Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

On April 26th 2010 was launched to share with others the joys wonderments, musings, lessons, occasional difficulties and knowledge about our beloved Walt Disney World. This year has flown by and time was well spent reading, writing, talking, meeting, eating, sleeping, laughing, crying, planning, growing, showing and hopefully entertaining those who decided to stop by and spend a moment with us. Thank everyone for helping us learn and grow in this experience of Growing Up Disney. This year has been grand and we all look forward to sharing more of our experiences in 2011.

Happy New Year!

All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.
Walt Disney

It's kind of fun to do the impossible.
Walt Disney

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Guest Post: Reconnecting at Disney

My family recently returned from our annual trip to Disney World. We went during our favorite time of the year, November. The weather was absolutely gorgeous, the parks weren’t all that crowded and the Christmas decorations were up, which I love. But there was something even more special about this particular trip.

You see, I grew up in South Florida in a suburb flowing with young children. One of these children was my best friend since I can remember, Julie. Julie and I did everything together. We played together nearly every day and I can remember literally being in tears when she had to go back home at times. We went to school together from elementary to high school. Even when I was in the 8th grade and our family moved to a different suburb, Julie’s family ended up moving to same neighborhood, right down the street.

I was a little bit older than Julie and when I went out of state to college, I’m sad to say we lost touch. It wasn’t until I got married 9 years later, I reconnected with Julie again at my wedding. It was one of the highlights at my wedding, having her there on such a momentous day. I was able to go to hers as well. Wouldn’t have missed it for the world. Even after not seeing or talking to my old friend, when we got together, it was like old times.

Years went by still, I now live in Georgia, Julie in Florida, actually in Orlando to be exact (lucky girl). Thanks to technology and social networking, we’ve been able to stay up to date with each other’s lives even though we live hundreds of miles apart. So of course, when my family decided to go to Disney World, I emailed my long lost friend to see if she would be up to getting together. We had seen them briefly on a previous trip at Downtown Disney. Since she was working and didn’t have park passes and we had our days packed spending all day in the parks with restaurant reservations, it was difficult to spend more time together. But this time, to my surprise, they had season passes to the parks and they would be able to meet up with us for the entire weekend!

One of my favorite childhood memories is when my family went camping at Disney’s Fort Wilderness with Julie’s family. It was soon after Epcot had opened and we had a blast! I recently came across pictures from that trip (thanks to Julie’s dad) and got such a kick seeing us at Disney World in the early 1980’s! There was a picture of Julie and I riding a car at Tomorrowland Speedway. I can vividly remember driving that car and being the WORST driver ever! All we could do was laugh as I bumped the wheels over and over against the middle median.

Twenty seven years later, Julie with her husband and three kids and I with my husband and two kids were able to meet up in a place that couldn’t have been any better…Magic Kingdom. Even though many years have gone by, it was so wonderful picking up where we left off. Spending time with an old friend in the happiest place on earth was amazing. Seeing our children having fun and playing together, doing many of the same things we had done as children was absolutely priceless.

Contributed by Corby C. of Atlanta, Georgia. She is a proud wife and mom to Banks and Henley, a Disney Destination Planner with Travel with the Magic and one of our Minnie Moms.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Photo Flashback! Captain Jack

With the recent release of the trailer for the next Pirates of the Caribbean movie, I thought I'd share this photo of Captain Jack during the Pirate Tutorial from February 2007.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Minnie Moms: Pregnant at WDW, Part 2

Heather: We traveled to WDW during November 2009 when I was around 20 weeks pregnant with our then 3 year-old son as well as my mother-in-law. It was a great trip and one of the reasons we were back again this year with our 6 month-old baby.

I researched on the WDW mom’s panel as well my guidebooks about travel while pregnant. I printed out and highlighted all the rides that I should avoid and carried this with me at each park. I also mapped out locations to rest near bathrooms and tried to plan where we started our visit each day to coincide with a well needed pregnancy break.

We choose to stay on property so that if I was tired that I could easily head back to rest. This proved to be a great decision and I went back almost every day for a nap. I found that I was better able to stay awake for the nighttime dinner plans and parades because I had rested during the day.

Each day when we were packing our backpack I made sure I packed high protein bars and snacks and plenty of water. I was fortunate that I had not had much morning sickness but was ever hungry during my 1st pregnancy.

Going during my 2nd trimester proved to be a honeymoon time to enjoy the parks with energy and stamina to handle the walking. I walked daily throughout my pregnancy which I think helped me handle the miles logged in the parks. I would recommend being able to walk for at least thirty minutes without being winded if you are planning a WDW trip.

