Monday, June 6, 2016

Disney Game Review: The Lion Guard, Protect the Pride Lands

Growing Up Disney, The Lion Guard, game box

The Lion Guard premiered as a regular series on Disney Junior in January 2016.  It was instantly a hit with my children.  The girls were 6 and 4 at the time and they preferred Kion’s adventures in the savanna over Sofia’s more refined problems.  (Sofia and Doc, we still love you.)   I can’t tell you how many times they have wrestled in the living room claiming it was a “moshingdano.”  I have no idea how that should be spelled but it’s how the kids say it.  An early episode showed two animals competing to rule an area and have rights to eat the fish there but it becomes a giggly ‘fight’ in my house.

Growing Up Disney, The Lion Guard, back of game box

 I like the show too. The short movie that launched the series explained that the Lion Guard had always been made up of lions.  Kion is Simba’s son and he forms his Lion Guard in a new way, with a variety of animals.  The friends work together as a team and each brings his or her strengths to the task of protecting the pride lands.

Growing Up Disney, The Lion Guard, game pieces

 My friends at Wonder Forge have created a game that translates this teamwork and adventure to a board game.  It’s called The Lion Guard: Protect the Pride Lands.  The board itself includes a cardboard version of Pride Rock and looks pretty cool when it’s all set up.  I warn you to prep this game before the kids are ready to play for the first time.   It doesn’t really take that long but it’s irresistible to excited preschoolers.  We had a play date the morning after I received the game in the mail so I thought it would be fun to have Minnie’s friends help us test it out. 

Growing Up Disney, The Lion Guard, children playing board game

We had 3 4-year-olds, two girls and one boy, and one 7-year-old girl and they immediately started claiming one of the four character figures.  Once we started learning how to play, we quickly realized no one plays as any one character exclusively.  It’s all about teamwork.  This really pleased my friend who is the mom of the 4-year-old twins.   On a child’s turn, he or she draws a card and completes one action for the heroes and one for the Outlanders.  There is an element of strategy involved as the children decide which moves will help them most, as they try to limit the number of Outlanders on the board while helping Kion to climb to the top of Pride Rock. 

The Lion Guard board game, Growing Up Disney

Protect the Pride Lands is recommended for ages 4 and up and can be played by 1-4 people.  All of the kids at the play date enjoyed playing the game.  It’s easy enough for preschoolers to play but the strategy makes it a fun game for young elementary school kids too.  It takes about 20 minutes to complete a game so you'll be able to keep the little ones engaged.  And Kion is fabulous. 

Growing Up Disney, The Lion Guard, Kion on Pride Rock

Many thanks to Wonder Forge for providing the game for my review.  I didn’t receive anything other than the game and these are my honest thoughts.   If you’d like to buy the game, here is a link.  (I don’t make anything on that.  It’s just for your convenience.)  

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Happy 6th Anniversary Growing Up Disney!

Growing Up Disney is 6 today.  In 2010, we took "Tink" to Walt Disney World to celebrate her first birthday.  We splurged on Disney Vacation Club points to book a Grand Villa at Old Key West.  I planned character meals for the whole group and a 5th anniversary date night.  My parents baked a Mickey birthday cake and smash cake and drove them down from Alabama.  Andy, Tink and I flew to Orlando from Oklahoma.  Even though I had been visiting the World since I was three, I had lots of questions when I first started traveling with my own children.  I went to many different resources to find the answers and when I returned home from our trip, I decided to share what I had learned and Growing Up Disney was born.

the Growing Up Disney family, Disney character meal photo
The Growing Up Disney family at 1900 Park Fare in April 2010

We have shared some really good kiddo tips over the years but I am glad the blog has grown well beyond that one focus.  DisneyDad offers his thoughts as a lifelong WDW fan, old school DVC member, and grandfather.  Ridge has entertained us with stories of his travel.  We have been honored that friends from across the United States, Canada, and England have graced us with their own memories and special travel tips.  

My own family has grown to include Minnie since we started the blog and the girls have been to the World 9 and 7 times.  My husband and I just celebrated our 11th wedding anniversary at Aulani.  So as often our busy real world life allows, we will continue to share our Disney adventures for many years to come.  

Many thanks to the Growing Up Disney family and all of the friends we have made over the last 6 years.  Our "World" is a better place because of you all.

Wishing you love and magical memories, 

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Photo Flashback! We're Going to a New (to us) Resort with Lots of Palm Trees

Almost 11 years ago, this handsome guy and I said "I do" at Disney's Wedding Pavilion.  It was a beautiful April day and the setting could not have been better.

couple exiting Disney's Wedding Pavilion, palm trees, Growing Up Disney

Since then, we have had two babies, lived in 7 places in 4 states, and moved 8 times (long story but we moved into one house twice.)  We've been blessed with lots of joy and many tears of frustration. 

