Friday, March 30, 2012

Craving a Run

At 37 weeks pregnant, I haven't run in a while.. and by a while, I mean around 10 weeks.

My last real (ish) run was the Marathon Weekend 5k in January.  (Read the recap here) and even by then, I had to do more walking than jogging b/c.. well, I was 6 months pregnant and it's just not that easy!

But, as the weather is getting better - we're having some beautifully sunny days in the 50's and 60's on the days that Mother Nature remembers it's not mid-summer - there are constantly runners on the roads and trails near my house.  And, I really wish I could be one of them.  At this point in my pregnancy and with my... side effects? walking is now nearly impossible..  I practice vinyasa flow yoga regularly, but running and walking aren't really doable.

Marathon Weekend 2011
Well, with 3 weeks left of pregnancy and then around 6 weeks before being "medically cleared" for exercise, I'm seriously craving a run.  I'm excited that registration for WDW Marathon Weekend 2013 opens soon - I'm registered (from 2012 - had to delay!), but my husband has to register and we'll probably register both boys for the Kid's Races again - Noah has had fun the past two years running in his 100 meter dash and baby #2 will simply do the 50 meter diaper crawl!

If you're curious how and why I started running, you can read about that here.

Now for Marathon Weekend 2013, we're going to run to raise money and awareness for Autism Speaks.  Can we convince you to join us?  Check out our facebook page.  We're small, but over the next several months, we hope to grow and convince more of our (Magical Blogorail) readers to join in on the fun!

Hope to see you there.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Extinct Attractions - Discovery Island

Located in Bay Lake is a small island - I'm not positive, but pretty sure I heard somewhere - it's the island that Walt himself originally saw and thought "that's it" - his spot for the East coast version of Disneyland.

Of course, upon further inspection, the land was far too small to be anything major, but it originally opened in 1974 as Treasure Island, renamed Discovery Island - a place to go and observe wildlife.

When Disney's Animal Kingdom opened up in 1999, the animals were moved there and this particular Discovery Island closed.  They have paid homage to this particular attraction by naming one of the Land's at DAH "Discovery Island," but this island has been uninhabited and left out to dry for nearly 13 years now.

According to rumors (mostly coming from Jim Hill), there have been many ideas of what to turn this island into - seems silly to just waste time.  My favorite?  A LOST adventure..  You know, Lost.  That amazing ABC show that Disney never used to it's advantage..  Just like this island - so much potential sitting empty.  Only time will tell if/when they will take advantage of this great piece of land again!
Img from Lost Wiki
Unfortunately, I never made it to Discovery Island.  I would love to hear stories from those who have - hopefully in a more legal visit that this blogger.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

This week's Wordless Wednesday theme is April Calender shot..

With Friday the 13th happening this April and my Tombs series, I found this picture highly appropriate!

Now onto the tombstone:

A Train
Made a staine
of Absent- Minded
Uncle Blaine
Rest in Pieces

Disney Legend since 1993, Blaine Gibson specialized in Animation and Imagineering.  He created hundreds of Audio-Animatronics, and sculpted all 41 presidents (thru Clinton) for the Hall of Presidents at Walt Disney World.  His theme park contributions include work on the Tiki Room, Pirates of the Caribbean, Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, Pirates of the Caribbean, and of course, the Haunted Mansion.

Walt was friends with a pigeon that day!
Also in 1993, he created the Partners Statue that you see in Disneyland (and replicated at Walt Disney World!)

Focused on the Magic

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Changing, feeding, and more!

For a blog dedicated to helping parents traveling with babies, I've never fully described the baby care centers for this blog!  I wrote all about them for Chip & Co., another Disney website that I write for, but never fully explained them here!

For first timers (or first time with kids) - Disney tries to make everyone, including babies and parents, comfortable for their vacation.  Located in all four parks:
Magic Kingdom - next to the Crystal Palace, on your way to Adventureland
Epcot - Inside Future World's Odyssey Center
Hollywood Studios- Near the entrance in the Guest Services Building
Animal Kingdom - in Discovery Island, behind Creature Comforts *marked by ladybugs*
Animal Kingdom Baby Care Center
I wish I had pictures of the inside of these - but alas...

They're divided into different rooms or areas - one having a television for older kids to relax in a comfortable air conditioned setting.  Forget diapers, food, wipes, sunscreen, other essentials?  They sell all of that there at a nice, Disney high price.  They have individual changing stations, tables or mats, that have covers and are cleaned in between uses by the cast members working the rooms.  There are also high chairs to feed the little ones that aren't good to eating with distractions.  They have microwaves and fresh, filtered water to help mix foods/formula, or to refill for your water bottles!

