Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas from the Growing Up Disney family

We had a wonderful Christmas Day together as a family and we hope you all did too. 

Ridge, we missed you but I'm glad you could join us through FaceTime. 

May you all sleep well and we look forward to talking more about Disney with you in the upcoming new year. 


Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Photo Flashback! Magic Kingdom Christmas

The Magic Kingdom all decorated for Christmas
Walt Disney World
Magic Kingdom 2013
My favorite time of the year at the Magic Kingdom is when it is all decked out for Christmas.  The Magic Kingdom is always magical at night, but during Christmas it is extra-magical to me.  This photo was taken last year after we had watched the Castle lighting show.  I stopped while walking down Main Street USA to take a few pictures.  I have one of these photos as the lock screen on my laptop and another shot of the castle as the background on my iPhone.

I hope you like the Christmas lights as much as I do.


December Calendar Shot
Focused on the Magic

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Fun Disney Games from Wonder Forge

Disney board games

Hiya pals!  If you are looking for gift ideas or looking to expand your own Disney game collection, I have a few games to show you from Wonder Forge.

First up is Surprise Slides.  

Disney Frozen board game

The game reminds me of a cross between Chutes and Ladders and Candy Land but with its own unique twists…and Frozen!  We all like the colorful board.  To play, you spin and move to the next available corresponding space.  The colored blocks simply move you forward.  The snowflake blocks can send you up or downstream depending on where the arrows tell you to go.

What really makes this game unique are the tiles within the board.  Sometimes your spinner will tell you to flip all of the tiles over and sometimes you are to mix them all up.  This changes the path of the streams.  I think this would really extend the appeal of the game to older children.  We did have to stop flipping them at my house because we were playing with a three-year-old and she only has so much patience.  Also, there is one side of a tile with wolves on it and Tink didn't want us to show that one at all.

They quickly chose Anna and Elsa as their markers.  I was Olaf and my dad got Kristoff.  This will be a huge hit at Christmas for your Frozen fans.  (Note: it's also available in Sofia the First and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse versions.)

I appreciate having a spinner instead of a stack of cards to keep up with.  Simple is good.

Aren't they cute?  I like how the stands are ice blue to go with the theme.

Overall, Surprise Slides is a really fun game.  My five-year-old got in to it and my three-year-old stayed with us for a while.  This is an entertaining way to practice taking turns, matching colors, following instructions and winning or losing gracefully.


Next we played Pictopia. 

Disney trivia games, DIsney board games

Pictopia is a Disney trivia game covering movies, television and parks.  For this game, we had 4 adults and the kids came and went.  They were mostly interested in the Mickey shaped playing pieces.

To play the game, the "host" rolls the dice and moves the indicated number of spots.  The image he/she lands on will tell which question will be read.  Each card has four images on the front and a series of questions on the back.  The host holds up the card to show the four images and the other players bet based on how well they know those characters, places, etc.  If you get the question right, you move forward the number on your bet coin.  Some of the questions are geared toward working together as a group and others make you dig through your Disney trivia knowledge bank alone.  There are even questions where you see how well you know the person who is reading on that turn.  

We all had a lot of fun playing Pictopia.  We learned that my husband has picked up quite a bit of Disney information since he joined the family.  It's a pretty fast moving game, which makes it nice to work in after dinner.  You don't have to set aside hours like some other trivia games.  But we did sit around the table asking more questions from the cards after the official game was over.  There are 1000 questions and I've thought about putting some of the cards in my purse to kill time with Tink at restaurants or before doctor's visits, etc.  

The game is officially recommended for ages 7 and up.  If you are playing the full game, I would totally agree with that.  However, Tink is five and she loved answering the questions, even though she didn't get what was going on with the bet coins and such.  She became Daddy's secret weapon to getting them all correct.

This game would be a wonderful gift for any Disney trivia fan or family looking for some game night fun.

Remember how I mentioned that we need to work on winning gracefully? This was mid-celebration dance.


The last game I will review today is Super Stretchy.  If you have little ones, run out and get this game.  My girls have asked to play it almost every day since I opened the box.

Super Stretchy is a Twister-like game that is perfect for Disney-loving youngsters.  They get to wiggle, be silly, and look for their favorite Disney Junior characters.

Disney Junior game

The play mat is very durable and colorful.  I've already had to clean mine (my kid's fault, not the game) and a Clorox wipe made it good as new.  Tink also scrunches the mat a bit trying to get every body part in the right place and the mat still looks nice.