2015 was a rough year for us so a tenth anniversary trip didn't happen.  But now it's 2016 and things have settled down.  Our girls are old enough to stay with Grandma and Grandpa for a week without us.  We haven't taken a trip alone since our first anniversary.  

couple at Disney's Wedding Pavilion, Disney Fairytale Weddings, Growing Up Disney

So when my husband asked if I'd like to go to Hawaii this year, I was thrilled.  We drug our feet on planning (no idea why) but now we have planned a trip to Oahu.  Aulani, here we come!  I am excitedly researching things to do and see and eat.  Our week's stay will be split with 4 nights at Aulani in the more relaxed area of Ko Olina and 3 nights at a resort amid the hustle and bustle of Waikiki Beach.  

If you have been to Aulani or Oahu, I'd love any tips you'd like to share!

Focused on the Magic
I'm so happy that Deb is back to blogging!  Please head over to Focused on the Magic and leave her some comment love.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Photo Flashback! My Calendar Shot

Magic Kingdom Walt Disney World
Mom and DisneyDad
If I am putting together a calendar, it must include a shot of Main Street USA at the Magic Kingdom at night showing Cinderella Castle.  This one just happens to have been taken of Mom and me last week at the 25 and Beyond Bash to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Disney Vacation Club.

Focused on the Magic

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Photo Flashback! Hall of Presidents

Every four years we have a national competition to select the next person we want to enshrine on the stage of The Hall of Presidents at Walt Disney World.  There is an addition every four or eight years. With this election year we will see a new addition to the cast on the stage.  It's been on TV a lot just in case you have missed it.  Once again it's an interesting competition to see who is added next.

Walt Disney World Hall of Presidents
George Washington

Walt Disney World Hall of Presidents
Abraham Lincoln

Walt Disney World Hall of Presidents
Andrew Jackson

Walt Disney World Hall of Presidents
George Washing delivering his inaugural address

Walt Disney World Hall of Presidents
Great Seal of the United States

The Hall of Presidents is one of the original attractions which opened in 1971.  It was the further growth of the 1964 Worlds Fair show Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln to include all 43 of the people to have served as president.  (Yes, President Obama is the 44th President.  Grover Cleveland served 2 non-consecutive terms as 22nd and 24th President.)

The pre-show atrium contains portraits of presidents as well as memorabilia from presidents and their wives.  The history on display is worth the few minutes it takes to look around.   I have taken lots of pictures here over the years.  These photo were taken in October, 2015.


Friday, February 12, 2016

BIG Hidden Mickey

Any one half-way familiar with Walt Disney World knows that the Imagineers have put Hidden Mickeys everywhere. Usually in the familiar three circle icon shape, you can find them hiding out everywhere.  There are books devoted to help you find Hidden Mickeys as well as websites to record where they are found.  We find them all the time at home like when three onion rings end up on a plate in just the right layout.
Growing Up Disney
Mickey Mouse Onion rings??
 Or when Tink was playing with buttons and accidentally(?) laid them on the table, one large with two small buttons.  Hidden Mickey!
Growing Up Disney
Mickey Mouse Buttons??

Well this week I found a Hidden Mickey I had never seen or heard of before.

I was looking at a map of Clermont, FL on  Clermont is a town near Walt Disney World.  US Hwy 27 runs down the middle of Clermont and just south of town is Lake Louisa State Park.  We drive to WDW on most of our trips and I have been through there many times and watched the area go from being mostly orange groves to a large residential town.  While I've never been to the Lake Louisa State Park, I know exactly where it is.

Well this week, I was looking at the map and happened to zoom in just far enough... and what should catch my eye but a clear Mickey Mouse icon staring back at me just east of the State Park.  I had to research further to find out why this was there.

Growing Up Disney
I went to Google and searched for Clermont.  Once there I opened maps I found Lake Louisa State Park.  There was not a Hidden Mickey showing on the map.  So I opened the satelite view and this is what I found:

Growing Up Disney
Google Maps
So I had to zoom in closer to see what this Mickey Mouse was and you could see the trees.

Growing Up Disney
Mickey Mouse Forest
So back to Google and search for Mickey Mouse Forest.

The Mickey Mouse Forest was planted as a conservation effort on property that once held a orange grove killed by a frost.   Disney had bought the property and in 1992 in consultation with the Orange County Agent for the Florida Division of Forestry planted 50-60 acres of a frozen out citrus grove with 50,000 long-leaf pine seedlings.  Disney put out a call to its cast members to volunteer in this effort and the forest took shape. Now almost 24 years later the seedlings are now a forest, The Mickey Mouse Forest.

