Wednesday, January 30, 2013

5 New to Me!

Last week, I shared 10 new attractions/restaurants/resorts at Walt Disney World that have opened since my last trip in January 2012.

Now, I'm excited to share 5 experiences that will be new to me on our upcoming trip!

  1. We're staying at Old Key West!! This will be both my first time staying DVC and first time visiting OKW!
  2. Enjoying a resort campfire!  Old Key West is scheduled to have one while we're there, but we might stop by the one at...
  3. Disney's Fort Wilderness is on my must-see for the next trip.  And theWilderness Lodge.  In my mind, they're close, but I think it might be harder than expected to see them both.. I'll find out and report back!
  4. After many recommendations, we're eating at O'hana!  A favorite to many, O'hana at Disney's Polynesian is known for a great character breakfast and a family style dinner.  I'm excited to try it!
  5. First trip with two children!  I'm so excited for my little guy to experience Walt Disney World for the first time.  I'm slightly afraid he's going to flip out with the characters (I'll explain in a later post), but I'm hopeful he'll enjoy the parks as much as Noah did his first trip!  Or, at the very least, be peaceful!
What new experiences do you hope to do on your next trip?

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Needing a break?

I'm always running little late.  I get behind.  I get overwhelmed with work, family, and blog.

I think we all do.

But, luckily General Mills knows this and with 2 proofs of purchase, you can get a free movie ticket!

Here's how it works:
For a limited time (11/08/2012 – 12/06/2013) you can receive a free movie ticket when you purchase two specially marked packages of General Mills cereals including Cheerios, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Lucky Charms, Trix, Cocoa Puffs, Golden Grahams, and Reese's Peanut Butter Puffs.

I love Reeses Puffs and Lucky Charms - they're dessert for me!

After purchasing two participating cereals, visit  to enter the unique code found inside each box of cereal and print-off your free Movie Cash certificate (good for one admission of up to a $12 value at participating theaters). 

To find a participating movie theater in your area log onto:

To celebrate this awesome offer - 
I was excited to receive a free gift box - my own delicious box of General Mills cereal (I got Trix) and 2 movie tickets and I get to give a gift box away!

We all need a little break now and then - not many better ways than to get away from it all and have a movie night!  And while I can't say reeses puffs or lucky charms make a great breakfast (I prefer non-sugary breakfasts and have to limit my boys'), they are delicious, don't you think?  And, we're always stocked full of cheerios, so I'll be stocking up to get our movie tickets!

"Disclosure: The information, products and General Mills gift pack were provided by General Mills through MyBlogSpark."

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Monday, January 28, 2013

Tiggerific Tuesday Trivia

Welcome back for another week of trivia with my friends at Magical Mouse Schoolhouse, My Dreams of Disney, and Heidi's Head!

Thanks to Melissa from Disney on Wheels for this great pic!

Did you know:
When the Polynesian and Contemporary resorts were built in 1971, they built them using "unitized modular construction."  Essentially, they built the frames of the buildings and made the rooms in a separate place.  Once the rooms were completely finished, they were slid into place!

For more and construction pictures, check out this post from the Disney Parks Blog!

1 Month to go!

I can't believe we are UNDER the one month mark!  

Since the 2 month mark, I've taken care of everything, minus being slightly behind in the running category.  The whole family getting sick did not make it easy to get out for some long runs.  But, that's okay!  We are expecting a warm front on Tuesday (60!?) for me to take advantage of and run a 9 mile run... maybe I'll push it to 10, but my plan is 9 Tuesday, 11 the week after, 13 the following, 6/7 the week after, then BOOM! Race weekend!

So, what's left for the final month of to-dos?

  1. Mentally prepare outfits - this goes for me and the boys and our race gear.  Our first race trip, I didn't pack my running team shirt and wore my husbands.  Whoops!
  2. Start packing warm weather clothes clothes - I know we won't be needing shorts and t-shirts here before our trip!
    1. I plan to put the boys clothes in outfits in ziplocks - great for carry-ons and in park bags for back up!  
    2. Find our shorts or buy new as needed!
    3. Find/buy new top rated sunscreen!
  3. Make activity kits for the flight
    1. Coloring books, maybe some more Color Wonder, toys - things to keep 2 little boys entertained for 3 hours!
    2. Download more interactive books for my phone and tablet!
  4. Check weather forecast daily!  Average high's in the 80's and the lows in the 40's!!  Sounds like layers!
  5. Buy tickets - back in my Florida Resident days, I would buy at the gate, but now that I'm military, I buy our tickets at our military ticket booth on post.. deals plus tax-free.  
  6. Listen to parks music, watch you-tube, and get excited.  As if I wasn't already :)
What do you do in the last month before a trip?

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Week in Review!

Have you seen everything going on with Disney Babies Blog this week?

Monday - Inauguration day and Martin Luther King, Jr. day..  Such a big day!

Tuesday - For Tiggerific Tuesday Trivia, I shared Presidential Disney Trivia!

Tuesday - Make sure to check out this review and giveaway of a great book for parents from pregnancy and beyond!

Thursday - I shared my Top 10 attractions to see that are NEW since my last trip in January 2012

Friday - Running Disney?  Here is a quick overview of what to expect at the race expos!

