Saturday, March 30, 2013

Big Week!

What a big week we've had on the blog!!

Hope you enjoyed our week at Disney Babies Blog!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Atonality at the Harmony BarberShop

My littlest man needed a haircut from, well pretty much from Day 1.

That's a lot of hair for a newborn!  But, I loved it and refused to touch it.

We had his first Walt Disney World trip planned... well, probably before he was born.  We knew we were going to runDisney at some point in time in 2013 and decided on the 2013 Princess Half Marathon early in 2012.  

knew that Z would follow in his brother's footsteps and have his first haircut at The Harmony Barbershop.  After 3 fantastic experiences, I knew we would have a great time.

By the time we arrived, Z was in desperate need of a haircut

Not sure what time we would arrive at the Magic Kingdom, I made a late day reservation, but decided to check in earlier when we arrived.  We were told 45 minutes, so went to walk around Town Square. We were back in probably 20 minute to wait, and after a lot of waiting, I finally asked how many people until our turn.

1st haircut
Next to the boys' names was our original time and we had just completely been skipped!  Apparently, the cast members checking in people had switched and the new one had no idea what was going on.  There were several families that had been shuffled around - 1 had 2 people getting cuts had 1 in a chair when they were trying to get a different family checked in.  The parent wasn't having that (obviously, since 1 was already in a chair, they were first), she put her son in the chair and made sure she was next.

I was told that since my reservation was for later that I wouldn't be seen early, to which I explained that I had checked in 45 minutes ago and was told I would simply go in order - when they wrote down my time, it just confused everyone.  Had I realized that coming in early, obviously we wouldn't have done it, but the first check in person said "no problem!"


They fixed the order situation and Noah and Z were sitting in their chairs waiting for their haircuts.

I stood holding Z while he played with the twirling Minnie and tried to get all of the Mickey Mouse stickers off of him.

Adam hung out with Noah while he got his haircut.

Noah's hair cut was good - just as we always get it done.

But, Z's....

Well, Z left needing a haircut.  His hair barely come above his ears and was so long in the back it practically made a rat tale.

And, then the worst thing happened - I tried to fix it with scissors!

Since our trip and almost exactly 1 month since his first haircut, he's had a 2nd professional haircut.

And, now he looks like a beautiful little boy!

3 out of 4 great experiences isn't bad... but, now I'm not sure if it will be a "must-do" every time now!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Lots to do In Line - WDW

Several months ago, I heard Meredith Lyn Pierce on a Disney podcast discussing her books - Lots To Do In Line - she made one originally for her "home" park, Disneyland, and was in the process of creating one for Walt Disney World.

The premise is simple and amazing - trivia and scavenger hunts to actually keep you busy in line.  There are now several interactive queues and even separate fastpass lines, but Meredith has thought about all of that!  

One of my favorite aspects of this book is that I don't know the answers.  With the trivia books and hidden mickey books (which I'm not hating on - I love them, too), I know many of the answers, or have at least seen some of the hidden mickeys.  But these clues?  Well, I'm clueless!!

This book is great to increase your powers of observation - by having this scavenger hunt and her many "pop quizzes," you'll realize that you missed a lot of the details the Imagineers left for you.  

Want some examples?

Mission Space:
Starting with the Pop Quiz: You just walked into line past some pretty cool decorations.  Turn your back on them now and let's see how good your memory is.

1. There were three big planets. (y/n)
2. One of the planets appeared to be Earth.  It was the smallest (y/n)

Do you know those answers?  I don't.  

Luckily, for me at home, Meredith has all of the answers conveniently located in the book.  

In different lines, there are Treasure Hunts - I think these will be perfect for my little guys - specific things to look for while we're waiting.  
This little guy will have stuff to look for next time!

I absolutely love this book and I'm really looking forward to using it on our next trip!  We'll be going for 2 days in November to meet some of favorite people (my co-creator of the blog who hasn't written in a couple of years.. I still love her, though).

