Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A Grand Deluxe

Welcome to those of you joining me from The CanaDisney Blog and those of you just hopping aboard. I am the 3rd, stop on our Magical Blogorail.

View from the Magic Kingdom connector Ferry Boat
Disney's Grand Floridian Resort and Spa opened up in 1988, as the first in a line of resorts that then Disney CEO Michael Eisner created to attract visitors to spend more time and money on Walt Disney property instead of the local area hotels.

Other Magic Kingdom area resorts were originally inspired by the lands of the Magic Kingdom  the Contemporary to be seen from Tomorrowland and the Polynesian from Adventureland, the Grand Floridian is tied to Main Street, U.S.A.  The hotel and grounds are inspired by the Victorian era houses on the east coast of Florida in the late 19th and early 20th century, the time perfectly ties into Main Street, U.S.A.

The main building I remember vividly growing up thanks to a wonderful episode of Full House (c'mon - who doesn't remember Uncle Jesse sitting down at the lobby grand piano to serenade Aunt Becky when he missed their anniversary picnic?), even more than the first time I stayed at the resort, in 1993.

During the evenings, and maybe during the day - I'm not sure of their specific times - there are piano players, playing classically arranged Disney music and other beautiful melodies to float through the beautifully ornate  lobby.  When the piano players aren't working, the Grand Floridian Society Orchestra The inside of the Main Building is reserved for concierge guests, and while it's lovely and a great (yet most likely insanely expensive) option, I've actually heard guests complain that it's very loud, as it's an open atrium in which the majority of guests go through regularly to make their way back to their rooms.

The first views walking in from the parking lot or Magical Express bus include the beautiful atrium lobby, but also stunning marble displays with many hidden characters on the grounds and even in the carpets.

Even the resort rooms are filled with Disney details.  The wallpaper, paintings, desks, and lamps are covered with our favorite pals.  At the bottom of this post, you can find my links to more of the decorations you can find when staying, or perusing, this beautiful resort!

The Grand Floridian is the flagship resort for Walt Disney World, and with that, it is the most expensive resort on property.  The Disney Vacation Club is currently building a resort there, near the Wedding Pavilion.  If you're looking for a wonderful spa, this is the location.. or would be if it weren't currently closed for the building of the DVC properties!  

This resort is on the resort monorail line with direct connections to:

  • The Transportation and Ticket Center (use to transfer to Epcot)
  • The Polynesian Resort
  • The Contemporary Resort
  • The Magic Kingdom 
    • Ferry Boats are available to the TTC and to the Magic Kingdom
    • Buses run from the Grand Floridian to other WDW Parks and water parks
Restaurants at the Grand Floridian include:
  • *Victoria and Albert's - a AAA Five Diamond Award Winner
  • *Narcoosee's - a Seafood restaurant with views of the Seven Seas, the Magic Kingdom, and Wishes - not in the main building
  • *Citricos - American food with a Mediterranean flair
  • 1900 Park Fare - Character breakfast and Dinner - a great place to meet Mary Poppins, Cinderella, Prince Charming, and Cinderella's two wicked step sisters
  • Grand Floridian Cafe - a very affordable and easily available place to sit down for any meal during the day
  • Gasparilla Grill  - their quick service restaurant - standard quick service, with a few more options than just burgers and hot dogs
*Signature Dining Resorts 

And, while this resort is fancy schmancy, my memories include watching Hulk Hogan film his short lived show, Thunder in Paradise 1993, and the memories my family and I made staying there last June.  My son had a blast in the pool, splash areas, and making friends with the cast members!  Plus, instead of the standard pack 'n' play, they had a real crib for him to sleep in!  

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

Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail should you happen to have to make astop along the way and want to reboard:
**3rd Stop ~ Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa**

Friday, July 27, 2012

Snack Time!

Walt Disney World is known for so many treats- the Dole Whip, Mickey Premium bar, churros, mickey pretzels, rice krispie treats, the list goes on and on.

We all have our favorites - something that we think about and crave in between vacations and sometimes even try to re-create these treats at home.

My favorite is absolutely something that I could make at home, but I haven't done it... yet.

My favorite?
Candy Cauldron, Downtown Disney
Mickey (or Minnie.  I like them both equally) caramel/chocolate/candy apples.