They even have private rooms with rockers or gliders for nursing mothers.

My only complaint - there is only 1 per park - and as you know, these parks are so large, if you have a hungry child and you're not nearby, they're not always the most convenient option.  

Luckily, if you're a nursing mother, you can nurse wherever you feel like!  
Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
Section 1.      The breastfeeding of a baby is an important and basic act of nurture which must be encouraged in the interests of maternal and child health and family values.  A mother may breastfeed her baby in any location, public or private, where the mother is otherwise authorized to be, irrespective of whether or not the nipple of the mother’s breast is covered during or incidental to the breastfeeding.
I recommend longer attractions or shows - or even a quite area.  There were times I nursed in restaurants, but I prefer to have a little privacy - just my own personal thing!  I always use a cover, but as the law states - if you're comfortable without one, do your thing.

As for changing diapers?  I don't leave home without my diaper mat - a carry all that has a big foldable mat (like this one from Babies R Us)and storage for diapers, wipes, creams, etc...  This way, I don't feel like I need to find a changing table - just a flat piece of land!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Touring for Two

This article first appeared at The Disney Moms 

We found out that I was expecting our second child after we had already registered for the 2012 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend events.  Flights were already booked and we both love that time of year – empty parks, great events, and a time to visit with friends and family.  So, we decided even though I would be about 6 months pregnant, we would still travel to the most Magical Place on Earth.
With a two year old and my husband running the half marathon, we braced ourselves to be very tired – and to take a lot of breaks.  My son is, unfortunately, refusing nap time on a regular basis and our trip was no exception.  Even knowing that, most days, we headed back to our rental home for nap time – for me.  My husband also enjoyed some down time, as he did most of the running after our very energetic tot.
Park touring is slightly different pregnant – all of the E-ticket (big rides!) attractions have recommendations to avoid.  I chose to avoid everyone of these except for the Kilimanjaro Safari, having been on the Safari on our previous trip I had thought about the bumps and decided I could handle it - especially sitting near the front, where the bumps aren't as strong.  However, this meant finding activities for my son and myself while my husband went on the rides.  This was perfect in Disney’s Animal Kingdom – my husband went on Expedition Everest while my son and I headed to Dinoland U.S.A. to ride the TriceraTop Spin.
Helping my personal touring – I trained and completed the marathon weekend Family Fiesta 5k.  I definitely believe that staying in good shape helped me for long days of park touring.  We also didn’t burn the candle at both ends – we started early, but were generally home and asleep by 9 pm.  I invested in a good maternity support belt and wore that for the majority of the trip.  I can’t imagine walking those parks without that additional support and would highly recommend it.
And to think – on our next trip to Walt Disney World,  we will be a family of 4!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Another Dining Option

This may seem crazy to many of you..

But I'm not a huge fan of dining options at the Magic Kingdom.
I love being in the park first thing in the morning and being there late at night, but for meals, I'm generally not a fan.

The quick service options just don't do it for me -
Burgers, burgers, burgers.  

Yes, I know there are other options - Columbia Harbor House supposedly has some great seafood options.  But, I don't do seafood - I should say we don't do seafood.  My husband dislikes it more than me!  There is a pretty good wrap at Pecos Bills, but still - the options are just very limited.

We usually end up at Cosmic Rays - soups/salads/burgers/ribs - I can't imagine eating ribs midday in 90 degree weather, even though so many people say they're good - but we always feel like we're paying high prices for mediocre food.  I do enjoy listening to Sonny Eclipse, but after a week...
*I should disclose - I don't eat fast food at home.  That last time I recall having a fast food burger was Wendy's in 2004.  I've had grilled chicken, but even that doesn't sit well for me either. So, changing my eating habits completely on vacation usually just leads to a stomach ache!*
So, what could you do if you need a change?

Hop on the monorail (or ferry boat)...
And find lunch at one of the resorts nearby! 