You can now order this book directly from the publisher, The Intrepid Traveler (the same company that publishes the Hidden Mickey books among other great books) on their website *currently on sale for $8.97, but I don't know how long that will last!

I don't think you'll be disappointed!

*the answers were yes and yes*

I would like to thank The Intrepid Travel and Meredith Lyn Pierce for the review copy.  All opinions are 100% my own and I was thrilled and privileged for the opportunity to see this great book!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Advanced Planning: Special Occasion Meals/Dining Experiences at Disney World

Advanced Planning: Special Occasion Meals/Dining Experiences at Disney World
By: Rebecca Farrell (@RMZFarrell)

It’s no secret that many people travel to Walt Disney World to celebrate a special occasion – birthday, anniversary, etc. Disney has even built entire advertising/marketing campaigns around this obvious fact.  But no matter what your reason for being at the happiest place on earth, you should consider a special dining experience at least once. It’s what Disney does best!

When I was planning our first trip to Disney, my “celebration” was turning 30. For this special occasion, I knew that I wanted to have breakfast at Cinderella’s Royal Table with the princesses. I could think of little else while I planned our first trip to Disney (at least for us as a couple) and I had to chuckle when the Disney reservationist asked for the age of the child. “It’s me, and I’ll be 30,” I said at the time. She laughed, too.

TIP: Always make sure you tell the reservationist that you’re celebrating a special occasion. Disney rolls out the red carpet in a lot of different and magical ways!

Fast forward a few months…the meal was a memorable one, and everyone wished me a happy birthday – and the celebration even included cake – at breakfast (this happens ALL THE TIME at Disney – so just roll with it).

During our 5th Wedding Anniversary trip in November of 2011, we treated ourselves to a character breakfast at Ohana on our actual anniversary, and it was a lot of fun. No pressure, no fancy clothes, just a lot of great food and character interactions.

So what restaurant is right for your celebration? Take a few things into account:
1. What are your food preferences? Do you like dinner or breakfast better?
2. Do you want characters or peace and quiet?
3. What’s your budget? (Some signature dining locations can put a strain on the wallet)
4. Do you want a dining room with a view?
5. What’s your threshold for ‘dressing fancy’ on vacation? (Note: I’ve seen people at California Grill in jeans, but I don’t recommend it…its just disrespectful!)

All of the Disney signature dining locations require reservations, and given the popularity of these locations as well as many character meals, they will BOOK SOLID at the 180-day advance dining reservation mark. So if you’ve got Cinderella’s Royal Table on your agenda, mark it in your calendar and set your alarm because you’ll need to work the phones fast (1-407-WDW-DINE) to get a table.

Meal Credits
If you’re on the Disney Dining Plan, make sure to take stock of how many credits are required for signature dining. For example, Cinderella’s Royal Table and California Grill require two table service credits per person, so you’ll need to factor that into your overall plans. Some locations also require a credit card to hold the reservation – keep that in mind and if you have to cancel, be sure to do so well ahead of the 24-hour mark or you’ll face a penalty.

In the chart below, I have outlined some of the signature dining and character meals that my husband and I have experienced during our Disney travels. For MUCH more information, you can visit sites such as and The “Worth It?” column represents my opinion and experiences only…be sure to do your research and find out what’s best for you and your family!

Restaurant Name
Meals Enjoyed
Worth It?
Cinderella’s Royal Table
Cinderella Castle, Main Street USA, Magic Kingdom
Breakfast and Dinner
(Princesses at both)
Yes, even without kids but for a very special occasion only
Great Ceremonial House, Polynesian Resort
Breakfast (Characters)
Yes, one of the few Mickey meals outside of the parks
California Grill
Contemporary Resort
Yes, but it’s pricey so save it for a milestone birthday or anniversary; consider a drink/appetizers at the bar otherwise
Artist Point
Wilderness Lodge
No. We had a view of nothing, and the food was just so-so.
Le Cellier
Canada Pavilion, World Showcase, Epcot
No. There’s no view and the food is too heavy.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Tiggerific Tuesday Trivia!