Friday, January 25, 2013

runDisney Expo!

With less than a month until Walt Disney World hosts their 2013 Princess Half Marathon Weekend, I'm completely gearing up towards my next big race - the Disney Princess Half Marathon.

Princess weekend overview looks like this:
Thursday/Friday/Saturday - Race Expo:
- for Marathon Weekend, the expo is at the ESPN Wide World of Sports
- for Princess Weekend 2013, the expo is at Disney's Coronado Springs Resort

- Kids Races
- Family 5k

Sunday Half Marathon

The big race is the last event for the race weekend, so the expo is not open during the day.

What's at the Expo?
The main purpose of the expo for for exhibitors and vendors to show off and sell their products.  Shoes, clothes, headphones, hairbands, runDisney paraphernalia, decorative cases to showcase medals and bibs - everything you could possibly think of and more can be found at the marathon expos.  Many companies will share samples of new (or maybe simply new-to-you) energy bites, bars, etc...  I wouldn't recommend starting a new one for the big race, but maybe you'll taste something you'll want to try on future runs!

The expos can be completely overwhelming and, at least in the past have not been stroller friendly.  At the ESPN WWoS, strollers can not go into the buildings to pick up race packets and explore.  I'm not sure how it will work at Coronado Springs, but I would guess it would probably be similar!  They pack those vendors in tightly!

Just as I recommend with park hopping before a big race - try not to over-do it at the expo and walk around for hours.  It would be very easy to explore for hours and then be tired and sore before the race.

Don't miss:

  • Packet Pick-up
  • KT-Tape - awesome sports tape - they will apply one for free, more if you buy some tape!
  • Shopping for runDisney gear for training for later races!
Those are my only must-do's!  What are yours?

Good luck training and hope to see you in the corrals!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

10 New Experiences!

Since my last trip to Walt Disney World in January 2012, there have been so many changes at Walt Disney World.  I've tried to steer clear of too many pictures, because I am excited to see things first hand, but I've had to make a list of all the new attractions, restaurants, and treats that I will be able to experience.  So many, I've made a list of only some of the new things I'll get to experience in February!

  1. Be Our Guest Restaurant - in Fantasyland, in one of the TWO new castles, is what many are saying is the best sit-down (and counter service if you're going at lunch) restaurant in The Magic Kingdom.  We have dinner reservations for our final night.  I can't wait!
  2. Gaston's Tavern - continuing with the Beauty and the Beast area, Gaston's Tavern may not have snacks I'm looking forward to (the pork shank has been compared more than once to the Turkey Leg. Not my thing), but I've heard raves about interactions with Gaston! 
  3. Storybook Circus - Though Storybook Circus has been open for several months longer than New Fantasyland, I have yet to see the Dueling Dumbo's, the new Dumbo queue/playground, and all of the details that have been implemented in Storybook Circus.  I'll make sure to take an insane amount of pictures!
  4. Updated Test Track - Test Track was never my top attraction at Epcot, but I'm very curious to experience the updated version.  Plus, I'm hopeful that my 3 year old will make the 40" mark (with his shoes on) and get to ride.  I'm pretty sure he'll love it!
  5. Art of Animation Resort - I had originally thought about staying here, but after we rented DVC points, we decided that we'll just tour the grounds and save our stay for a shorter trip!
  6. Characters in Flight- I've wanted to fly on the tethered hot air balloon at Downtown Disney for years.  Now, thanks to Groupon, I will be going on it, weather permitting!  Plus, since last January, it's a brand new balloon!
  7. New Bakery - Les Halles Boulangerie Patisserie - Now open in the France Pavilion at Epcot, this expanded bakery looks just as tasty as the old Patisserie, but with more options and room!
  8. Sofia the First - The first princess to capture the heart of my little boy, Sofia is being added to Disney Junior Live on Stage at Hollywood Studios.  I'm not exactly sure when we'll make it to DHS - it's not a must-do park for us - but for no other reason than this show, we'll definitely be hopping over.
  9. The Tipsy Duck  - I love iced coffee, and the China Pavilion at Epcot has added bourbon to iced coffee - apparently, this is a Hong Kong drink - definitely not something I saw in China, but it sounds delicious and I've wanted to try one since I read about it on The Disney Food Blog.
  10. Zebras! - in 2012, the "plot" at the end of the Kilimanjaro Safari was taken out.  No more poachers, no more animatronic elephant.  Instead, there are zebras!!  I'll be excited to see them roaming around during our safari!
What's on your list?

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Mommy MD Guide

I hate when my boys are sick.  Or fussy.  Or won't eat.  I always wonder if something is wrong, but don't want to go to the doctors office every other day.  With Noah especially, I was a by-the-book mom.  I had no idea what I was doing, so I found books for basically everything: sleep, supplies, etc...

As a toddler, I was less worried, but still occasionally had (have) questions and concerns.  I often think "hmm.. maybe I should email my facebook friend-pediatricians and ask them" but that's not fair to them and I try to save the big stuff for my actual doctor.