I've driven down Hwy 27 many times and seen the pine trees in this area but from ground level all you see are trees.  But from the air... or from Google Maps... its a different picture.  If you fly to Walt Disney World, when you leave, if you depart MCO to the west, the departure route called Epcot Two goes past the Mickey Mouse Forest.  Be sure to sit on the right side of the plane.

If you have a hard time finding this on the map, paste in 28°27'10.8"N 81°42'10.8"W into Google and it should take you right to the Mickey Mouse Forest.


Did you know about the Mickey Mouse Forest?

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Photo Flashback! Pal Mickey

In 2003 Disney introduced an interactive stuffed Mickey Mouse called Pal Mickey.  Pal Mickey was interactive with the Walt Disney World parks.  He would play games and tell you about park attractions.  Amy had one and we took Pal Mickey on a tour of Walt Disney World taking its picture as we traveled.

Today I thought I'd share a few of Pal Mickey's pictures.  We took a lot more pictures around the parks with Pal Mickey than what is posted here.
Growing up disney
Pal Mickey with Jamie Holton of Off Kilter and Amy

Growing up disney
Pal Mickey outside of the Animation Studio 

Growing up disney
Pal Mickey and Meeko

Growing up disney
Pal Mickey and Partners

Growing up disney
Pal Mickey at the Enchanted Tiki Room

Growing up disney
Pal Mickey with Minnie Mouse and Amy
Pal Mickey was introduced in 2003 and by 2008 was discontinued after undergoing different versions.  In 2003 Pal Mickey sold for $50 and for a while was available for rent at the parks.  As I write this, there are several available on ebay for $25 to $115.

Did you have a Pal Mickey?  Amy still has hers.


Friday, February 5, 2016

Trip Planning for 25 and Beyond Bash

Trip Planning for Vacation Club Members

It's been a while since I've had to plan a trip to Walt Disney World.  Mom and I have been going since we first were married.  We have done a lot of family trips over the years.  When we do a family trip Amy does the planning for the group.
Mom & DisneyDad December 1973

Amy will check the crowd calendars and plan which park we are to go.  She will make FastPass+ reservations for us.  She will make dining reservations.  All which are based around what my granddaughters, Tink and Minnie would like to do, see, and eat.  The rest of us are happy for her to do this for us and watching the girls have fun at Walt Disney World is the best payoff for the trip.  And if one of the FastPass+ just happens to take us to see Mickey, I don't mind getting my picture taken with him either.
Growing Up Disney
Tink, Minnie and DisneyDad with Mickey

Well, in February, Mom and I are going to Walt Disney World for the first event for the 25th Anniversary celebration for The Disney Vacation Club, the 25 and Beyond Bash.  The first resort in the Disney Vacation Club family was The Disney Vacation Club Resort, now called Disney's Old Key West Resort, opening in October, 1991.  We became DVC Members in April 1993 after first visiting and touring OKW in 1992.
Growing Up Disney
Disney's Old Key West Resort

We've lost count of how many trips we have made to Walt Disney World over the years.  Mom and I have been a lot of time by ourselves.  Gone are the days where you can just walk into the parks and experience all the attractions you have on your list to see.  We would get up with only a vague plan of what we were going to do based on where we wanted to eat that day.  Now, if you don't have a FastPass+ for an attraction you can stand in line for a long time just to see one ride.  And if you  don't have a dining reservation you may not be able to eat where you want.

As a Vacation Club member I use to call Member Services for all reservations but for this trip I have been on line to make our reservations on the member pages on  I booked our room on the DVC Member site, our FastPass+ were all booked using My Disney Experience both on my iPhone and computer and dining reservations were made on line at  I did have to call DVC Member Services to book our reservation for the 25 and Beyond Bash at the Magic Kingdom.

After making reservations for our stay at OKW, I started by checking crowd calendars just as Amy has done for us in the past.  I followed her lead and started a spreadsheet to map out our trip by first mapping out crowd levels for each day for each park.  Thursday, February 25th. is the 25 and Beyond Bash so we are planning to be at the Magic Kingdom Thursday.  So, planning around Thursday I picked what days to visit the Studios, Animal Kingdom, and Epcot.  Our first day at WDW we will forgo a park and go check out all the changes to Disney Springs.  So after planning out a Park for each day, I could book FastPass+ and dining reservations.  Most days we booked lunch, but on Epcot day, we have dinner reservations at Le Cellier Steakhouse.

Once Parks were selected for each day I used My Disney Experience app on my iPhone to pick FastPass+ reservations for each day.  Then once Mom and I decided we wanted to do a table service lunch each day, it was back to the computer and onto to check restaurant availability and book dining reservations.  Then it was back to My Disney Experience and adjust the FastPass+ times to work around the dining reservations.

