Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Photo Flashback! We are going to Walt Disney World!

Follow along as the Growing Up Disney family visits Walt Disney World.

Hiya Pals!  The whole Growing Up Disney family is getting ready to visit Walt Disney World.  We have MagicBands and are ready to go!  Beginning Sunday, we will be posting photos from the World.  Some of them will be here on the blog but please also follow us on Facebook, Twitter and/or Instagram so you don't miss any of the fun!

See ya real soon, Mickey!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Have you seen photos like this?

Here at Growing Up Disney we have posted some of the wonderful photos we have taken over the years. Like this one of DisneyDad in front of Cinderella Castle.

Growing Up Disney growingupdisney.com
DisneyDad at The Magic Kingdom
Of course this photo is good... it's of me!   LOL!  Of course it is a little "flat".  We have over 40 years of photos we have been posting but our next trip in November we will have a new camera with us.  We have recently acquired a Theta360 camera that makes 360 degree photos.  We will be posting some of the new 360 degree photos in addition to the wonderful photos you have come to expect.

Imagine standing on Main Street USA and looking ALL around.  Look at the Train Station, then slowly turn. You view the Emporium, then see the Arcade, Casey's Corner, and then your gaze goes to Cinderella's Castle.  You will be able to see that PHOTO here at Growing Up Disney.  That is just one of the photos I can't wait to post here.

I have two photos I have taken around town where I live just to give you an idea of what the new camera can do.  These photos don't look like much posted here, but click on the link below the photos below to see what it looks like as a 360 deg photo.  The link opens the interactive photo using the Theta360 website.

Growing Up Disney growingupdisney.com
360 deg photo of a street near my home

Growing Up Disney growingupdisney.com
360 deg photo of Mom and DisneyDad

These are just examples of what a 360 deg photo looks like.  A tree-lined street and Captain D's is not near as exciting as The Magic Kingdom.   Be watching here to see 360 deg photos of the Disney Parks in two weeks.

--DisneyDad

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Photo Flashback! PUMPKINS!!

This week's Wordless Wednesday theme is the Disney Letter "P".  What better "P" is there this time of year than PUMPKIN and Disney decorates with lots and lots of them.  These photos were from 2012.
--DisneyDad
Growing Up Disney growingupdisney.com
Pumpkins in front of the Train Station

Growing Up Disney growingupdisney.com
Pumpkins on the Arcade

Growing Up Disney growingupdisney.com
Pumpkins on the Barber Shop

Growing Up Disney growingupdisney.com
Pumpkins on the Fire Station

Growing Up Disney growingupdisney.com
Pumpkins all around Main Street USA



Focused on the Magic

Friday, October 18, 2013

Magical Blogorail: Most Magical Disney Memories

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.


Our blog is all about our magical Disney memories.   I've shared lots of stories about the big things...my Disney wedding, marathon, and so on.  Today I'd like to look at a few of the smaller moments that are wonderful memories.


While these were pretty much the biggest deals in my life, announcing to my parents that I was expecting each of my children were private moments at Disney World.  For Tink, I seized the chance to  weasel my way into a last minute trip my parents were taking.  It took me all day to find the right time to spill the beans but I'm glad I waited, as IllumiNations will forever be connected to Tink since I told them right before the show started.  For Minnie, we had a trip already planned so I got Tink a big sister shirt and arranged for us to have dinner at Olivia's on the first evening.  My brother was in on the surprise so he had his camera ready.  I stopped at the restroom on the way to the table and changed Tink's shirt.  It took my parents a few moments to realize A. that she had changed and B. just what her shirt said.  Since I have set this precedent, my parents hoped we had more news when I've agreed to other last minute trips over the last year and a half but I'm happy to be done with baby announcements.

announcing a pregnancy at Walt Disney World

When I was in college program, my parents and grandparents came down for a visit.  My Granny and I had so much fun shopping with my Christmas discount.
 
 
When on Tink's first visit, we took her to the free character photo session for Disney Visa cardmembers at Innoventions.  Pluto saw my one-year-old and immediately got down on all fours to play with her.

Mickey and Pluto at the Chase Disney Visa photo session
  
And speaking of a first birthday, here's Tink enjoying her smash cake in an Old Key West Grand Villa.  This kid has no idea how good she has it.

Mickey Mouse first birthday cake, Mickey smash cake, first birthday at WDW
 
Minnie's first character meet and greet was Pluto and Goofy in Dinoland at Animal Kingdom.  Watching her totally light up for Pluto was priceless.  (Must be something special about Pluto.)

Pluto and Goofy at Disney's Animal Kingdom

On our trip in January 2013, Tink was sick enough that I had to take her to the emergency room.  Thankfully my children are normally very healthy and it was tough to see her feel so awful.  She was well enough for one really good day on that trip and seeing her face when Cinderella approached us at Akershus was fabulous.
 
