Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Baby Travel Gear: RoSK blankets on sale today

RoSK (Rain or Shine Kids) 5 in 1 blanket

I just bought one of these blankets for myself and another as a Christmas gift. They are on sale for $17.99 today at http://babysteals.stealnetwork.com

I can see these as being really handy for cold/rainy weather travel with little ones.


It's a soft fleece blanket on one side and a waterproof material on the other. There are ribbons on two sides so you can attach the blanket to your stroller or infant car seat. The waterproof side allows this to be a handy playmat or changing mat in a pinch. You can also tie the ribbons together for a nursing cover.

I'm really excited about mine to help keep Minnie warm this winter as we take Tink into preschool. This multi-tasker should also be great when we visit Hilton Head in January.

I get nothing for this. I simply wanted to share this cool baby travel item.

Photo is property of Baby Steals and the manufacturer.
--Amy

Update: 1/30/12--I love the concept but they are not very tough. Mine has had the nylon rip on one side and the ribbon shred on the other. Relatively easy to fix but I shouldn't have to repair a new product that hasn't been mistreated. I bought one for my sister in law when I got mine. I've cautioned her to wash it in a pillowcase. Pin It

Photo Flashback-- Sunset on the Castle







Sunset at the Magic Kingdom
 When the clouds and sun are working together, they make some wonderful natural colors on the castle.

- Posted by Ridge Pin It

Monday, November 28, 2011

I Feel So Clever (Or Necessity is the Mother of Invention)

It seems like I always need a little more storage space on my strollers or just one more hand to help. I recently purchased these Jeep hooks and love them. They're only about $6 for the set so I have ordered a second set for our single Bob. I've used them on the single to hold my preschooler's backpack and on the double to carry a shopping basket, among other things.  On the shopping trip pictured, I bought Tink some popcorn (aka bought myself a little peace) and used the hook to hang the bag off the back of the stroller, keeping the popcorn upright and easily accessible.  Later I ran across a stack of shopping baskets in the store and had the idea to hook one on to the stroller.  I got a look or two with this contraption but who cares?  I was able to get around the store in peace knowing my girls were happy and my purchases weren't going to fall.

These hooks don't need to be removed when the stroller is folded so they are always ready to go. So far they seem nice and sturdy and the hooks rotate to any position.  I'm thinking these will be great for traveling.  While I am a big fan of packing as light as you can for the parks, you always end up with something extra and here's a good place to put it.

And to clarify the pictures, my diaper bag is attached to the handles of the stroller, behind the basket and then the shopping bags.






I wrote the above portion of this story a week or two ago.  Since then, necessity was again the mother of invention.  I usually go grocery shopping while Tink is in preschool, allowing me to go with only one child.  The school Thanksgiving party was Monday so the grocery store had to wait until Tuesday.  There are various ways to carry my girls through the store...Tink in the seat of the cart and Minnie either in her carseat in the basket of the cart or being worn by me.  Or, I could push their double stroller and pull a small cart.  Well, that's what I decided to do.  Thankfully, even though the Bob Duallie is the size of a tank, it handles like a dream so we were doing great.  It was a busy day and would have been a bit of a challenge regardless.  Anyway, I was almost finished when Minnie started yelling and I had to hold her.  Now I had one super-sized stroller and a small cart and a baby on my hip.  Hmmmm.  I used the hooks to attach the cart to the stroller and pulled the whole thing by the handle of the car seat.  It worked fairly well but I was really glad we were almost finished with our shopping by that point.  I can't see any way that this helps you with a vacation tip but it was too funny not to share.


--Amy Pin It

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Photo Flashback! Happy Thanksgiving!


Wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving!
from the Growing Up Disney Family

Cinderella Castle is always my favorite "photo opp" at Walt Disney World. 
This photo is from October 2003.

--DisneyDad
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Monday, November 21, 2011

Guest Post: Oceaneer Club and Oceaneer Lab: A Child's Dream Come True

As some of you know, I recently returned from my first cruise experience which was on the amazing Disney Dream. The ship is absolutely gorgeous, the service is top notch, and don't even get me started on the fabulous food! One of the areas I was most impressed with however, was the Oceaneer Club and Oceaneer Lab. These are the activity centers designed for children ages 3-10 years of old. There are other centers for tweens (Edge) as well as for teens (Vibe) and I'm sure they are equally as impressive. However, I am going to give you my first hand experience for the area my 7 year old son used. Oceaneer Club and Oceaneer Lab are huge and they actually connect to each other in one large area on deck 5. You can drop your child off at Oceaneer Club and if they want to spend part of their time in that area they can and then they can just walk over to Oceaneer Lab next door and vice versa. Both are open from 9:00 AM until midnight which allows parents to enjoy some much needed relaxing at the spa, an adults only meal at Remy or Palo or perhaps an evening visiting the lounges or dancing in one of the clubs on board.


