or, maybe  it’s just that there are so many amazing things to see in the Conservation Station that you can experience everything with  no rush or lines.

After spending a good bit of time there, we realized we’d used up all of our park time there and the park would be closing soon.  And, more surprisingly, we were absolutely okay with that.  Everest will still be there next time for us to ride when we have more time.  But, that time spent at RPW letting Noah run around, interact with characters, and explore was worth skipping all of our must-sees.  If anyone says that DAK is not kid friendly, RPW alone refutes that argument. 
Samples of snake skin in one of the labs!
There is a rumor that DAK might be expanding to include Australia, which would potentially lose the train aspect of the RPW attraction, but not affect the station itself.  I really did enjoy the train, but I’m always okay with good upgrades, as long as they don’t take RPW away!  I highly recommend stopping there, or spending some quality time in between fast passes!

For more pictures from our trip to Rafiki's Planet Watch, make sure to check out our facebook page!  I'd love to hear your thoughts and comments on the Conservation Station, as well!  Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, February 11, 2011

It's Blogorail Time!

Welcome to those joining me fromThe CanaDisney Blog!  You've made it to the last and final stop on this month's blogorail!  Thanks for stopping by; we're glad to see you!

As of today, Mickey's Toontown Fair as we know it is gone. Officially closed.  I said goodbye to Toontown over at Chip and Co, as well as blogging here about taking one last time trip on our most recent trip, taking as many pictures as possible.  

So, instead of memorializing a land that I hardly spent much time during it's 15 years, I want to look towards the future.  

Change is an important aspect to Walt Disney World.  As Walt said, "Disneyland is something that will never be finished. It's something that I can keep developing. It will be a live, breathing thing that will need change."  This (obviously) goes for WDW as well.

Toontown was intended to be a temporary land and ended up lasting for 15 years (more, if you count the previous names).  Now, I can show my son pictures of his visit to Mickey's Country House, but show him an entirely new world.  He can visit Beast's Castle and ride on Snow White's Mine Train.  We'll hopefully only have to wait half as long to ride on Dumbo, now there will be 2 full loops flying.  

The only downfalls that I see to all of the changes are concerning Snow White's Scary Adventure.  1 - I'm sad to see another original 1971 ride disappear, and 2 - I'm sad for the Autistic boy that finds comfort in riding SWSA more times than I could ever want to in a lifetime. I have never been a huge fan of the ride, but knowing that someone out there loves that ride, makes me a little sad that it's going away.  

SWSA will become a meet and greet area.  I, personally, think this is absurd.  Seriously.  How many of these areas do we need?  I love the idea that at Disneyland, the characters walk around and mingle, though that is apparently looking to disappear there, too.  I want to see Mickey Mouse on Dumbo on a regular basis, not just for TV promos.  I read the idea somewhere and completely agreed - instead of extra stroller storage by the Skybuckets, put the Meet and Greet there.  Talk about wasted space!

But, other than those small (ish) complaints, I'm all for the updates.  Bring on the Mine Train!

What is your take on the Fantasyland Expansion?  Will you miss the country houses or Pete's Garage?  What are you looking forward to the most?

As the last stop on the Magical Blogorail, I want to thank you for joining us this month.  We will be back on March 11th with an all new theme, though feel free to keep checking in with our blogs in between loops.  To keep up to date with our Disney info, photos, and stories, check out our individual blogs, or the Magical Blogorail for updates and more great reads!

Make sure you catch up with all the other posts about The Fantasyland/DCA expansion in this months blogorail! Check out all the other stops along the way that you might have missed, or start at the beginning!

2nd Stop ~ Meet the Magic
3rd Stop ~ Growing Up Disney
5th Stop ~ Days in the Park
Final Stop**You are here** ~ Disney Babies Blog

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Thursdays with Mel... Funny Disney Character Moments

I love YouTube. My latests obsessions are watching the 1988 Calgary Olympics (remember the Battle of the Brian's?) and watching the costumed Disney Character interactions with park guests.