The Candy Cauldron is one of my favorite places at Downtown Disney, though it's a sure test of willpower!  You can make your own apple with toppings of your choice!  

Other places that offer these apples (with slightly less variety) - the Main Street Confectionery has the Mickey apples and Karamell Kuche in the German Pavilion at Epcot has their own varieties, though from my experience, the Karamell Kuche ones don't even come close!

Another reason I love this apple  - not the price tag - they ring in just under $10 - but, they cut them in slices and are easy to share and easily last a week in a fridge!

Yum!  What's your favorite Disney snack?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

I Wish I’d Known: 5 Ways to Prevent a Mickey Meltdown

We’ve all been there: enjoying a perfectly pleasant Disney day when, out of nowhere: BAM! Meltdown city. You watch, feeling helpless as your son freaks out because Mickey’s Star Traders didn’t have the exact Buzz Lightyear t-shirt he wanted. (How oddly specific …)

That was me. Starring in horror as he threw his little three-year-old body on the floor, and I tried to figure out where things went wrong and, more importantly, how to disarm my little whine-bomb.

Yes, taking the kids to Walt Disney World is a challenge, but with some advance planning, you can head off some of the most common meltdowns before they start. Here’s how:

Tickets Ready
For the love of Pluto, get your tickets before you get down to Orlando! If you’re not purchasing your tickets as part of a Magic Your Way Package, have them delivered to your home well in advance of the trip. But never, never, never plan to buy them when you get there.

Why? Because 10,000 other people had that same idea, and you really don’t want to start your vacation by waiting in a long, hot, increasingly cranky line. After weeks (months, even) of excitement and build up, when you finally tell your kids that it’s time to head to the Parks, you’d better take them to the Parks. To do anything less is asking for a meltdown.

Bag Prepared
Kids need a lot of stuff. More stuff that I ever thought possible until I had one. Sunscreen. Toys. Wipes. Juice boxes. Clean socks. Those tickets you made sure to buy in advance. I mean the list never ends. Are you that mom who’s frantically throwing things in a backpack or bag as her kids whine at her from the door, ready to hit the road? Don’t be that mom.

Make a list of everything you need. Check it twice. And then pack it. Preferably at night, after the kids have gone to bed, but in the morning, before they wake up also works. Just make sure you pack it before they’re impatiently chanting at you from the doorway. That’s really obnoxious. And it starts the day off on the wrong foot—for them and for you.

Beat the Heat (Before It Beats You)
It is summertime, and the heat index is crazy high, but Orlando can be unbearably hot even in January. Subvert a meltdown before it starts by including some air-conditioned attractions in your touring strategy so you can cool down those precious little noggins without cooling down the fun. To give you a head start, here are my favorite cool-down spots in each of WDW’s four Parks:

1.       Animal Kingdom: It’s Tough to Be a Bug
2.       Epcot: The Seas with Nemo and Friends
3.       Hollywood Studios: The Great Movie Ride or MuppetVision 3D
4.       Magic Kingdom: Hall of Presidents

There are, of course, more attractions with cool, indoor queues (Editors note - the new Dumbo queue play area seems to be a perfect place to spend time!). Know them and learn to love them. Tell your kids about them before you get on the plane. Build it up. You want them to want to ride Spaceship Earth. Why? Because it’ll make convincing them to get out of the heat a little easier.

Another great tip? Take a break in the middle of the day. This timeless suggestion has helped many families (including mine) make it through Disney vacations. Head back to the hotel, or schedule a table-service sit-down meal midday so that very little ones can nap and toddlers or older kids can rest.

Know the Limits
All of this advance planning is meaningless if you don’t know—and respect—your little ones’ limits. Even if you let them sleep in, keep them out of the sun, and keep them plied with snacks and drinks; your kids can’t go all day. (Neither can I, so I totally get it.)

Disney is exciting, and it’s easy to get carried away. But do your best to keep the tempo reasonable and give them time to take it all in. Talk to them—what do they think of that ride/character/experience? There’s a lot going on at Disney World, and their little brains need time (and permission) to process it all, otherwise they’ll be overwhelmed and overtired before you are two rides into Fantasyland.

Above all, when they tell you it’s time to stop, stop. Knowing their limits and listening closely enough to know when they’re reaching them is the best advice anyone can give you.