You will need to register your child online prior to arrival or as soon as you get onboard. I recommend taking care of this online so you don't have to deal with waiting in line as soon as you get on board. Upon arrival, each child is given a waterproof armband which they will have to wear for their entire stay if frequenting the clubs. The armbands allow the cast members in the clubs to know exactly where your child is at all times. So when you go to pick up your child, they will look at their computer system and let you know, little Johnny is at Oceaneer Lab right now. So cool! As soon as kids arrive after checking in, they wash their hands and I can tell you that machine alone is an experience in itself! My son constantly wanted to wash his hands in the automatic hand washing machines! Each day I had to say, “C'mon Banks, stop washing your hands and go play!”


Each day a Personal Navigator can be found outside your stateroom. Inside the Navigator, you will find all the activities listed for the day and what times they will be held. There is always some sort an activity to participate in. The only issue you may have will be choosing which activity to do because they are all fun! Oceaneer Club and Oceaneer Lab do have activities going on at the same time. So if you like both activities, you'll have to choose a favorite. Each activity is divided into a category. For example, there is a “Clubhouse Series” which focuses on movement and is geared toward younger children. There is a “Storybook Series” which is storytelling time Disney style featuring a large screen showing pictures, a narrator telling the story and characters who make an appearance of course! The interactive storytelling adventure I happened to see featured Princess Tiana. There is the “Jump Up Series” which involves the impressive interactive magic playfloor. There are actually two of them, one is located in Oceaneer Club as you walk in and the other is located in Oceaneer Lab. One day, I got to witness the kids “making” a virtual pizza for Stitch who was interacting with the children (think Turtle Talk with Crush at Epcot). Seriously, how cool is that? I won't go into the toppings Stitch wanted on his pizza but I will say they were quite interesting and the kids got a kick out of them! There is also an “In the Spotlight Series” which allows your future starlet to participate in talent shows, open mike nights, or they can get in touch with with their inner Jonas brother and sing and dance to the Camp Rock films for example. They have the “Solve It! Series” which allows kids to become a member of the top deck detective agency and solve clues. And last but not least, the “Create & Invent Series” which features my personal favorite, Sloppy Science! One of the days I witnessed children creating their own Flubber and on a different day they created erupting volcanos! The kids were truly enjoying themselves and the silly scientist with green hair is beyond entertaining. I will admit to laughing out loud just as much as the kids. Another really fun evening activity was Pluto's Pajama Party where kids can wear their PJ's. Kids were given pillow cases to draw on and of course Pluto was in attendance. These are just a few examples of what is offered. There is a ton to choose from! Oceaneer Club and Oceaneer Lab are truly a child's paradise and there is something for everyone.


In addition to all the activities, there are different areas where kids can just play on their own and create. There is an area called Explorer Pod which is a submarine with computer games. There is an area to play wii games, a music room where children can actually create their own music, and an arts and crafts room full of endless supplies. My son loved Andy's Room and the Monsters Academy. There is also Pixie Hollow where kids can dress up in costumes (I saw lots of little princesses running around) and more! So, if a child prefers to play on their own, they certainly have that option.


I was extremely impressed with the staff. They were all young and full of energy. They seemed to really love their job and enjoyed interacting with the kids. I was expecting everything to be very structured but it's really not. You just walk in and decide where you want to go. If you want to jump in and get involved in an activity you can or you can do your own thing which some kids may rather do. This environment was a bit overwhelming for my son at first. This is typical for his personality. It takes him a while to adjust to certain situations. He wanted me to stay with him at all times. Normally, I would have left and allowed him to get used to things on his own but I knew this was all new for him so I did stay with him and play with him quite often! Parents have the option to stay if they want to. I saw plenty of other adults playing with their children as well.


The area is also extremely clean and secure as well. Parents must give a password that they decide on at the time of registering to pick up their child and there are gates that automatically lock and can't be opened unless a cast member opens them for you so no worries about having an escapee on board.