We've enjoyed being a part of the fun...my husband played the bucket for Mulch, Sweat and Shears and had to sing "I'm a Little Teapot" at the 50's Diner, DisneyDad has been "that guy" in the Monster's Inc Laugh Floor, Mom likes to interact with the Streetmosphere Cast at Disney's Hollywood Studios, Tink was the featherduster in Enchanted Tales with Belle, Ridge played along with the tiny glass of tea and bathroom FastPass at Whispering Canyon and I've been pulled up to sing about women's sufferage on Main Street, U.S.A.

Mulch, Sweat and Shears at Disney's Hollywood Studios
  
I'll stop now as I could go on and on about the little moments but I think those are what really makes Walt Disney World special.  It's usually not the big plans we make that end up being sweet memories.  It's those moments where we get caught up in the magic that really bring us back time and again.  


Thank you for joining Magical Blogorail Red this month. We will be back on November 15th with an all new theme. Keep checking in with our blogs in between loops to keep up to date with our Disney news, 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 ~ My Dreams of Disney
2nd Stop ~ Disney Donna Kay
3rd Stop ~ Colorado Mountain Mom
4th Stop ~ A World View
Final Stop ~ Growing Up Disney

Monday, October 14, 2013

Five Photos! 1973 Walt Disney World Parade

Growing Up Disney growingupdisney.com

One thing that has not changed since June 1973, when these photos were taken, is The Magic Kingdom still has Parades.  Although I think they have changed just a little over the past 40 years.  :-)  Costumes for the Magic Kingdom Main Street Philharmonic (I don't know if they were called that in 1973) have changed and the characters in the parade have changed somewhat.  Floats in the parades are nowhere near the same.

These photos are from slides taken by my wife's uncle.  Check the links below for other slides in this series of 1973 photos.

Now what time is the 3 o'clock parade?
--DisneyDad

Magic Kingdom Philharmonic band 1973

1973 Magic Kingdom parade Grumpy, vintage characters

Seven Dwarfs in front of Cinderella Castle in 1973 Magic Kingdom parade

Pooh, Tigger and Eeyore in 1973 Magic Kingdom parade

Brer Rabbit, Brer Bear, and Brer Fox in 1973 Magic Kingdom Parade

These links are to additional photos from the same set of slides made in 1973.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Quick Tip: Packing Children's Clothes for Walt Disney World

packing children's clothes for Walt Disney World

At Walt Disney World, I want the girls to wear certain outfits on certain days.  You know, the red dresses for breakfast with Pooh, the matching t-shirts for dinner with Mickey and so on.  I also like to lay out all of our clothes the night before to make mornings a little smoother.  We tend to visit WDW with my parents so I have available helpers when it's time to get us all ready to go.  Packing each day's clothes into a gallon-size ziploc bag helps with all of the above.  Outfits, underwear and socks for both girls can fit into one bag.  I label them with the day of the week.  When I am packing our suitcases, it's simple to see that I have what I want for each day.  On vacation, it's simple to get the next day's garb ready to go and if Granny wants to help dress the girls, it's simple to give her what she needs.  I'm a fan of simple.  The bags also stack nicely in the suitcase with plenty of extra space for pajamas, swimsuits, and a few extras.  The empty bags go back in the suitcase for another trip.  The photo above is from our WDW trip in May 2013.

What helps you get your kids packed up for vacation?

Please also check out my post on packing your Disney diaper bag.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Photo Flashback! 2007 EPCOT Food & Wine Festival

We have attended almost every EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival since we learned of the event.  These pictures are from 2007.  Amy and her family were living in Oklahoma and the Food & Wine Festival just happened to pick Oklahoma to feature.

growing up disney growingupdisney.com
Mom and DisneyDad

growing up disney growingupdisney.com
Remy is cooking up something good at EIF&WF

growing up disney growingupdisney.com
Amy and  a few famous people from Oklahoma ...
or maybe she just wanted her picture with Toby Keith

I can't wait until we go this year for the 2013 version of the EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival.
--DisneyDad


Focused on the Magic

Monday, October 7, 2013

Packing Your Disney Diaper Bag

We are heading to Walt Disney World again in about a month so it's time for me to get us rounded up. I'm checking clothes, stashes of toys and trinkets for lines, and looking over lists. Prior to our trip in May of this year, I made the list below for what I was going to carry with me into the parks. I really don't like feeling as if I am hauling the kitchen sink, so I try to pare down a little each trip and even
during the week as we are at the World.

Walt Disney World diaper bag, Disney packing list


Let's look over this together and I'll add some notes as we go.