Did you know:
When Walt Disney World was opening in 1971, there were no plans for a Pirates of the Caribbean attraction.  The Imagineers at the time didn't think the guests who live so much closer to the actual Caribbean would be interested.  After the opening, guests were constantly asking where the POC ride was - so much that they scrapped their original (and amazing) plan for a whole Western themed area and added a smaller version of the POC attraction from Disneyland.
Those Pirates are taking over!

Monday, March 25, 2013

My Little Barnstormer

For months, I was convinced that Noah would be tall enough (40") to ride a lot of the big rides in our early 2013 trip.

Turns out, he's only about 39".  This means he's tall enough for The Barnstormer with the Great Goofini and Kali River Rapids, but that's about it.

Not my most photogenic angle, but I love seeing Noah's face!
We enjoyed the Rapids ride on our first morning - for the smaller children, they get a special wrist band which alerts the loading cast members to put down a safety bar in front of them.  We buckled him in behind the safety bar and headed onto our journey.

Noah loved it so much he went back on with Adam (no lines!) immediately after and was so proud of being soaked!

After our lunch at Sanaa (two delicious meals... and neither of them on the blog... yet!), we headed to the Magic Kingdom for the afternoon.

We took the train to the New Fantasyland Station and, after arriving and playing in the Casey, Jr. Splash and Soak, we headed onto the Barnstormer!

With a height requirement of only 35", we knew that this would be his first coaster.

I lucked out and got to sit with him while my husband recorded the experience from behind

He didn't quite know what to expect on the ride and kept trying to put his chin on the safety bar.  I put my hand underneath so we wouldn't hurt his jaw!  He never made a peep - no screams, aahhs, oohs, eeks - nothing.  Silence.

Even as we were exiting the ride, he was pensive - quiet and trying to decide if he liked it or not.  He eventually decided that he didn't like it, but would try it again when he was older.  Very mature for a 3 year old, don't you think?

Our next trip, we'll see how he does - have to ride it again before we try any of the bigger coasters that he'll be tall enough for!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Wreck It Ralph and Gift Card Giveaway!

Who doesn't love a good giveaway?  I know I do!

I'm teaming up with Jodi at the Magical Mouse Schoolhouse to bring you another great giveaway this week!!  If you like these giveaways, let me know what your favorite giveaways are so I can keep them coming!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, March 22, 2013

Foodie Friday - Be Our Guest

You know you've been waiting for it - another (my first) Be Our Guest Restaurant Review!

With it's official opening in December, 2012, New Fantasyland opened a new castle restaurant - in Prince Adam's Castle (Or Beast's Castle as more commonly known).  And this one doesn't *yet* cost $60 per person!
Our ADR was for 5:30 and we checked in around 5:15.  We were told "just a few minutes" and instructed to wait on the bridge leading to the castle. 

If you look closely, you can see that bridge in the bottom right - you've probably seen pictures of gargoyles - they're on this bridge.

It's a beautiful view if you're facing the teeny tiny castle.  The forced perspective is slightly given away when the seemingly gigantic black birds land on the roof, but it really is a beautiful castle.  

Unfortunately for us, we were stuck waiting for about 45 minutes (and I did re-check a few times that they hadn't forgotten about us).  Apparently, when they started booking ADR's before the opening, they had grand dreams of how many tables they could turn over in a specific period of time.  Sadly, they were grossly mistaken!  The wait is much longer than expected - they are now booking less tables than they originally planned, keeping it on the toughest restaurant to score a reservation list.  Make sure you're planning 180+10 days out, or letting your friendly travel agent know you want that reservation so she can book it for you as soon as possible (I say she as if you're using my girl, Kelly - the WDW Guru!)