That's where the Mommy MD Guides come in.  I was lucky enough to receive a copy of The Mommy MD Guide to the Toddler Years by Rallie McAllister, MD, MPH and Jennifer Bright Reich in order to review and share it with you.  

These books have tips from 62 doctors so you'll see different opinions for each and every question.  My favorite part is the "when to call your doctor" because I NEVER know when I should call!  

This book covers everything from growth, nutrition, and toddler proofing to travel tips and even: tips for going to an amusement park (hey, that's my thing!).

I love that in the Emotional Health and Discipline chapter are tips on nurturing adult relationships and even has tips for a girls night out.  I know I could some more of them - one of the tips specifically says go to a vineyard and go wine tasting.  Who's with me?  Doctors Orders!!

MommyMDGuides and DaddyMDGuides come in a variety of options.  Choose from:

  • The Mommy MD Guide to Pregnancy and Birth
  • The Mommy MD Guide to Your Baby’s First Year
  • The Mommy MD Guide to the Toddler Years
Along with their websites filled with information, twitter, and facebook pages, you'll have many new resources to help when you have questions!

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Monday, January 21, 2013

Tiggerific Tuesday Trivia!

This week is a crazy week for me - being in the military in D.C., Monday and Tuesday this week are dedicated to the Presidential Inauguration.  As I type this on Sunday night, I'm preparing to go to bed around 7 p.m. being that I have to leave for work around 3 a.m.  So, the president is on my mind!

You probably know that President Obama visited Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom to give a speech in January of 2012. But...
Luckily, politics don't exist in my Magic Kingdom!

Did you know:
With the exception of Lyndon B. Johnson (who died in 1973), all presidents since Truman have visited a Disney resort at some point in time in their life.  7 have even visited during their term of office. Truman refused to ride Dumbo, as he didn't want to be seen riding on an elephant.  True story. 

  • Jimmy Carter visited the Magic Kingdo during his term in 1978
  • Ronald Reagan visited EPCOT Center during his term in 1983/85
    • Prior to his political career, he co-hosted the opening day telecast of Disneyland in 1955!
  • George H.W. Bush (Sr) EPCOT Center visited during his term in 1990 and 1991
Outside of the parks,
  • Richard Nixon held a conference at Disney's Contemporary Resort in 1973
    • His famous "I am not a crook" speech was delivered here in front of the press
  • George W. Bush visited the Grand Floridian in 2003 and the Contemporary in 2006
  • Bill Clinton visited the Disney Institute in 1996
Two great sources of information for this post:

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day - a day to celebrate a man who helped change this country - a powerful civil rights leader and an amazing human being.  In this same day, we're also ushering in the 2nd term of President Barack Obama.  I don't want to have a political discussion, but celebrating the 2nd term of a Black President on the same day we celebrate MLK is a great coincidence.

Now, where is the Disney connection?

Did you know:
The Walt Disney Company Foundation, along with several other big donors, substantially contributed to the creation of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in Washington, D.C. and opening in 2011.

I sure didn't know that!!

Martin Luther King, Jr. died in April of 1968, only 1.5 years after Walt Disney.  I wonder what they could have created together..

Saturday, January 19, 2013

What's Going On

If you're like me, you're probably a few days behind on the whole blog-reading thing.  Google reader and all, I still tend to get a few days behind.  So, let me help you out!

Here is what you missed this week from Disney Babies Blog!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Disney Cruise Line…Some (Un) Planning Advice

Please welcome back Rebecca Farrell, our Type A planner!  To read her previous posts, click here and here.

I do hope that Disney Babies Blog readers have enjoyed my two previous posts on planning Disney vacations. True to our pattern of vacationing with Disney as often as possible, my husband and I enjoyed our first Disney cruise in May of 2011 and it didn’t really take much planning at all! If you’ve ever been on a cruise (prior to Disney, we cruised with Norwegian, Royal Caribbean and Carnival), you know that the meals are usually schedules, e.g., an early seating and a late seating, there are 1-2 shows per night, sometimes a movie.
View of DCL from the Magical Express

And even for a Type A personality like me, that was OK! So let’s talk about some of the choices you’ll need to make and things to consider when deciding if a Disney Cruise is for you.

Similar to planning a Disney Parks vacation, you need to decide on a budget – and know that DCL cruises are more expensive than the discount cruises you often find with carriers like RCC and Carnival. I have nothing against any other cruise line, but please believe me when I say that the additional money you’ll spend on a DCL vacation is worth every penny.  Here are some more things to consider:
  • When to go.... We went over Memorial Day weekend – the seas were calm and the weather was HOT. If you’re planning a cruise from the east coast ports, keep in mind that August and September are hurricane season. If you have kids in school, maybe you can find a cruise over a holiday so that they don’t miss as much school time. DCL offers itineraries year-round!
  • Where to go…for cruises, this includes the port you’ll leave from and the cities you want to visit while on the cruise. We chose our April 2013 Western Caribbean cruise on the Disney Fantasy because it goes to ports we’ve never been to before. Check out the Disney Cruise Line website for more information.
  • Where to stay…seems strange, right? Obviously in this case, I’m referring to which of the Disney ships you’ll sail on. Our cruise was on the Dream, one of the two newer ships. You’ll also want to decide the type of stateroom you want and where on the ship you’ll be positioned. We enjoyed a stateroom with a private veranda – it was lovely.
  • When to eat…there are two seatings in the dining rooms. If you’re like us, the later seating is preferable because that’s closer to when we usually eat when we’re at home.

