Friday, November 30, 2012

He's Everyone's Favorite Guy....Gaston! (A Look at Gaston's Tavern)

Gaston's Tavern, New Fantasyland
And yes, he uses antlers in all of his decorating.

On our most recent Walt Disney World vacation, the Growing Up Disney family, or most of it, attended the Annual Passholder Preview of New Fantasyland.  It was a treat to see the attractions early and with so little crowd.  My husband, Tink, Ridge, and myself went back for more fun during a dress rehearsal the following day.  This is a collection of photos of Gaston's Tavern from the many cameras we haul around on vacation.

Gaston's Tavern, New Fantasyland
Took this during the AP preview.  Knew I'd never see it so open again.

Gaston's Tavern, New Fantasyland
Nicely done exterior courtyard of Gaston's Tavern

Gaston's Tavern, New Fantasyland
Sure to be a popular photo spot

Gaston's Tavern, New Fantasyland
I didn't realize he was a fan.

Gaston's Tavern, New Fantasyland
And if you line up the shot just right....

Gaston's Tavern, New Fantasyland
What a generous gift!

Gaston's Tavern, New Fantasyland
Chris says I totally walked past Gaston without seeing him but you might catch him outside the tavern.  Be more observant than me and say hello.

Gaston's Tavern, New Fantasyland
And on to the food.  Chris tried the pork shank and said it was delicious.  I am the proud owner of one of each of the souvenir cups.  Pricey but cute.  Wish they were dishwasher safe.

Gaston's Tavern, New Fantasyland
The rest of the offerings.  The LeFou's Brew is VERY sweet. I'd  suggest the hummus and pita chips to balance it.  Overall a good selection of quick pick-me-ups and treats.  We also grabbed some ice cream from the cart right outside and brought it in for the girls.

Gaston's Tavern, New Fantasyland
Tink liked the LeFou's Brew, basically fancy frozen apple juice.

Gaston's Tavern, New Fantasyland
A closer look at the souvenir mugs. 

Gaston's Tavern, New Fantasyland
Antlers being used in the smaller seating area.  Occupancy 24 according to the sign on the wall.  The seating in here is just long tables and short stools.

Gaston's Tavern, New Fantasyland
There are darts all over the place.  LeFou must be really bad at this game.  The fact that it's way too high on the wall for him couldn't help.

Gaston's Tavern, New Fantasyland
This is the larger of the two seating areas.  This one holds 50-60 people.

Gaston's Tavern, New Fantasyland
Gaston's huge and hairy chair

Gaston's Tavern, New Fantasyland
A painting about as big as Gaston's ego

Gaston's Tavern, New Fantasyland
The artificial fireplace was a nice touch.

Gaston's Tavern, New Fantasyland
Loved the antler chandelier.

Gaston's Tavern, New Fantasyland
Looked hidden Mickey-ish to me.

Gaston's Tavern, New Fantasyland
Gaston's chair scared the fool out of my girls.  We tried taking pictures of Tink and a friend the next day and she still would only stand beside the chair.  The other preschooler didn't mind the chair at all.

Gaston's Tavern, New Fantasyland
DisneyDad enjoying Gaston's chair.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Photo Flashback! Christmas Tree at Hollywood Studios

Disney Christmas tree

Deb over at Focused on the Magic suggested "December Calendar Shot" as today's theme.  I took this a few weeks ago at Disney's Hollywood Studios.  Despite it's size, it is a fairly simple tree and kicks off the holiday season well.  We used it as a meeting spot before going to see the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights.  The Growing Up Disney crew will be sharing photos from those lights and other Christmas decor around Walt Disney World in the weeks leading up to the big day.


Focused on the Magic

Monday, November 26, 2012

Ignore the Mom Bloggers and Buy the Light-Up Toy

Walt Disney World light-up toys

Planning blogs, including this one, will tell you to look for light-up toys, glow sticks, etc at home where you can often stock up for very little cash.  The idea is to save money buy passing on the expensive toys that appear all around Walt Disney World as soon as the sun begins to dip.  

Well, I did that and had glow bracelets in my backpack and a stash of other glowing treats at home.  My husband, however, just knew that Tink wanted a Minnie Mouse with a skirt that spins and lights up and he bought it on the first night of our recent vacation.  I laughed and told him he was fired but I couldn't be too upset when our oldest daughter was running around Epcot with such joy. 

This turned out to be Tink's main souvenir from this vacation and Minnie went everywhere with us during the week.  She (the doll) met Mickey and princesses, went on attractions, and visited restaurants.    It's even safe for our Baby Minnie (17 months) and she has enjoyed playing with the toy as well.

So as with all rules, sometimes you just have to break them and occasionally you win big.

light-up toys, walt disney world bus
Minnie joined Tink on the bus to Magic Kingdom

Minnie helped Tink be a part of the show at Enchanted Tales with Belle

Ariel loved Tink's treasure from the human world

Of course, Mickey loved this particular toy

Even Princesses loved Minnie


Thursday, November 22, 2012

What My Child Truly Loved at WDW & Happy Thanksgiving!

On her first day back at preschool, Tink's teacher asked her several times what was her favorite thing about her Disney trip. Did she say riding Dumbo or the "flying sofas"? Nope. What about meeting her beloved princesses or being a part of Belle's new show? Nah. Surely it was the Minnie Mouse with the light up skirt that she drug all over creation. No. It was these folks. 