In the past, I have rarely taken my video camera on our Disney vacations, likely because video cameras used to be so big. But some of these YouTube videos have me thinking I should probably pack my tiny digicam on our next trip to Disneyland... Do you have any memorable moments with Disney Characters? I'd love to hear about them!

Love, love, love this video. Disney Parks Characters are really awesome!

And it's good to know I am not the only one who cries at the Opening Ceremonies..

I love my Disney Villains!

Note: If you view these clips directly on YouTube, I have no control over the comments posted. I did my best to select videos with G-rated comments only.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


In lieu of a blog post today, I wanted to simply write a big, warm


To Chip, from Chip and Company, and his wife Meredith for welcoming their 2nd Disney Princess!!

Daughter, Amelia Grace, was born at 2:22 a.m. weighing in at 6 lb, 4oz. 

Head over to Chip and Co. on facebook to send your wishes and congratulations, as well as seeing pictures of their beautiful baby girl!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Foodie Tuesday?

This Friday will be our next edition of the Magical Blogorail - Blue, I wanted to post my Foodie Friday early - wanted to make everyone drool over our delicious breakfast at Kona Cafe!

After months of reading about Tonga Toast, I decided last minute to make an Advanced Dining Reservation for the Polynesian Resort's Kona Cafe.  Known for their breakfast and coffee, I figured with an afternoon flight home, this would be one last chance to feel Magical without having a time to go in the parks.  

Tonga Toast
Adam and I ordered the 2 standards I had read so much about - Tonga Toast - Banana stuffed french toast coated in cinnamon sugar.  Um.  Yeah.  And, they offer a side of fruity syrup.  It was amazing and yet, hurt to eat at the same time with the ridiculous amounts of sugar.  Glad I made my husband order it instead of me!

I went for the Macadamia Pineapple Pancakes - served macadamia nut butter and pineapple sauce.  Now, that is my kind of breakfast splurge!  Both served with a side of pig (ham/bacon/sausage) and devoured by us and Noah.

About halfway through, I remembered that I had specifically told to make sure to get the Kona Coffee.  So, without thinking, I ordered a cup of coffee.

BLECH.  I didn't order specifically the French Press pot, which is really the special coffee, and instead, had standard diner quality coffee.  I'm not a huge coffee person, so I just went back to drinking water instead.

We really enjoyed our breakfast at Kona - the decor cute - like being in an outdoor Polynesian restaurant (or, what I would assume one would look like!), but I loved the carpet - Hidden Mickey's everywhere!

We had a great experience at Kona - we finished our meal and hopped on the monorail for one last loop before heading home.  If want the Disney feel without going into the parks, Kona is a great place to go.  

Have you eaten at Kona Cafe before?  What's your favorite WDW Breakfast?

Monday, February 7, 2011

Disney Junior

Starting on February 14th, Playhouse Disney is officially changing over to Disney Junior.  If you have a little one, like I do, you've probably seen the commercials a thousand times by now and must be wondering - why are they making such a big deal about this?

I've figured out a couple of reasons -

  1. It's Disney and they do everything big
  2. Starting in 2012, Disney Junior will be it's own station
Say goodbye to Soap Net.  I basically said goodbye to my 90210 mornings when Noah was born, so having full-time back up sounds great to me!

Thanks to Fios On Demand, we recently watched a 30+ minute preview for the channel - including a full episode of Jack and the Neverland Pirates, one of the new shows, as well as previews for several other new shows.  They're also adding many more shorts, including Mousekercize - hoping to get kids up and moving for a few minutes while watching shows.

Along with the new shows and eventual channel, Playhouse Junior on Stage will become "Disney Junior - Live on Stage," adding Jake and the Neverland Pirates to the line up.

No more need to set our DVR for Chugginton - we'll have them all on demand now!

Thanks for stopping by,

Friday, February 4, 2011

Foodie Friday - Kouzzina by Cat Cora!

Our second most exciting ADR (Advanced Dining Reservation) for our trip was dinner at Kouzinna by Cat Cora the night of the race.  Located at Disney's Boardwalk, I love going not only just for the food, but for an excuse to wander and explore such a beautiful location!