Here are some insights on the restaurants and food choices from our experience aboard the DCL Dream:
  • There are three dining rooms on board, and the length of your cruise will determine your dining rotation. As with other cruise lines, your service crew travels with you. We enjoyed Animator’s Palate, Enchanted Garden and the Royal Palace.
  • The full-service buffet, Cabanas, is great and is open when you board the ship so that you can get something to eat while you wait for your luggage.
  • There are two high-end restaurants on board, Palo and Remy, where you pay a $20 per person service fee and enjoy some of the best food you’ve ever eaten. Check out the DCL website for more information, I don’t think I can do it justice here.
  • Room service is available 24 hours a day, anything and everything you want to eat. There is a service charge, but it’s worth it!
  • You can have as much as you want to eat whenever you want it – our first night at Animator’s Palate, our head waiter didn’t think I would like what I ordered (I loved it, by the way), that he brought me a second entrĂ©e. I ate both of them! Amazing!

The entertainment and shows were fantastic – not the typical cheesy cruise fare.  We genuinely enjoyed all of the shows that we saw, including:
  • The Golden Mickeys – an awards style show that includes clips from Disney favorites and even a taped message from Disney CEO Bob Iger.
  • Believe – the story of a father and daughter and the need to believe in a little bit of magic.
  • Villains Tonight – emcee Hades performs a tongue-in-cheek set that makes the best-known Disney ‘baddies’ seem almost sympathetic. A little scary for the younger cruisers, but we loved it, our favorite show
  • There are first-run movies on board; we got to see the latest Pirates flick in 3D. Great fun!
  • We very much enjoyed the adults-only standup comic, Taylor Mason, who performed two sets for the grownups in one of the ‘clubs’ during our cruise. We were doubled-over with laughter!
  • If you fancy hanging out in your stateroom, the DCL TVs are programmed with nearly every Disney and Pixar movie EVER MADE. I wish there was a way to take that little gem home with us.

Other onboard activities include pools (kids and adults ONLY), a wonderful spa, and of course there are shore excursions…so much to describe, I am saving it for another post!  In closing, here are some other (but definitely awesome) differences between a DCL trip and other cruise lines:
  • DCL has fireworks at sea – no other cruise line (that I’m aware of) does this – it’s all part of Pirate Night, which is fantastic fun!
  • DCL does not have casinos
  • DCL does not have midnight or chocolate buffets
  • DCL’s private island (Castaway Cay) has areas for kids AND adults
  • Your family will be announced and applauded when you board the ship
  • You will have ample opportunities to meet many of your favorite Disney characters and princesses while on the ship

With my husband, Chip and Dale during ‘formal’ night on the ship – Dale took me for a little spin on the dance floor before this picture was taken. 

To reach out to Rebecca, find her on twitter @RMZFarrell

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Bloggers Fighting Hunger

If you hadn't noticed, I'm a sucker for a good cause.  I honestly feel guilty when I don't donate to a good cause, even if I've already donated to another good cause that day.  There are so many that it can be hard to choose!  But, when Melissa from Picturing Disney shared her desire to help fight hunger, I knew I had to join in.  

Together, we're raising money for Feeding America  Their connections with food banks across the nation make a little bit go so far  With a $1 donation, you can provide 8 meals!  8!  If that doesn't convince me to skip Starbucks for a day, I don't know what does!   We're not asking you donate a lot, but if all of our readers donate $1, we'll make well more than our goal! 

If you want to help, you can find our donation site here:

Join me and my fellow bloggers to fight hunger!
Picturing Disney
It's All About the Mouse Travel
Everything Walt Disney World
Disney on Wheels
A Disney Mom's Thoughts
Disney Babies Blog
Doctor Disney
Magical Mouse Schoolhouse
Meet the Magic


Race Tips!

We're about 6 weeks away from the Disney Princess Half Marathon - good thing, b/c thanks to work and sickness, my husband and I are both way behind in training!  I've been planning a 10 mile run for 2 weeks and now need to add several more shorter runs before I do 10!

One very important thing to consider when you're running is your wardrobe!

Who knew, right?

My fist race was the Army 10 miler - I wore my favorite pants and a tank - I was REALLY cold to start, but warmed up quickly!

At Disney races (and many other big races), you can wear old shirts, sleeves, hats, gloves, whatever and toss them when you warm up!  Volunteers pick up the clothes and donate them to local charities! 

EARRRLLLLYYY Disney Half Marathon

After Disney Half Marathon
 If you notice in the before and after, I had an old fleece which I loved, but had seen better days.... and gloves.  Both of which were tossed before mile 3, but kept me warm for the hours (yes, hours) that we spent waiting around in Epcot's Parking Lot before we started running!

Another hint - wear your outfits first!!  You don't want to try new socks (you MUST wash everything first) for race day unless you want blisters!  I finally found a running skirt that I love, but I tried several that were terrible first!  And, thanks to a terrible knee brace I have to wear for long distances, I know I can't wear the skirt on long runs (until I figure out the best way to use KT tape or find a better/smaller brace).

