Friday, September 30, 2011

Guest Post: DVC Hilton Head, a little Disney magic in South Carolina

This Summer I was fortunate enough to visit the DVC, aka Disney Vacation Club, resort in South Carolina. Over the years, it has become one of our family's most favorite places to go for a vacation. One reason is the feel you get after you cross the bridge into the resort. Yes, that's right you cross a bridge and go onto a private island, very Disney.

They know how to make it special and here they do. Since it is a smaller resort everything can feel special to you, even the Spanish Moss hanging off the trees, giving quite a slow, whispering wind feel.
The kids running around and laughing gives it that Walt Disney World family feeling.

One thing in particular I enjoyed was that over the years a lot more activities have been added to this resort. They have always had a great pool called the Big Dipper. It has a great slide that goes around a water tower and the slide puts you right into the 3 foot area of the pool. Lifeguards are always on hand to keep everyone safe and a very secluded Hot Tub nearby for added R &R, should you need a place to hide away day or night.

There are many family activities planned every day during the Summer months, less on the off season. Even Hidden Mickeys are here scattered among the resort.

The cast members are ususally local residents and are happy to answer any questions about the island and things to do that are local to this low country. One of our family favorite's is crab fishing, which you purchase the net and bait for to see if you can coax one to get in your net. This particular sport requires some patience and the little ones love when you finally discover a crab in the basket. But, if that is not your thing regular fishing is also very popular off the dock. I call it a dock because that what it reminds me of, since our family has been enjoying this resort over the last 12 years or so, this one spot has made so many memories for us.

Officially it is called Fishing Pole Pier but, a lot more than fishing goes on here. Yes to the crab and fish catching but, it is also racing to the end that has became a sport for us. I would be running right behind them when they were little because there is an end and if you tried you could get through the wooden fence. I have looked over and it doesn't look to deep, but still you need to be careful. The walk or run out to the end of the dock is about 300 feet.

There is also wildlife all around if you stop and look. Beautiful birds tend to hang around especially at the pier. They are just looking/waiting for some snacks from would-be fishermen. These white Ibis are just another part of serenity to this island retreat.

Another part of Disney Hilton Head's Rest and Relaxation is laying in all the hammocks spread around the beautiful grounds. They make a great way of just passing the day by and thinking I don't have to do anything else but swing and or sleep. There is also a great playground for the kids that is completely enclosed and has a place for the parents to sit and watch. The many huge trees that surround the property have cascading Spanish Moss that make the place look so beautiful. These trees are so amazing because their branches are just at the right height, angle and size for climbing. I bet they probably don't really want you too but it's so very tempting.

I hope you have enjoyed some of the great activities and stories about this fun, relaxing Disney resort and even thought it doesn't include a Disney Park with rides, DVC Hilton Head has a lot to offer..

I want to thank Amy for this great opportunity to tell you about another great Disney Vacation our family had.

My name is Diane Maguire and I'm the creator of the CanDoItMOM blog but, most of you probably know me as my twitter name @MouseFanDiane. My blog is about all things Disney the memories, pictures, planning and things I have learned along the way. I have 2 kids, my girl Abby is 12 and my son Liam is 9. I am married to my best friend Will and we are crazy about Disney. We are also DVC members since 1998 and have never looked back. Being a DVC member means we can have our Disney vacation, maybe even two every year. You can read more @

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Photo Flashback!!! 15th Annual International Food & Wine Festival: Ireland

Ah, my favorite... Ireland.  Fisherman's pie: lobster, mashed potatoes, and some kind of awesome sauce.  And it's back for this year... I'll have one please. Also shown here is the cheese plate and chocolate lava cake from Ireland. Oh, Food & Wine Festival.... I've missed you, let's never be this far apart again.... see you this weekend.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

40 Days to 40 Years, 2007


Today I am proud to have shared an article about a special trip to Walt Disney World in 2007 as a part of the 40 Days to 40 Years series at DISTherapy and co-hosted by one of our own Minnie Moms, Beth from Pursuing the Magic.

DisneyDad participated earlier in the series and told the story of his 1973 Walt Disney World honeymoon.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Crib Options at Walt Disney World

You've decided to take the family to Walt Disney World.  Where is the little prince or princess going to sleep?  You have several options.