If doing WDW while pregnant my best advice is use common sense. Plan what you want to see, a daily resting strategy, pack snacks, and make sure you know what to expect on rides. On several rides I just asked a nearby cast member if this was appropriate for pregnancy. They were great to let me know what to expect, allowing an informed decision.

Obviously this little guy had a great time on his first trip to WDW.

Janine: Last year I was lucky enough to be in the early stages of pregnancy whilst we were at WDW. I say lucky because at the end of the pregnancy we were blessed with our beautiful daughter but I was unlucky in that I felt dreadful for a lot of the time we were on vacation. However, WDW is a wonderful place to be pregnant. Ok, so you can't go on a lot of the rides (the thrill rides) but there are still plenty of things to see and do. In fact for us it gave is a whole new outlook on the parks that Bruce over at UMWDW would be proud of. It made us take our time to look at things and do the attractions that we may not have put first usually.

I'll talk about all the positives about being pregnant at WDW first. Although we were there in May and have some super hot days, being Disney there were plenty of places for me to rest and cool off when I needed to. Just because I couldn't ride my favourite attractions such as Tower of Terror and Dinosaur, didn't mean I couldn't go into lovely air-conditioned indoor things such as Philharmagic and The American Adventure. As I was in very, very early stages (less than 8 weeks) I was suffering from all the rotten side effects of some pregnancies such as terrible all day nausea but without the huge belly!
All of the rides come with a warning that you should not ride them if you have a various condition. That being said, I am unsure if pregnant women are 'forbidden' from riding certain things or whether it is just unadvisable. I have heard of women riding roller coasters while quite far on but I have not seen this first hand at The World.

All of the parks are wonderful to walk about and sit back and enjoy things that you would miss if you were stuck in long lines all day but I personally found EPCOT to be the best for this. Maybe because I love World Showcase and usually we don't spend as long over there as we are trying to get onto Test Track or Soarin'. So I really enjoyed spending real time looking at the different pavilions (and enjoying the a/c!) with DH whilst the rest of the family did their own thing. We also (be ready for 'shock horror') went to The BoardWalk for the first time. Again, as we are usually back and forth between WS and the rides over in Future World, we had never found time just to quietly meander into The BoardWalk, and boy were we glad we did! What a pretty place and the food!!! One of the best sandwiches I've had at Disney was from the bakery.

Of course all of the parks have plenty of resting spots for you to sit down and take a breather while the rest of your party goes off to different rides. For 99% of the time DH stayed with me and missed a lot of the action too, but on the rides I insisted he went on too, I was more than happy just waiting on my own with a nice cool drink. The only negative I had with this (and I learnt from it) was on Splash Mountain. I queued with the others and then said I could not ride when they boarded so I was moved over to the other side where riders disembark. My family had left all their bags with me so they didn't get wet as a CM had said I could just wait for them. However, as soon as the family disappeared, I was told I could not wait there and would have to wait outside the ride. I indicated I have a ton of bags and that I was pregnant (I wasn't allowed to carry much weight due to a complication) so I was staying where I was. This was the first time a CM got a little funny with me and refused to help me so I ended up dragging 6 bags up to wait on the exit ramp. I would not have minded had I been told to move in the first place as I would not have been bag guardian! Oh well. From then on I did not line up with the others and just waited outside the rides with DH or on my own (it was after this experience that DH refused to leave me on my own and therefore missed out on a few things himself.)

So what would my top tips for being pregnant at WDW be?

1. Make sure if you go peak season and therefore during the hottest months, make sure that you have plenty of loose, cool clothing and drink even more than usual. I carried my own water bottle with me as I do not mind the slightly odd tasting water from the fountains as well as making sure I had huge drinks from the vendors. This was one time I did not mind spending mega dollars on refreshment.

2. This goes hand-in-hand with the above, make sure you know where the restrooms are! Pregnant women are renowned for constantly needing the bathroom and I could soon wander off for a super quick stop before anyone knew I was gone!

3. Wear sensible shoes and be prepared to have to change them if need be ... I've ALWAYS worn sneakers and never had a problem. However, whilst pregnant, my feet were so swollen and bloated that I had to borrow most unflattering slip on things from my MIL!

4. Chose where you eat carefully. I had gone to the US with the hope of eating as much pizza and candy as I liked, ha, I was gonna get fat anyway so may as well stuff my face silly. My body had other ideas and I would often feel sick at the restaurant and just want carbs. So don't go to expensive places where you'll pay a fortune and eat very little.