Waterfall inside the Polynesian
One day on our trip (all photographed on the lost pictures from the broken hard drive), we hopped on the monorail and decided to see what was cooking at the Polynesian.  Unfortunately, at 11 am, Kona is still serving breakfast, so that option went out the window.  O'hana is only open for breakfast and dinner, so that was another down..  And, then I remembered reading that the Poly had a great counter service option:

Captain Cook's

Located on the 1st floor of the Polynesian, Captain Cook's has a very different menu from the standard counter service restaurant - flat breads, stir fry, and some unique sandwich choices, along with your standard Caesar Salad and Cheeseburger.  Oh, and if you're craving a Dole Whip?  You can get one here!  And for the kids - you pretty much have the standard menu, but let me tell you - that grilled cheese - wow.  The updated menu has a grilled cheese - I would totally eat that.  Best grilled cheese possibly ever...

And did I mention they make the food fresh when you order?  

So, if you're looking for a nice quick service in a beautiful location, check out Captain Cook's!  I'd say we'll add it to our rotation, but we still have to check out Fort Wildnerness/Wilderness Lodge on our next trip, so I don't know when we'll be back.  But, we will be back! 

Where do you like to escape to for meals outside the parks?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

Thanks to a series of unfortunate events (computer hard drive crashing after deleting all my pics from my camera), I'm currently on hiatus for Window Wednesday.  Instead, I'm bringing back the Haunted Mansion series!!  Hope you enjoy!

Excuse the blur!

"He died in the fall, it's a fact notwithstanding.  But the judges admired his form on the landing."

Collin Campbell, Imagineer, made beautiful art and helped conceptualize many of Disney's projects.  He helped former CEO Michael Eisner visualize what MGM would look like, among so many other projects.  
Sadly, he passed away only days after this tombstone to honor him was put up in 2011.

Focused on the Magic

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Top 5 Tips for a First Timer Visitor

For any new readers, or anyone else that may have forgotten - I'm expecting my second Disney Baby.  Any day now, almost!  Less than one month away (yup! 36 weeks now!), my brain is a bit scattered, so when even more than usual, I appreciate suggestions for posts and questions.  So, when a facebook reader left me a question, I knew it would be a perfect topic for day's post!  Here goes!

Any tips for first time family trip. We are going in Feb 2013 to celebrate our little girl turning 5.  We are staying in the new royal guest rooms at Port Orleans Riverside!
What a wonderful way to celebrate a 5th birthday!  I know my nephew went for the first time for his 5th birthday and had an amazing time and I'm sure your experience will be fantastic!  One thing learned from his trip - don't start with Haunted Mansion!!  Scared my nephew and he wasted nearly half a day not wanting to ride on anything else!  For special ways to add to a birthday, check out this post here.  To add on to that, I'd have to dig a little - unless someone comments below - I know that there are people around the area that make gift baskets that can be delivered to your resort as a surprise to your daughter!

     1. If you haven't been using a travel agent so far, I highly recommend transferring your reservation to one (WDW Guru Travel - email me fore free help)!  Especially with nearly a year out, they'll help you apply any discounts that come around to help you get the best price.  Plus, when it gets closer, we'll help you get everything from dining reservations, scheduling, and even Disney's Magical Express situation all figured out!  And, if you are driving, know that your parking pass for the resort allows you to park for no extra cost at the theme parks!

     2. Unless you are planning a surprise trip, let your daughter help in planning.  Check out restaurant options - my favorite reviews are always at Disney Food Blog - along with All Ears you can find menus and reviews for nearly every restaurant on property.  Even this blog has several Foodie Friday posts, from character dining to signature meals!  If you're considering booking something extra special, such as pre-park opening breakfast at Cinderella Castle for a special birthday girl, make sure to find out the time of park opening that day and book 190 days out (yes, with an on-property reservations, you can make ADR's 180+10 from the start of your trip!  Or, let your travel agent help you with that!)  Also, don't forget that you can create customized park maps free of attractions you want to visit and restaurants you want to try. 

