Monday, August 31, 2015

I'm Going to Disney World!

countdown to Walt Disney World

The whole Growing Up Disney family is preparing for another trip to Walt Disney World this October.  While Old Key West will always be our home away from home, I am really excited to stay at Kidani Village this time.  I always love Animal Kingdom Lodge when we visit for dining.  Speaking of dining, we have reservations at all of the Animal Kingdom Lodge/Kidani Village restaurants—a welcome lunch at Sanaa, both a dinner and a breakfast at Boma, and a date night for my husband and me at Jiko.  

family at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge
Waiting for lunch at Sanaa in November 2012 and wearing my ever-present camera bag (see below)

I cannot wait to have my morning coffee on our savanna view balcony.  A Disney vacation is filled with so much activity that those quiet moments are extra special.  Tink and Minnie are really looking forward to seeing the animals from our room and checking out the children’s water play area.  At least one night, we plan to enjoy the campfire and some toasted marshmallows.  We did this at Disney's Hilton Head Island Resort but they were much younger then.  I expect the campfire to be a bigger hit this time around.  
children enjoying campfire at Disney's Hilton Head Island Resort
Tink with her Daddy and Minnie with mine at the campfire at DVC Hilton Head

My girls are now 6 and 4.  This will be Tink’s ninth WDW visit and Minnie’s seventh.  Tink’s first trip was to celebrate her first birthday and Minnie’s was at 11 months old.  We have been through all sorts of stages during our Disney travels.  I am so thrilled to finally have a trip with no diapers or pull-ups!  My babies are now kids and we are ready to have fun. 

toddler's first trip to Walt Disney World
Tink (with DisneyDad) on her first WDW vacation

toddler and preschooler with grandfather at Disney World
Minnie's first WDW vacation (with DisneyDad and Tink)

My loves in the summer of 2015

I have posted here in the past about what I have carried in our Disney diaper bag/backpack for infant and toddler stages.  Now that I have a preschooler and a first grader (gasp!) I will be able to carry a lot less.  Using my previous list as a starting point, here is what I plan to take with us in the parks.

   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's not fun.)
   Hand wipes
   Clorox wipes (A must for cleaning tables.)
   Band aids (Just a couple. No need for a first aid kit.  That's what the first aid centers are for.)  
   Ponytail holders
   Small snacks
   Notebooks, stickers and multi-color pens
   Light up toys (maybe)
   Candy (small packs of M&Ms or Smarties can buy time and aren't messy)
   Wallet (smaller than I use at home)
   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.)
   Phone charger
   Lip gloss
   Camera battery
   Business cards
   Thin towel
   Changes of clothes (I have carried these every time, 8 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.  This is also the thing most likely to be cut from my list.)
   Visor/hat for me 
   Light up toys
   Large thin blanket (great for covering the stroller during naptime)

As for the bag itself, I most often carry a LoweproPassport 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 over three years and find it to be comfortable to wear.  There are several variations on the bag now, with more options in size and color.  I have tried backpacks both in camera and non-camera styles, but I go back to the sling for both the ease of accessing my stuff and due to the fact it's cooler than having a bag on your back on a hot day.  Since the girls are older, I won’t carry everything on this list around all day.  Some of it will go in a cheap drawstring backpack and stay under the stroller unless needed.  Nothing of real value should ever be left unattended with the stroller. 

As for the stroller, I am pleased to say that I’ll be using a stroller from Amusement Park Rentals.  They rent single and double City Mini GTs and Bob Revolution strollers, as well as cribs, highchairs, and practically anything else you could need for baby.  Amusement Park Rentals also rents scooters and wheelchairs so don’t let a mobility issue keep you from getting out and having fun.  They have a great deal for August on the City Mini Double with a $50 flat rate.  I’ll do a full review post when we return from vacation giving you the scoop on how easy the company is to work with, condition of the stroller, ease of pick-up and return, etc.  Amusement Park Rentals promises excellent service and clean, convenient strollers.  (BTW, I know my 6-year-old is too old for a stroller at home but not at Walt Disney World.  Especially for longer days or larger parks, it will be worth it to have a seat for both kids.)

