Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Nothing like a snack

I stopped at Storybook Treats (formerly Mrs. Pot's cupboard) and had a ice cream cookie Sunday. Warm cookie and hot fudge and a mound of whipped cream. Worth 4.69 if I ever spent it.

- Posted by Ridge using BlogPress from my iPhone

Magical Blogorail: One More Disney Day

Welcome to those of you joining us from Disney Donna Kay and those of you just hopping aboard. We are the Final stop on today's Magical Blogorail.

Chris (aka Ridge) is representing Growing Up Disney on this special blogorail loop.  He's visiting Walt Disney World for the "One More Disney Day" on February 29.  Chris is blogging live from WDW throughout his trip so be sure to check here regularly or follow along on Facebook or Twitter.  Below is an article he wrote before he left home.  ~~Amy

ONE MORE LOOONNNGGG DISNEY DAY!!!! is fast approching as this year on Leap Day, February 29, 2012, I, along with countless others, will be spending 24 hours or something close to it inside the gates of the Magic Kingdom. So what would you do if you could stay after even Extra Magic Hours were over? Well we are about to find out.

I'm going to arrive Tuesday the 28th and try and get to bed early that night. Thursday morning will start the marathon. So what will I do? I have several photography ideas that I want to explore and I suppose I am going to shop for OMDD merch for my Sis since she can't join me.  I'll also find something for my nieces, my folks and a friend. After that I'll see who I can tweetup with.

I'm curious as to where I am going to find places to nap.  I'm wondering how the TTAPM will be looking, will it be littered with lifeless sleeping bodies by 6 AM?  Personally I've been thinking about it and I may find a quiet place and sleep. How often can you be inside Magic Kingdom and lay on the ground and see the stars? Should I take my Killer rabbit slippers (Monty Python) and wear those around? Probably not, one thing is for sure I am going to pack light.

Part of my attraction to the parks is the fact that they provide the creative outlet I need.  To take a picture of something iconic and make it mine, make it special to me. If I do that then I hope I can pass it along and share it with others and bring a smile to their faces. I have several new toys to try out on my camera so let the games begin! I am thinking about places where a Dole Whip can be seen, places where Dole Whips don't traditionally make it to, then snap...picture time! haha.

If I am able to make it all the way to 6 AM, I hope to catch breakfast with a friend then go back to the room for some rest and shower (not in that order I'm sure). When I wake up if the sun is still out and brightening our lives, I'm hoping for some fun pictures of Old Key West.  It's been a couple years since I've been able to have my reservation there. I haven't ever walked about the property and looked it over, espcially with a camera :). I have a few special projects at OKW that need to be done.

It's going to be a fast trip to the World and sleep is going to be a luxury that few will have but I will attempt to make the most of it all. A few days ago I hurt my back again (it's a long story but I have a history of back problems) so I will be balancing being cautious and having fun so that I don't prolong the problem. Nevertheless the show must go on and mirth and merryment shall be enjoyed.  Even if you are not at the World, for those who embrace the nature of Disney and remain a kid at heart, it will still be One More Disney Day for all.   

Thank you for joining our Special Edition 24 Hours of Disney loop.  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.

1st Stop ~ Heidi’s Head
3rd Stop ~ Meet the Magic
4th Stop ~ Disney on Wheels
5th Stop ~ Disney Donna Kay
Final Stop ~ Growing Up Disney

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A Deluxe Studio At Old Key West

  So I made it to my room early in the day, my bags were to follow later having taken their own journey via Magical Express. My room is a standard Deluxe Studio having two queen beds and a small kitchenette with a mini fridge that is remarkably deficient of beer.... silly me "I" have to purchase that myself?!? Anyway the room is wonderful and beachy as a trip to Old key West should be. Make sure you check out the bed spreads for the hidden Mickey...

Hidden Mickey

Greetings from Magical Express

I Love to Fly!

After a wonderful flight where I got a much needed nap I landed 1 hour and 20 minutes from gate to gate. It was smooth sailing all the way and my Magical Express experience is off to a great start.

As I walked up to the holding area to wait on a bus I was quickly grabbed and put on a bus that was ready to leave. So here I am on way to Old Key West and enjoying the 30 minute ride to Old Key West. :)

- Posted by Ridge using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wedding Favors from Disney Fairy Tale Weddings and a Credit for YOU!