     3. Plan but don't over plan.  I love using Touring Plans crowd calenders to help me figure out which days I'll visit which parks - when I stay off property, I always follow their judgement, but if I'm staying in a Disney resort using the Extra Magic Hours, I generally ignore them for my starting park.  Their philosophy is that the park with Extra Magic Hours (am or pm) will be more crowded and unless you plan to utilize that first hour, you won't be saving yourself anytime.  With that said - get to the park approx. 15 minutes prior to park opening - even with am EMH - to enjoy the rope drop show and take advantage of the early hours when 75% of the resorts are still sleeping!  Along with their smart phone app Lines and their actual touring plans(or web accessible site), you can figure out the best ways to see the most attractions with the least amount of waiting!
Animal Kingdom's rope drop show
     4. Take breaks!  If you're there for 1-2 days, burning the candle at both ends can be useful, but if you're enjoying several days, take midday breaks to relax in the pool, rest your feet, and avoid the most crowded times of day.  Head back mid-afternoon or even for dinner time and you'll all be more rested to enjoy evening shows, parades, and spectaculars.
     5. Get in shape!  Walking the Disney parks, you can guess you'll be walking anywhere from 7-15 miles each day (the World Showcase alone is over 1 mile), so get out those comfortable walking shoes (or break in some new ones) and get the family outside  for some walking before you go.  With a 5 year old, I wouldn't recommend a stroller, but if your daughter gets tired, you can always rent one for the day (or week - cheaper and more comfortable to rent from an outsider than Disney).

Monday, March 19, 2012

Thoughts of Disney

Last week, I wrote a fun post for Chip and Co. about raising a Disney addict.

But, it really does get better than even what I mentioned there - things that I wanted to share with you here.

Just the other morning, my son asked to watch the Rope Drop (always!) ceremony for the Magic Kingdom.  I happily obliged and when I turned it on, he said "Mommy, I want to go there."  Sigh, don't we all?

When we were searching You Tube for a video of something, we found a great video of the Disney Cruise Ships - the Magic met the Wonder at Castaway Cay and showed their horns off to each other.  After watching it, he said "Mommy, put on shoes. Time to go on boat."  Cute kid.  If only it was that easy!

And, I wanted to share the details of our own version of "This Little Piggy"  Usually I'll start it, and he'll fill in the blanks - it stays fairly the same, but every once in a while he'll change up where they're going and who they'll meet!

I mean really, what piggy needs to go to the market?
This little piggy went to...  "Disney World"
This little piggy stayed home.
This little piggy met.... "Pluto"
This little piggy did not.
This little piggy went wee wee wee (normal ending)
Way more fun than the old stand by, don't you think?

Friday, March 16, 2012

Explaining the Magic

Yesterday, while talking to some of my coworkers, the topic turned to my "odd obsession" with Disney.  One person even asked why my husband hasn't done an intervention.  Sometimes I find it difficult to explain to people about magic and happiness that happens only at my happy place. 
Happy on Dumbo - 1/11
As much as I love discussing Disney - trivia, history, planning, etc..., sometimes it's difficult to convey the experience to people that have either a) never experienced the magic or b) have enjoyed the parks and simply never appreciated the true magic that it has to offer. 
This kind of joy - Animal Kingdom
That's why yesterday I had to ask my readers on the facebook page - what they do in similar situations.  I wanted to share some of the answers with you here and I would love if you add your own comments!  

I asked this question to my readers: "I understand that many people don't get get the Disney thing, but what do you do when they're mocking it?"

Here are some of the answers:

  •  Absolutely nothing...except feel sorry for them for missing out and know that they can't have much magic in their lives if they're being cruel. 
  • I hate when people mock Disney. Most often it's the people that have never been that have the most to say. I always try to educate first - explain why I love it so much. The history, the magic, etc. 
  • I feel sad for them. 
  • Typically I laugh and say, well I'm sorry you don't like it. We love it and my child will enjoy it too. Its fun and you can go off and do what you want, I don't make fun of your boring vacation, don't make fun of my FUN vacation! 
  • I can honestly say that most of the people I talk to get it. They all love Disney and understand my love. The people that don't, well, I really do feel sorry for them. 
  • We get that all the time and I just say each to their own and that its the only place on earth where husband and I feel so happy all day every day and we can fully relax and take in all the pixiedust. 
  • I ignore them because usually it is people who have never been who act "too cool" and I just don't have the patience for it 
  •  I whack them with a frying pan!! Haha, not really. I just don't say much because I dont want to start an argument :) 
  •  if it's another mother that rolls her eyes about how she supposes she will have to take her kids eventually I just want to hug their child!! But to each their own, I suppose! 
  • I think, "shorter lines for me!" 
One of my favorite comments about this is from a Samantha Brown Disney special -
She said she was walking around the Campgrounds and talked to a man who was driving an very  fancy RV.  With the money to afford one of those, you can assume he could have easily afforded to travel somewhere else.  But, why did he come to Walt Disney World?

"It's the only place I'm guaranteed a good time."