Expect Defeat … and Have Fun
You can’t control everything. It’s pointless to try. And keeping yourself on high alert is just going to stress you out. And you know what causes more meltdowns than heat, lines and hunger combined? A stressed out mommy or daddy. I don’t have to tell you how perceptive our children are; they are just as impacted by our moods as we are by theirs.

Control what you can, and let go of the rest. Have fun with your kids. Get Goofy, hug Mickey and try on a few silly hats. In short, enjoy your vacation and your little ones. They won’t be young forever, and this is, after all, a vacation.

So, yes, plan, plan, plan … but then let go and make those memories!!

About the author: Elisabeth McGuirk is a full-time mommy and part-time Disney enthusiast living near Johnson City, N.C. She works on MickeyFix.com, helping fellow Disney fans find all of the Disney stuff they didn’t know they needed. Find your Mickey Fix on twitter @mickeyfix.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Ring Sling - My Newest Must Have

I became a baby wearer when Noah was fairly young - maybe 6 weeks old.  A coworker loaned me a stretchy wrap (like a Moby or a Sleepy Wrap) and I was immediately addicted.  With the help of another coworker, I learned more about my choices in babywearing and researched a lot at the site for all babywearers - The BabyWearer.Org.  I learned of the different materials, sizes, and styles of these wraps before I found my Gypsy Mama Bali Breeze.  I loved that wrap and used it constantly, and plan to again.. eventually.

But, with #2 on the way, I knew I needed to find something easier - easier to put on, easier to nurse in.  I knew I wanted a Ring Sling.

I had a guest blogger share her experience with a standard pouch sling, which I never really got the hang of or felt comfortable with, but other than that same coworker sharing her ring sling with me, I hadn't really seem them often and didn't really understand them. 

Ring slings have a higher learning curve (they take more than 2 attempts to get really comfortable with) and as Noah was several months old when we first tried, neither of us really learned how to use it, though we did figure out nursing in it a few times!

So, before Z was born, I researched and researched (again on TheBabyWearer)  before I decided on a Sleeping Baby Productions (SBP) ring sling.  There are so many options - padded or not padded, pleated or not - and I wasn't really sure what I was looking for, but over and over again, I kept seeing "SBP is awesome."  So, I scoured the website and found out that SBP is a one-woman production making excellent slings for an incredibly reasonable price.  The other company I kept looking at, Sakura Bloom, had beautiful wraps, but they were all ridiculously expensive, at least for my budget!  Well over $100 for something I wasn't even sure I would like?  No thanks.

SBP came back to me - prices start around $40 and go up, depending on your choices in fabric and style. Sounds reasonable to me.  Completely custom, I chose the fabric style (linen), color (blue), ring color (blue!), and added a tail decoration with a POCKET.  Yup, a pocket.  To hold my phone or keys, or simply an extra pacifier.  And, I do put stuff in there when we're walking around the grocery store or even around the block.  I considered buying my own fabric, but found one I really liked on her site.  Want her to customize it with a Disney fabric (so tempting)?  Buy whatever you like at JoAnns and mail it to her - she'll do that, too!

Now,  how does the thing really work? 

Holding up the pocket!
Well, I started figuring it out when Z was a couple of days old.  I watched the videos on youtube about how to put them in and feel secure as well as reading the printed instructions that came with my sling.  I had put it together (thread it) before he was born, but between 41 weeks of pregnancy and the following days, it changed lengths drastically, so I also had to learn to tighten it.

Unlike a pouch sling, this is fully adjustable to the wearer and the baby.  As a newborn, I froggied Z's feet so they were completely inside the sling and created a pouch for him to relax in before tightening the upper "rail" around his neck/head.  While his head was still very wobbly, I generally held onto his neck, but over the past several weeks, his neck has gained a lot of strength and our comfort in the sling has increased.  I wear him almost always if we're in public (unless he's fallen asleep in his carrier, then I just go with that), whether at the grocery store, farmer's market, or even at parties.