5. Go with the flow. If one day you're too tired to do much, then don't. While the rest of the family went out for meals and shopping, DH and I stayed in the villa as I was too sick/too tired to do anything and did not want to spoil everyone else’s day. If you're a frequent visitor, or have been a few times at least like us, then you don't mind missing a couple of things, knowing it's better to rest up and it's a good excuse to do it next time!

Thanks to our Minnie Moms for sharing such helpful tips! If you have a question for us or a topic you'd like us to cover, please leave a comment or email Amy. 

Minnie Moms: Pregnant at WDW, Part 1

Amy: I’ve been pregnant for three of my last four Walt Disney World trips. This has allowed for really memorable ways to announce the little ones to my parents. With Audrey, I told them moments before the start of Illuminations. With the current pregnancy, I changed Audrey into a “big sister” t-shirt on the way in to dinner at Olivia’s. Chris took pictures as they realized what she was wearing.

When I was pregnant with Audrey, I was sick well into the second trimester but overall it wasn’t too bad. I’m definitely not one of those people who says they ‘never feel better than when they’re pregnant.’ On those two trips in 2008, I just remember needing to take it easy which wasn’t too much of a problem since I couldn’t ride my beloved roller coasters. I take Disney’s recommendations seriously. They list in the maps and on signage which attractions should be bypassed by expectant mothers. I’ve seen online boards where people discuss which ones they rode anyway and why. Just as I won’t tell you how to raise your child, I won’t tell you how to behave while pregnant, but I don’t believe in taking chances with my babies. Sure, it might turn out fine if you ride Space Mountain, but what if it doesn’t? Is that really worth the health of your child or your own? It will be there next time, so grab a snack and relax while the rest of the group rides those thrill rides. If you use FastPass, they won’t be gone too long anyway. One day at Hollywood Studios, I played tour guide for Andy, Chris, and Cousin Jason. I had their park tickets and got them FastPasses for one thrill ride while they rode another. I also took the opportunity to take my time going through “One Man’s Dream” all by myself. All of the mountains, Rock N Roller Coaster, Tower of Terror, Test Track, Mission Space, Dinosaur, and Kilamanjaro Safaris are off-limits. I was disappointed that even the green (easy) version of Mission Space is considered unsafe. If you have any questions about whether you should ride, just talk to the cast member near the entrance.

Our visit in 2010 was another story. My goal for the trip went from making it to rope drop, riding everything, and taking tons of photos to just not getting sick in the shrubs. Thankfully, Chris had gotten a new camera and took care of the photos. Walt Disney World is covered with places to get a soda and I drank far more than I normally would at home but the cold carbonation helped settle my stomach and handle the heat. I found out that you can have quite a bit of Diet Coke before you hit the caffeine limit for the day. As a former coffee junkie, my body is used to it. People who’ve known me for years may be thinking “FORMER?” This baby has made me give up coffee. Well, at least for a while. It’s creeping back into my world. My aversion to coffee was so bad that a man sat down near me with a cup on the stone benches across from Aloha Isle and I had to get up and move. At Animal Kingdom, I had to nearly run past the coffee carts on the way to Asia. In regards to those types of problems, there isn’t much you can do other than avoid what bothers you.

A lot of expectant moms get nauseous if they go too long between meals/snacks. This usually isn’t much of a problem at WDW but I carried some crackers, just in case. Another lifesaver is ginger candy from Ginger People. I bought the chewy kind at Whole Foods with Audrey and I have the hard version this time, purchased from Amazon. (I have a ton. Anyone need some?) At home, I’ve found Twinings lemon and ginger tea to be soothing. Thanks to Janine, I have tried both the American and UK versions. I also wore the goofy blue Sea Bands for about a month. I'm not sure if they really worked or if they were like Dumbo's magic feather, but I thought they were worth a shot. I also need to add a big thanks to my dad for going to get me breakfast burritos which helped get the day off to a better start.

Try to dress extra comfy while touring when pregnant. Our trip in late October/early November set records with 90 degree days. I admit to not being fully prepared for the heat. One day Chris and I went into “O Canada!” primarily for the air-conditioning. I do love the Martin Short version, but I watched it this day while sitting on the floor. As the week went on and the heat wave broke, I did much better.

Commando touring is out the window when you’re expecting, but I see it as preparing you for the slower pace you’ll need when you come back with the kiddo. A visit with a baby/toddler/small child will be much different than trips before they came along, so consider this a practice run without the diapers and a fantastic excuse for one more Mickey bar!