For those planning a Disney Fairy Tale Wedding, it is now just a little easier to send your guests home with a piece of the magic.  When I was a Disney bride, I had to scour the internet looking for gifts for our wedding and shower guests that reflected our Disney theme.  In January, Kate Aspen released a new line of ten beautiful items that will allow brides and grooms to extend their fairy tale experience.  Each one was inspired by one of Disney's princesses and is a wonderful mix of Disney whimsy and elegant design.

My Wedding Favors is proud to have been selected as one of the exclusive retailers for this gorgeous collection.  They were kind enough to send me a couple of the items to review for you.  As you can see from the photos below, the packaging is lovely and would coordinate with just about any bridal decor.  The bottle stopper is inspired by Cinderella's coach and will certainly bring back happy memories of your special day.  It has a nice weight to it and the etching is very pretty in person.  The love bird salt and pepper shakers are very sweet.  Inspired by Sleeping Beauty, the set feels well-made but not so delicate that guests would be afraid to use them.  The full collection offers something from all of your favorite princesses and ranges in price from $3.29 to $6.55 per item.  I especially like the "Let Your Dreams Light the Way" tea light holder (Rapunzel, of course) and the "Be Our Guest" ceramic coasters.  

 "Happily Ever After" Royal Coach Crystal Bottle Stopper

"True Love Conquers All" Ceramic Birds Salt and Pepper Shakers

The full collection

My Wedding Favors has given a $25 online credit to one lucky reader.  
Thanks to all who entered!
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Disclosure: I received free products for reviewing purposes. No monetary compensation was received or offered. All opinions expressed are my honest thoughts on these products/services.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Activities for Little Ones at Disney's Hilton Head Island Resort

When you check-in at Disney's Hilton Head Island Resort, you will be given a schedule of activities for the week.  These include crafts, tours, music, nature walks, food, songs and more.  I was excited to see multiple programs for 2-4 year olds and promptly signed Tink up for a few.  

The activities geared for preschoolers were held at either 9:00 or 9:30 AM and were free but they asked you to make reservations.  During busy seasons, the classes can fill up and during slow season, they need to know if anyone at all will be attending.  Tink was the only child in the 4 classes/craft times in which she participated.

The three photos below are from the "Getting to Know Birds" class.  The Cast Member's name is Gweneth and she was great with Tink.  They looked at photos of birds and talked about what the birds ate then pretended to eat like birds with clothespins for beaks.  Then it was craft time and story time.  All of the classes lasted about a half hour, just right for little attention spans.  An adult must stay with the child and my husband, DisneyDad and I took turns accompanying her.  Her other "class" was about butterflies and she made a bead necklace with her name and a straw cup at the two craft times.

Tink loved the attention from the Cast Members and quickly settled in to each activity.  Since she normally attends preschool three mornings a week, this was a great way to continue learning on vacation. We even took advantage of craft time on our last morning to keep Tink busy while we did our final packing.

Cleaning up after "eating like birds"
Making a bird puppet
Story time
Each day's activities are posted on this board near the shop and take-out counter
A little different each day
Art project from butterfly class
Crown from toddler arts & crafts
Personalized cup from arts & crafts timePosted by Picasa

Friday, February 24, 2012

Hilton Head Island - Mexican Restaurants

Disney HHI room number fish

Most people headed to Hilton Head Island, when they are thinking about food, are not thinking about going to Mexican restaurants.  Seafood is the order of the day on the island.  Of course most people are not my wife.  She likes fish, is allergic to shrimp and shellfish, but she loves guacamole.  So on our trip to Disney’s Hilton Head Island resort we managed to have lunch 4 days at Mexican restaurants.  OK, it was 3 Mexican and one “southwest” and not 4 Mexican restaurants. 

January at Hilton Head is a strange time.  Most restaurants close for the month.  So if you visit during January you have to look a little harder to find a place to eat out.  Disney’s HHI resort does not have a sit-down restaurant.  It has 2 counter service (one at the resort and one at the Beach House).  This past January the Beach House was closed for renovations so that only left Tide-Me-Over.  Mom and I did not eat there but Amy and her family did more than once.  Tink loved it as the  kids meal comes in a sand bucket, complete with shovel.

Since there was no sit-down restaurant at the resort and all but one of the restaurants at Shelter Cove were closed we ventured out to find places to eat.  With our trusty iPhone Apps, AroundMe and TripAdvisor, we tracked down some Mexican restaurants. 

