Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Photo Flashback! 'Ohana means Breakfast with Family

What is better than breakfast?  Breakfast with Family!  
'Ohana is a wonderful place for a family breakfast 
plus there are some pretty neat friends that stop by too!
 Breakfast at 'Ohana - November 2013

The girls love the Mickey Waffles!

Even with all the Friends who stop by

Breakfast is a winner!

and you get to visit with Lilo and Stitch!

Pluto and Mickey stop by too!
Of course any day Granddad gets to have breakfast
 with Family AND Mickey is good!
And the food at 'Ohana is good too!

This is really good!
Focused on the Magic
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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Photo Flashback! My Favorite View

I have been going to Walt Disney World ever since it opened in 1971.  My first trip was actually to the Preview Center in 1970 before the Magic Kingdom even opened.  My first view of the Magic Kingdom is still My Favorite View.  There is nothing like walking under the train station and walking out onto Main Street USA.  Looking down Main Street and seeing Cinderella Castle never fails to bring a smile to my face.

Main Street USA - May 2014
And, of course, there is probably nothing more photographed at Walt Disney World than Cinderella Castle.  The view from the walkway to Tomorrowland is one of my favorites.

Cinderella Castle - May 2014
And I have a new favorite view on Main Street.  My cute granddaughters.  Tink took her first steps on Main Street on her first birthday holding my hand ( see the GrowingUpDisney logo ). Minnie didn't make it on her first birthday, but for her first steps on Main Street I was holding her hand too.
Tink and Minnie on Main Street USA - May 2013

Mom and I will be going in October to Walt Disney World for the EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival.  This will be the first trip we have made since Tink came along 5 years ago without having our granddaughters along.
I already miss them.


My Favorite View
Focused on the Magic
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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Great New Disney Games: Review and Giveaway

There is an awesome new line of Disney-themed games available from Blue Orange.  When I was offered one to review (and one for YOU!), I knew we were going to love this.  Spot It! is a line of circular card games with many themes ranging in difficulty from age 3 through adult.  There are a couple of ways to play but the basic concept is that you are looking for matches between two cards.  For my girls, I chose Spot It! Words Disney Princess.

Seriously, what's not to love about this game?!? It's…

* Educational: The "Words"version of the game includes written words and images.  The match can be two words, two images, or the word and image for the same thing.  Spot It! Words Disney Princess is recommended for ages 6 and up.  Tink is 5 but the ability to match images on some card sets helped keep her interest as she quickly picked out two matching princesses on some hands and faced challenges with sounding out words on other sets.
*Low-tech: As much as I love my iGadgets, it's really nice to have a fun game that doesn't require me to keep it charged or maintain accounts, etc.  This is just a straight forward game offering parent and kid time.  Tink and I played it for the first time at our local library while killing some time before heading off to her dance class.
*Low-maintenance: If you lose a card, no big deal.  The game will still play just fine.  This is awesome because we all have games/toys in our homes that don't work because some small piece went astray.
*Small: The cards come in a nice tin that won't take up much room in your bag or your kid's backpack. This makes it a great game for on the go.  Perfect for that time while you are waiting for the next activity/class.  What a terrific way to keep children entertained at a restaurant!
*Disney: Enough said.

The other themes in the Disney Spot It! line are:
  • Disney Planes Spot it! Alphabet
  • Disney Frozen Spot it! Alphabet
  • Sofia the First Spot it! Alphabet
  • Doc McStuffins Spot it! Numbers and Shapes
  • Jake and the Never Land Pirates Spot it! Numbers and Shapes
  • Disney Pixar Spot it! Words
  • Disney Princess Spot it! Words 

Also available are story-telling card games.
  • Tell Tale Disney-Pixar Toy Story
  • Tell Tale Disney Princess

Since I haven't played the Tell Tale games personally, here's the description from the press release, "Imaginations come to life with Tell Tale, a creative storytelling game. Players weave wacky and whimsical stories using cards showing a variety of settings, characters, and objects. Players can choose from four storytelling guidelines or even come up with their own. Lay out a story board, build on another player’s tale, or improvise with random cards and watch the magic happen!"