Graco Travel Lite Crib
I have this smaller model at home.
Great for travel.
Graco Pack 'n Play
WDW uses the basic model
similar to this.
There are a few full-sized cribs available on request at Walt Disney World resorts, but it's a very small number and they aren't that great.  Generally, when you request a "crib" at WDW, you will be given a basic Graco Pack 'n Play and one fitted sheet for it similar to the image on the left.  The sheet is Disney-made and not an official Graco one, so the fit isn't quite as good.  However, it was clean and Tink seemed to think it was comfy.  If you get the sheet dirty, just call mousekeeping for another one.  We have the travel size Pack 'n Play (above right) at home so I don't have any of the larger sheets, however lots of people do bring their own sheets.  The WDW Pack 'n Plays we have used looked almost new but I felt better after giving them a good cleaning with some disinfecting wipes.  Keep in mind that these portable cribs do not include a bassinet insert.

crib at Walt Disney World, travel crib
One of the few cribs at WDW, waiting to go into a
villa at Saratoga Springs.
For older children who may not yet be comfortable in a standard-sized bed, you can request removable bedrails when you make your room reservations.

If you'd like to guarantee a full-sized crib or need a bassinet, I'd suggest you rent one.  There are a number of companies in the Orlando area offering all sorts of baby gear for rent.  They will deliver the crib to and pick it up from your resort.  You usually have to assemble a rented crib, but they choose simple models.  The bedding is included with the sites I considered.  Do an internet search and compare the offerings of a few companies.  If you have used a baby gear rental company, please leave a comment below to help other parents. 

And if all else fails, there are superstores only a short drive away.

Friday, September 23, 2011

On the DL with Chad: An Introduction!

The best thing about blogging is the people you meet. And one of my favorite new friends is Chad from Days in the Park. Well, I guess it's not exactly a new friendship anymore since we met about a year ago. We are both displaced Alabamians and raging Disney fans. Even though he cheers for the wrong team (War Eagle!) I cannot wait to go to Disneyland and meet this guy in person. Or he has an open invitation for the "Epic Meeting of the Tinks" in 2014 at Walt Disney World.

Chad is the driving force behind Days in the Park and if you are going to Disneyland or just like fun photos and stories, be sure to check out his site and podcast. Don't miss the napping shots. You'll just have to go and figure that one out for yourself.

I am thrilled to announce that Chad will be sharing a monthly post here on Growing Up Disney. Check back each month as he schools our Walt Disney World crowd on the "Land" he loves.


Hi there! My friend Amy here at "Growing Up Disney" has asked me to swing by once a month (thank you, Amy!) and contribute to her blog, and I thought since she has so many readers who might not be familiar with me that a good place to start might be with an introduction!

My name's Chad and I'm a co-creator of the Days in the Park blog, part of a friend and friend combo who enjoy spending many of our days in, you guessed it, The Park; or if you want to get all technical about it, the Disneyland Resort. I currently reside in Rancho Cucamonga, California with my wife and three little boys roughly a half hour or so from Disneyland, though I am originally from lower Alabama, which is of course much closer to that other Disney Resort; somewhere in Orlando, if I remember right.

Many people over time have asked me where my love of Disney first took hold, and when I look back over the years trying to figure just when and where my love of all things Disney first took root, I think I probably have my parents to thank. Funny thing is, I didn't even set foot inside one of the Disney Parks until I was 17 years old. My earliest memories of Disney are of myself sitting in my living room watching 'Welcome to Pooh Corner' on Disney Channel. I grew up watching anything and everything Disney that I could, and not just the animated classics, but movies like 'The Gnome Mobile', 'The North Avenue Irregulars', and 'The Apple Dumpling Gang' were among my favorites. If the Disney name was attached to it, I watched it. It really was a genuine decision on my parent's part to make sure that I watched decent things on television, and Disney sure seemed to fit that bill.

Then when I was 17 my parents, who had saved for years for the vacation, took our family to Walt Disney World for the first (and so far only) time. I'd like to say I fell in love with the place right then and there, but the years have made much of it blurry. However, the feeling I remember having those five days has so far been unparalleled in any other vacation I have ever taken. It made that much of an impression.

I then "wandered in the wilderness" for about 14 years, meanwhile getting married and beginning to have children, when on a whim my wife and I decided to take our first trip to Disneyland together, and also on a whim decided to become Annual Passholders. The rest, as they say, is history.

I'm still relatively new to Disneyland, and still relatively new to the blogging world, but I would gladly put my passion and heart for it up against anyone else's. I love Disneyland, and I love spending as much time there as I can, and I think that comes through in everything I write. At Days in the Park, we aim to be genuine, and I hope the genuine fun and hilarity we have on our trips to Disneyland shows up in all that we write.