The first place we found was Fiesta Fresh Mexican Grill (  It was in a shopping center toward the north end of the island.  I dropped mom off near the door and went to park the car.  When I got into the restaurant, I found her leaning on a bar-height table looking over the counter at the menu on the wall.  I could tell she was thinking “Taco Bell” and was not real happy.  Since we were there and it was way past lunch, we picked out items of the menu plus some guacamole and chips.  Well, “Taco Bell” it is not.  While a counter service restaurant, the food was cooked fresh when ordered.  It was served up hot, and was very unexpectedly, delicious.  The guacamole was wonderful, chunky, and the chips were warm and crunchy.  This was our favorite Mexican place except for another Fiesta Fresh Mexican Grill on the south-end of the island near Sea Pines Circle.  Amy found this one looking for a place she thought Tink would eat not knowing we had eaten at the other Fiesta Fresh.  Tink loves her chips and salsa.  Amy has posted some pictures of the girls in paper hats at this Fiesta Fresh.  And the food was just as good as the first.

We found another Mexican restaurant in the Publix shopping center near Sea Pines circle.  La Hacienda Mexican Restaurant ( was notable, not so much for the food, as for the sign as you walked over a footbridge to the entrance that read “Do Not Feed The Alligators”.  Sure enough near the bank at the end of the walk in front of the restaurant was an alligator floating in the water.  The food was typical Mexican fare; Tasty, but nothing really outstanding.

My favorite Mexican meal was at Santa Fe CafĂ© Southwestern Cusine(  Almost directly across from the entrance to Shelter Cove, we almost did not stop here.  It is sort of an upscale Southwestern restaurant with a large bar and an open kitchen area.   The only problem mom had here was drinks were served in old-fashioned bar glasses.  Mom likes BIG glasses for her tea.  The waitress did work for her tip just keeping her supplied with tea.  The presentation of the food was only surpassed by the taste of the food.  The Painted Desert Soup, Santa Fe Salad, and Chicken Quesadilla I had from the lunch menu were wonderful.

 When you go to HHI, where do you eat?  What is your favorite place?


Monday, February 20, 2012

Minnie Moms: The Best and Worst Disney Movies & Shows to Watch with your Kids

Amy:  I asked our Minnie Moms to tell us which Disney movie or TV show is their favorite to watch with their kiddos.  And since not everything Disney makes appeals to us all, which movie or show sends them running from the room and plotting to hide the DVD.

Tink's favorite Disney movies are currently Sleeping Beauty, Cars 2 and Peter Pan but the movie we have watched over and over together is my personal favorite, Mary Poppins.  We love the music; me in a nerdy "I heart the Sherman brothers and no one outdoes Julie Andrews" kinda way and her in a "this is fun" kinda way.  I also love the London setting. I lived there for a semester in college but I fell in love with the history of England in elementary school.  (My collection of Queen Elizabeth coronation mugs and plates is second only to my Disney collection.)  I love that Mary Poppins helps the family realize what is really important...each other.  Tink loves the penguins and merry-go-round horses.

We haven't had cable in years, other than the brief time when we first moved to North Carolina last year.  At the rental house, Tink got to watch Disney Junior.  She's seen the shows before at Granny's house and at Walt Disney World.  We also have a bunch of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse DVDs and a few shows on our i-devices.  I'm cool with Mickey, Jake and Manny.  However, Special Agent Oso is just painful to watch.  I can't believe Winnie the Pooh got the boot for Oso.  He can't do anything right and the three special steps are usually quite a stretch.

And two movies my girls will never see if I have my way are The Rescuers and Pete's Dragon.  Both scared the heck out of me as a child and I have absolutely no desire to see them again or allow them in my home.  The only good thing about Pete's Dragon is the float in the Main Street Electrical Parade.

Natalie:  This month we are discussing the Disney movies we most love and dislike. I began to think through all of the Disney movies I have seen. What I quickly found was that the list of the Disney movies I have not seen is MUCH longer than the list of the ones I HAVE seen! After realizing this, I decided to
head out to my local library to start watching all of those Disney classics I have missed out on seeing.  Remember, the library is always a great way to get movies and books for free!