On the last night, my husband and I went out to eat at Palo and our son was reluctant to go into the kid centers by himself since this was the first time I wouldn't be with him. When I went to pick him up hours later he exclaimed, “But I don't want to leave!” More than likely your kids won't want to either so be prepared. Who can blame them? Take advantage of the opportunity and enjoy some adult time while you can. I can promise you, they'll be in good hands and a good time will be had by all!

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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.
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Friday, November 18, 2011

Magical Blogorail: Must Buy at Walt Disney World

Welcome to those of you joining me from A World View and those of you just hopping aboard.  I am the final stop on our Magical Blogorail.



This month's Magical Blogorail Red is discussing our "must buys" at Walt Disney World.

The first must-buy item that comes to mind is Dole Whip. I adore this refreshing frozen pineapple treat. A new addition to that list is carrot cake cookies from Writer’s Stop at the Studios. And each trip, I seem to have learned about a new treat I just have to try, usually from Lou Mongello or disneyfoodblog.com.

I really need to start buying ornaments again. I started getting those each year when I was on college program but stopped somewhere along the way and I don’t really know why.

I don’t like too many things to dust or store, so I tend to buy practical souvenirs. I love the kitchen items and really wanted a Food and Wine Festival oven mitt last trip, but Disney didn’t make me one.

My Disney wedding was over six years ago and I still always check out the latest Disney wedding merchandise. The frames, mugs, and other goodies always catch my eye, but rarely my wallet. The one exception to this was the Precious Moments wedding couple wearing ear hats. That was a must have splurge several years ago. Now I really want more of the Disney Precious Moments figures but so far I’ve been able to hold out.

No girl can have too many bags and it’s not uncommon for me to come home from WDW with a new tote or purse.  I love my Disney Dooney & Bourke tote.  



We go to WDW most often in the fall and I tend to buy a new jacket or sweatshirt on those trips.  I bought a hoodie last year that I wear all the time in the spring and fall. 

While I love the convenience of buying lots of items at World of Disney, I miss the days when park merchandise was more diverse. Now, if you see a t-shirt or hat, you can probably find it in 10 other stores before the end of your vacation. I’ve enjoyed getting items over the years from specific attractions. I have a cool Space Mountain hat and wore out a Tower of Terror t-shirt during my gym rat days.

The best gift purchase I made at WDW in the last couple of years was Tink’s Mickey and Minnie plush. She loves them and sleeps with them every night and naptime. It’s the cutest thing ever when she gives Mickey (or Minnie) a big hug.


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Thank you for joining Magical Blogorail Red this month. We will be back December 16thwith an all new theme. Keep checking in with our blogs in between loops to keep up to date with our Disney info, photos and stories. If you are looking for more Disney magic, you can make your way over to The Magical Blogorail website to see all our members and their blogs, as well as all our previous loops.

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


1st Stop ~ Disney Donna Kay
2nd Stop ~ My Dreams of Disney
3rd Stop ~ A World View
Final Stop ~ Growing Up Disney
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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Disney Thanksgiving Crafts (Easy Enough for Me)

I have a confession to make.  I am not crafty.  At all.  My mom and mother-in-law make beautiful afghans, quilts, clothes, dolls, etc.  My friends are scrapbooking wizards or do crafts at home that put the best preschool teacher to shame.  Not me.  I'm impressed that I have a plan to cut and hot glue ribbon to make a valance for the playroom.  And note I said plan...

Anyway, Disney has some really cute and EASY Thanksgiving crafts online.  Some of them are print and color for folks like me and others are a little more involved.

Seriously, how cute is this guy?  Maybe next year....
Photo from Family.com

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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Photo Flashback! I Might Be Seeing Things

Tink and I were playing with her Fisher Price Noah's Ark set recently. Is it just me or does that ladybug look like a little like an ear hat?







I think I'm having Disney withdrawal!

-Amy Pin It

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Amy is over at Mentoring Mondays

Photobucket
Yesterday, I was featured on Mentoring Mondays with Disney Donna Kay.  I was honored to share what I've learned as a blogger as a part of her terrific series.  Thanks for including me!
--Amy Pin It

Monday, November 14, 2011

Disneyland Paris Planning with Nine: Part 4 What to Eat?

Nine is still busy planning her family's first visit to Disneyland Paris.  Today she tackles a favorite Disney topic--dining.