We ate there on my birthday last June, but wanted to go again after having such a fabulous dinner.  But, back then, I wasn't thinking about blogging every detail, so I don't have any pictures from that meal... but I am borrowing 2 of Melissa's from dessert!
Doesn't this make you want dessert, like right now?  This was their form a chocolate lava cake and it was delicious, but looked better than it tasted (from what I remember).  

These Greek donuts I shared with Adam and they had 2 different dipping sauces.  Man, after looking at these pictures, why didn't we order dessert this time??  Should have looked at this before we went...

Anyways, this time was slightly different.  We had our ADR for the night of the race and left Noah with my parents to go have a relaxing dinner with friends.  Unfortunately, Adam got REALLY sick that night and we had to leave before dinner.  I stopped by the Boardwalk Bakery for a yummy sandwich, but left slightly sad that we wouldn't dine at Kouzzina for this trip.

Luckily, with such a lull in crowds, we were able to walk in for an early dinner and get seating without any issue.  

I took some pictures of the "new" signs out front - added after the recent overhaul, but I won't post them all here.  They're all up on our facebook page along with extra food pics so I don't go overboard here, so go check them out to get the full experience! 

We started our meal with the new "olive oil tasting" that is complimentary to the meal.  The bread was fabulous - covered in black sesame seeds and simply delicious, but the olive oils weren't too special.  I do love olive oil,  but I prefer it with herbs and goodies added.  Along with the olive oils, we had the Kouzzina Sampler - had little bits of everything and was so delicious that I forgot to take a picture until most of it was gone.  

Those Chicken Skewers were amazing
Surprisingly, was realizing that Noah loved eating olives.  Strange for a 1 year old, don't you think?  We ordered him a kids meal which he didn't really touch, but Adam and I enjoyed the extra chicken skewers.  Oh, and the sweet potato fries are delicious, too.  That's a lot of food for the same price as a kids pizza and way more nutritious (and delicious!) 

For a 1 year old, these meals are a bit overkill, but we were being silly and splurging a lot on this trip!

Onto our entrees...  I had such a great fondness for my meal from June, that I ordered the Spiced Briami, a vegetarian stew again.  It was totally different than I remember, but still delicious.  I don't think I was in the mood for such a heavy dish, but it's a great vegetarian option.  Doesn't that look delicious?  I'm not even normally a huge fan of eggplant, but for some reason, it's delicious in this dish.  The official description is: Oven-roasted Vegetables with Oregano and Kasseri Cheese served with Herbed Orzo (Spiced Briami)

Adam's not a big vegetable person.  I don't even think he tasted mine, but he sure enjoyed his Oak-fired Pork Tenderloin with Feta Gremolata.  The side of Wilted Greens wasn't his thing, but Zucchini Corn Pie he loved.

If you're afraid of Greek food, don't be.  It's DELICIOUS.  I highly recommend Kouzzina by Cat Cora - my husband and I both love it.  

Oh, and they also leave a surprise for everyone as they leave the dining room:
Located behind the check in area
Have you been to Kouzzina by Cat Cora?  I've heard they serve an amazing breakfast, too!!  
Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Thursdays with Mel... Booster Seats

In two short months our family will officially be booster-seat free. That is of course unless we travel to Tennessee or Wyoming. In preparation for our Disneyland trip, I needed to know if our soon-to-be-8-year-old princess still needed a booster seat in California. 
In North Carolina children must us booster seats until their 8th birthday. We frequently road trip to Florida to visit my family or to go to Walt Disney World, so I know that booster seat laws vary from state to state. Once we cross over to South Carolina and then Georgia, children 6 and older no longer need booster seats, and once you reach my home state of Florida, children need only be 4 years old to use a standard adult seat belt.
~ I’m just reporting the laws, folks, not agreeing with them. ~
Of course, in the Sunshine State, you are free to keep you 5, 6 &  7 year-olds in booster seats as well. This may be part of the motivation behind the Cinderella/Booster seat public service announcements which still air from time to time. (Posted below)
This brings me back to our California trip. I had a feeling that if any state was going to be more stringent than North Carolina regarding booster seat laws, it was going to be California. Nope, ages 6 and up are free to use regular, adult seat belts (and must be in the rear seat).
If an out-of-state vacation is in your future, visit the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s website and check out their interactive map which provides a state-by-state breakdown of booster seat laws. 
Guess I can’t trash those booster seats yet. If we head to Gatlinburg, Tennessee this summer we may need them.