Every time the teacher asked Tink's answer to the best thing about Walt Disney World was her grandparents. She calls them Granny and Grandaddy but you know them as DisneyDad and Mom. I asked her at lunch yesterday and the result was still the same. As a follow-up question, I asked her what she did. "Played." Yes, she remembers the trip and can tell you about the rides but the people are what was important. 

It's the friends with us when we ride our favorite coaster that make it so much fun. Scoring the most coveted ADR is a hollow victory without a pal to share the meal. Fireworks over the castle are always gorgeous but sharing an inside joke makes them even more amazing. 

Today I am thankful for many things but among them are the lovely family and sweet friends who make Walt Disney World such a special place to me. I love going into the living room at Old Key West in the morning and having a cup of coffee with my brother. Wish we could meet up more often. It's so nice to share a meal with my parents, even though it's far from relaxed with two small kids along. It's great when my husband gets a big laugh during an attraction and temporarily gets to forget the pressures of the real world. And of course, I love the huge smiles on my daughters' faces when they see Mickey.

Over the last couple of years, I've also been meeting Disney friends at the parks. I'm sure that sounds odd to those who haven't yet connected with the online Disney community but those who have will understand why you run to hug someone you've never seen in person before.

And if you're reading this, I am thankful for you. I've loved sharing our family's stories and lessons learned. It's an honor to connect with other Disney fans.

From the Growing Up Disney family, we wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Photo Flashback!!! Tiger Lily

Tiger Lily!!!

Strickly Speaking this isn't the most 100% Disney post but one year ago today I brought Lily home. Lily is named after Princess Tiger Lily from Peter Pan so it counts.

I didn't tell any family I was getting her just a couple friends that helped me to find her.  

Lily At 7 weeks old

Lily At 1 Year

She has been a blast!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Pumpkin Crisp Recipe

pumpkin dessert, Thanksgiving recipe

If you are still planning your Thanksgiving menu or deciding what to take to a pot luck, I have a fantastic and super easy recipe to share.  I’ve had to write out the recipe for everyone who has tasted this dessert.  Personally, I see recipes as inspiration rather than strict rules and I’d love to hear what variations you try.  The original recipe came from Southern Living but the version below is my take on it.

Pumpkin Crisp
1 (15 oz) can pumpkin
1 cup evaporated milk
¾ cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of ground nutmeg (optional)
1 butter flavored yellow cake mix (I like Duncan Hines)
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup melted butter
Preheat the oven to 350.  In a medium bowl, stir together the pumpkin, milk, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Pour the mixture into a greased 9×13 baking dish.  Sprinkle cake mix evenly over the pumpkin mixture.  Sprinkle pecans on top of the cake mix.  Drizzle butter over all.  Bake uncovered for about 45 minutes or until golden brown.
I like pumpkin crisp warm with whipped cream but my husband prefers it plain and at room temperature. 
This is a really rich dessert.  As a lighter variation, I’ve made it in an 8×8 pan and used a jiffy cake mix and half of the nuts and butter.  It’s still tasty, but in my house, we’ve decided smaller servings of the rich version are the way to go.
I've shared this recipe before on a friend's fabulous blog, Sippy Cup Mom.  Please check her out.

pumpkin dessert, Thanksgiving recipe
Pumpkin mixture in prepared pan, begining topping

Topped with cake mix

Yum, pecans

Drizzle butter over it all

Ready for the oven.  Don't mix it!

Bake 45+ minutes.

pumpkin dessert, Thanksgiving recipe
Finished pumpkin crisp

pumpkin dessert, Thanksgiving recipe

Five Photos: Disney's Hollywood Studios

Five Photos Growing Up Disney

Disney's Hollywood Studios signs Growing Up Disney

The Great Movie Ride signs Growing Up Disney

The Magic of Disney Annimation signs Growing Up Disney

Voyage of the Little Mermaid signs Growing Up Disney

Walt Disney One Man's Dream signs Growing Up Disney

Monday, November 19, 2012

Kid's Power Pack, Where Have You Been All My Life?

Last week, the whole Growing Up Disney family went to Walt Disney World.  On Thursday, we had a big lunch at Sanaa (yum! Another post.) and then split up for the afternoon.  That evening most of the crew met up at Disney's Hollywood Studios to see The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights (fabulous! More posts to come.)  After the lights, I needed to feed the kiddos so we headed for the ABC Commissary.  My children don't eat the widest variety of foods and the kid's meals at DHS tend toward chicken nuggets.  I was thrilled to see the Kid's Power Pack on the menu.  For $5.49 we got a small carton of milk (other options are available), strawberry yogurt, a cheese stick, goldfish crackers, carrots with ranch, and a chocolate chip cookie.  These meals have been around for a year or so, but this was my first time to check one out personally.  

Disney Power Pack, Kid's Meal

For starters, the box was adorable and my husband must have worked some sort of magic to get Tink to let him throw it away when we left the restaurant.  The box alone bought a little time for me to finish my Asian Salad with Salmon, which was pricey at over $11 but tasty.  

The girls like all the foods in the Power Pack so we didn't have to cajole them to eat anything.  They dove right in and since they are 3.5 years and 17 months old, one meal was plenty for the both of them, especially after a good lunch and afternoon snacks.

While it's not nutritional dinner of the year, it made a fabulous, quick, easy, meltdown delaying meal.  They eat their veggies pretty well at home so I'm not too worried if vacation is relaxed.  

Disney Power Pack, Kid's Meal