There are cards showing each character from the mat, as well as shapes and colors.  The "caller" puts one card on each section of the star and calls out those instructions to the "stretcher."  And for those preschoolers who aren't solid on which is right and left yet, no worries because they use foot, knee, hand, elbow, and head in the game.  I love that last one.  It's usually pretty funny when the girls try to get their head on the right spot.

Of course, they wanted to play in Cinderella and Belle dresses.  That's pretty much regular attire around our house.  


I've been really pleased with how long the kids will stick with this game and it's been a wonderful source of indoor exercise during the cold days we have had recently.

I love Super Stretchy.  There are no batteries, the kids get exercise, we can work on colors and shapes, they giggle a lot while playing the game, and it includes Disney Junior characters.


Disney palace pets game

I will update you on this one soon.  I wanted to let Tink play this one for the first time with her 9-year-old cousin over Thanksgiving weekend.  I am interested to see how Cousin K takes to the game.  I know Tink will lose her mind over the figurines that come in the box. 


Many thanks to Wonder Forge for providing these games for my review!

These are my honest thoughts and no other compensation was offered or received.  The post does contain links to Amazon.  If you purchase through our link, it helps offset our operating costs at Growing Up Disney.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Photo Flashback! Happy Birthday Mickey!

Mickey Mouse made his on-screen debut in Steamboat Willie November 18, 1928.  
It was also significant that this was the first cartoon produced with a synchronized sound track.

Walt Disney World
Mickey - March 1973

I don't have photos from 1928, but I do have some like the one above from 1973 taken by my wife's uncle.  As he has aged I think Mickey had gotten better looking.

Walt Disney World
Mickey and DisneyDad - October 2014

Now if we all looked better with age.  :-)

Happy Birthday, Mickey!!


Focused on the Magic

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Photo Flashback! Towel Critters

I love the little touches at Walt Disney World that show you aren't in a place like any other.  These washcloth critters were in a two-bedroom villa at Disney's Old Key West Resort.

towel animal at Walt Disney World, Old Key West

towel animal at Walt Disney World, Old Key West

towel animal at Walt Disney World, Old Key West

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

PhotoFlashback! Halloween at the Magic Kingdom + Spherical Photo

We were fortunate enough this year to be at
Walt Disney World for
 Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party.

Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom
Magic Kingdom October 2014

The Magic Kingdom does wonders decorating for Halloween.
The highlight of MNSSHP is the Castle Show and Happy HalloWishes fireworks.
This has to be one of the best fireworks show Disney puts on during the year.

Ridge and I stood out in front of Cinderella Castle for what seemed like hours as we waited for the Castle Show and Fireworks to begin.  It was worth the wait.  The show is fantastic.

Here are a few pictures I took this year.

Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom

Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom

Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom

Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom

A special Halloween treat is the Magic Kingdom at night.

GrowingUpDisney has a unique collection of spherical photos.
I hope you enjoy this one.
Click on the photo below or the caption to open
the spherical photo on the Theta360 website. 

 GrowingUpDisney Spherical Photo
Partners and Cinderella Castle


Happy Halloween!
Focused on the Magic

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Photo Flashback! EPCOT Monorail Spherical Photo

There are many unique sights at Walt Disney World.
WDW is known for its beautiful landscaping and one of a kind sights.
One unique sight is the view of Spaceship Earth and the Monorail together.
This photo was taken between The Living Seas and The Land pavilions.  You just need to find a beautiful day and wait for the Monorail to come by.

EPCOT Monorail

A unique view here on GrowingUpDisney is our Spherical Photo collection.  
Click on the photo or the caption below to open the photo on the Theta360 website.
It is an interactive spherical photo where you can look up, down, and all around.
Be sure to look at the photo full-screen on your PC/Mac to get the best effect.

EPCOT Monorail Spherical Theta360
EPCOT Monorail Spherical Photo
I love riding on the monorail.  It is an unique bit of transportation Walt Disney envisioned for Disneyland.  This vision was expanded at WDW with the longest of the loops going from the Ticket and Transportation Center to EPCOT.

I took both of these photos in May 2014 during the EPCOT International Flower and Garden Festival.  Both are rather unique views of the Monorail as it makes its loop through EPCOT.


Magical Transportation
Focused on the Magic

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Photo Flashback! Disney at The World and At Home

My parents and brother are at Walt Disney World this week. My family of four wasn't able to join them on our regular fall trip but we have enjoyed getting photos from DisneyDad and Ridge. I don't want to steal their thunder but I would like to share a couple of DisneyDad's photos. 

As usual they are staying at Old Key West and this time, their villa has a canal view. Looks like a very relaxing spot for morning coffee to me. 