And, in the words of Walt Disney:
To all that come to this happy place: welcome. Disneyland is your land. Here age relives fond memories of the past, and here youth may savor the challenge and promise of the future. Disneyland is dedicated to the ideals, the dreams, and the hard facts that have created America... with hope that it will be a source of joy and inspiration to all the world.

This blog post written while listening to Disney radio :)

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Talk about Plussed Up!

Walt Disney used to say the phrase "plussed up" for experiences - taking the Magic to the next level.  Yes, there are great rides and shows, but there is more to Disney Magic than what meets the eye.

We headed to the Jambo House for our amazing dinner at Jiko - a Signature restaurant at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge.  I had heard from many sources (including a favorite - Disney Food Blog) that it was absolutely one of the best meals on property, so of course we had to try it.

We loved our dinner experience, but enjoyed our date night and spent a few extra minutes walking around the resort after our meal.

That night, we truly experienced and witnessed some of these amazing extras.  My favorite:
Free night vision goggles at the Animal Kingdom Lodge.
My husband and his night vision goggles!
I've even heard if you're staying at the Lodge, you can have the goggles brought to your room - a private viewing!

Different times of year, you may have to wait, but when we walked up, we were there alone with the Cast Member - from Africa - who even helped us find all the different animals walking around the "Savannah."

That same night, we also happened upon the outdoor movie they were playing behind the pool!  They set up an inflatable movie theater and a dozen or so people were enjoying Tarzan (I think!).  I've heard this is standard at many of the resorts, but I had never seen it before - pretty awesome to me that they think of something like that!
All of this was located behind the pool - across from the seemingly awesome playground!  We found out the hard way - when trying to kill some time at the Grand Floridian - that not all of the resorts have playgrounds.  For future reference, I won't forgot this playground.  Between all the plusses and having the animals right there, I think this may be one of the most child friendly resorts - I absolutely want to stay there in the near future!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Window Wednesday!

Project Detective Agency
Private Investigators
We Never Sleep
Ed Bullard

Ed Bullard was the Head of WDW Security

Other than that info, all I learned this week is that Disney needs to do some serious repainting of some of these windows!!The only way I found out what this one said was thanks to google and finding the window on other websites!  

But, I do think that hat is pretty neat, don't you?

For more for Wordless Wednesday, check out Focused on the Magic and the other blogs linking up!

Focused on the Magic

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

DHS or DAK - Toddler Throwdown

Last week, in part 1 of Disney Parks Toddler Throwdown, I compared and contrasted Disney's Hollywood Studios and Epcot. The results were close and it truly is a personal decision - but, I like to share options as best as possible!

Here's the refresher on Disney's Hollywood Studios:

Hollywood Studios
  • Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Set Playground - a large playground themed very well to an outdated movie..  One slide is a 35 mm roll of film, which a cast member told me most kids think is a battery!
  • Disney Junior: Live on Stage - If your little ones like Jake and the Neverland Pirates, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Little Einsteins, and Handy Manny, this show is for you!  It has posted times and they won't let you in once they've closed the doors, so don't be late!  We missed it twice last trip!
  • Toy Story Midway Mania - for us, this is the biggest pull to the park.  At 2, Noah finally started to play a little, but he mostly just watched!
  • Voyage of the Little Mermaid - Have a child that loves the little mermaid and can sit still?  This is another show, located directly across from Disney Junior!
  • Citizens of Hollywood - one of our absolute favorite experiences at DHS was interacting with a Citizen - he "taught" Noah how to ride a horse!  Of course, it was a toy horse, but he was so creative and really made our day special!
  • Character Meets - We have had the best experiences with character meets first thing in the morning - many of the characters are waiting in front of the Sorcerer's Hat for pictures and Buzz and Woody have their own meet and greet across from TSMM!
Disney's Animal Kingdom
  • Animals, animals, animals!  Monkeys flying around, birds everywhere, places to walk and stroll through - it's definitely "NotAZoo" (as it was referred to when it opened in 1998), but the experiences of being up close with so many animals, with educated Cast Members to tell you more details, is a wonderful and educational experience.  There are several walking trails that you can spend plenty of relaxed time observing and enjoying!
  • Kilimanjaro Safari- This attraction is good for all ages (not recommended for pregnant women, though I rode it safely!), and offers up close interaction and observation of animals in a somewhat real environment.  It's different every time, which makes it very repeatable
  • Rafiki's Planet Watch - We love the train almost as much as the Conservation Station itself!  Air conditioned, a petting zoo outside, and up close interactions with smaller creatures and their handlers!
  • Flights of Wonder - While I've never visited this attraction, I hear repeatedly that it's incredible - if you have bird lovers, this is for you!
  • It's Tough to Be a Bug - May be scary, but at 6 months, my son was fascinated by this 3d show located in the Tree of Life
  • Tricera Top Spin - A Dumbo-like attraction located in Dino-land U.S.A. - my son loved this and we rode it twice without waiting in line at all!  Best part - the cars are double, so a family of 4 can all ride in one dinosaur
  • The Boneyard - We finally experienced this large playground - and didn't even visit all of it!  Slides, climbing areas (scared the mama of a courageous two year old, but his daddy was brave enough to climb with him), and even a "stick-less" sand pit to dig out fossils!  We burnt a lot of energy in this play area on our January trip.  Definitely comparable to the play area at DHS, maybe even better for older children (bigger slides).  
  • Finding Nemo the Musical/Festival of the Lion King - These two popular musicals play regularly.  With our rambunctious toddler, we prefer to spend time at the Boneyard and sadly skip these shows, but both of these are beloved by park goers!
  • Camp Minnie-Mickey - The special place for photo ops at Animal Kingdom.  It's fairly out of the way and I've heard it's fairly easy to get in for character meets!  The fab 5 hang out there regularly!
As you can see, both of these parks have fantastic options for children - we love Disney's Animal Kingdom and can't imagine skipping it, but I know others disagree.  Hopefully this can help you in planning - showing your options! 