Corby: So, I wanted to get pregnant with baby #2 for a while. I won’t go into detail, but it ended up taking longer than I thought and I had to go through a couple of losses along the way. Finally, I became pregnant for the third time in a year and I was extremely paranoid and cautious wanting to make sure all went well. We had our November 2009 Disney vacation already booked. I was really excited because my parents were coming along with us and I knew we would have a wonderful time together as a family. I wasn’t quite sure how I would manage being pregnant and spending all day in the parks, though. I was concerned about what if something happened, what if I wasn’t feeling well, what if I was too tired and what would I do since I couldn’t go on rides?

Well, it ended up, I wasn’t all that nauseous. I did feel a bit queasy and headachy at times but for the most part I was just fine. Being the huge Disney food lover that I am, I was able to enjoy that yummy Disney deliciousness perfectly fine, no aversions. As a matter of fact, I think I enjoyed it a little too much, as I gained 7 pounds during that one week of vacation! Eek! I’m sure it was all baby weight, of course…yeah right.

As far as tiredness went, I ended up not having that “oh my gosh, I could fall on my face and sleep right here on the ground” feeling like I did with my first born, thankfully. We were able to go all day long in the parks as we normally do, even staying out until midnight for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party one evening. I also had some of the best sleep ever when we returned back to our resort at night. The newly renovated room with queen beds at Coronado Springs was wonderful!

As I mentioned, I was very concerned about the rides. I knew the obvious roller coasters: Test Track, Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, etc were out but what about the other rides? Ended up, I was able to ride quite a few. I enjoyed pretty much any ride that did not have a height requirement. One thing I was a bit surprised over was exactly how bumpy some of the “boat” rides could be when the ride was coming to an end, particularly It’s a Small World, of all rides. Mom and I were sitting next to each other, and I can remember looking at each other and gasping as we went over the bumps at the end. I quickly lifted myself up slightly as to not jar my little bean. I ended up doing this little maneuver each time bumps would come along. I’m sure I looked silly but it brought me peace of mind.

Some advice I would give other expectant mothers traveling to Disney:

 Stay hydrated

 If you’re exhausted, go back to the resort during the afternoon and take a nap if needed.

 If you’re nauseous, take some crackers with you to nibble on. Sprite/Ginger Ale seemed to always make me feel better so maybe sit down and enjoy a carbonated beverage.

 Don’t push yourself! If you have any concerns, take it easy.

Thankfully, our little bean continued to thrive and was born May 2010. We have joked around about her first Disney trip being in utero. I just hope she’ll be a big Disney fan like the rest of our family!

Thanks to our Minnie Moms for sharing such helpful tips! Check back later for part two and many more ideas. If you have a question for us or a topic you'd like us to cover, please leave a comment or email Amy.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Year End Thanks!

As 2010 comes to an end, I'd like to thank some of the people who have helped make it a great one here at Growing Up Disney.

  • Chris (AKA Ridge)-- Thank you for contributing your wit and growing photography skills to the blog.  I have enjoyed working with you and look forward to 2011 and more fun.  I appreciate you taking on more responsibility as I just couldn't physically keep up.
  • DisneyDad-- Thank you for starting and promoting our Disney fascination.  Thank you for sharing your experiences and wonderful photos with us all.  Thank you for making all of our Disney stories possible. 
  • Andy-- Blogging takes a huge amount of time and my dear husband has been very patient and helpful.  Thanks!
  • Minnie Moms-- I am honored to have Corby, Heather, Kelly, and Janine writing about their Disney vacations as a part of our Minnie Moms.  I also love the guest posts they contribute!  Thank you ladies!  It's been a pleasure to get to know you (or reconnect!)  Thank you for your support.
  • Bruce-- Our lone Dad contributor for now.  Thank you for telling stories from your family vacations.  I'm glad we've become friends.
  • To all the family and friends who have read and shared the blog with others-- THANKS!
  • To all the friends I have made in the Disney online community--  Thank you for your support and friendship.  I'm thrilled to have this whole new world of pals.  I learn and laugh with you daily.
  • To the readers--  THANK YOU!  And we hope to continue providing you entertaining and informative content.
I wish you all a very blessed 2011!  Why? Because we like you!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

I hope your day has been as much fun as ours! Merry Christmas to all!


Friday, December 24, 2010

A Walk Around The World With Ridge-- Your favourite And Mine..

The Jungle Cruise!

On this, the Eve of Christmas I want to leave everyone with a smile. Here is hands down in my experience the Best Jungle Cruise Captain I have ever had the pleasure of taking a 3week or 10 minute trip with. Captain Chad and I seem to share about the same level of humour, so please watch and enjoy!

Merry Christmas.