I have to say - our wait was well worth it in my opinion.  I know my friend Chris from Everything WDW doesn't agree with me, but we really enjoyed our experience!  When we entered the castle, our hostess gave me a tour (my family straggled behind as I held on to the host's every word!), pointing out where the restrooms were and where the Beast was waiting to greet us after we finished our meal.
Our table had what seemed to be the perfect spot.  Dead center in the ballroom, right where there is a walkway in between the masses of tables.  We had a fantastic view of the snowing French countryside (so well done) and from my seat, I could see directly into the West Wing where the portrait of Prince Adam was hanging.

Our table greeted us with perfectly crafted rose petal napkins and our server welcomed us to the restaurant quickly - while I never felt as though they were rushing us, they didn't take their time serving us, handing us menus, etc.. as the standard in many other restaurants!

I wasn't sure exactly what to order, so I pulled out my phone and quickly headed to see what A.J. recommended.  If you don't read The Disney Food Blog on a regular basis, you're missing out.  While I don't have the same affinity to plastic cheese that she does and we disagree on the best wings in Buffalo (sorry AJ, I'm a Duff's fan), I love her blog and obsession with Disney food.

As for the food:
French Onion Soup
I followed her recommendation and ordered the Potato Leek Soup.  It has a strong chive smell, but I didn't mix them in and the taste didn't overpower the soup.  My husband ordered the French Onion Soup, and as a man that doesn't love onions, he really enjoyed the soup.  I prefer a sharper french onion flavor, but it was perfect for him!
Potato Leek Soup
Now for the entrees!

Noah had a Mickey meatloaf with a side of orange sauce (which he didn't like) and broccoli.  This is part of the new "healthy kids" meals - the turkey meatloaf has zucchini in it to add in extra veggies!  

Adam ordered the Thyme Scented Pork Rack Chop with au gratin macaroni and vegetables.  The vegetables were given to the kids and I had to have a few bites of the mac n cheese *yum*, but he really liked his pork chop!

I was the ordering winner - Grilled Strip Steak with garlic-herbed butter and  Pomme Frites (steak fries).  I think I could put that garlic-herbed butter on everything forever.  And ever. 

The steak was amazing.  Amazing.  I'm still drooling.  It was enough to split with the baby (yeah, my baby loves red meat) and my husband.  And the fries... in the garlic butter.   Did I mention the garlic butter?

We had two desserts - the one we ordered and the one we had to special request:

Chocolatey chocolate mouse cupcake or something - the chocolate ganache was delicious, but the cupcake itself wasn't amazing.  However, if you dipped it in..
The grey stuff!

It's a dollop of mousse, but as they say - it's delicious!  You will probably have that song stuck in your head the whole night!

More about the ambiance:
As I mentioned, it's snowing outside - Noah even asked a cast member where the snow went when we walked outside after dinner - it really looks amazing.

The ceiling is a combo of awesome

And creepy:

The waitress said they're baby pictures of the animators and/or of the children born while making the movie.

About halfway through the meal (and once again near the end, so maybe every 20 minutes?) the Beast walks down the aisle to greet his guests:
We had good seats
We toured the West Wing after our meal - just in time to watch the portrait change.

This is proof I need a better camera.  It was so slow, I missed it!

The red rose losing it's petals is in a corner by the window:

On the way out, we met with the Beast and took a picture with him... on my photopass cd, not yet ready for this post!

I loved our meal.  Aside from our seriously long wait, it was great.  I thought I was outsmarting the system - skipping the long lunch wait by having a dinner ADR.  Sadly, that didn't happen.  So, next time we'll have an early lunch and check out the light differences they offer at lunch - don't worry, we'll report back then, but it's going to be a while!