DisneyDad and Ridge went to Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party on Sunday. DisneyDad is usually behind the camera but this selfie proves he was there...and having a ball. 

Around here, I had a couple of Disney sightings this week. My husband and I went out for ice cream on Saturday and spotted this sign. Crystal Palace was my work location during college program so I instantly felt at home. 

My crew recently attended a parade in a nearby town. The high school band is performing a Lion King halftime show this year. I loved their flags and I'm hoping to get to a game to see the whole show.

And if you like the Haunted Mansion, be sure to click the link below to check out DisneyDad's 360 degree interactive photo of the exterior of HM.

Hope everyone is having a good week! And to my family, see ya real soon! 

Friday, October 3, 2014

October at Walt Disney World!

Walt Disney World does a wonderful job of decorating for seasons.  October turns the Magic Kingdom orange for Halloween and Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party.  There is special entertainment and the Boo-to-You Halloween Parade and the Happy HalloWishes fireworks. October means the EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival is in full swing.

Magic Kingdom Halloween 2012

Sunday night, Ridge and I, (Mom decided to skip this) will be at the Magic Kingdom for MNSSHP.  I hope to post some and tweet (@DisneyDad28) some from the Party.  I'll do what I can but Amy normally does the live posting, but unfortunately she was not able to be on this trip.

Train Station Halloween 2012

The rest of the week Mom, Ridge, and I will be having some fun the EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival.  Unlike some trips we only have one meal reservation.  We have a Fast Pass for lunch at "Be Our Guest".  We were fortunate for our last trip and this one to have an invitation to use the Fast Pass for BOG.  You don't just get a time to go to the restaurant, you go ahead and order your lunch on line.  You check in at the Fast Pass entrance, verify your order, pay and find a seat.

If you have never been to Be Our Guest Restaurant, there are 3 massive dining rooms that seat a total of about 550 guests. The dining rooms are easily recognizable from Beauty and the Beast.  You may dine in the Grand Ballroom, the Rose Gallery, or if you dare, the West Wing where you may catch a glimpse of the enchanted rose.

October has been a family trip for years, but this year Amy and her family won't be with us.  So no granddaughters on this trip. :-(  So without children we don't have to try to keep to the kiddo's schedule. And can dine places you wouldn't want to take a small child (like the BOG West Wing).  But this also means we have not scheduled any character breakfasts or meet-and-greet with any characters.  

Olivia's at Old Key West Resort 2013

It also means we will spend more time trying out the different offering of the Food & Wine Festival. For the 2014 EIF&WF there are 25 Global Marketplaces where you can "Taste Your Way Around the World".  I always love to start in Canada where they have Canadian Cheddar Cheese Soup and “Le Cellier” wild mushroom beef filet mignon with truffle butter sauce.  Wow!  What a way to start!  This year they have 2 new booths and a lot of returning favorites.  New this year is Farm Fresh that is "straight from the farm too you" and Patagoina where you can sample some South American cooking.  Check out a full list at the official F&WF website at

At each marketplace there is also a selection of beer and wine representative of the countries.  And Hanson (who performed in September at the Eat to the Beat Concert Series) has their craft beer - Mmmhop - at the Fife and Drum at the American pavilion.

EIF&WF 2012

I'll also try to give an "unbiased" review of the Lumber Jack Show replacement for Off Kilter which is reported to begin next week.  I'm not sure how unbiased I'll be as I absolutely loved Off Kilter and am very disappointed Disney has gotten rid of them after all these years.


Thursday, October 2, 2014

Happy Birthday Walt Disney World!

Birthdays tend to come and go.  When we are young they don't come around fast enough and as we get older they fly by and sometime we even forget them.

October 1, 2014 is the 43 Anniversary of the opening of Walt Disney World. 

Orlando's WESH TV has some historic photo's of how Walt Disney World came to be.
I don't know how long they keep these on line so enjoy them soon.


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Photo Flashback! Disney Seasons

Today's blog hop theme is "seasons."  I started to choose four images, representing each of the calendar seasons but changed my mind.  Walt Disney World makes their own rules when it comes to seasons anyway.  Halloween decorations start appearing in August for crying out loud.

Some of the following may be attached to a time of year and others just looked like fun as I was going through old photos.

What's your favorite season at Walt Disney World?

Dancing Season

Bear Hunting Season

Gingerbread Castle Season

Tonga Toast Season

Birthday Season

Kilt Season
(Goodbye Off Kilter! You will be greatly missed.  Glad I have all your CDs.)

Growing Season

Luau Season

The Season of the Illusive Van Dyke Beard

Golfing Season

Wedding Season

Focused on the Magic