Here are my top tips, nice and condensed:

  1. Wear before running a big race in them!  It may be tempting to wear that new race shirt or brand spanking new socks, but they may not be as comfortable/fit as well as you want and you don't want to be stuck for 2+ hours!
  2. Wash your clothes/socks first!  Wearing a pair of un-washed socks could cause rubbing the wrong way - try to avoid those blisters!
  3. Consider wearing disposable layers - Many races collect the tossed layers and donate them to local shelters!  Gloves, hats, sweatshirts, long sleeve t-shirts - consider your pre-race hanging out time that you'll be cool and remember you'll warm up along the run!
  4. Wear sunscreen - too many runners, myself included, don't wear sunscreen nearly enough!
  5. Costumes-try to run in a costume before hand, if only for a few miles.  Spend all that time making your fairy wings, practice to make sure they're not going to hit you the wrong way for 13 miles! 

Happy running!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Going Back

**I was originally supposed to be part of Today's Magical Blogorail Loop, but messed up and had to be edited out.  For more posts on this topic, follow the loop at the bottom to see what everyone had to say!**

It can be hard to explain to non-Disney-philes why we continue to return to Disney year after year.  Honestly, it can be hard to put into words what the draw is.  I return to Disney for the feelings.  And, I luckily married a man who enjoys the parks (on a different level) and doesn't complain when I ask when our next trip is!  

In college, my friends and I ran the parks like they were in our own back yard.  We had our own routine, counterclockwise, and did as much as we could cram into one day.  But, the magic always started before we entered the park.  It started on the drive in - seeing "Osceola Pkwy" exit from the Florida Turnpike.

The magic continues in the car when we drive underneath the Welcome to Walt Disney World sign. 
You know you love it

The feeling of driving into the TTC and walking up to the Monorail
I love seeing the Train Station and seeing the welcome show if I'm up in time...

I love the magic that I feel when I'm walking down Main Street U.S.A. and I love sharing it with my boys.

For as long as we continue to feel that magic - that excitement - we'll be returning as much as possible!

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

3rd Stop ~ Manda’s Disney Blog
Final Stop ~ Mommy Mouseketeer

Monday, January 14, 2013

Trivia Time!

Did you know:
Walt Disney was on an episode of "What's My Line"  in 1956.  I found it one day while playing around on youtube!

It's very enjoyable to watch Walt Disney be so lovable!


Free Blogger Opportunity for Melissa and Doug Deluxe Kitchen Play Center Giveaway. Hosted by Plum Crazy About Coupons.

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Referral prize of $25 Paypal to the blogger who refers the most bloggers.


To-Do List

Okay, with less than 40 days until my next trip, I really need to get on the ball with some planning things!  I made my 2 months to-do list, but it's time to be accountable! Now, I'm making my to-do list for the week right here!

  • Confirm Magical Express - I saw someone else running the Princess got their package already, so I want to make sure we're good to go!
  • Make reservation for Zachary's First Haircut!  And, of course Noah will get a haircut there as well (#4 at the Harmony Barber Shop)
  • Make a packing list
  • Make an Amazon List
  • Reserve Double Stroller from Kingdom Strollers
  • Order updated set of Magical Blogorail Running Team Shirts

I can't wait!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Disney Resolutions

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

I've never been one to make New Year's Resolutions. As Phineus and Pherb pointed out, everyone makes New Year's Resolutions, but no one keeps them. Sometimes, I'll use the New Year as motivation to re-commit to something else - more running, more yoga, less chocolate, etc...

But, I do make plans to do new things at Walt Disney World. As a Blogoaril Loop, we once even made our Disney Bucket Lists - the first of mine, to visit the Animal Kingdom Lodge, I've already checked off!
Add caption
For 2013, I do have a few new things I want to do on our February 2013 trip:

  1. Visit the Wilderness Lodge - I want to try Whispering Canyon, but really - I just want to explore Campgrounds, the Lodge, the Villas - I want to see it all!!
  2. Visit the Art of Animation - this one may not happen in February, but it's on my 2013 bucket list for sure!  We're hopefully headed back in November for a couple of days and we'll hopefully stay in a suite at AoA!  
  3. Eat at O'hana.  Everyone says O'hana is amazing and though we've been to Kona, the Kona Coffee Bar, and even Captain Cooks, we haven't eaten at O'hana!! We'll be crossing that off the list in Feburary.
  4. Take Noah on his first roller coaster - He is definitely tall enough for The Barnstormer - but we're hopeful with the right shoes, he'll be tall enough for Test Track and Soarin'!
  5. Eat at Be Our Guest Restaurant in New Fantasyland.  Good thing I got us an ADR for our last dinner - I've heard the lunch lines are 30 minutes or more just to get inside!!
6 months old, Noah already loved Disney!

Thank you for joining Magical Blogorail Blue this month. We will be back Friday, February 8th 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 ~ Days in the Park 2nd Stop ~ Pursuing the Magic 3rd Stop ~ The CanaDisney Blog **Final Stop ~ Disney Babies Blog** You are here**

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Guest Trip Review - day 2

Please welcome back Alyssa for more stories from her most recent trip!!