I am currently researching into one of my favourite topics, eating. And even better, eating at Disney, Disneyland Paris to be precise.

Now if I were planning a trip to WDW then I would not need to do too much research. I may send a few tweets asking what new places are around and if anywhere has had a menu overhaul but in general, I know my way around the restaurants over there and I know spefically which places are veggie friendly.
You see, that's the hard part, yes, I am one of 'those' (see here for my previous article on being veggie in WDW).

If I ever thought I had problems finding non-meat or fish options in the land famous for surf 'n' turf, then France should be a piece of cake right (mmm, cake, maybe I could just eat cake while I'm over there ...). However, I digress. My family and I holiday in France every year and each time I come home full of cheese and maybe if I'm lucky some pizza and pasta. They do not really cater for the veggie palate.
But I have been busily consulting the official website, The Unofficial Guide to DLP and of course asking the experts on Twitter and The Dibb.

So, what have I come up with so far?

In no particular order ...


  • The Agrabah Cafe, situated in Adventureland in the Disneyland Park. Moderately priced and offers a middle eastern inspired buffet.
  • Annette's Diner, found in The Disney Village, US style diner serving a veggie burger (I really just need Cosmic Rays and I am happy lol)
  • Colonel Hathis Pizza Outpost in Adventureland has a wide range of pizza and pasta.
  • The Rainforest Cafe in has a veggie burger (and we've never eaten in the one on DTD or AK yet). There is also a Planet Hollywood in the same location, the one in DTD does a lovely pasta dish so it's possible this one will too. We also really like this restaurant and while others find it loud and expensive, we've always had a really good time and lovely food.
  • The Earl of Sandwich in The Disney Village and The Market House Deli on Main Street, USA both serve deli snadwiches.
  • Pizzeria Belle Notte in Fantasyland has a wide range of pizza and pastas.
  • And remember what I said about living on cake? If it comes to it I'll just feast upon the goods from The Cable Car Bake Shop on Main Street, USA. This bakery will have to go a long way to beat the actual Main Street Bakery in WDW and my favouriate of all baked goods, the GIANT cinnamon rolls that you can smell almost as soon as you enter The Magic Kingdom. But if needs be I'll be willing to try several of the French contenders, just to see and report back to you guys of course!


As an aside, I have been trying to get quote this week for our stay next July. It is 99% certain we will be staying for 3 days, 2 nights within the first week of July 2012. However, the Disney site has been down so I have not been able to do this as yet. The in-laws are coming to spend the day with us soon so I will be trying to phone DLP direct whilst we are all together (and DFIL has his credit card ready lol). I will update you all when it is finally booked, hooray!

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.


Other posts in this series:


  • New Series from Nine
  • Part 1: Questions
  • Part 2: When to Go?
  • Part 3: Where to Stay?
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    Saturday, November 12, 2011

    Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 Giveaway

    I know this giveaway is a little off topic, but I love the Harry Potter books and could not resist the chance to give something to one of my readers.  My dad actually got me started on the series, another fascination I can thank him for.  I haven't made it over there yet, however someday I plan to visit that other Orlando theme park and check out the Harry Potter area.

    While you're here, check out the cool widget below.

    • Take The Harry Potter Trivia Quiz! Are you an expert in all things Potter?  Test your knowledge in our trivia quiz!  Discover if you are an expert or a novice by challenging your skills!  The results might surprise you!
    • Discover The Harry Potter Buzz Portal! Are you hungry for the latest in all things Potter?  The Harry Potter Buzz Portal will give you real time updates on the trending Harry Potter topics from Facebook and Twitter.  Plus, you can share your top three tips to having the ultimate Harry Potter party!




    -----------------------------------------------------------------
    Ready to enter to win Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 on DVD?

    You get one entry for each of the following. Please note each as a separate comment below so you receive your maximum number of entries. (If you are already following us through any of these channels, just note that. Hey, free entry!)

    Entries:
    ~Take the trivia quiz above and leave a comment here with your results
    ~Like Growing Up Disney on Facebook
    ~Follow Growing Up Disney on Twitter
    ~Tweet about this giveaway, one entry per day.
    ~Blog about this giveaway
    ~Follow Growing Up Disney publicly on Google Friend Connect. See widget on the left.

    This contest ends at midnight Eastern time on Monday, November 21, 2011, and is limited to residents of the United States and Canada. The winner will be chosen at random from all eligible entries. You'll be notified via email (so make sure I can reach you!) and have 24 hours to respond or another winner will be chosen. Good luck!