Have you experienced Be Our Guest or have it in your future plans?  Share your thoughts in comments, on the facebook page, or on twitter!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Advanced Planning: Family Time and Alone Time

Advanced Planning: Family Time and Alone Time
By: Rebecca Farrell (@RMZFarrell)

When my sister and I first started planning a joint-family trip to Disney to celebrate my niece’s fourth birthday last October, my husband was far from thrilled with the prospect of “sharing” his precious annual trip to Disney World with two small children.

By way of background, my sister’s girls were 4 years and 18 months old at the time we took the trip, my sister hadn't been to the parks in about 12-15 years, and her husband had never been (let’s call them Family G). It’s just me and hubby (no kids, yet), we’re Family F. So four adults, two kids all in. Also, Family G and Family F live close by and see each other all the time, so it’s not like we were coming from opposite sides of the world and needed to be joined at the hip for a solid week.

As much as I assured my husband that Family F would have PLENTY of alone time that did not include Family G, he wasn't convinced. If you've read any of my other posts, you know that I’m a seasoned Disney traveler. This was very much to the whole family’s advantage when planning the trip. So I put on my Type A planner hat and created a spreadsheet that would put NASA rocket scientists to shame. I collaborated with my sister on her family’s wants/needs (it was their first trip, after all) as well as some very special experiences that they were able to arrange through a friend, and ultimately took all of the guess-work out of the trip.

Here’s what I took into account:

Family G’s preferences

  • Early risers (6 am, usually)
  • Early to bed (8pm, usually)
  • Two girls, one celebrating a birthday, both celebrating first trip to WDW
  • A baby who needed two naps (she did sleep in her stroller)
  • City kids not easily shaken by noise or crowds
  • Good at sit-down restaurants
  • Dad’s a vegetarian
  • Wanted one day off-property to “cheat” on Disney

Family F’s preferences

  • Big breakfast
  • Reasonable wake up time (8am, usually)
  • Experienced Disney travelers
  • Wanted to experience a Disney water park for the first time
  • Wanted the last evening’s dinner to be just the two of us
  • Wanted to experience MK Rope Drop with the girls (OK, that’s just me, Auntie)

Side note: If you’re interested, I can share a copy of the spreadsheet and the PowerPoint that I created to guide our family trip; there really is no easy way to describe it here! Send me an email,

Putting the plan together
I used my trusty spread sheet so that I could plan our days to be as similar as possible but ALSO to see where I could ensure that we had time apart.  My sister also had a few specific requests: Perfectly Princess Tea and Dinner at Cinderella’s Royal Table on A’s 4th birthday. Not a problem – I slotted this into the planning spreadsheet and they were at the top of my list when I made my ADRs at the 180 day mark.  As you may have read in my post on Disney dining, if you want to book these types of experiences, it is critical to plan ahead! We joined in for the dinner part, and it was great fun – which we followed up with Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party!

In order to make sure that Family F had the alone time hubby was craving, I made a dinner reservation for our final night at Rose and Crown. This was a very, very bad idea. The last night of our trip was a Saturday. During Food and Wine festival – or, as I like to call it, drunken idiots on parade. We waited 40+ minutes after our ADR time to be seated and had a table of drunk people directly behind us who completely ruined the meal. My advice to you is this: Avoid EPCOT on Food and Wine weekends. Thank me later. 

Another ‘break’ for Family F was hitting Blizzard Beach for the first time – and boy, did we have fun! I highly recommend hitting this park if you can swing it; it’s an added cost, but really worth it and it was close to Animal Kingdom Lodge, so we hit Boma for a delicious buffet dinner afterwards. 

The PowerPoint that I created for my sister’s family included detailed instructions on how to get from point A to point B in excruciating detail.  This helped to ensure that my sister and I did not need to be in constant contact about logistics. She is also amazing when it comes to organization, and knows her girls very well and was able to gauge what their family needed. In a few instances, that meant adjusting schedules and cancelling reservations, but it wasn't a big deal at all. Planning to be flexible is all part of the experience!