Over the weekend, I pulled out the sling to show some expectant mama's and ended up wearing him for about an hour, giving me a hands free chance to grab a bite to eat, walk around and mingle, and show off my find.  I showed a few how easy it is to put on and put him in and even gave out the name SBP to a few of them.  And, as long as he needs to feed on my right side, I can nurse in it (I'm sure it's doable to feed on the other side, I just haven't figured it out.  Whoops). I still have my wrap and my ergo, but this is currently my go-to baby carrier. 
Stretched out comfortable across my back

Baby's head is kissable!

stretched underneath his knees, creating a seat! good for his hips

When I favor my sling:
- quick trips into the store
- parties where I'm standing around
- around the house, making dinner, etc..
- I would absolutely wear this at the parks if I was taking a younger baby.. Older babies end up being held in a hip carry and I haven't experienced that yet, so as of right now, I would guess I would be more comfortable with my wrap.

When I favor my wrap:
- Longer walks/exercise.  It distributes weight evenly over both shoulders and the back, so I prefer it for this - also, it's easier to cover his body completely -legs/arms/head to keep him out of the sun.
- Older babies for longer periods of time
- When my sling isn't in reach and I have a few extra seconds to tie it on

When I favor my ergo:
- When my husband learns to use it and starts to babywear

**Pardon the pictures- I wanted to finally post this review and hadn't taken any good pictures with me wearing Z!**

Someone asked me at the party: isn't it hot to carry him in that?  My response?  No hotter than if I were carrying him in my arms.  And it's so much easier to wear them.  And, tired of people trying to touch or hold the baby or does the baby simply need a place to nap?  Strap them on and go about your day.  You'll have free hands and they'll be comfortable.  Win-win.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


Today, I'm posting about one of my favorite housing options over at The Disney Moms!

So instead of posting a separate article, I thought I would ask for your help.

I want to gather a great list from great minds -
please comment here, on facebook, or on twitter with your #1 tip for first timers going to WDW!

I would love to make a great and comprehensive list!!

Thanks in advance!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Need to Wait!

If you've seen the pictures of my newborn son, you may have noticed something: he was born with a full head of hair.
Zachary, June 2012

April 2012
I don't mean normal thin, fine baby hair, but long dark brown with natural redish blonde highlights.  It's actually pretty incredible.  It's impossible not to notice the long dark hair (sometimes more red than brown, depending on the light) and think "wow that baby has a lot of hair."  In the hospital, the first 24 hours of his life, I kept looking at it and touching it and when people first see him, that's usually the first comment.

My husband's?  Wow, he's going to need a haircut soon.  Don't get me wrong - I'm usually a fan of short hair.  Noah's hair never goes over his ears.  As soon as it starts to grow out, we take him to our local children hair cutting place and get him a trim. But, Noah wasn't born with this much hair.  Noah started to need a haircut a little before he turned one, but I refused to let him get his hair cut before his 13 month appointment with the Harmony Barber Shop in the Magic Kingdom.  My husband actually took his nail scissors and cut a little, much to my protest. 

Zachary, at 10 weeks, has such a full head of hair, I can't even imagine how long it would be at 1.  He is starting to get the standard baby hair loss in the back, but it's still long on top and the sides.  But, I just can't let him get a hair cut or even consider it for two reasons:

1. I love love love his hair.   And...
2. He has to have his first hair cut at the Harmony Barber Shop! 

I love that place - Noah has had 3 haircuts there and if I wasn't such a salon snob, I would do it for the experience!  The barbers are quick and amazingly experienced with little ones - it's hard not to be if your place of work is WDW.  They know how to entertain them and move fast and efficiently to get a great haircut with little protest from youngsters.
Noah's first cut

Not only is it a great place because of the people, but if you get your child's first haircut there, you get a special certificate as well as a special "1st haircut" set of Mickey ears!  It's too special to pass up!  Plus, since you can make a reservation, the wait to get in is often shorter than any other wait in the parks, or again, compared to a local hair barbershop.

Now to keep the scissors away from my husband for 8 more

And they walk out with fancy new mouse ears for a first cut!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Breaking the Habit

When we headed down to Walt Disney World for Noah's first trip, he was just barely over 6 months of age.  With a little one, 6 months can be a time of many transitions, and we had to consider those when planning our trip.

1st - Pacifier use. 
With most of books we had telling us to get rid of the pacifier between 4-6 months, we had every intention of falling that direction, until we realized: we were about to take a 2+ hour plane ride with a little guy.. with no pacifier?  So we held on to that habit for a few extra weeks and tossed them shortly after our return.  Many may be surprised, but even with a serious pacifier addiction, getting rid of it was easier than stopping the swaddle habit and he never looked back.  He's picked up his baby brothers a few times, but has never, since the initial loss of his pacifier, tried to suck on one, or his fingers.