Isaiah 9:6-7
6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

7 Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas at Walt Disney World

I am just a big kid at heart so I enjoy going to Walt Disney World anytime of the year but it is especially beautiful at Christmas. Christmas is a time for family, children, and celebrating the birth of Jesus. (Yes, Jesus is the Reason for the Season!) If you are not at home with family for Christmas what better place to celebrate than at Walt Disney World? Disney goes all out to decorate for Christmas. They have staff that plan Christmas decorations for the parks and resorts year round. Trees, lights, wreaths and gingerbread houses abound. Their decorations are everywhere and are beautiful.

We have only been at WDW for Christmas day once while we have been there during the Christmas season many times. We spent Christmas at Old Key West one year when Amy was living in Kissimmee. We brought in lights and decorations. I drove to a tree lot in Kissimmee and bought a real tree. We decorated our vacation villa and put presents under our tree. Christmas dinner was at Olivia’s, no cooking dinner here!

While our tree was pretty, Disney does a lot of trees that are beautiful. Decorations change from year to year to keep everything “new”. I think the most beautiful tree at any of the resorts is one we saw in the Grand Atrium at the Grand Floridian. It was huge by any measurements. I don’t know if it was the largest on property, but it’s bound to be the largest “inside” any resort. The year I remember seeing the tree, it had huge gold gilded mirrors and large bird houses hanging on the tree as ornaments. It was simply spectacular reaching high into the atrium.

Each resort has its own gingerbread house too. Here again, the one at the Grand Floridian is always huge. They have even used is as a ‘gift shop’ it is so large. If you have ever seen programs on the Travel Chanel about Disney, you probably know the chefs take great pride in creating these giant gingerbread masterpieces.

Disney Parks have their own special events at Christmas. Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party at the Magic Kingdom featuring Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade is complete with snow on Main Street. (If you haven’t been on Disney’s website already be sure to check out their page here (requires flash) it is well worth the few minutes it takes to view.) We attended this years ago before it became a park wide event. At WDW it was a originally a dinner party in the convention center at the Contemporary Resort complete with a Christmas stage production with Mickey and friends. It really was a “party” for those in attendance.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios features the Osborn Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights with millions of Christmas Lights strung over building faƧades and back streets synchronized to traditional Christmas music. There are even more lights in the form of twirling carousels, flying angels, and even jolly old St. Nick himself. It snows here too!

One Christmastime event I have never seen is the Candlelight Processional at EPCOT. Everything I have read it is a wonderful time of Christmas Carols and the reading of the Nativity from scripture by guest narrators. One Christmas I hope to be able to experience this event.

Luke Chapter 2
8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. 10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

Merry Christmas from Growing up Disney!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Team Post: Dreaming about Unlimited DVC Points

Disney Vacation Club allows you to go almost anywhere in the world to vacation. If you had enough points (and money), where would you like to go?

DisneyDad:  We have been DVC members since 1993 and most all of our travel on points has been to WDW. We have also used our points to travel to DVC property at Vero Beach, FL and Hilton Head Island, SC. We have also used our points to cruise once each on the Disney Wonder and Disney Magic. All of the DVC properties and the DCL are top notch vacation destinations. With an unlimited points budget I would look forward to a long trip to the newest DVC, Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, Ko Olina, Hawai’i. I have read so much about the new resort. My wife wants me to take her there for our 40th Anniversary in 2013. And of course our kids want to come along so I need the 3 bedroom Grand Villa. With unlimited points, I guess we need to stay at least 2-3 weeks in the ocean front Grand Villa. No point going that far for a short trip. That takes 1288 points a week during Premier Season.

Outside of DVC property, I would like to book a trip through Adventures by Disney. I would love to do the guided tour through Ireland. The Ireland Family Vacation is a 8 day/7 night tour of Dublin, Killarney and Shannon Ireland which includes a 3 night stay in Dromoland Castle which has been converted to a luxury hotel with a 5 star restaurant. Of course while you are traveling ABD also offers tours throughout Europe so if points are no object it would be fun to spend additional time touring. The Ireland trip only takes 574 points per adult. Other trips go for 354 to 840 points per person, not including the cost of transportation to your destination.

Another fun way to use my “unlimited” DVC points would be on the Disney Cruise line. Disney has added so many destinations with cruises ranging from 3-14 days. Looking at their 2011 cruise destinations I think the 11 night Mediterranean Cruise would be my top choice. At about 628 points per person for the cruise for a Deluxe Stateroom with Veranda, it’s a lot more points than what I have, but since we are dreaming here, I think it would be a great trip. Cruising from Barcelona, Spain and visiting ports like Tunis, Tunisia or Naples, Rome and Florence Italy as well as Monte Carlo, it sounds like it would be trip of a lifetime.