Which park do you prefer with younger children?

**If you want to try the shows but aren't sure how your little ones will do, sit on the ends of rows, so it's easier to leave if necessary.  Don't worry - you won't be the only ones!**

Monday, March 12, 2012

Magic Kingdom Attractions with Infants

The Magic Kingdom is filled with attractions for children of all ages.  Depending on their age, the children may not appreciate the attraction  If you are headed there with wee babies - or are a local that want to get some great photo ops - this list will help you know which attractions are best!

My first piece of advice, as with all small or willing children, is to babywear!  Find a carrier that is comfortable for YOU and the baby (yes, these do exist!) and you can be hands free - very helpful in long lines, while riding attractions, anywhere you can't have the stroller.  I even had my son sleeping in a wrap while eating at several restaurants!
2 popular and comfortable options of baby carriers - wrap and ergo!

  • Main Street, U.S.A.
    • Walt Disney Railroad
    • Main Street Vehicles
  • Tomorrowland
    • Tomorrowland Transit Authority/Wedway Peoplemover
    • Carousel of Progress - great for naptime/feeding/changing/resting
    • Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor - same as CoP
    • Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters - strap the baby on and play the game!
  • Fantasyland
    • Every attraction currently open in Fantasyland is infant friendly!  With an infant strapped on in a carrier, you can enjoy all of the rides while they take in the colors and explore the world.
      • The Great Goofini and the Snow White Mine Train have height requirements!
    • Walt Disney World Railroad Station 
  • Liberty Square
    • Similar to Fantasyland, these attractions are available to children of all ages.  Napping child but want to visit the Haunted Mansion?  It's nice and dark - perfect for nursing or napping.  Need a longer break?  The Hall of Presidents or even the Liberty Boat.  Note - the Liberty Boat doesn't have much available seating, so isn't necessarily as relaxing, but still offers beautiful views and a serene ride! 
  • Frontierland 
    • The Country Bear Jamboree - enjoy those bears?  Share the music with the little ones!
    • Walt Disney World Railroad has another stop here!
  • Adventureland
    • Every attraction in Adventureland is for children of all ages.  The Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse might not be as enjoyable carrying an infant, but the option is yours!
**For the attractions with height limits - such as Space and Splash Mountain - the Rider Swap Option is available and can even be used in combination with the fast pass!**

For other tips and tricks, see my Top 10 Tips for WDW with babies!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Flower and Garden Festival

Welcome to those of you joining me from The CanaDisneyblog and those of you just hopping aboard. I am the Final stop on our Magical Blogorail.

If you've been following the whole blogorail loop, you know we're talking about EPCOT's Flower and Garden Festival.  I do have to admit - this is not a festival I have ever attended and it's never been high on my list.  