2nd - Solid Foods
It is recommended to begin solid foods anywhere from 4-6 months, with recommendations now pushing for a later start.  I figured we could push it to 6.5 months pretty easily.  That is, until Noah started to really want food.  Anyone who has seen a little one eye their meal knows what I'm talking about.  He was growing, both out and up, and was hungry beyond milk.  Technically, breast milk (I'm not sure if formula is considered the same) is the perfect nutritional food for the first year of life - a baby could sustain on that alone.  But, around 6 months, they usually start to want to eat.
So, if you're traveling when they're starting, what are your options?  Carry around a lot of pre-made foods and rice cereal with extra milk for formula to mix?

Well, technically that is an option, but there is definitely a better one:


There are 3 foods that are the easiest foods to start a baby on if you're planning to travel-
1. Banana
2. Avocado
3. Apples (applesauce)

With a banana, you can literally take a banana, bit of the end, and mush it right there in the peel if you don't have anything else.  Or, just take an overripe one and smush a little with your fingers before giving it to the baby.
6 month old Noah - loved his avocado!

I found avocado easy because I love avocado and often or sandwiches and salads containing it.  I could simply pick out some of mine, mush it up, and there's his food right there.

Applesauce is great, too.  Especially at WDW.  Sugar free applesauce is often offered as a side at counter service meals and is easy to find all around the resort!

We did stock up on some organic Gerber brand pea mush, but barely used any of it during our trip!  In fact, many times we were eating, he was so distracted and curious about the rest of the world, he had no interest in solids and didn't eat many during our trip! 

For more about starting solid foods, recipes, and which foods to start with and when, check out the amazing resource that is Wholesome Baby Food!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Guest Post - Know Before You Go: Carsland!

Last month, Disney's California Adventure opened up two new areas - Carsland and Buena Vista Street.         As a mother of 2 little boys, one of which is obsessed with all things Cars, I would love to visit Carsland.  But then again, I'm a mother of 2 little boys and flying from VA to CA with them just sounds awful.  So instead, I asked my friend Melissa from Picturing Disney to let me share her thoughts, since she was lucky enough to travel out west shortly after the opening!  Enjoy her guest post and please leave her some love!

Even though Walt Disney World captured my heart from the first day I set foot into Epcot at sunset the day of my very first trip, Disneyland holds its only special place in my heart.  I love it not more or equally but in its own fantastical magical way.  California Adventure Park is an incredible Disney Park.  I always say that it is everything I have always wanted out of WDW’s Hollywood Studios and the new expansion just makes that even more so.  Buena Vista Street is amazing and Carsland lives up to every bit of hype.

What most people tend to overlook about Carsland is that this isn’t like “A Bug’s Land” or “Hollywood Studios” where you can spend a few hours and get a lot done.  You can think of it more like “Paradise Pier” in that sense where you can spend half of your day here and not get bored.  The only difference? The crowds are so big at Carsland right now you may still not get to see and do everything.

First and foremost, Fast Pass Radiator Springs Racers early in the morning and then try to ride the Luigi and/or Mater rides.  If the crowds have already built up, save it for a little later in the day and watch the wait times.  The key attraction is the Racers so they should be your top priority.  Also, timing the rides you need to wait for with the parades or normal meal times can help with crowds.  If you go in with the expectation of crowds and not worry about it then you will be okay. 

You need to make sure that you don’t miss all the other fun at Carsland.  Opt for Photopass pictures even if you aren’t planning to purchase the CD.  Ask the photographer to also take a picture with your camera so you can get a picture outside the Radiator Springs firehouse with the statue of the mayor and with the “Welcome to Carsland” sign. 
Also, be sure to check the times guide for DJ’s Dance and Drive if you have kids (or if you are a kid at heart) because this is also adorable and lots of fun.  Also, don’t miss shopping the shops, the photo ops (Mater is usually out front at the Cozy Cone which is an awesome ice cream shop) and dining at Flo’s! 
Most importantly, prioritize and choose what is most important.  Once you know what you feel like you really want to do you can omit the less important things.  This is one of the best places in the park for people watching and enjoying the music and ambiance. Kachow!