No matter how large or small your group, experienced Disney people or newbies, it all comes down to planning – when kids are involved, you need to map things out and avoid winging it; otherwise, everyone ends up tired, cranky and disappointed.
 My niece, A, meeting Cinderella for the first time

All told, we spent less than 30% of our vacation (this is a guess) all together as one large group in the parks. But I did get to experience MK rope drop with my beautiful nieces, watch them meet the Princesses for the first time, and even ride some roller coasters with A. I don’t think any kid ever had more fun at Disney than A did…we made memories that I’ll cherish forever.

 Me and hubby at EPCOT on our last day of vacation

Monday, March 18, 2013

Tiggerific Tuesday Trivia

Did you know:
Disney Imagineers love to place their name, and names of those that came before them when building attractions.  One common example are the Haunted Mansion Tombstones (Many examples listed here).

One of my newest favorite examples:

Speak with the Nearly Departed
Patented R.H. Goff

Disney Legend Ralph Harper Goff, more commonly known only as Harper Goff, started his movie career as a set designer for Warner Brothers.  He met Walt Disney while both trying to buy a model train in 1951 and started working for him shortly after.  He continued working for the Disney Co. until his death in 1993.  

I found this great article the D23 website all about him with pictures and an old interview!

Two Kids, Two Strollers!

With our older son, we were given many hand-me-down strollers.  Add the running (Bob) we were given from my family as a gift, we have way too many strollers.  I thought about several double - I really liked the idea of a sit and stand a coworker handed down a massive Graco front/back double.  That double I can hardly push around the neighborhood; I definitely wasn't planning to travel with my own double stroller!
Our favorite Disney Single

In all reality, I hardly ever put Z in a stroller - we're both very comfortable babywearing and after much back and forth about bringing our own all together, decided to *check our stroller with our luggage for the Magical Express to deliver it to our resort and rent a double from Kingdom Strollers.  

I'd heard great things about the CitiMini Double and decided on that one easily.  
With the stroller, we got:
Picture from
  • Parent Console - two cup holders and bag to hold snacks or anything on the go!
  • Rain Cover - stated to take up 2/3rds of the basket, but it was folded SO well, it barely took up any room at all
  • Glider Board - Noah only used it a few times and it was probably more of a hassle than it was worth for us.  I couldn't figure out how to take it off, but I tied it up so we didn't kick it every time we too a step.  *I would absolutely recommend this for an older child and will probably do this again when we only need a single*
We had a slight issue - when we checked in to the resort and were about to head to our room with all of our carry-ons and now 2 tired children and coats, I headed to Bell Services and they couldn't find our stroller!  

First, I double checked that I had reserved it for the right date and time and immediately emailed Matt, the owner of the company who I'd previously had contact with.  He called me within an hour, headed to the resort, and called me back to tell me that it had been there the whole time. They set it aside for us to make sure it didn't get lost in the mix again, and we picked it up when we headed back to the Hospitality House (where check in, bell services, the Conch General Store, and Olivia's Cafe are all located) for dinner.

Our first time really using it was touring Art of Animation resort - Noah was in and out and, as you can see, his seat was often storage.  But, Zachary didn't complain!

This stroller folded up insanely easily, and though my husband was the one dealing with it, it never seemed too terribly difficult to get on and off the buses for transport. 

For the rare stroller naps, they folded down beautifully.  Our final afternoon in the Magic Kingdom, I strolled Z around New Fantasyland while he fell comfortably asleep for an hour!

Drop off was simple - I took it back to bell services the morning we were checking out and left it with them.  Too easy!

I will definitely rent with them again and absolutely recommend them with the highest confidence!  Make sure to tell them Jenn from Disney Babies Blog sent you!

*I was not compensated for this review, but provided with a stroller of my choosing free of charge.  All opinions are 100% my own.*

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Boba Carrier Giveaway!