    And the winner is comment #9.  Congrats Dana!
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    Mickey Makes It All Better

    I was recently contacted to review the limited edition Band-Aid tin featuring our favorite mouse.  Disney and something I can really use? Of course I said yes.  I was thinking about how I'd write that my oldest daughter loves her Disney "bug bands" or "boo boo bands."  And she does.  I have a stash of princess and Toy Story Band-Aids in the girls' bathroom.  And sometimes she just needs that colorful bandage after a fall, even if Mama doesn't see a boo boo.


    While the tin was sitting in my laundry room waiting for me to write this, I cut my finger on some broken glass in the trash and needed to cover the wound quickly.  I grabbed the Band-Aid tin and opened a large bandage.  It happened to match my grey retro Mickey shirt perfectly.  Just thought that was fun and I decided then that these were mine.  Disney fans know that kids aren't the only one who know Mickey means fun.  If you are reading this blog, you are probably not all that subtle about your love for the Mouse.


    The tin is great.  Remember when those were standard?  Well now Band-Aids come in a thin cardboard box.  I'm sure that's cheaper to produce, lighter to transport, and will break down in a landfill.  So, it's a good thing. However, I love that we now have the chance for a reusable container emblazoned with Mickey.  Confession: I already have about three (cardboard) boxes of these Band-Aids.  I saw them once at a big box store and stocked up.  And yes, they are my personal supply.  So I'll be refilling my collector's tin from there.  It will make storing my Band-Aids convenient and take a little of the sting out of minor cuts and scrapes.

    Thanks to Smiley360 for providing me with a Band-Aid Limited Edition Mickey Mouse Collector's Series Tin for my review.  I did receive free products, but these are my honest opinions.

    If you would like to get your own Band-Aid Limited Edition Mickey Mouse Collector's Series Tin, visit here.
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    Friday, November 11, 2011

    A Walk Around The World With Ridge-- Lucky Dogs!



    My cousin Jeff his wife Windy and their two girls Madeline and Natalie are in Disney World right now and yes I tried to go with them but it was on short notice and I couldn't get a room with DVC points... However, This is only my cousins' second trip to the World and they are already becoming old pros at it. On Wednesday morning they had the best luck. They got to the park early for rope drop and Jeff was talking to one of the cast members about the opening and what they should do and general questions. Well wouldn't you know it that the cast member picked them to be the Family of the Day!?! They got to open Epcot, received a certificate that makes it all official and fast passes. I'd say that was a heck of a day. But to cap it off the oldest Madeline's birthday is today "Friday" at dinner Wednesday at the Flying Fish she was given a white chocolate Mickey Mouse. I say it has been a great week for them.







    Natalie, Jeff, Windy and Madeline.
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    Thursday, November 10, 2011

    Minnie Moms: Disney Dream Date, Still Dreaming

    All of the Minnie Moms are married and in most cases, we ladies are the Disney fanatics in the household. Our husbands patiently listen to us talk about the latest updates to the dining cancelation policy and hear about what's new in Fantasyland.  Of course the men enjoy their Walt Disney World vacations that we have so meticulously planned for them.  Wouldn't it be nice to plan a date night to give us both a chance to really relax?  You know, a rare dinner where we don't have to worry about what anyone else is eating, wearing, throwing, etc.


    Corby:  Oh to be able to plan a dream Disney date night! I truly dream of being able to do this one day. Right now with two young children, it's pretty difficult to even fathom doing anything Disney related without them. As soon as our 1 year old gets older, I would love to take advantage of the child activity centers at select resorts or even the Kids Night Out babysitting service where a sitter comes to your room so my husband and I can have a night out Disney style. Until my little one is a few years older, I guess I will just fantasize of doing something truly spectacular in the meantime.

    I think if I could do anything, money not being an object, first of all, we would stay somewhere on the monorail. Since I am dreaming here, we'll go all out and have it be a suite with club level at let's just say the Grand Floridian...with a theme park view. I mean, a girl can dream, right?! I have always wanted to take the Keys to the Kingdom tour so I think that would be a wonderful way to start our day. We'd then proceed to hit some of our favorite rides at the Magic Kingdom. We'd go back to our resort to relax and perhaps I'd even throw in a massage from the spa...yes, that sounds fabulous indeed. We'd freshen up and enjoy dinner at Victoria and Albert's and then we would take a cruise on the water to view Wishes. I don't think it would get much better than that.