Day 2:
Our second day was dedicated to exploring Disney's Resorts. We started the day early and headed for Disney's Boardwalk.  Since we were not driving around, we took the bus to Hollywood Studios and then took a boat to the Boardwalk.  It takes a little longer but, why not?  The boardwalk is a beautiful place.  We met the sellers of the Disney Vacation Club and got to tour some model rooms of the Animal Kingdom Lodge and the Aulani resort.  These rooms are awesome and the Disney Vacation Club sounds like a good idea.  It is a 45-year membership designed for three generations of use.  

While we were at the Saratoga Springs DVC resort checking out the model rooms, we had lunch at the Artist's Pallete. This was a service restaurant and it was excellent!  My husband had the Lobster Panini (he had ordered the buffalo chicken but Disney knew he would love the lobster) with chips, a cupcake, and a drink ($15-$16 out of pocket) and I had the classic Italian Hoagie (not the best) with chips, a chocolate croissant (the best thing ever!), and drink($10-$11 out of pocket).

Using the dining plan for us broke down our days to $40 per day, so eatting in a big resort like this it is a steal! Especially since we got a refillable mug for free fountain drinks at the resorts (they say it’s for your resort only but…).   We took our mugs with us when we looked at other resorts so we could refill and kept many of the canned or bottled beverages from using the DDP in our resort mini fridge.  After that great lunch, we made our way back to the Boardwalk to get our free fast passes.  Because we listened to the DVC spiel, they give you free fast passes to any ride you want!  

After the Boardwalk, we headed to the Animal Kingdom Lodge and visited the Kidani Village.  There we met Lebo, a native of Botswana.  Disney's Animal Kingdom lodge has a one-year "internship" where they hire cast members to be cultural advisers from Africa and work at the Animal Kingdom Lodge and Park.  The lodge itself has 75 cast members that are from Africa in this program.  The Animal Kingdom Lodge has the second largest inventory of African Artifacts in the US.  Over 800 artifacts have been donated from the various countries in Africa, even some from the royal family.  

My son, Nathan, got to see and touch these artifacts and learn some of the words from Africa like Sanaa (like the restaurant at Kidani Village), which means Artwork.  Having the cultural advisers there gave a better perspective on their lives and the many languages spoken in Africa.  

At the Jambo House of the Animal Kingdom Lodge, we received a bead for the string of memories after we played The Music of Africa.  Then we had a story telling that told us the story of Jabulani and the Lion - a fable with the moral of don't trust everyone you meet.  Then, he told us the story of his life and how he came here.  Before Disney, his life was tracking Lions for the conservation preserves.  I love to hunt, but that is a completely different level!  Tracking the biggest predator in your country without modern equipment and relying on experience and instincts had my full attention. 

After listening to his stories, we toasted marshmallows and continued our tour of Disney Resorts by heading to the Polynesian Resort.  Getting from the Animal Kingdom Lodge to the Magic Kingdom took a long time by bus and even after that ride, we took a short boat ride to the Polynesian Resort.  We had dinner reservations at O'hana and spent our time before our ADR by watching Lilo and Stitch on the beach, and then enjoying the Electrical Water Pageant.

My husband, Nick and I paid out of pocket to enjoy a Lapu Lapu - a hollowed out Pineapple filled with Bacardi 151.  I had two sips and gave the rest to him.  It was insanely strong and at least 16 ounces!  Dinner at O'Hana is served family-style - all you can eat.  We enjoyed:
  • Salad with a Honey Lemon dressing (ok) 
  • Hawaiian/Asian style wings 
  • Pot-stickers mixed vegetables 
  • Low mein noodles (good)
  • All meats were brought out on huge skewers
    • Grilled chicken w/Peanut Sauce
    • Grilled Pork Chops w/ sweet and sour sauce
    • Steak - served medium rare
  • Pineapple/Coconut Bread Pudding
It was really good, and during dinner they have all the kids meet in the center of the room to put on a dance show! 

After that we sluggishly made our way back to the hotel and promptly passed out!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Trivia Tuesday

Welcome back for another fun week of Tiggerific Tuesday Trivia Mike, Jodi, and Heidi!

Did you know:
When Walt Disney was starting his business ventures in Kansas City, MO, he had a very hard time making money.  In fact, he was said to be broke and he filed for bankruptcy.  One of the ventures he tried to do to make money?  Taking baby pictures!!  On the side of making his laugh-o-gram, animated shorts, he made ads to take pictures of babies in hopes of making some extra money. 

Transfer Week!

I've been posting a LOT of amazing deals going on at Walt Disney World, but now here is a special one for my readers!!  I always recommend using a travel agent - saves you time for so many reasons, but here are a few more awesome reasons to switch now!!

Are you ready for an after the holidays gift for YOU?  It's Disney Transfer Week!  For one week only, you can transfer your reservation to Kelly with Disney Guru Travel and take advantage of incredible freebies, just for Disney Babies Blog Readers readers.  If you booked your Disney World package with Disney (by phone or online), you can let Kelly help you with your vacation planning.  