Welcome to the Boba Carrier Giveaway Part II!
Sponsored by: Boba Family
Check out Everything Mommyhood's review of the Boba Carrier 3G HERE.

You know how much I love babywearing - now is your chance to get a free AMAZING structured carrier!  Boba is one of the top carriers out there and well loved by baby-wearers!

Now for the giveaway, one lucky winner will win a Boba Carrier of their choice.
US only. 18 and up.
All winning entries WILL be verified
Giveaway ends 4/1/2013 at 12:00am Eastern

Disclosure: DisneyBabiesBlog is not responsible for sponsored prize shipment. All opinions are that of my own and may differ from yours. I was not compensated in any way for the promotion of this giveaway.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Foodie Friday - Olivia's Cafe!

It's been quite a while since I've been able to do a Foodie Friday review - it's hard to do new Disney restaurant reviews with 13 months in between trips (yikes, 13 month.  I know that's not long for most, but I miss my random days throughout the year!).

So, on our recent visit staying at Disney's Old Key West, we took advantage of the never-very crowded table service, Olivia's Cafe.

I'm silly and have no pictures of the actual restaurant - just know, it's very laid back and fits in perfectly with the rest of the scene at Old Key West.  Mismatched chairs, tables, plates - according to Jim Korkis while guesting on WDW Radio, the story is that Olivia's house didn't have enough plates and chairs for all of her relatives visiting, so people left theirs to help (or something like that!).  Another fun touch - they have photos in mismatched picture frames of all the families who call OKW their home.  It was so much fun!

But, since I was a slacker taking ambiance photos, we'll get to the food.

After a long day of traveling, we headed to an early dinner with the 4 of us and my parents.  We were quickly served two loaves of warm Pineapple bread.  It's absolutely delicious.  And sneakily, it's the same bread we had a couple of nights later at O'hana.  Still delicious, but a little less excited the 2nd time.

The menu had everything from salads and sandwiches to steaks and pasta - preparing for a 5k and 13.1 in the coming days, I jumped on the "Runners Special" of a fancy schmancy pasta dish with lots of yummy things (with mushrooms, so my husband refused to try it).  It was made fresh, but already mixed together, so they couldn't omit specific ingredients:

Tomatoes, mushrooms, spinach (and extra spinach from my husband's plate), grilled chicken, and fettucini.  It really was perfect!

My mom ordered a fried shrimp po boy.  All I can say is that the fries were good - we don't eat seafood, so I didn't touch it.  But, she seemed to enjoy it!

 My dad ordered a version of my pasta dish, but with seafood.  So, again, I have no idea, but he seemed to like it!

Skipping the mushroomed pasta, Adam ordered a pork chop that came with a side of barely wilted spinach and mac 'n cheese. 

Okay, so here's the thing - I don't eat pork chops.  Bacon and sausage are de-licious in my book, but I avoid ham and pork chops - I don't know why.  I just really haven't enjoyed them in... well, as long as I can remember.  But, I had a bite of this pork chop and it was fantastic.

The spinach didn't really work on it's own, so that's why I stole it and had it wilt slightly more in my pasta.  I can basically eat spinach in any way possible (hello green monster smoothies - I drink several cups of spinach a week), so I didn't mind it.

Now, the mac n cheese?  Heck yes.  I kept stealing bites from across the table!

The boy split the perfect meal for my boys:

Grilled Cheese, green beans, and a fruit cup - check out my 3 year old trying to "cheese" for the camera.  Whoops!

Our last morning, we did breakfast at Olivia's (picture free) and had another great meal.  

This really is a great restaurant to have so close to "home."  And, oh how I wish I could truly call OKW my Disney home.  I'll happily eat there again in the future and totally recommend walking in if you're checking out the resort or staying there!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Royal Family 5k - run, don't walk!

For our second year in a row, Adam and I decided to sign up for the 5k the day before the big race.  Last year, it was just the two of us and we "wogged."  By my 6th month of pregnancy, I was having some major hip issues that prohibited me from actually running (and many days, walking was painful).