Want more pictures of the California Adventure expansion? Check out my photoblog Picturing Disney and the new albums on our Facebook page

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Tombstone Wednesday!

Looking through my Haunted Mansion Tombstone pictures, I realized that I was almost out of new-to-you pics (I obviously missed a few!), but then noticed that I hadn't shown one of the most important tombstones!

Francis Xavier
No Time Off for Good Behavior

Apparently Requiscat in pace - Latin version of RIP

Francis Xavier Atencio - "X" Atencio - Disney Legend - he not only did animation for classics such as Fantasia, but he also wrote the music for Yo-Ho - for the Pirates of the Caribbean and the Grim Grinning Ghosts for the Haunted Mansion.  X worked for the Disney Company for 47 years, retiring in 1984.

This week and other Disney Wordless Wednesday posts can be found at:

Focused on the Magic

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Dealing with Fear

I used to think that Noah had no fear.  I used to worry that he would do crazy things as result of this lack of fear (too young for common sense?).  His first 3 trips to WDW, we could do anything, as he didn't realize what was going on and didn't think about fear.  
Piper, 1 and Noah, 6 months. No fear here
At 25 months old in January, he started to show fear.  With that, I mean that during Peter Pan, he didn't smile and as we were exiting the ride, he said "scared. Ride again."   Since, we've watched Peter Pan several times, as well as a few minutes of Jake and the Neverland Pirates.  Peter Pan is an absolute must for me, so I  need to make sure his fears won't keep me from it!  He also really disliked the Astro Orbiter, though I only took him on it after a lot of begging.  That one, I don't mind skipping - too fast, too high, and at a very strange angle, it's not my favorite attraction alone or with a little one! 

25 months.. not a fan of meeting Winnie the Pooh!
But now that we're reaching 2.5 years of age, fear is becoming more common.  Thunder now really scares him, even once waking him from a deep sleep and into a screaming state.  Of course, here in the D.C. area, we've had a few doozies lately, so I understand the fear, but it does make me wonder, what will be of our next trip?

Will fireworks scare him?  I wanted to watch fireworks on the 4th of July, but with fireworks starting at 9:30 p.m. and a regular bedtime of 7, we knew that just wasn't going to happen.  The booms are loud and after the terror in his eyes when thunder boomed over the weekend, I will be interested to see what he will think when the booms are accompanied by beautiful fireworks.  The only show he has seen was Illuminations which he loved, but that was a year ago, so who knows what 3 year old Noah will think.  I'm hoping that little man Z, who will be 10 months at his first trip to The World won't notice them, similar to Noah's earliest reactions, but only time will tell.
Another fear that we might encounter will be on "thrill" rides.  At a recent carnival, Noah rode in a car ride designed for young children by himself.  We didn't realize before we put him on the ride that it whipped the children around a corner.  I promise he wasn't the only kid crying in fear at that ride!  Would it have been a different experience had we been in the car with him?  I'm not sure.
Beware the Speedway...

I'm pretty sure we'll find out on his first roller coaster- The Barnstormer with the Great Goofini has a height requirement that he has already surprised (35" and we might have been able to try it in January, had it not been closed for renovation. We think he may even be tall enough to ride some of the other "thrill" rides - Kali River Rapids has a height requirement of 38" and he's now 36".  Will he like it?  I'm hoping to try the Barnstormer before we consider any other "big kid" rides to test the water. 

What about The Haunted Mansion?  In the past, that's been a no-brainer.  He didn't understand ghosts or monsters - heck, his first trip, I nursed him during the ride!  One thing to consider - when my nephew, now 7, first went to WDW for his 5th birthday, that was his first attraction of the day.  It scared him so much that he didn't want to do anything else for the rest of the day.  We'll make sure to start with happier Fantasy attractions before we work our way to the scary ones, maybe even planning those immediately before a meal or break. 
Will Madame Leota scare a 3 year old Noah?
Obviously all children are different - but keep what their fears may do before you think "oh, my 3 year old is tall enough for the Tower of Terror, let's go."  They may love it, or simply melt down to the point of no return (if you don't believe me, look on youtube for videos of this.  They are extensive.).  If it's a possibility, head to a local carnival and try miniature versions of these rides - our local carnival had a smaller free-fall ride for children, which had 8 kids screaming at a time the entire day.  Definitely some children will enjoy them, but even the seemingly fearless may not!