When you transfer your reservation, your reservation stays exactly the same.  The only change is Kelly's agency will be added to your reservation.  Then, Kelly can then help you plan the rest of your trip with their itinerary planning, dining suggestions and reservations.  Plus, you also get lots of freebies including:
  • MousePerks - Hundreds of crafts, activities sheets, tips, and more created just for our guests.  Receive magic in your email box!
  • Disney Theme Park Guide Maps - Learn your way around the parks before you get there with Disney Theme Park Guide Maps
  • Autograph Pictures of Mickey Mouse - You and/or your kids will love the autographed pictures of Mickey Mouse!
  • Disney Florist In Room Gift - You choose of a Disney Florist gift!.  If you have kids, you can choose the personalized Mickey Mouse ears with autograph book and pen.  This gift is delivered to your room at Disney World.  This gift is valued up to $208 for 4 children.  OR you can choose the Mickey Treat Cooler with Mickey Mouse plush, Mickey clock, snacks, and Mickey Cooler (valued at $75).  You pick the in room gift that best bits your family!

Transferring is easy!!  All you have to do is complete this form.  Kelly will contact you to see if you have any additional questions and then email you a transfer form.  You will sign the bottom of the transfer form and fax to Disney.  It then takes Disney about a week to add them to your reservation.  Everything else stays the same on your reservation.  Then let the fun begin!

Transfer week is valid for bookings from 3/1/13-12/31/2013 

Friday, January 4, 2013

Disney Trip Planning for the ‘Type A’ Planner

Please welcome back Rebecca for more amazing planning tips from a Type-A planner!
If you happened to catch my first guest post about Disney for couples, you may remember I mentioned I’m a planner. Most people who know me would lovingly tell you that I’m an obsessive, compulsive, type-A planner.  I am the child of planner and I plan things as part of my career in public relations.
Rebecca and her niece at CRT

Part of the fun of going to Disney World for me is planning the trip. That starts with the basics:
  • When to go
  • Where to stay
  • How long to stay

We’re creatures of habit, and usually go to the parks in either the spring or fall. When we’ve gone in winter or the start of summer, it hasn’t turned out too well for us. I know and appreciate that many families with school-aged children are limited as to when they can visit the parks (e.g., don’t want to take the kids out of school), but it’s just the two of us. The only master we answer to is work (ugh).

We have branched out a *bit* in our hotel choices over the years, but not much. On our trips, we have stayed several times at Port Orleans French Quarter (moderate resort) and the Polynesian (deluxe resort). We tried the Grand Floridian, but it was a little too stuffy for us and we loved the Boardwalk Villas which we got by purchasing a friend’s Disney Vacation Club (DVC) points.   
Note: If you stay at a DVC property, there is no daily maid service in your room. Major deal breaker for us!

Some of our trips have been five days, some as long as nine – I’m fan of the longer trips! And, of course, the ‘when, where and how long’ factors also depend on your budget. I usually set aside $5,000 for a 9-day trip and that’s my “soup to nuts” budget…it has to include everything: the taxis to/from the airport, our meal plan and gratuities, hotel, park tickets, souvenirs, pool-side snacks, etc.

Using the example of our most recent trip, the 1-2-3 breaks down like this:
  • When to go - October 2012
  • Where to stay - The Polynesian
  • How long to stay - 9 days/8 nights

Once the basic details above have been worked out, the real fun begins. I will make a basic plan for the trip that includes how we’ll split up our days, and it usually goes like this:

  • 4 trips to the Magic Kingdom (1 early morning)
  • 4 trips to Epcot (1 early morning)
  • 2 trips to Animal Kingdom (
  • 2 trips to Hollywood Studios (1 early morning)
  • 1 trip to Downtown Disney (1 afternoon/evening)
  • 1 day at a Water Park (this is a new addition to our itinerary, and we're SO glad we did it!)
To Hop or Not to Hop?
Since it’s just the two of us, we get park hopper tickets and have visited up to three parks in one day! But now that we’re savvier about what we like when touring the parks, we stick to two parks, tops, when hopping.

Party Time?
Taking the list above into account, I’ll also add in factors such as a celebratory meal on one evening or a holiday party like Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party or Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. Often, I’ll set this day aside as a break day and we won’t go to the Magic Kingdom until the party.  
Note: With just a party ticket, you can enter the Magic Kingdom as early as 4 p.m.  the day of the party, so you may not need to use a park ticket that day and save some money there!

Park Hours and Fireworks Play a Part
Disney posts park hours to their official website about 4 months out – because I’m a seasoned traveler, I’ll often use sites like to research the park hours from the same time period for the previous year and use that pattern to guess what the park hours might be for our next trip. Yes, this is insane and I can’t tell you WHY I do it…it’s just fun for me.

The reason the park hours are important is because they also factor in to what parks to visit or avoid. The best way to sort out crowd levels is Their subscription service is totally worth it, and their information is spot-on.
Note from the editor: With a current copy of The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World, you receive a 35% discount from the Touring Plans Subscription!  Both are very helpful in planning trips!
It’s also a good idea to try and sort out time of the parades and fireworks. We like to see IllumiNations at EPCOT at least twice during our trip, same with Wishes although we don’t really plan around the parades too much.