I bought tickets to Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party but I am keeping that a surprise from the girls.  Airline tickets have been purchased and Disney's Magical Express reserved.  Dining reservations have been mostly made and some FastPasses as well.  I think we are in great shape for our upcoming trip, other than actually getting in shape.  I'll be walking/jogging regularly leading up to the vacation.  

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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Photo Flashback! Art at Flower and Garden

Today's Photo Flashback takes us back to the 2014 Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival.  While the festival is not specifically created for children, I think it really makes Epcot more interesting for smaller kids.  My girls love the multiple playgrounds added to the park in the spring.  

Dear Walt Disney World, PLEASE keep at least one of these play areas year round.  
Thank you, All Parents who love Epcot

Today's set of photos comes from the Gardener's Palette which was located near Innoventions in Future World.  This area teaches gardeners how to use more color in the landscape.  For kids there was, appropriately, an area to color and a sand art table.  My girls really enjoyed making their sand art and still have them displayed at home.  As you can see, we didn't fill the bottles enough to keep the contents from shifting.  When one of the kids showed her art to a Cast Member near The American Adventure, the CM told us to go into Liberty Inn and add sugar to top off the bottles.  I followed her instructions and the sand art survived the rest of the day at Epcot and the trip home.

What is your favorite part of the Flower and Garden Festival?  (I love Epcot's festivals.  We are wrapping up our plans now for a trip to Walt Disney World in October for the Food and Wine Festival.  I can't wait!)

Gardener's Palette, Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival

child working on sand art at Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival

child showing sand art bottle at Epcot Flower and Garden Festival

Sand art, activities for children at Epcot

Children coloring at Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Photo Flashback! Random Retro

Below are a few old photos and some random thoughts.

In 1970 I made my first trip to Walt Disney World.  Yes, 1970.  The Magic Kingdom was not open then, but the Preview Center was.  Then in December 1971 we visited the Magic Kingdom for the first time.  Little did I know this would be the first of many, many trips to follow.  The photo below is me with my parents and nieces in Adventureland.
Walt Disney World
December 1971 - First Trip to the Magic Kingdom
In 1973 I married the love of my life and took her to central Florida to meet my sister.  While we were there I took her on her first trip to the Magic Kingdom.  Of course, I had to take a picture of Cinderella Castle.  It still is my favorite view at WDW.  I love the feeling I get when I walk through the train station and onto Main Street, USA and see the Castle.

Walt Disney World
And of course there is always the Mouse.

Walt Disney World
1973 - I love a parade
I grew up watching the Mickey Mouse Club on TV.  This was the one with Annette, not Britney.  And on Sunday nights there was Walt Disney introducing some fantastic story you just had to watch.  The opening of Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color had Tinkerbell fly across the screen and the announcer would say "and now Walt Disney".  Walt would come into your home and tell you his fantastic tales.

In 1973 there were no digital photos.  We had a Kodak Instamatic camera.  Film came in a plastic cartridge with 12, 24, or 36 pictures.  Once you took all the photos you had to have your pictures developed before you could see them.  AND they cost, what seemed like then, Lots of money to see your photos.

There was no such thing as a "selfie" back then either.  You had to stop a stranger and give them your camera so they could take your photo.  So by doing that we were able to get one photo of the Newlyweds together.
Walt Disney World
1973 - Honeymoon
Not really retro, but in a sense it is "retro" as this will be our last photo at the Studios with Mickey's Sorcerer hat. The hat is gone. It's still not a selfie.  Our son, Ridge, was with us and took this photo with my digital camera.

Walt Disney World
2014 - still going strong
I hope you enjoyed seeing some of my old photos and some thoughts of the Old Man and the Mouse.


Thanks for stopping by Growing Up Disney.

Focused on the Magic

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Photo Flashback! August Calendar Shot

monorail driving through Epcot, World Showcase, Growing Up Disney

For August's calendar shot, I chose this sunny image of the monorail heading through Epcot.

Focused on the Magic