And now Amy has given me the opportunity to bring some of that over here to her own blog alongside her family and contributors, and I'm truly honored and humbled by it. Over the coming months I hope I get to know many of her readers here, and that you all get a chance to know me a little bit better and that you like what you see. After all, we all love Disney, and that's why I started, and that's why I'm here in the first place. Many thanks again to Amy for the opportunity to be a part of what she's doing here; "Growing Up Disney" has long been one of my favorite blogs, and to be a part of the contributors here is like a dream come true. See you all next month!

Me, my parents, and my first 2 little boys outside Sleeping Beauty Castle -- 3 gens of Disney fans passing the magic on

Contributed by Chad E of Rancho Cucamonga, CA. I'm a married dad with three little boys doing the stay-at-home-dad/youth ministry/seminary student/card carrying Disneyland Annual Passholder (Premium!) thang! And when I have the time, I also like to blog and podcast about The Disneyland Resort and am the co-creator of both Days in the Park and the Days in the Parkcast podcast.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Photo Flashback - Harper's Mill

Every now and then everything comes together and a photo turns out exceptional. This I believe is one of those times. Harper's Mill on Tom Sawyer Island, the Liberty Belle, the reflection in the still water all come together to make a memorable photo.
I took this photo in October of 2003 with a point and shoot digital camera.
-- DisneyDad

Monday, September 19, 2011

Guest Post: Little Ones Enjoy the Little Things at Walt Disney World

I often get questions from clients wanting to know about which rides to ride for their young children. They are often concerned there won’t be enough to do for their little ones. They always want to know how many days they will need to spend when traveling to Disney World. It’s difficult to fathom how much there is to do while at the parks and looking at a park map alone can be a bit deceiving if you’ve never visited.

I was thinking about some of my family’s previous trips to Disney World and some of the highlights that my son has enjoyed over the years. Sure, he loves Test Track, Big Thunder Mountain, Splash Mountain and plenty of other rides but here are some of his absolute park favorites that may come as a surprise.

Playgrounds: I used to get frustrated when I would have to literally drag him out of the play areas in the parks. Darn you, Honey I Shrunk the Kids, The Boneyard in Dinoland USA, and the former Ariel’s Grotto and Pooh’s Playful Spot! (Note: there will be a new play area in the new Fantasyland expansion and there is now the fun interactive queue at The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.) Doesn’t my child understand we came to ride RIDES and not run around on playgrounds? Doesn’t he understand we could do that at home in Atlanta for free? It wasn’t until I stopped and allowed myself to see them through his eyes that I understood why he loves them so much. They aren’t your typical playgrounds. They are amazingly themed areas featuring cool slides, tunnels, water features, and more. While at the parks, kids are usually standing in line or are sitting on a ride so I’ve decided if he wants to go burn off some steam and run around like an absolute lunatic, it’s his vacation too so let him go for it.

Water: What do the spray ground and jumping fountains at Epcot, the squirting Tikis at Magic Kingdom, and the splash pad at Polynesian Resort all have in common? They are all areas my son has decided to spend unexpected hours running around fully clothed while on vacation. Sure he has gotten absolutely soaked but seeing the pure joy on his face having the time of his life has been priceless. I say let your kids have fun and get wet! If you’re staying on property, take time to enjoy the wonderful pool and water slides at the resorts. I’m pretty sure we spent just as much time at the pool at Wilderness Lodge as we did at the parks this past June because he‘s really into water slides at this time in his life. While my son went down the water slide for the 150th time, I was able to relax and sit on my patio while my little one took naps. A win win for all. I also enjoyed going down the slide quite a few times which my son thought was so cool. I know all too soon he more than likely won’t want mom in a bathing suit riding water slides with him so why not enjoy spending the quality time with him doing what he loves while I can (and besides that, they‘re fun)!

Tom Sawyer Island: May not sound very appealing to adults but I think most kids will find this island located in Magic Kingdom to be pure heaven. My guy loves to run around, going over the bridges, running through the tunnels, “shooting” at folks in the fort, etc. I think this attraction is often overlooked by parents and should be a do not miss for young children who enjoy adventure and what child doesn‘t have an imagination and enjoy some adventure?

Music: There are some different areas, particularly in Epcot where instruments can be found. My son will make a bee line for the drums every time.