Epcot (hard not to capitalize!)  has always been the park I've thought of with beautiful landscaping - I love the walkway towards the Canada Pavilion lined with roses (my favorite? The Julie Andrews roses!).  Throughout the year in all of the parks, there are always amazing topiaries to see.  My absolute favorite actually has nothing to do with the Flower and Garden Festival and it's not even located at Epcot:
Sorcerer Mickey!
My only actual experience with the festival are the remnants - sometimes they will leave big displays out and last June, we were lucky enough to see a large display:

Noah was at the peak of his Cars obsession, so this was amazing for him!  And even for me - they were so detailed and in such a beautiful garden.

Have you been to the Flower and Garden Festival or hope to go in the future?  I would love to know your thoughts on the festival!  

Thank you for joining Magical Blogorail Blue this month. We will be back Friday, March 9th with an all new theme. Keep checking in with our blogs in between loops to keep up to date with our Disney info, photos and stories. If you are looking for more Disney magic, you can make your way over to The Magical Blogorail website to see all our members and their blogs, as well as all our previous loops.

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 ~ Meet the Magic
Final Stop ~ Disney Babies Blog

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Trip Planning Woahs!

I have several "woahs" for my next Walt Disney World vacation. 

#1 - It's over 300 days away!  With baby #2 due in less than 6 weeks, we're not going to take a 2nd trip this year!

#2 - The real question: Where to stay!

For the past 2 Marathon Weekends, we have happily stayed in a beautiful and roomy (3 bedroom/3 bath w/ private pool) villa off property, located ridiculously close to WDW.  We rent our own car and don't step into the parks (other than for running) until the Sunday after the races, even though we arrive on Thursday.

And, for under $100 a night (yes, less than $100 a night for our own bedroom, bathroom, and full kitchen), it's been hard to even think of another option.

We travel with our son - next January with our 2 sons and meet my parents there - so we need room for 4 adults and 2 babies.  PLUS - we can't really share a room with the boys when we have to be up and out at 3 am for the race!  My parents aren't the quietest of people, so having them share a room isn't really an option either. 

But - this time, we're thinking we'll stay less than a week - which adds fees to staying in a villa.  And, we'd love to just do Magical Express and avoid traveling with 2 car seats.  

As I see it, our options are:

  1. Rent DVC points for a 2 bedroom (possibly switching to 1 bedroom after parents leave)
  2. Rent a 1 bedroom and a studio/get extra hotel room for pre-race night
  3. Book a "Value" Suite plus an extra room for the extra days with my parents
  4. Book a Shades of Green Suite, though without Magical Express, there is still the difficulty of transporting 2 car-seat mandated kids (and the price is about the same as a value, depending on discounts for both)
  5. Buy into DVC and use our own points (HA! Well, not going to happen, but worth a dream!)
Renting a 2 bedroom at $12 per point at AKL is $1620 for the 5 nights - not terrible!

OR My dream resort - the Boardwalk 2 bedroom would be $1920..  not too shabby.  And, being closer to parks, it's a more convenient location.  

Renting a suite would be approx $1250 (I've heard they run about $250 per night), but then we'd have to add a 2nd room for a couple of nights - about the same for the Shades of Green

Our best option seems to be renting DVC for a 2 bedroom.  But, my question is - Which option would you choose?  (if you have other options, I'd love to hear them!!)

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Window Wednesday!

Picture from Disney Parks Blog
As many of you might have heard, Robert Sherman, brother to Richard (shown above with Mickey Mouse) and partner in the amazing Sherman Brothers music team, passed away Monday night at the age of 86.  He and his brother were honored with a Main Street U.S.A. (Disneyland Resort) window in March of 2010.

We've all grown up listening to the amazing music that these brothers created - both in film and in theme parks. Everything from the Carousel of Progress and Small World to Mary Poppins and the original Parent Trap (love!).

What I learned from watching the documentary: "The Boys: The Sherman Brothers' Story" is that sadly, after so many years of amazing partnership, the two brothers were estranged in their later years.  The documentary was an attempt by their sons to help reunite them, though I don't think their bond was ever fully resolved.  Richard Sherman to this day still loves to be a part of the Disney community - performing at D23 conventions in the past few years and he's even scheduled to be a part of the WDW Radio Cruise this November (oh, how I wish I could go!), while Robert lived in London, dedicating a life to painting, instead of the music career he fell into in his younger years.

I can't imagine not knowing the words to Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious (even though I can't spell it!) or a Small World - or even "It's a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow" at the Carousel of Progress.

Next time you're at WDW waiting for the CoP, watch the video of Walt singing that very song with 2 men - those are the Sherman Brothers.  

Focused on the Magic