Putting it on Paper
With ALL of these items taken into consideration, I then figure out which parks we’ll likely visit on which days and the restaurants where we’ll eat. Of course, the meal plan figures into this as well…I just keep a running tally of our meal credits. I find that paying out of pocket for sit-down breakfasts, which my husband LOVES but I could take or leave, are a better use of funds.
Note from the editor: If you're paying out of pocket while still paying for the dining plan, you may want to rethink if the dining plan is worth it!  Check out this other option to pre-pay your meals here.
The spreadsheet that I used to plan our 5-year wedding anniversary trip is included here (see link). I took all of the factors listed above into account and basically it’s a puzzle to try and fit in all of the pieces where they belong. It’s not an exact science, and some days you’ll have to make sacrifices (e.g., an early morning wake up for Hollywood Studios rope drop so that you can ride Toy Story twice with no wait).

You’ll also notice in the attached that I like to include the live entertainment in the parks that we plan on enjoying throughout our trip. Our favorites are in EPCOT and include Off Kilter near the Canada Pavilion, British Revolution in the UK Pavilion and Voices of Liberty in the America Pavilion. Keep in mind, it’s just the two of us – for those with different ages in your parties, Disney Junior Live on Stage might be more your speed. Just note it in your plans if it’s a show you don’t want to miss.  If you are a first time park visitor, do your research and learn more about what’s available…guide books are a great help and so is the internet!

You can see all of my hard work in the spreadsheet.  If you have questions, please send me an email, or hit me up on Twitter, @RMZFarrell.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Happy for the Help!

Our past four trips have been with my husband, myself, and our now 3 year old son, Noah.  There have been days where we've been there with friends or my parents, but even on our own, a 2:1 ratio is pretty easy in navigating the parks.  Plus, though he was running at 25 months, he's had a year to gain speed!
January 2012

For our upcoming trip, we'll be there for our first trip with 2 kids!  Maybe that seems obvious - 1:1.  But, ordering/getting food, restroom breaks, ride swap - we'll be 2:1.  And, Noah is a standard 3 year old boy - lots of energy and the desire to do as he pleases (the Doctors like to call this "independence").  

We recently went to the local Air and Space Museum and he ran all over the place with my husband close behind.  He darts out in front of people, pulls out of our grip while we're holding hands - if he can scare me with 1,000 people around, how crazy is it going to be with 30,000 people!?  

Luckily, we have help!  My in-laws are joining us!  Good for them, my touring pace has drastically slowed since I had children, but I think they're in for a good bit of walking and chasing!

Our plan is to have a double stroller - park it as needed to let Noah walk like the big kid he is and I'll use my sling/wrap/ergo (I haven't decided yet) once it's parked and demand on hand holding.

In case we get separated:
  • We'll be stocked up on Safety Tats!  N will definitely have one on ever day!
  • Point out cast members and how to recognize them
  • Never, ever look away.  Is that possible?
What are your tips and tricks for traveling with multiple children?  This will be our first big trip!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Questions from a Friend..

As you all may know, I love talking Disney.  Crazy thought, right?  Knowing that, I often have coworkers asking for advice before trips.  Sometimes I'm asked before they start planning, sometimes I'm asked questions days before they leave.

My most recent series of questions come from a coworker taking her 2 children, ages 4 and 5, for their first trip... next week.

Question 1:
Can we bring a backpack with our own food and water into the park?

Of course!  There is a check point in which all bags will be searched before entering the parks, but it is an easy step, though can lead to a few minutes longer of a wait during busier times of year or the day.

As for food and water - yes, outside food is allowed.  I don't recommend bringing a lot of heavy items (b/c I wouldn't want to deal with them), but it's always good to bring snacks or even pb&j.  As for the water, you can get free ice water from almost any counter service location.  If they have ice and fountain drinks, you can easily ask for ice water.  And don't feel bad.  They're charging everyone else $5 for a soda that costs them about 10 cents, not to mention how much you're paying to enter the parks!

Question 2:
Do you think since we have 4 days we should do one day in each park?

Note: These are my coworkers that have access to the military park hopper that includes parkhopper option or offers it for a minimal charge.

I absolutely think the park hopper is a great option, especially with 4 days.  Why?  Because if I'm there for 4 days, I don't necessarily want to skip a park, but, I don't only want to do the Magic Kingdom once.   And, with that said, I usually like to go to Epcot multiple times for meals (they do have the best options!).

My standard day looks like this:

Arrive 30 minutes before rope drop at whichever park has morning extra magic hours *when I'm staying on property* OR 30 minutes before rope drop at the recommended park from Touring Plans if I'm staying off property.

Enjoy the park until lunch.  Eat lunch their or elsewhere and leave park to return to room shortly after lunch (or eat lunch at the room if that's the case!).  Take an hour or so break and head back to the same park, or to a different one depending on things such as park hours, dining reservations, crowds.

Take park hours into consideration: Animal Kingdom usually closes at 5 p.m. while the Magic Kingdom and Epcot stay open until 9.  You could have 4 more hours of park time, even more if you're taking use of evening Extra Magic Hours.