--WDW Diaper Bag--
  • Diapers (putting the diaper supplies in a gallon ziploc instead of one of my cute bags was faster at security and lighter and smaller in my big bag)
  • Wipes (in a quart-sized bag instead of a hard case)
  • Changing pad (lightweight)
  • Change of underpants for my preschooler (again, never needed it but this takes up virtually no space)
  • Sippy cups (I use them mostly for water.  I got burned once when a cup of milk opened in my bag and leaked.  Try cleaning up a moving bus...it's not fun.)
  • Hand wipes (I like the Wet Ones better than regular baby wipes but I don't always carry these.)
  • Clorox wipes (A must for cleaning tables.)
  • Tissues
  • Band aids (Just a couple. No need for a first aid kit.  That's what the first aid centers are for.)  
  • Comb
  • Ponytail holders
  • Small snacks
  • Notebooks, stickers and multi-color pens
  • Bibs/table covers (I've used both disposable and reusable bibs at the World depending on what the kids were willing to wear at the time)
  • Light up toys
  • Candy (small packs of M&Ms or Smarties can buy time and aren't messy)
  • Wallet (smaller than I use at home)
  • Camera
  • Sunglasses 
  • Poncho (dollar store variety)
  • Clif bag (This is a small bag that packs into its own pocket.  It's great to be able to throw all those extra things you accumulate into before hopping on the bus. Mine just happens to have a Clif logo on it.)
  • Sunblock
  • Cellphone
  • Phone charger
  • Lip gloss
  • Camera battery
  • Business cards
--Under stroller bag--
(Most of this is in ziplocs in case of rain)
  • Misting fan
  • Thin towel
  • Changes of clothes (I have carried these every time, 6 trips with kids, and have never used them.  But I want to let them play in the splash areas if they want so extra clothes go under the stroller.)
  • Extra diapers (I only put 2 or 3 in the main bag and have a few extras here. This should be my last trip with diapers.  Hallelujah!)
  • Swim diaper
  • Extra wet ones and Clorox wipes (There aren't many in a pack and I didn't want to have to think about restocking often so I tossed extras into this bag I wouldn't carry much.)
  • Visor/hat for me 
  • Light up toys
  • Large thin blanket (great for covering the stroller during naptime)

After looking over the list, I'll still carry pretty close to the same thing. Now that my girls are 2 and 4, they aren't changing quite as fast as they were between previous trips.

Walt Disney World diaper bag

As for the bag itself, I most often carry a Lowepro Passport Sling to Walt Disney World.  It's convenient for my DSLR camera and has plenty of room for other gear.  I've had this bag for nearly two years and find it to be comfortable to wear.  Our under the stroller bag is just a drawstring backpack, going with the theory of not leaving anything of value under the stroller.

I've also written about my Disney diaper bag  for an infant and packing children's clothes for WDW.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Minnie Moms: Favorite Off-Property Dining (& Not-So-Off)


For this month's Minnie Moms topic, I asked the ladies to share their favorite off-property restaurants. To my surprise, I got email after email stating that they never or rarely ate anywhere other than Disney restaurants. So this month will be a hodgepodge of our favorite off-the-beaten-path dining locations.


Natalie: When vacationing in Orlando, my family also enjoys visiting Universal Studios and the Islands of Adventures. These parks are only about 20 minutes from Downtown Disney. We have been annual passholders for Universal since the Harry Potter section was added to Islands of Adventures. The price of the passes is much less costly than those for Disney World with the cost of our entire family’s annual pass costing less than one annual pass for the Disney theme parks. 



One of our favorite things to do is to eat in Mythos Restaurant found in Islands of Adventure. The restaurant has great views of the theme park with windows by the lake overlooking The Incredible Hulk Coaster and The Amazing Adventures of Spider-man attractions. The restaurant has won the Best Theme Park Restaurant from 2003 – 2010. The food is wonderful and begins with a basket of rosemary bread. My family loved that bread so much, we now grow rosemary simply for making bread using that herb! The dishes include cedar planked Bay of Fundy salmon, gourmet hamburgers and imported pasta. My son always gets the filet which is no longer available on the kids menu. We simply ask if he can still get it and they have always accommodated. I love getting the spinach salad with blueberries and blue cheese, but also love the fish tacos there.

The restaurant is only open daily for lunch with dishes costing approximately $10 - $18. If you would like to make reservation, call 407 224 4012. If you are an annual passholder, you will get annual pass savings by presenting the pass to the server. If you have not been to Universal in a while, it is really a lot of fun for everyone in the family! Head on over there and experience all that is there and be sure to stop in at Mythos for a great meal!


Corby: OK, I will admit it. When my family goes to Disney World, we stay on property and rarely leave so I'm not the best person to offer my opinion on off property restaurants. I did have a great meal at TGI Friday's located off International Drive (the mecca of off property restaurants) once and would recommend it, especially to guests choosing to stay in a non-Disney hotel. However, I figured since this is about favorites I should probably mention a restaurant I've been to more than once in Orlando. I know this is a stretch as it's on Disney property but it's not Disney owned so I'm going with Rainforest Cafe. My family frequents the Downtown Disney location but there is a second location at Animal Kingdom as well.