So, per my research, I find that my son and I most love watching the classic, Beauty and the Beast. My son loves the movie for the humor and the drama. He enjoys singing along with the songs and performing as though he is the beast. I love this movie for the voice of Paige O'Hara which pulls me in, makes me impatiently await her singing her beautiful songs. I loved the music right from the start when I saw this movie in high school. In fact, I remember listening to the tape of the soundtrack in my car, switching back
and forth between this tape and a few by Metallica! Last year, my son and I were so excited to hear Paige O'Hara perform one of the songs from the movie onstage at the D23 Expo in Anaheim, CA. It was an honor to be in her presence for both of us!

As for the movie I most dislike... there are 2 that come to mind. The first one is Bambi. I know. It IS adorable. However, it is dramatically too slow for both myself and my son. We actually stopped the movie and did not finish it when we rented it. My second movie I do not like is Fantasia.  Again, this movie is too slow for my liking. However, this one is one of my son's favorites as it introduced us to Sorcerer Mickey!

He and I will continue our quest for our newest loves and hates by way of library rentals! If you are looking for a great way to spend time with your kids, have them learn a few lessons about life in a safe, entertaining way, head on over to your library to rent a few Disney movies!

Nine:  This is a really tough one for me! There are so many films and TV shows we enjoy watching that it's hard to chose. I guess our favourite movies are Beauty and the Beast (Belle is my all time top princess and so far Tink thinks so too) as she loves the music and her Mrs Potts tea-set and Fantasia as we both adore Mickey (The Sorcerers Apprentice is my all time best Mickey short) and each piece is just enough to keep her attention.

We also love the Christmas and Halloween films, Mickeys Twice Upon a Christmas being a winner so far.

Regarding TV it has to be Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Nuff said.

As for hate ... I don't love Lilo and Stitch, as Stitch is quite annoying but I don't hate it.  I do find some of the made for TV sequels a bit unnecessary though.  I'm going to be really boring and say that, at the moment, I just don't hate watching any of the Disney films or shows.  Even Oso ;-)  Remind me of this when I've seen my 1000th episode ...

Beth:  My Favorite Family Movie with the Kids
I have to admit this is one of the hardest Disney questions I have had to answer, which I was really surprised about! I love watching Disney movies with my children, and we have a family movie night once a week in the winter and about every other week in the summer. It is a great way to enjoy those special Disney moments, but also to listen to my children's questions and even realize how they perceive different characters and story lines. I really had no idea how to approach this topic: Do I choose Princess and the Frog because every time we watch it, Emily sings along to every song, especially the "Shadow Man Song" as she calls it? Or do I go with a Toy Story movie because every time we watch Toy Story, the kids gather up their Woody, Buzz, Wheezy, Ham, Mr. Pricklepants, Barbie, Jessie and Ken to watch the movie with us? In the end, I went with the one movie that creates the greatest sound in the world. All three of my kids laughing, and I mean the real true belly laughs, all at the same time. Because of that, I had to go with Tangled.

Tangled is by far the one movie that all three of my children love. They love the movie, they love the soundtrack, which they listen to everyday and can sing every song. They even act out the movie while listening! The characters are very endearing, even beyond just Rapunzel and Flynn, but also Pascal and Maximus. The part of the movie that gets all three of my kids laughing so hard that at least one of them usually ends up with the hiccups is the scene where Maximus and Flynn are fighting over the satchel and it goes over the edge of the cliff. There is just something about this scene that tickles the funny bones of all three of my children. As soon as I hear them laugh like that, and all together, it just melts my heart and it makes me truly appreciate how blessed I am to have three children that are so special.

Corby:  I will admit, I'm not a big movie or television watcher and therefore my 7 year old isn't really either. I had to really stop and think about the Disney movies we've watched for this topic. I'm not usually one to watch the same movie over and over except I do have a couple of Disney favorites. And when I say favorites, I mean, I like them more than my son does. When he says he wants to watch a DVD, these are the ones I “encourage” him to watch, for my own selfish reasons, of course.

First of all, I love all the Toy Story movies. My personal favorite of the series though is Toy Story 2. I love that movie! I will confess, I get teary each time I hear, “When Somebody Loved Me.” As a matter a fact, I'm getting teary now just thinking about it so we will move on. And speaking of moving absolute favorite Disney movie which may be a little random is Meet the Robinsons! I don't remember hearing a lot about this movie but that might have been because my son was 3 when it came out. We came across it one beach trip and I fell in love with it. I truly love the inspiring message in the movie, “Keep Moving Forward”. I find it to be uplifting and motivating as an adult and it's a children's movie for goodness sakes. I wish more movies would have such a positive message to children. No matter what happens in your life, Keep Moving Forward. So simple yet so profound. I also love the Walt Disney quote at the end of the movie. What a great tribute.