Now it's your turn to get in on the fun, enter today to win your own Spot It! or Tell Tale.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Friday, August 29, 2014

Goodbye Spirit of America and Off Kilter

Yesterday, I saw some really tragic news.  Ok, so not actually tragic in the sense that no one died, no nation collapsed, and nothing blew up…well, maybe just Twitter exploded.  But to a girl who loves Epcot and its live entertainment, it was quite heartbreaking news.  Some of Epcot's long-time performers will sing/play/dance/act their last in the park in late September.  According to the Orlando Sentinel, Off Kilter, Mo’Rockin’, Spirit of America Fife & Drum Corps and World Showcase Players will soon be replaced.

Spirit of America Fife & Drum Corps, Epcot

Off Kilter began rocking the Canadian pavilion with their Celtic melodies in 1997, and I happened to be in College Program during that year.  You can read more (and catch a few videos) about these masters of bagpipes and kilts here.  Disney is bringing in a lumberjack act to Canada.  I'll grab a Stella and give it a chance but it will never replace Off Kilter in my Disney nerd heart.  

Today I want to share a special memory about another group who will soon say goodbye.   The Spirit of America Fife & Drum Corps is just what it sounds like.  This group of musicians plays traditional American tunes while wearing costumes inspired by colonial times.  I think the live performances are what really makes Epcot special and I always encourage people to slow down and take in the acts.  In November 2013, we did just that and caught a very special ceremony.  The leader of the group called the children up to the front of the pavilion and after a bit of marching, the children were all given copies of the Declaration of Independence and announced as Sons and Daughters of Liberty.  My girls were 2 and 4 at the time so they just liked their 'scrolls' but it was a really nice moment.

This is just one of the small things that keeps us going back to Walt Disney World.   I don't think the big ticket items are really the draw.  Yes, the roller coasters are great fun but the true Disney magic is when guests and Cast Members slow down and interact.  And you have to love it when you actually learn something while being entertained!

Spirit of America Fife & Drum Corps, Epcot

I wish a fond farewell to the groups who are soon ending their time at Epcot and look forward to checking out the new acts on my next visit.  To those who will be replacing Off Kilter and Spirit of America, you have some mighty big Doc Martens and buckled shoes to fill.  Best wishes!

Spirit of America Fife & Drum Corps, Epcot, Hidden Mickey

Spirit of America Fife & Drum Corps, Epcot

If you are lucky enough to be at Epcot in the next month, please catch a performance or two from Off Kilter and Spirit of America for me!

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Get Yourself in the Photo! Ideas to Improve Your Walt Disney World Photography

Walt Disney World is an especially easy place to get in the picture so even if you have hair made crazy by the Florida humidity, say cheese!  Oh boy, I was about to melt in the photo below but I'm so glad we captured that memory.  Baby Minnie LOVED Pluto.  I don't know what it is about Pluto but my girls both adored him at that age.  

Pluto, Goofy, Walt Disney World, Growing Up Disney
Minnie's first character greeting, May 2012
Taken by DisneyDad with my camera

Since you're reading this blog, you're likely the Disney fan and trip planner in your family. That frequently also makes you the family memory keeper and photographer. This certainly describes me. I can look back at my family's photos and I have thousands and thousands of images of my children and quite a few of the girls with my husband. However, unless my dad or brother was around, I'm probably not in the picture. iPhone selfies have helped with this problem, but over the last couple of years, I have made an effort to be included in more of the pictures with my girls. While I now love the portraits of them doing something cute or sitting in front of some landmark, I know that someday I'll share these photos and memories with my children. DisneyDad likes to post images from the early days of Walt Disney World and my favorites are the ones of my parents. I especially love the shot of them on their honeymoon in front of Cinderella Castle and the one of DisneyDad and me on Main Street.