Meet and Greets: I have mentioned this before but on our family’s first trip this is literally all my son wanted to do. Seriously. I waited in line after line getting autograph after autograph. I sure wish there had been a Fastpass option for Toontown Fair like there is at Town Hall now. There were times it wasn’t all that fun to be honest while standing in 100 degree humidity outdoors in September but seeing the pure joy on my son’s face when he got to hug and interact with the characters was worth every drop of sweat to me. He still talks about when Tigger took his blankie and covered his eyes with it and walked around pretending he couldn’t see. That was 4 years ago when he was 3.

Sometimes it really pays to just stop and enjoy the little things the parks have to offer. Don’t be in too much of a hurry. Allow yourself more time when possible and don’t just rush by everything between ride A and ride B. You may find opportunities you didn’t expect that will make priceless memories for you and your children and to me that’s what a Disney vacation is all about and why my family continues to go back as regularly as we do.

What are some of your family’s favorites in the parks that aren’t rides?

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.

Friday, September 16, 2011

My new Disney Baby, 3 months

Well, we survived the first three months with Miss Ashley.  And bought a house and moved, and had a hurricane damage said house, and had a fire cause yet more damage.  But we are still smiling and very thankful for our sweet little girl.


Thursday, September 15, 2011

Support Give Kids the World with your Running Shoes or from your Couch

Give Kids the World allows children with life-threatening illnesses and their families to escape reality for a week.  And they depend on donations to keep this program running.  And this November, running is exactly what 500 people will do.

If you are a local or will be visiting Walt Disney World on November 5, you have the chance to participate in a run through the storybook village at Give Kids the World.  It's not normally open to the public.  And don't worry if you are not a fast runner, walking is perfectly acceptable.  This event even allows strollers!

I just love the course description from the event site:

"Join us for this fun-filled 5k run/walk that winds through the whimsical pathways of Give Kids The World Village!  Here's your chance to experience Central Florida's only nonprofit "storybook" resort that has brought happiness and hope to more than 110,000 families from around the world. Jog past the World's Largest Candy Land game at Matthew's Boundless Playground, wave hello to our special families and boogie down with some of the Village's most lovable mascots. It's fun for all ages! Everyone is invited to take part in this unique fundraiser that helps provide weeklong dream vacations for children with life-threatening illnesses and their families."

Can't make it to Kissimmee that morning? Or just don't feel like getting up early but still want to help?  Register as a virtual runner.  If you raise $100 for the organization, you'll earn a 2011 Gingerbread Run t-shirt.

Visit for complete details and to register.


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Photo Flashback! Disney's Electrical Parade

I know these aren't my best photos.  They were taken with my iPhone last fall at the Magic Kingdom.  However to me, they remind me of a wonderful night.  I was able to finally meet in person some of my online Disney pals, notably Brie from Disney Film Project and everyone's favorite WDW EMT, Jeff.  The parade that night was extra special.  Yes, it was a chance to see the return of Disney's Electrical Parade.  This is the one I remember from my childhood visits to the park.  What really made the night glow was being able to enjoy the spectacle with my cousin and his family.  I don't live near my family anymore and getting to watch his girls during their first Disney parade was truly priceless.

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Monday, September 12, 2011

Disneyland Paris Planning with Nine: Part 2, When To Go?

One of the very first things anyone has to consider when they're planning a holiday, after choosing the destination, is when to go.

At the moment I am looking at two possibilities for our trip to Disneyland Paris (DLP) next year.

Firstly, do we tack the trip to see The Mouse on to our usual jaunt to France?

Or, do we take a completely separate short trip as well as the annual one?

There are of course pros and cons to both of these possibilities.

If we just make it part of the yearly excursion over The Channel, do we do it at the start of the holiday, or the end? Paris is a good 4 hour drive from our family farmhouse in Doussac, so it will not be in the middle. So do we travel straight to Paris and DLP and the go on to the family home for a break?

Or do we want to save DLP until the end for something to look forward to, knowing we have a much shorter journey home to the UK at the end?

If this is the case, I imagine we'll be looking at going in July again.

But we will most definitely want to avoid the school holidays, in the hope that the wait times in the parks aren't too horrendous. This could prove difficult as as it stands, the UK schools break up on 24th July 2012 but the French schools are out on the 5th July. We tend to go over around the 10th of July (so we can be there for the 14th, Fete Nationale) but we may need to re-address this and go earlier.

But what about a completely separate trip?