I've always been fond of the Disney Jr shows but sadly, my son is starting to outgrown them and move on to the tween shows on the Disney channel. The Suite Life, Jessie and Good Luck Charlie are what he is now prefers to watch and I happen to find them extremely annoying. I try to turn them off as soon as I see one come on but sometimes, he'll sneak one in on me. The laugh track is like nails on a chalkboard to me. I'm not ready for him to witness the smart mouthed characters and all the boy/girl crazy comments. There will be plenty of time for that in the years ahead I'm sure. I'd like to keep him as innocent as possible while I can. I'm sure my days are numbered. Seeing what lies ahead makes me treasure my days of watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Jake and the Neverland Pirates with our little one while I can.

What are your favorite shows or movies to watch with your kids?  Which ones make you head for the hills?

Thanks to Natalie, Janine, Beth and Corby for joining me today.  Please visit the Minnie Moms page for past articles and more information about these fabulous ladies. 

Images in this article are DVD cover art and property of Disney.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Magical Blogorail: Ways We Celebrate at Disney

Welcome to those of you joining me from A World View and those of you just hopping aboard. I am the 3rd stop on our Magical Blogorail.

This month, Magical Blogorail Red is discussing how we celebrate at Disney. For my family, Walt Disney World is where we celebrate most of life's major moments and these celebrations are among our favorite topics here on the blog.

My parents celebrated their wedding with a Walt Disney World honeymoon in 1973.

While the party was in Alabama, Mickey was a part of my second birthday.  (Remember that cake, you'll see it again.)

Chris celebrated his first WDW visit with Chip and Dale. (Just had to have an excuse to include that photo!)

When I graduated from high school in 1994, my parents took me and three friends to WDW and we stayed at what is now Old Key West.  DisneyDad and Mom had bought into Disney Vacation Club the previous year.

My parents and brother came to visit me for Christmas during my college program semester in 1997. We had a tree and everything at Old Key West.

In 1998, my parents celebrated their 25th anniversary with dinner at Cinderella's Royal Table.

Chris marched in the Magical Musical Days with his high school band in 1999.

My dad and I have birthdays less than a week apart and we once had tea at the Grand Floridian and the most amazing cupcakes to celebrate

In 2005, we celebrated my first marathon finish, my Disney Fairy Tale Wedding and Disney Wonder honeymoon. Dad and I had a special dinner at the Victoria and Albert's chef's table. All of the ladies who traveled to Florida for the wedding were invited to tea at the Grand. My besties and I enjoyed a bachelorette party of dancing at Manequins and laughs at the Adventurer's Club. The wedding party loved rehearsal dinner and fireworks at California Grill.

In 2007, we celebrated my dad's recovery with a visit for the food and wine festival. We also introduced my inlaws to Ridgeway-style park touring on that trip.

In 2008, I surprised my parents right before the start of Illuminations with the news that they would be grandparents.  The photo is from Grand Floridian Cafe later in the trip.

In 2010, we celebrated Tink's first birthday with a smash cake in a grand villa at Old Key West and then breakfast with Chef Mickey on the big day. I think it's fitting that she officially turned one while watching the 3 o'clock parade.

On that same trip, Andy and I celebrated five years of marriage with dinner at Jiko.

On our next visit in 2010, my parents were again surprised with happy news when Tink wore a "big sister" t-shirt to dinner at Olivia's.

Tink's second birthday was shortly after we moved to North Carolina last year. We stayed "home" and had Mickey cupcakes.

Baby Minnie will likely celebrate her first birthday in Alabama but the theme will be, what else, Minnie Mouse.

I look forward to future celebrations with the Mouse. We'll be celebrating Baby Minnie's first WDW trip this fall. I'm hoping to get first haircuts for both of the girls on Main Street.

For birthdays, anniversaries, first visits, etc, we always make sure to get buttons from Guest Relations.

Thank you of joining me in this walk down memory lane.  The Growing Up Disney family loves to celebrate life's special moments, great and small, at Walt Disney World.

Your next stop on the Magical Blogorail Loop is Disney Donna Kay.

Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail should you happen to have to make a stop along the way and want to reboard:
2nd Stop ~ A World View
3rd Stop ~ Growing Up Disney
Final Stop ~ Disney Donna Kay