When all plans were made it was back to the computer to create another spreadsheet for Mom to use.  My Disney Experience has all my plans, including what park, FastPass+ and dining reservations for each day on my iPhone.  Mom believes pencil and paper are the best thing ever so I make a printed schedule for her.

So now we just wait until it is time to travel to Old Key West.  Check-in has already been done on line for the resort.   DisneyFloral has my order for Valentine's Day flowers to be delivered to our room.  Now for the hard part, we just wait until it's time to go.

Thanks for stopping by Growing Up Disney.

How do you plan for your trips to WDW?  Have you ever put together a spreadsheet to keep everything organized?  Do you do your own planning or do you use the service of an authorized Disney Travel planner?  Do you make dining reservations or do you try to find some place to eat where ever you are in the park when you get hungry?  Do you make FastPass+ reservations in advance of  your trip?

Growing Up Disney
Mom & DisneyDad October 2015

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Photo Flashback! View from the Liberty Belle

A view of the Magic Kingdom from the Liberty Belle.

growing up disney
Liberty Belle
October 2015 Mom and I took a ride on the Liberty Belle riverboat on the Rivers of America in the Magic Kingdom.  If you haven't been on the riverboat in a while you have missed some views of the Magic Kingdom you don't see from any other vantage point.  This is a few of the pictures I took riding the river around Tom Sawyer Island.  See if you can catch where Tom and Huck were white washing a fence.

Growing Up Disney
Haunted Mansion

Growing Up Disney
Harper's Mill

Growing Up Disney
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

Growing Up Disney
Train Car on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

Growing Up Disney
Alligator Swamp

Growing Up Disney
The "original" Animal Kingdom

Growing Up Disney
Keel Boat

Growing Up Disney
Liberty Square Landing
Riding on the Liberty Belle is a nice escape from all the crowds of people at the Magic Kingdom.  The Liberty Belle carries about 450 passengers on 3 decks.  The views  as you transit around Tom Sawyer Island are beautiful and unmatched anywhere in the Magic Kingdom.

Oh! By the Way.  Tom and Huck were here.
Growing Up Disney
The fence.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Disney Vacation Club -- 25 years old!

Disney Vacation Club turns 25

Growing Up Disney
1991 Logo button

Growing Up Disney
1995 Logo sign

Growing Up Disney
2011 Logo

In October of 1991 The Disney Vacation Club Resort opened in the mythical town of Conch Flats. It was complete with a General Store and Olivia Farnsworth's  Olivia's restaurant with Captain Wahoo sitting in the corner booth.  Along Turtle Crawl the main building has Papa's Den, named after one of Key West's most famous residents.  While it was not  totally compete until later the resort was beautiful with a light house reminiscent of Key West standing near the main pool.  The buildings sat among the moss laden trees with a golf course winding through.  The buildings in shades of pale blue and green dotted the landscaping.  White balusters on the balcony had hidden Mickey's peaking through.

Growing Up Disney
OKW Lighthouse

 The first resort's name was changed later when Disney's Vero Beach Resort opened October 1995 and Disney's Hilton Head Resort in 1996.  The new name reflected the resorts architecture and Key West theming as the resort became Disney's Old Key West Resort.

Mom and I toured The Disney Vacation Club Resort about a year after it first opened and purchased our first membership points a few months later.  So we have been members for 23 years of the 25 years Disney Vacation Club has been around.
Growing Up Disney

The Disney Vacation Club has changed over the years and as it grew the DVC Logo changed.  Originally the logo featured 3 mountains with Mickey sun.  Then as Vero Beach was added the logo changed to only feature 2 mountains.  Then as Aulani was added the logo changed to feature a globe with Mickey ears.  Over the years Disney Vacation Club has grown and expanded from the original villas at Old Key West to a family of 14 resorts.  You can click on the resort names below to visit the official Disney site for each resort.

All the DVC resorts are unique but have one thing in common... a friendly "Welcome Home!" When you arrive at a DVC resort we have always been greeted the same way.  "Welcome Home!" We have stayed at most of the resorts or at least visited them.  One day I hope we make it to all of them, especially Aulani. Our favorite is still the resort we consider our home-away-from-home at Old Key West.  All the Old Key West villas still have "Welcome Home" door mats at the front door.

This year the Disney Vacation Club is celebrating it's 25th Anniversary all year long.  DVC has a lot planned for the Members this year.  To kickoff the year long celebration the Magic Kingdom will be open on February 25th and March 3rd from 9:30 PM until Midnight for the 25 and Beyond Bash.  This is a free ticketed event for DVC Members and their guest.  Totally Free but you do have to make a reservation.  Mom and I have reservations at Old Key West for the end of February to catch this party.

Check out all the 25th Anniversary events at .
Growing Up Disney
Welcome Home
Welcome Home!