The 5k "Fiesta" had all of the runners in one large corral and started in 2 waves - basically, some people started running, the rest of us walked forward and started about 5 minutes later, with the strollers hanging out at the back.  During the race, people running with strollers would pass us or be near us, but we stopped for many pictures and took about 45 minutes to complete the 3.1 mile course.

This year, for the Royal Family 5k, the experience was quite different.

I delayed entering the boys in the kids dashes, as the runDisney website said it was only about 80% full.  Sadly, that 20% was only for the Mickey Mile - my boys are way too young for that.  To make sure they were involved (or at least the big one!), we registered for the stroller division and figured we would take Noah and maybe Zachary, depending on how he was handling sleep.

When the morning came, we left Zachary with my parent and took Noah to the bus along with our stroller.  After a bit of confusion (hey, it was 5 a.m. I confuse easily, especially on little sleep!), we met up with Mary from Capturing Magical Memories and she decided to forgo her "higher" corral and start with us in the stroller division.  We had all done runDisney 5k's in the past - Mary had previously pushed a stroller as well - so we didn't worry about time at all.

Unfortunately, the race didn't work as smoothly as in the past.  In an attempt to organize the large amount of runners in the 5k (definitely more runners than in the past), the decided to do 3 big corrals and 3 big starts - with a lot of time in between.

So much time, in fact, that when we finally started, I would guess the majority of the first corral was crossing the finish line and the clock was past 45 minutes before we even started.  People that were walking up literally an hour after we were supposed to be there started with us easily!

We laughed and smiled at the clock telling us we had been running for over an hour by the time we reached the 1 mile mark.  I thought very little about it, though my mommy nature worried a little about how baby Z would handle an all formula bottle (he had previously had only 1) taken from my parents who he didn't really know.  But, other than that, I figured that they started us super-duper late, we would have no worries about finishing.

The problems came much later - we did this race so Noah could "run" a 5k.  And, there were times he got out of his stroller to run.  We were never at the very back of the pack, but obviously we weren't sprinting.  We had been told that there would be no running with the strollers as is, so we assumed that we wouldn't have to rush.

We realized that we never passed the Mile 2 marker - instead of "sweeping" us for being too slow, they cut the course short.  Instead of going behind the scenes in the World Showcase, we stayed in the front.  Honestly, with 13.1 miles looming in the future, I didn't really mind losing .5 mile walk, but still, it seemed a bit odd.

Then came time for us to take pictures with characters.  But wait - the characters have to leave, they've been out too long.  We did get to meet a couple of characters, but we were definitely hassled by some cast members (apparently, not all cast members are happy working early in the morning - not the general case, but we encountered a few who needed to find a happy place) that we were too slow, didn't have time for pictures, or they wouldn't take picture with our cameras - only allowing the professional and highly overpriced photogs take our pics.

So let's look at this again:

  • 5k non-timed family 'fun' run
  • Put the families with the kids at the very back
  • Start them 45+ minutes late
  • Tell the stroller division not to run
  • Cut the course short
  • Having the characters leave early, before many families can get to meet them
Something just didn't add up.  We found a wonderful managerial cast member who said she's often in the meetings and would voice our concerns, but I have to admit, we were quite frustrated with the experience.  It was less magical than previous events and I'm not sure we would participate in a 5k again, at least not in the stroller division.

To me, it seemed as though they were trying to be more organized which I respected and appreciated, but somehow the family division of the family fun run got left in the dirt.  I honestly believe this situation will be solved - the runDisney team is incredible, but as with anything, it's trial and error and we sadly experienced some of the errors in this experience.

But, in the end, watching Noah receive a medal made it all worth it.  

We all ran across the finish line - even Mary - and the medal is fantastic.

runDisney - we had a disagreement, but I still love you.  Friends?