    I'll come back to reality and be a little more realistic. I think it would be a blast to have an evening out at Epcot. We would use the Kids Night Out service and spend the evening going to our beloved park. It would be so nice to walk around World Showcase at night. Enjoying the various music, going in and out of each country, particularly during the Food and Wine Festival. Perhaps we'd enjoy a concert at the Eat to the Beat series and then stroll around testing different foods and drinks around the world. We'd probably have dinner at Le Cellier and then enjoy viewing IllumiNations.


    My husband and I did recently have a fabulous date on the Disney Dream. We dropped our son off at the Oceaneer's Club and he and I had the most amazing meal I have ever had at the adults only restaurant, Palo. It was truly spectacular. Our server was exceptional, the best I've ever had. The food was outstanding and it doesn't get any better sitting in a semi-circular booth with a view of the ocean. We enjoyed a delicious antipasti, individual pizzas, as well as tuscan white bean soup, and arugula salad all before our entrees came out. For our entrees we had lobster and marscapone ravioli, rack of lamb and gnocchi. Because I couldn't decide between the gnocchi and ravioli, our server brought one of each. For dessert we enjoyed chocolate souffle (which was to die for) and tiramasu. Again, we couldn't decide between the two, so our server brought us both (the joys of being on a cruise). We enjoyed a wonderful evening celebrating our 10 year wedding anniversary. I am thrilled we got the opportunity to have such a wonderful date and will treasure that dinner as long as I live.


    ~~~~~~~~~~

    Thanks to Corby from Travel with the Magic for their personal tales of Walt Disney World in the Fall.  We have one more article left in this series, so don't miss out.  Please visit the Minnie Moms page for past articles and more information about these fabulous ladies. 
    ~~Amy
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    Wednesday, November 9, 2011

    Photo Flashback! The Monorail Slips into the Night


    Setting up and waiting around for shots is always a good idea and then sometimes inspiration strikes. In Epcot I noticed how wonderful the last few minutes of the sunset are and I decided to run over to the Mexico side of the International Gateway to capture a picture of the monorail as it passed by. I think it was a pretty good last minute idea. Pin It

    Monday, November 7, 2011

    Minnie Moms: Disney Dream Date

    All of the Minnie Moms are married and in most cases, we ladies are the Disney fanatics in the household. Our husbands patiently listen to us talk about the latest updates to the dining cancelation policy and hear about what's new in Fantasyland.  Of course the men enjoy their Walt Disney World vacations that we have so meticulously planned for them.  Wouldn't it be nice to plan a date night to give us both a chance to really relax?  You know, a rare dinner where we don't have to worry about what anyone else is eating, wearing, throwing, etc.

    Amy:  I think Andy and I have only had one dinner alone at Walt Disney World.  I really don't know why we waited so long other than it just didn't work in the schedule and before we had children, date nights were common so one just didn't rank too high on the vacation priority list.  In April of 2010, we took Tink to WDW for the first time.  We had a terrific week but traveling with a toddler is work.  Thankfully we had willing babysitters (aka grandparents) who let us go out to celebrate our 5th wedding anniversary.  (Holy cow time flies!)  Andy and I had a lovely dinner at Jiko.  We sat on one side of the booth and had fun being foodie nerds as we critiqued the experience.  After flatbread, ostrich, steak with mac and cheese, a lovely fish, and a complementary anniversary pistachio creme brulee, we headed over to the Studios with the intention of getting dessert.  Well, for once we didn't really read the schedules and it was toward the end of Extra Magic Hours and none of the food locations were open.  Oh well, we had a nice walk around the quiet parts of the part and headed back to Old Key West where the little one was sleeping like a baby.

    But that's reality.  When I posed the question about a dream Disney date night to the Minnie Moms, I gave them the option to discuss a real date or to shoot for the moon.  Hmm, what would I do if time and money weren't a concern?  I had been kicking around a few ideas in my head and then asked my husband.  We came up with essentially the same plan.  Maybe we'll get around to doing portions of this someday.

    For our fantasy dream date, we'd have dinner at the chef's table at Victoria and Albert's.  I experienced this with my father before my wedding but my husband would like a chance to go.  (Don't throw me in that briar patch!)   And in our fantasy world the timing works out for us to have our dessert on the Grand 1 Yacht just before the Magic Kingdom fireworks.  After returning to the Grand Floridian, we'd spend the night in the honeymoon suite we had for our wedding.  We'd meet our girls and the rest of the family the next morning for a character breakfast, just not too early.