This way it wouldn't affect the dates we want to spend with the family in France and the summer holidays won't be an issue.

But then the question again arises, when?

As we will be going with my in-laws, there are two other times of the year when they like to travel, April and October. Our wedding anniversary is in October and we like to have a long weekend somewhere if we can. So, October next year is a maybe. And, if we go in October, you know what that means! We would HAVE to do Disney's Halloween Festival wouldn't we! The Park is decorated throughout the whole of October with spooky events and happenings, but Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party itself is only on 4 specific dates. We would have to see how much more expensive it was to go to this or whether just the Halloween atmosphere alone would suffice.

What about the weather? This is another factor to consider when planning a date for this trip. When we were in France this year, some days were in the 30's, as hot as WDW! Other days, it was cooler and POURED with rain. This can make a Florida trip seem dreary, but a cold, wet day in Europe is far worse than an Orlando shower. It'll be even colder with more chance of rain later in the year. My aunt travelled over to DLP with my 3 year old cousin last September for a day trip. It rained so hard and was so cold, they shut half the park. She didn't even get to meet Mickey, as it was one of the only indoor attractions and the queue was over 3 hours, they just didn't have time.

The Park opening times are not really a major issue at this time. Whether the parks stay open until 7pm or midnight will not affect us this time as Tink will only be 2.5 years old and will be wanting her bed around 7ish. She is not a child who naps in her pushchair and is not happy when over tired.

However, they don't tend to open until 10am to the general public, with 8-10am being Extra Magic Hours for guests. Tink is an early riser, so this is definitely something to think about. However, you'll have to check back for a future post on where we are going to stay, with the usual on-site verses off debate.

So, what will we do? Alas, the decision is not just down to me, the in-laws tend to finance a great deal of the holiday, and how much it all costs will probably be the deciding factor. Keep following my planning series to find out if I'm any closer to a definite date, and the next things to consider.

Thanks for stopping by.

Contributed by Janine P. of Swindon, England. She is a proud wife, mommy to Felicity and one of our Minnie Moms.  Follow along throughout this monthly series as she plans her first trip to Disneyland Paris.

Friday, September 9, 2011

A Walk Around The World With Ridge-- Happy Halloween!

OK, so I know it's not Halloween yet but that isn't stopping Disney from throwing a party until it is. Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party, or MNSSHP as it is noted most everywhere to save energy, is a special event open only to guests who purchase a separate ticket to stay in the park after hours and Trick or Treat. There are candy buckets set up around the park near the open attractions. Don't be afraid to load up on the candy especially when it starts getting near the end of the evening. Don't be bashful, wear your costume, it's encouraged. There are special HalloWishes fireworks at 9:30 and Mickey's Boo to you Parade runs twice during the night. I have less than a month (22 days but who's counting) before my trip and I haven't decided if I want to go this year or not. It certainly is fun and the night time fireworks and picture opportunities are many.

Here is just one of the many decorations that infest the park for the party.

When it's time for the parade the Headless Horseman kicks things off. It's a real talent to hold one's head and ride a horse.

Once the parade begins all of your favorite characters make an appearance.

Even Mickey and the gang dress up for the party!

Tell me who doesn't love a dancing crew from the 100 Acre Wood? Maybe Eeyore...

Everyone loves Wendy, Peter & the Lost Boys and they can cut a rug!

Wave goodbye kids, it's off to Neverland!

Why, following Peter as always is Captain Hook and Mr. Smee.

But what to my wondering eyes did appear, it's Tick Tock! Always right behind Hook, he had a taste O' honey and now wants the whole bee hive... Peter loves that story ask him to tell it.

Things take a turn for the spooky when the caretaker comes along with his not so emaciated dog... due to PETA and good taste they let this one eat more often than the one in the Haunted Mansion.

A crowd favorite has to be the dancing somber butlers, complete with shovels looking to add that one extra guest to the Haunted Mansion.

Such grace,

They really undertake pride in their work.

Things really liven up when the ballroom ghosts step it up.

Gus. Ezra and Phineas are bringing up the rear.

They will jump out at you, "look out!" Just kidding, it was just a little fancy photography.

The last major float is for the Villains.

The parade comes to an end when Goofy and his Candy Co, crew bring in a little much needed advertising that yes Virgina, we do have candy... for sale.

Last year Amy and I were fortunate enough to go to the MNSSHP with tickets generously given to us by our friends at Travel With The Magic. We still thank you so much for helping us with our trip and continuing to help with our travel needs.