Rainforest Cafe at Walt Disney World

My kids love the atmosphere, the food and service have always been good and c'mon, there are animal animatronics everywhere! How cool is that? We have found this is one of the few restaurants my daughter will actually sit at the table and be memorized the entire meal so definitely a win win for us! We're also usually on the dining plan so it's nice to be able to use a table service credit but not have to make a reservation 180 days in advance. We usually just walk up whatever day/time we please, put our name on the list and walk around enjoying Downtown Disney shops while we wait.



Rainforest Cafe at Walt Disney World
They have an extensive menu featuring seafood, burgers, sandwiches, soups, salads, pizza and pasta. You'll definitely find something for everyone in your family, even the pickiest of eaters! 


Janine: My favourite off-property dining may be a little boring to those who live in the US as I'm afraid it is not a quaint family owned 'mom and pop' diner, or a trendy up-and-coming eatery, but a plain old chain restaurant.

My most favourite place to eat in the whole of the Orlando area is ... The Olive Garden.

I LOVE Italian food and pastas, pizzas and garlic bead are my idea of heaven. As a vegetarian, I often find a limited amount of choice available when we eat out, but Olive Garden not only has a good meat-free menu, the chef has always been really accommodating, tweaking my meal if needed.
I really enjoy the salad and garlic sticks, and have only ever managed dessert once due to the huge portions. In fact if I order pizza, I usually end up taking most of it to-go. 

I have eaten at this chain on International Drive, on the 192 and in Lake Buena Vista and found all 3 to be really nice and clean. The one I personally like the best is the one on I Drive, but only because we ate the the most. We always pay this place a visit whenever we visit WDW at least once. and I can't wait to go again.


Amy:  We don't always dine off-property but when we do, it's Chevy's.  (LOL!)  Chevy's is a Tex-Mex restaurant located at the Crossroads shopping center.  It's just off Disney property at the intersection of 535 and Hotel Plaza Boulevard.  I haven't been in a few years but my parents eat at Chevy's on most Disney trips.  The chips and salsa and housemade tortillas are really good.  As much as I love Disney dining, sometimes it is nice to take a break from ADRs and the ever-increasing prices.  Minnie got to have her first lunch at Chevy's back in May while Tink and I were having a day at Magic Kingdom.  My parents had alot of fun taking the little one out and she loved the ice cream that came with her kids meal!

Chevy's at Lake Buena Vista, off-property dining at Walt Disney World

We also like Steak and Shake for a simple dinner and sometimes we will send my dad to ChickFilA to bring dinner back to Old Key West.  On the same trip in May, one evening DisneyDad picked up dinner from CFA for my mom and the girls.  They relaxed in the villa and DisneyDad and I got to have a meal together at Olivia's.

It's not techinically off-property but ordering pizza has become a new regular thing for us. Again, we enjoy letting the girls relax/play in the evenings rather than keeping them out at the parks. A simple dinner in the villa gives us time to hit the pool and playground before bedtime.


Beth: When we head down to Walt Disney World, I will admit we do not spend a moment off of Disney property, unless it is quick trip to a grocery for necessities! Therefore I have not enjoyed any off property dining spots. So I am taking a slight twist on the topic. I am going to share one of our favorite places outside of the Disney parks and resorts at Downtown Disney Marketplace. There are two places that we are sure to dine at each trip. But since one is an ice cream shop (Ghirardelli's), I'll go with our favorite lunch spot to take a break while shopping for some fun Disney souvenirs. Earl of Sandwich is by far one of the best sandwich shops I have ever eaten at. The sandwiches are large, the cost is more than reasonable and even though every time we enter the front door the line is massive, the line moves very quickly. We have plenty of favorite sandwiches from the All American to the 1762, which on our last trip were only $5.99 each, but one of my absolute favorite options at Earl of Sandwich is that all their salads can be made in a wrap. I am not sure why I think this is so impressive, but I almost always get Earl's Cobb salad in a wrap. I recently saw they have added a chicken and berry salad that I cannot wait to try! For the kids, they at first were skeptical at the look of their grilled cheese due to the shape of the bread, but once they took a bite, they loved it! When on a Disney vacation, you can't beat an inexpensive, filling lunch that standing in line has minimal impact on enjoying your vacation. That's why Earl of Sandwich is one of our favorite dining spots outside of Disney parks and resorts.


Many thanks to JanineNatalie, Corby and Beth for sharing their favorite off-property (or not-so-off) restaurants!   Please check out our Minnie Moms page for past articles and more information about this terrific team.