Ridge:  I would go to the UK and Ireland. I want to go and see England and to a Manchester United match. Then Scotland and lastly Ireland. No particular order to these but I really am a fan of history.  Since my family history has our family coming from these places, I would love to see them. Also I would like to visit all the other Disney parks around the world.

Amy: My first stop would be the Disney Dream. DVC points can be used there with a small fee. The ship sounds amazing and Disney is by far the best cruise line I have sailed. After that, I'd be taking an Adventures by Disney trip or two. Now, I don't know for certain if DVC points can be used there but this is a post about dreaming, so in my dream, AbD takes my fictional unlimited DVC point supply. I'd love to go back to Italy with AbD. My backpacking trip to Italy went by far too quickly and I'd like to go again in style. While I'm in Europe, let's visit Disneyland Paris. I'm still kicking myself for not going when I lived in London, but I couldn't get any of my friends to go with me. Boo. Once we arrive back in the States, I'd love to take the AbD trip that includes the Grand Canyon. I haven't been there yet. Next on the agenda would be Disneyland! Chad from Days in the Park would have to be my personal tour guide. To cap off my grand adventure, I'd spend some time at the newest DVC resort, Aulani, currently under construction in Hawaii. Now back to the real world. Suddenly the view of Oklahoma out my window is a little sad...I think I'll go back to daydreaming.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Disney Gifts I Bought for Myself

My dear husband has been low on gift ideas this year and after he bought a couple of his own Christmas presents, I am following suit. Here are two plaques I got today at Hallmark.


Feeding the Truly Picky Child at WDW

Tink eats her fruits and veggies so well that I really can't complain that she's otherwise picky and almost entirely vegetarian (by her own choice.)  At home or visiting family, it's not a big deal since I can cook for her easily.  I checked the menus before our October/November Walt Disney World trip but I admit to not being aware of how hard it was going to be to feed her.  With a little more preparation, it would have been far easier and far less frustrating, so I hope you can learn from my mistakes.

The Disney Parks are becoming more accommodating for vegetarians, according to Minnie Mom, Janine.  While I ate a couple of yummy grilled vegetable sandwiches myself, it's much harder to find meals for a vegetarian child at WDW.  Tink was 18 months old on our last WDW trip and simply isn't interested in meat.  I can occasionally get her to eat a couple of fish sticks and very recently a few morsels of chicken, but that's about it.  She also rarely eats pizza or peanut butter & jelly, so those are out.  Tink's only interest in french fries is as a device to play in a cup of ketchup. 

Lunch at Liberty Inn

COUNTER SERVICE SIDES:  The Disney counter service kids meals do come with grapes and carrot sticks by default now and that's much better than cookies and fries at every meal, but I'd still love to see more variety.  Tink was too young to safely eat raw carrots, so we would get her grapes and applesauce.  Well, she wasn't interested in the applesauce most of the time and while Tink loves grapes, I was afraid we were going to live a scene from Willy Wonka since she had eaten so many of them.  I'd love to be able to get a side of vegetables without having to go to a table service restaurant.  The adults would try to order items that would include additional vegetables/apple slices, etc. but even then, the pickings were slim.  Sunshine Seasons was a good option as they have more dishes which include vegetables.  Liberty Inn had a good mixed fruit cup which Tink really enjoyed.  The prepacked fruit cup is found at a variety of places around property.

Lunch at Portobello

COUNTER SERVICE ENTREES:  This was a long trip so we were trying to eat more meals at quick service restaurants to save a little money.  Buffets had worked well for us in April, but these get pricey, so off to counter service we went.  There are only a handful of entree options for kids.  Cheese pizza, macaroni & cheese, peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, chicken nuggets, cheeseburger, and the like.  Of these options, the only one my child would eat was macaroni & cheese.  They only offer it at certain locations and we also found that not every location had a non-meat option for kids.  I used the Undercover Tourist app to check menus to see who had mac & cheese.  Just in case you are wondering, I did ask about mac & cheese and if it's not on the menu, they don't have it.  I'm sure a quick service restaurant would try to work with you but it's much faster just to go somewhere else.  One day Audrey did eat a veggie burger patty at Liberty Inn, but this is not available in a child's meal.  So, to feed her here on each of two occasions cost $6.79 for the burger, $3.39 for the fruit cup, and $1.99 for a large bottle of milk.  (They will only sell you a small milk as a part of the kid's meal.  Ugh!)  I'm sure she'll eat more as she gets older but the lack of options got a little tiresome.

Thanks Uncle Chris!