Have you experienced fears in the park?  What attractions do you avoid and how do your children handle their fears?  I'd love to hear your experiences both good and bad!

Friday, July 13, 2012

When You Wish Upon a Star...

Welcome to those of you joining me from The CanaDisney Blog and those of you just hopping aboard. I am the 3rd stop on our Magical Blogorail.

As a mom of now 2 youngsters, Walt Disney World's night time spectaculars are not high on my priority list.  Every trip I say "I really want to stay for the fireworks" but does it happen?  No.  

Actually, once in the past few years it did - we stayed for Illuminations in Epcot.  
It was easy - late dinner in the World Showcase and then we found a spot just in time for it to start.

And let me tell you - Illuminations is incredible.  And I recently heard a rumor about refurbishment (?) though I can't for the life of me remember where I heard that.  It may be the best show ever.  But, it's not necessarily my favorite.


Because Wishes is shown behind Cinderella Castle, and what beats out a Castle?  Oh, and Tinkerbelle flying?  Seriously.

In 2009, on our "babymoon," we splurged at stayed in a Magic Kingdom view room in Disney's Contemporary Resort.  We got to watch the show from our balcony - pretty incredible (though my pictures are seriously lacking in beauty.  I apologize!).

Another reason I love Wishes - 

I'm a musician.  I've been performing with fireworks for July 4th since.. well, forever.  8th grade?  So...  probably 1996 was the first time.  That's a while.  So, I've seen them.  Lots of them.  They rarely impress me.  Except at Walt Disney World.

View from our Contemporary room
And Wishes was the first show that actually awed me.  I remember watching it for the first time in 2004/05 (right around New Years.. I'm not sure if it was before or after!) and loving every second of it.  

It's also an awesome view from certain rides- Splash Mountain and Big Thunder are great to be on during the show for glimpses here and there.

One day I'll check out Fantasmic - one day when I don't have to think about waiting for a seat for a long show with 2 little ones that aren't good at waiting that long.

But for now,

Thank you for joining me today. Your next stop on the Magical Blogorail Loop is Cooking with Mickey

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 Pursuing the Magic 
2nd Stop The CanaDisney Blog 
3rd Stop **You are here** Disney Babies Blog
4th Stop Cooking with Mickey 
5th Stop Meet the Magic 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

FREE Disney Dining Now Available~Mickey Ears and Autograph Books with Booking

Today is the announcement that you have all been waiting for. Today July 12,2012 the Walt Disney Travel Company has announced their much anticipated FREE Disney Dining for the fall. Below are the official details directly from Disney. 
Click to enlarge

Offer Details:

Get ready to cook up a great vacation! Purchase a non-discounted
6-Night/7-Day Magic Your Way Package (with accommodations
and Theme Park tickets included) for arrivals most nights
9/30–10/4, 10/19–11/1, 11/9–11/15, 11/23–11/29 and 12/10–12/13/12
— at select Disney Value Resorts and get a FREE Quick-Service
Dining Plan, or at select Disney Moderate, Deluxe and Deluxe
Villa Resorts and get a FREE Disney Dining Plan. An offer this
tasty is the perfect recipe for a vacation you’ll never forget!
Book 7/12–9/29/12.

Offer excludes campsites, 3-bedroom villas, and is not valid at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort – Little Mermaid Standard View Rooms.
Excludes gratuities and alcoholic beverages. 

As always we would be honored to be chosen as your Disney Travel Specialist. Are you ready to book? Contact me today for your FREE quote. We offer the very BEST customer service and magical extras to make your trip truly unforgettable.

*Unlike previous years this year FREE Dining is extremely limited. You will need to book soon in order to get the room you would like. Do not wait!

See ya real soon!

**note from Jenn - make sure to tell Kelly you heard about this from me!!**

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Dreaming of WDW 2013?

Have you been dreaming of a Walt Disney World vacation in 2013? 

Hello Disney Babies Blog fans…Kelly Ortiz here with Disney Guru Travel here to share some exciting vacation planning news.

As of today, July 11th, 2012, you can book your 2013 dream vacation!

Book now and you could have up to 16 months to pay your vacation in full!