    Back to reality, sometime when the girls are older, I'd like to do something like this while at Walt Disney World.  Since we don't have family nearby, Andy and I rarely get date nights and a weekend away is almost out of the question.  However, we could go out to dinner and then stay one night at another resort.  As the mother of an infant and a preschooler, the thought of sleeping late is heavenly.  As nice as the Grand 1 is, at this point, I'd trade it for a solid night's sleep.

    Janine:  I am very excited to write this month's article.

    Dream date night, let's make it a super dream!

    It would have to be set in December. Winter is my favourite time of the year and I absolutely adore Christmas. We have never been to the parks out of summer so seeing WDW decorated for the holidays would almost be enough for my dream date.

    But since I'm allowed to go all out, then that is just the start.

    So, to set the scene, it is my favourite day of the whole year, Christmas Eve. For me, December 24th is actually even more exciting than Christmas Day itself. I think it is all about the build up, the anticipation. 99% of the time we spend this day at our house. But in this scenario we are in the Happiest Place on Earth. And where better to spend the date but at my favourite park, the Magic Kingdom. Now for me, although this is date night, I'm going to include our daughter, Tink, in the scenario. I just can't imagine a perfect day, especially at Disney, without her.

    So after the usual day of rides and attractions at the park (with next to no queue times of course), we will begin date 'night' with dinner, at Cinderella's Royal Table (to make it extra special, Tink will have been to the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique during the day and is now dressed as Cinders herself). We will begin with Soup of the Day, followed by Vegetarian Cassoulet for moi, Roasted Beef Tenderloin for Dear Husband and both ending with the Chefs Dessert Trio, yum yum. Tink would probably have chicken nuggets ;). She would also have lots of special attention in her BBB get up, and DH would have secretly arranged a special anniversary (Dec 13)/birthday (Dec 28) cupcake to be hand delivered by my favourite Princess, Belle.

    After this, we would head back to do some more rides, including my favourite, The Haunted Mansion.

    We would pop into a few of the shops and DH would treat me to a Dooney & Bourke tote.

    Then it would be time for Mickeys Very Merry Christmas Parade.

    We would have been specifically chosen to ride in the float with Santa himself, and Tink would be sat in his lap. After the amazing parade we would continue to meet and greet all the characters and would have great interaction with all of them, especially Mickey and Minnie and the Princesses. We would have a ton of hot chocolate and cookies and enjoy Holiday Wishes from a special VIP viewing area.

    I would have to have a cinnamon roll from the Main Street Bakery on the way out, and as we head towards the monorail, DH would surprise me by saying that we were booked into the Grand Floridian for the night, he had expertly hidden an over night bag in the bottom of Tink's buggy.

    So we would head off to the GF and see the gingerbread house and amazing decorations, and fall asleep knowing that we would wake up on Christmas Day in fantastic surroundings. And of course we had been given an upgrade so we were in the most expensive suite in the whole resort, with a stocking full of presents from Mickey and Santa waiting for each of us in the morning.

    Perfect!

    Natalie:  Disney World offers so many wonderful, romantic accommodations for couples hoping to enjoy a dream date with their spouse. To find just the right date experience for my husband and I, I began by researching the various tours, spas and restaurants that would most suit us. Here is what I would plan:

    Image from Disney.com
    My husband and I would begin the day with Wilderness Back Trail Adventure. This adventure is a tour by way of segway through Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort. We have always wanted to take a segway tour and have heard that this particular tour is great fun. The tour costs $90 per person and lasts approximately 2 hours. Next, we would head over by boat to Disney's Grand Floridian Resort and Spa. Here we would arrive just in time for the spa treatment we had carefully selected and booked.

    Feeling rejuvenated, yet hungry, we would then head to our reservation at Victoria and Albert's. This restaurant is also located in Disney's Grand Floridian Resort and Spa. The restaurant is one of Disney's premier dining experiences offering personalized menus, decadent food in an adult, elegant atmosphere. The cost of the dinner at Victoria and Albert's run $185 per person with wine pairing or $125 without (before taxes and gratuity).

    Following our meal, we would travel by monorail to the Magic Kingdom for a viewing of the Wishes Nighttime Spectacular. Of course, if the park is open after the viewing of the fireworks, we will head to some of our favorite attractions for a few hours of extra fun!