TABLE SERVICE ENTREES:  The kid's meals at table service restaurants were about $8 each and included enough food for an adult.  At Olivia's, I ordered Tink the fish kid's meal with rice, green beans/carrots and yogurt and a caprese salad for myself with the intention of the two of us sharing.  She loved the carrots and even ate some from DisneyDad's plate.   I think Tink also ate some rice and a couple of bites of yogurt.  We took the leftovers back to Saratoga Springs and she had some of the green beans another day.  These kid's meals are so large that after that first night, I'd order her just some veggies or fruit, depending on what was offered.  The table service restaurants were more accommodating of special requests.  At Portobello, my mom shared some pasta with Tink and the little one liked the risotto mozzarella balls and the grilled veggies.  BTW, the risotto balls are wonderful!

Milk with an umbrella at Kona Cafe

SO WHAT DOES THE KID EAT?  Tink loves breakfast.  She eats more like we're all supposed to do.  Breakfast like a king, lunch like a queen, and dinner like a pauper.  Well, for her, it's more like breakfast for a king and lunch and dinner like a pauper.  We'd get her a good breakfast in the morning and even though she didn't eat much at any one time, she was just fine.  Tink also LOVES ice cream and got to eat a Mickey ice cream bar.  I also carried cheerios, applesauce packs, and other snacks. 

LESSONS LEARNED:  My husband couldn't join us on this trip and since I was carrying most of Tink's gear, I was trying to travel as light as possible.  Yes, my parents would have been happy to carry something for me, but it's a hassle to carry multiple bags and my stroller has very little storage space.  In retrospect, I wish I had a small insulated lunchbox and carried cheese sticks, milk, and maybe some other food.  I still wouldn't want to carry much but it would have been handy to have a place to keep things cool.  I also think I probably should have skipped out on a couple of table service dinners with the group and just taken Tink and I somewhere simpler.  By that time of day, we were both tired.  Thankfully, my mom enjoys feeding Tink since she doesn't get to see her often.     

Even with the challenge of feeding my picky little girl, we had a wonderful time and hated to leave.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Weekly Roundup 12/19/2010

Monday started a new week and memories of Amy's fairytale wedding at Walt Disney World.

On Tuesday, the team posted our favorite ideas for off-property dining.

On Wednesday, DisneyDad gave us a Photo Flashback to 1973 and a picture from His and DisneyMom's honeymoon marking 37 years of Disney trips together.

On Thursday, Amy gave us some great Disney gift ideas, perfect for more than just Christmas.

On Friday, Ridge took us to the Animal Kingdom and had lunch at Yak & Yeti.

Thanks for coming by!

Friday, December 17, 2010

A Walk Around The World With Ridge--Yak & Yeti

If you're looking for a sit-down meal with pizzazz, story and instant feeling of history then Yak & Yeti is the place to go in Animal Kingdom.

Y&Y sits at the entrance to Asia in Animal Kingdom. The architecture of the area has all the flair of central Asia. The restaurant is near Expedition Everest and is in the mythical Kingdom of Anandapur. Now for you geography folks out there this should make perfect sense because there is an Anandapur India. The Asia area combines features of India, China and Nepal. Why does that seem important? Because we all know that it is rare that Disney's Imagineers do things half-butted so it pays to look around. Also it makes a difference in dining. Yak & Yeti is also a mash up of these nation's cuisines.

The proprietor Arjun has fallen on hard times and has opened his home as the Yak & Yeti hotel and restaurant. This story can be found on the back of the menu.

As you walk through the restaurant there is a grand staircase in the middle of the main room with a huge chandler. Don't worry there is also an elevator for those who don't handle stairs well. Large silk and gold puppets and other trinkets from the owner's travels around Asia decorate the interior.

We had one of the first ADRs of the day and were seated upstairs in the corner. This worked out great for Tink as she was able to survey her kingdom with ease this way.

We have been waiting to try out Y&Y for some time. On this trip we figured we had given them ample time to work out the kinks in the system and we were right. Everything was well prepared and extremely well done.

We each tried something different. Amy had the Wonton soup and fried green beans. Fried green beans were a hit.

Mom had the Sweet & Sour Chicken a favorite of hers and she gets it with the sauce on the side.

Dad had the Tempura Shrimp, served on the skewers with a chili-plum sauce.

I am a sucker for duck and the Duck with Anandapur glaze didn't disappoint me.

The food and atmosphere were better than expected. Over the years things both good and bad have been written about Yak & Yeti, but in my case our experience was nothing but positive. The prices seemed on par with the amounts and quality of food. Our server was very attentive even with his section becoming full within minutes of the opening of the doors. Final thought, I will be back to Yak & Yeti and wouldn't feel bad recommending it to others for a unique dining experience.