Here is the AdCouncil's public service announcement:

One quick announcement before I go: The Disney Lifestyle Blog just launched yesterday. It is my newest blogging endeavor. It is a blog devoted to the ways we bring Disney into our homes each day. It's been fun to create, and I am thrilled to finally be able to share it with you! Hope to see you there.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Inspired by Punxsutawny Phil

The little furry guy has spoken- We should expect an early spring!!

Who else is excited for that?  I know my friends in the South getting pounded by ridiculously cold temperatures are juts as excited as us dealing with snow and ice in the North!

So, in honor of Spring being just around the corner, I wanted to start a New Giveaway!!

Thanks to our friends over at Pixie Vacations (.com), we're offering a personalized beach tote bag, perfect for a quick day trip, or even hitting the pools at your favorite Walt Disney World Resort.
Goodies not included!!
Entering is simple, but does require 2 simple steps (1 total entry)- Leave a comment below letting me know that you:
  1. Like Pixie Vacations on facebook 
  2. Like Disney Babies Blog on facebook 
***Make sure to let me know when you have "liked" both pages in 1 comment below***

For additional entries:
  1. Follow Disney Babies Blog on Google Friend Connect (1 entry)
  2. Post my button on your website (3 entries)
  3. Follow on Twitter - @DisneyBabiesBlg (1 entry)
  4. Tweet this entry - max 2x per day - Make sure to include @DisneyBabiesBlg so I know you've tweeted! (Something like "Check out the great Disney Beach Bag giveaway @DisneyBabiesblg
***Comment below for each individual entry , so I can keep track!!***

**Winner will be chosen at random on February 16th**

And, if you're planning a trip, let Pixie Vacations help you plan!  They can help you find all the discounts available and save for your next Disney Vacation and more!  Let the pros - many former cast members - help you make the most of your money by planning a wonderful trip for you and your family/friends!  

And a personal thanks for the giveaway!

Just dance!

In my house, we have been dancing A LOT!  Piper is obsessed with "dancing like a princess".  She wants me to put on a pretty dress and dance her around, singing.  Her favorite couples dance is to "Once Upon a Dream".  She says, " I know you, I know you!" and sings it with us!  Her favorite song is "Almost There" from The Princess and the Frog.  She has almost the entire song memorized, and she spins in circles while singing to it. 

Her favorite time is when David and I dance together, putting her in the middle of us.  She loves that!  She looks back and forth and says, "Mommy, Daddy, dancing!"  We have a pre-schooler MP3 player that she is able to work.  All of her favorites are downloaded to it, and she just switches between songs to find the one she wants.  We are teaching her "It's a Small World", "Grim Grinning Ghosts", and "Yo, ho, a pirate's life for me" for our trip.  She LOVES "Small World". 

I just love my Disney baby!

See ya real soon!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Hidden Treasures - Push!

Another treasure I hoped to find, but didn't quite know how to search for, I luckily stumbled upon:


Stationed in Tomorrowland, Push a true, working Tomorrowland garbage can.  But, Push is no ordinary trash can.  He's motorized!!  From what I've read, he's controlled by 2 cast members - 1 talking for him (yes, Push talks!) and 1 to control where he's going.

Walking from Fantasyland to Tomorrowland, we happened to see Push strolling around.  I must have looked like a child - so excited and scouring everywhere for the cast members in control.

I threw a napkin away to see if it would respond, but he showed no interest in me.

I loved checking out reactions of the other people - with all of my trips, I had never seen it before, and had only heard of it because of all my trivia books.

Push turned in circles, wondered around, then headed into the Merchant of Venus'

Have you ever seen Push wondering around?  Hope you get to find him on your next trip!