Confirm your 2013 vacation by August 31, 2012 and get FREE Mickey Ears, autograph books and pens for each child in your party! 

All adults traveling?  Get a free $25 Disney Gift card!

Contact me today for your quote! Be sure to mention Disney Babies Blog so that you qualify for the promotion. :0)

See Ya Real Soon!


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Planet Explorers - Review!

To surprise or not to surprise, that has become a big question when it comes to vacation planning.

If you're like me and unable to keep the secret, you may want to help build excitement and get your children involved (as much as possible, depending on the age) with the planning.  But, a 7 year old isn't likely to sit down with a 200 page guide book and really dig in.

That's where the Planet Explorer books, by Laura Schaefer, come in.  Laura has covered a wide variety of family friendly vacations including Chicago, Disneyland, and everyone's (my!) favorite Walt Disney World.

Now, she has taken on the Disney Cruise Line.
Sold on amazon with a sneak peak available!
Maybe kids don't know anything about cruising - I didn't until I was 26!  These books are perfect - she explains the different ships and different areas on board.

In the books, kids can learn all about the different decks, club areas, dining experiences, characters, and other experiences available on board.

Another amazing feature of these books - she gives great details about all of the ports that the Disney Cruise Line travels to-

  • Headed to San Juan, Puerto Rico?  Make sure to visit the tomb of Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon
  • Juneau, Alaska - Gold fever struck Juneau after being discovered in 1880
These fun facts and so many more are listed in this book, so your kids not only get excited about their ports of call, but learn as well!

And, my favorite part of the Planet Explorer books?  They all cost between $.99-$3.99! 

For more information about this series (and I have another review of book on Epcot which I CAN'T wait to read coming soon), check out the Planet Explorers website, or buy them on Amazon.com.

**These books were given to me for review purposes, but all opinions are my own!  Hope you enjoy!**

Friday, July 6, 2012

I'm Can't Get Enough...

Welcome to those of you joining me from Return to Disney and those of you just hopping aboard. I am the 4th stop on our Magical Blogorail.

Our One Disney obsession. That sentence doesn't do it justice - I asked my husband what my obsession is and he said "Disney." And, he's right. But really, what is it that makes me feel most at home?  

Main Street, U.S.A.
Main Street Trolley Show
I've written about Main Street U.S.A. several other times. In fact, I've done an entire series decoding the Windows of Main Street. I've talked about the Magic you can discover while walking down the street, if you're not simply rushing towards Tomorrowland.

My dream Disney job would to be a character on Main Street - I got to sing with the Women of Main Street in January, but I love the idea of joining the Main Street Saxophone Quartet or becoming the Casey Corner Piano WoMan (it couldn't happen, right?)

For too many years, I walked down the street, looking towards the Weenie (yup, the weenie) that is Cinderella Castle and headed straight for the rides. I didn't think about everything that was on Main Street.

Now, I walk down the street thinking about how magical that street is (and was, when the shops were different, as opposed to the big giant shop that lines both sides of the street). I love the forced perspective - how the upper floors are smaller than the bottom floors, so they appear taller than they are - drawing your eye down the street - they are larger than in Disneyland, though. These upper floors are used as offices for lucky Cast Members! I mentioned the Windows - so many give credit to retired Imagineers, giving them a lasting legacy.

It's calling a lot of people!
I love the Characters of Main Street - Mayor Christopher George Weaver

and the Dapper Dans:

With occasional guest writer, Brandon, singing bass!
But really, the music gets me every time. Whether it's the Dans, the piano man at Casey's, the Women, or the piped in music from The Music Man, among others, it's the first thing that always gets me in the mood for a magical day.

The Piano man letting my son play!

I love the music. I turn on Disney radio stations as often as possible hoping to hear some great music to start my day (D-Cot when possible, so I choose my tunes). The music transports me into my happy place. Not the smells of popcorn and ice cream (though those don't hurt!), but the sounds of Main Street, U.S.A. I just can't get enough of it!

I want to thank the Magical Blogorail Yellow Loop for letting me join - I'm regularly on the blue loop!

Thank you for joining me today. Your next stop on the Magical Blogorail Loop is DISTherapy
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 ~ Delightfully Disney
3rd Stop ~ Return to Disney
4th Stop ~ Disney Babies Blog
Final Stop ~ DISTherapy