Have you eaten at Yak & Yeti, what did you have and what did you think?
To see the all the photos from that day click here.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Great Gift Ideas from your Disney Friends

If you are still looking for gift ideas for your special friends and family, why not consider supporting your Disney friends and their creative projects?  Here are a few suggestions from people I've had the pleasure of getting to know over the last year (and a couple I'd like to know better.)


Beyond the Attractions: A Guide to Walt Disney World with Preschoolers (2011)
A super helpful resource for traveling with young children but many of the tips apply to everyone!  I really enjoyed reading it.  Depending on your style, you can order a paperback or Kindle version.  I had a PDF for review purposes and found myself using the search feature on my iPhone to find specific tips while at WDW.  My review.

Mouse Of Zen
A fun gift for lovers of poetry and/or Walt Disney World.  I love how his poems take you on a journey through your own WDW memories.  My review.

Walt Disney World Adventure: A Field Guide and Activity Book for Explorers
Kid Tips for Walt Disney World: Touring Advice by Kids for Kids

These two are from Tracie Cook, who I had the pleasure of meeting in October.  She's combined her loves of teaching and Disney for these guides.

Hidden Mickeys: A Field Guide to Walt Disney World's Best Kept Secrets, 4th Edition
I'm proud to have bought the first edition of this book and so happy for Steven Barrett that it's so popular that he's now on the 4th edition.  He also has Hidden Mickey guides for other Disney vacation destinations.

The Walt Disney World Trivia Book, Volume 1: Secrets, History & Fun Facts Behind the Magic  Just one of Lou Mongello's books/guides that help fill the time between vacations and you might learn something to boot.

Other fun ideas:

Travel with the Magic
What could be a better gift than a Walt Disney World or Disney Cruise Lines vacation?  Kelly or Corby, two of our Minnie Moms, would be happy to put their passion for the Mouse to work for you.
Free dining is still available if you book by December 20.  Room only deals can be booked through the end of the year.  And don't forget the Disney Dream sets sail in January 2011!

Unique Disney haiku art from Mouse of Zen & Knell StudioWorks
Wall art, iPhone images, and soon...a calendar!

Vintage treasures from Flying Ace
Retro items from a great lady with an eye for treasures!
Ashley has kindly offered Growing Up Disney readers a 10% discount.  Enter "DISNEY" in the coupon code at checkout.

Custom SLR/DSLR camera strap covers
Make your camera strap more comfortable and stylish.  The sky's the limit on fabrics.  My review.

Here are a few of my favorite items for travel with little ones.  These would make great stocking stuffers for new parents. 

GoGo Squeez appleapple, Applesauce on the Go, 3.2-Ounce Pouches (Pack of 48)
I reviewed this recently.  Audrey loved GoGo Squeez at WDW and asks for them at home.  I just reordered for holiday travel.  Amazon has them for 62.5 cents each.  My review.

Playtex Disney Princess Insulator 9 oz - 2 Pack
The closest thing we've found to a spill-proof cup.  And they have fun Disney designs.  The insulation is pretty good too.

Bumkins Waterproof SuperBib, Unisex, 3-Pack
These are great when you are away from home.  They clean up easily at the kitchen sink and dry quickly.  They're also super light for throwing in the diaper bag.

Munchkin Two Snack Catchers, Colors May Vary
We've taken these to WDW and just about everywhere else.  Audrey can have a snack (usually Cheerios) without making a huge mess.

Fisher-Price Disney/Pixar Toy Story 3 Kid Tough Doodler Classic
I got a small one for our last flight to WDW.  Now I keep it in my purse and it's handy at the grocery store, waiting at a restaurant, in the car, etc.

Fisher-Price Healthy Care Deluxe Booster Seat - Blue/Green/Gray

Of course, this is far too big for a stocking stuffer, but if you need a gift for a family who travels alot or just likes to go out to dinner, I can't recommend this enough.  I reviewed mine once on the blog.  We take it out to restaurants and Audrey sits in it much better than the germy high chairs which buys us more time.  She also makes less mess due to the tray.  It goes with us when we visit grandparents.  I'll use it as a booster seat for Audrey at home when the new baby needs to take over our main high chair.  My review.

I hope this has helped spark a few ideas to complete your Christmas shopping!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Photo Flashback - You've come a long way!

In December 1973 DisneyDad and his new bride visited Walt Disney World on their honeymoon. Yesterday (December 14) was our 37th Wedding Anniversary.

This year marks 37 years of my wife and I coming to WDW. The family has come a long way from just the two of us in 1973 to 2 children, a son-in-law, a granddaughter, and one more grandchild on the way. Below is a picture of our Family from Chef Mickey's on Tink's first birthday in April.