    Thanks to our regular contributor, Janine, and Natalie from Meet the Magic for joining me in imagining a Disney dream date.  Please visit the Minnie Moms page for past articles and more information about these fabulous ladies. 
    ~~Amy Pin It

    Friday, November 4, 2011

    Disney Vacation Club Purchase: Disney vs. Resale


    We have just added on points to our DVC membership at Old Key West.  This has prompted some questions about my thoughts on buying directly from Disney or buying on the resale market.  Up until recently I would have said “there is no difference” and as far as how members were treated by Disney, there wasn’t.  But March 2011 that changed.

    “Under the new policy, Members who purchase from anyone other than Disney Vacation Development, Inc., on or after March 21, 2011, will not be eligible to use those Vacation Points to make reservations within the Concierge Collection, the Disney Collection or the Adventurer Collection. Those Vacation Points will instead be valid only for reservations at Disney Vacation Club resorts, as well as for RCI® exchanges, Club Cordial and Club Intrawest.” (from the DVC Members web site)

    Since I was already an owner at Old Key West, I wanted all my points eligible to be used anywhere I wanted to make a reservation.  For that reason I purchased points directly from Disney Vacation Development. 

    For points purchased prior to March 21, 2011 Disney did not make any distinction in where they were purchased.  They did not treat the membership any different if bought on the resale market or direct from Disney.  I had been looking on the resale market for some time to find a very specific set of points:  Old Key West, March Use Year, with the 15 year extension.   It was taking me quite a while to find points.  With the new policy I decided to once again purchase from Disney. (My original purchase and now all 3 add on contracts were purchased direct from Disney.)

    I am a member of DVCTALK on Yahoo! Groups.  It is sponsored by Shontell Crawford at www.DVCbyResale.com and several of the DVCTALK members have purchased from her.  The people who have purchased through her speak highly of her and her service.  There are several places on line that sale DVC points now and you can do a quick Google search and find them.  Points purchased through resale are typically cheaper than those purchased from Disney.  If the restrictions Disney is placing on resale’s are not important to you, then this may be a lower cost option.  But don’t purchase a resale and think you are going to close quickly.  All contracts have to go to Disney as they have the Right of First Refusal on all sales.  Disney can approve the sale or if the price is too low, Disney will buy the contract.  If Disney needs the points for a resale they are doing, they will buy the contract.  You can be left with nothing and have to find another resale.  Either way the process is not quick.
    
    Disney's Old Key West Resort
    For me Disney was able to find exactly what I wanted to add on.  The process was quick and easy.  Disney FedEx’ed the contract along with DVC member information for us to sign and return.  They in turn sent the documents to Amy to sign (we have Amy and Chris on our DVC membership).  The points showed up on line on our membership on www.dvcmembers.com (DVC members only website - sorry - but you can go to the official site by clicking here.) by the time we received the paperwork to sign. 

    They added 100 points to our membership for this use year so we booked a trip.  We are headed to Hilton Head Island.  Thanks Diane for your great post on the Disney Hilton Head Resort to inspire us for this trip (see her post here http://www.growingupdisney.com/2011/09/guest-post-dvc-hilton-head-little.html )  Can’t wait to do a post of Hilton Head in January. 



    --DisneyDad
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    Thursday, November 3, 2011

    Stars Fell on Disney Fans from Alabama, Ridge Edition

    Yesterday, Chris was featured on A Disney Mom's Thoughts as a part of the Stars Fell on Disney Fans from Alabama series.  Read why he loves his location in Alabama and the benefits of a premium annual pass.  Please visit Beth's terrific blog and let her know we sent you.  

    I am proud to have shared an article with Beth as well.  Click here for my post in this series. 
    --Amy 

    A Disney Mom’s Thoughts
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    Wednesday, November 2, 2011

    Photo Flashback: Tink as Tinkerbell


    We spent Halloween last year at Walt Disney World.  On Halloween Tink was dressed as up as -- who else -- Tinkerbell.  This is one of my favorite pictures of her and has been on my office wall now for a year.  It captures the essence of a fairy: a little mischievousness, a little defiance, and a lot of fun.  I think her mom has her work cut out for her with this one.  :-)

    This was taken outside of Yak and Yeti in the Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World, October, 2010.  If you look carefully, you can see my reflection, in the red shirt,  over her shoulder.

    --DisneyDad Pin It
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