Disney honeymoon, vintage disney photos, growing up disney
A Disney Honeymoon, 1973
Photo likely taken by another guest with DisneyDad's camera
vintage disney photos, growing up disney
DisneyDad and Amy, Main Street USA, 1979
Photo likely taken by Mom
So on your next Walt Disney World vacation, please take cheesy selfies with your kids while waiting for Dumbo to take off. Or ask another guest to take a photo for you on the bridge. The parks are full of off-duty or former Cast Members, long-time guests who aren't in a hurry and other kind folks who would be happy to snap a picture.

The most obvious way to include your whole group in the memories is to take advantage of the PhotoPass system. Remember to let the Cast Member take shots with both your camera and theirs.  Don't pass up the chance to greet Mickey along with your children and be included in the shot.  He's a magical mouse regardless of your age.  At many of the character meals, a group photo will be taken before you are seated.  Some of these are included in the cost of the meal and others are extra.  These images can be a really nice way to get a group shot without the sun in your eyes.

I hope you'll find your way into more photos on your next vacation and capture memories you will cherish for years to come.

growing up disney
Remake of our 1979 shot
Taken by me with my camera 
growing up disney
Remake of our 1979 shot
Taken by a PhotoPass Cast Member with my camera
Cinderella Castle, Walt Disney World, growing up disney
DisneyDad set up his camera and handed it off to Mom for this one. 
pocahontas, Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World, growing up disney
My husband doesn't always get to visit WDW with us but he was happy to pose with Tink and Pocahontas
Walt Disney World, Garden View Tea Room, Grand Floridian, Growing Up Disney
The manager at Garden View Tea Room took this one for us after Tink's first tea in May 2014
Cinderella Castle, Magic Kingdom, Growing Up Disney
A quick selfie of me and Minnie 
Growing Up Disney
Being silly during the Annual Passholder preview in November 2012.  Tink wouldn't cooperate but then asked to do this pose about a year later.
Growing Up Disney, MInnie Mouse, Disney's Animal Kingdom, Walt Disney World
One of the great times to get out of the way and let the kids shine.  Minnie's first visit with Minnie! 
Belle, Akershus, Growing Up Disney
The girls and I took a special trip with my bestie in January 2013.   Not my best look but I wouldn't trade this photo.   
Pluto, Epcot, Growing Up Disney
Ridge isn't in all that many shots either.  His friend, Shelley, took this one for him.  Seriously, Pluto rocks.

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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Photo Flashback! I Love a Parade!

Walt Disney World May 2014
I love the Floats, Characters, and Music of the Parades in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World.  They have changed a little over the years.  From the mechanical dragons, swings, pirate ships, and hot air balloons of the current parades to the simplicity of the original ones, I love them all.

Main Street Parade  - May 1979

Pooh has changed some since May 1979

The "ears" at the bottom of this May 1979 picture belong to Amy.

Hope you enjoy looking at some old photos from my Wayback Machine
(my old photo albums) as much as I do.

Retro Disney
Focused on the Magic
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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Photo Flashback! Thank You DisneyDad!

Hiya Pals!  We've been away for a few weeks due to some technical difficulties but now we are back to continue sharing our family's love of all things Disney.  And DisneyDad deserves all the thanks for getting us back up and running.  Trust me, he's due a B-I-G thank you for this one, so please leave him a quick note below!

It's also because of DisneyDad that we are Growing Up Disney in the first place.  Some of these you've seen before, but I wanted to share a few photos of our history as I express my gratitude.  I've enjoyed working on this project with family and friends and I'm so glad we are able to continue.

DisneyDad with his parents and nieces in Adventureland in December 1971

DisneyDad and Mom on their honeymoon in December 1973

DisneyDad and Amy, May 1979

DisneyDad and Mom at Amy's wedding, our famous guests were a surprise from DisneyDad

Tink's first trip to Walt Disney World for her first birthday, April 2010

Storytime at Disney's Hilton Head Island Resort, February 2012

Minnie's first Walt Disney World trip, May 2012, 11 months old

Posing for a remake of our shot above in May 2013

DisneyDad and Mini-Me

A quick selfie as we exited the park in May 2014

Focused on the Magic
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