Showing posts with label playground. Show all posts
Showing posts with label playground. Show all posts

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Photo Flashback! Our Favorite Part of the Flower and Garden Festival

I love all the topiaries, gorgeous mass plantings, and the new food booths at the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival.  However, as a mom and a huge fan of Epcot, my favorite part of the festival is the various playgrounds added during the springtime.  These colorful and creative play areas provide some much needed opportunities for little ones to work off some energy.  I just wish they'd be available year-round!!

These photos are from the 2013 festival.  This was one of three play areas and was located in the grassy area near the Morocco pavilion.






They even gave the grown-ups a chance to work off a few calories.


Focused on the Magic
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Friday, November 15, 2013

Magical Blogorail: What to Do on Arrival Day at Walt Disney World

Walt Disney World arrival day tips

Welcome to the first stop aboard Magical Blogorail Red. Enjoy the ride as we share what we do on the day we arrive at the Disney parks.
Walt Disney World arrival day tips
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We've tried various things over the years but my favorite thing to do on our arrival day at Walt Disney World is NOT MUCH! I know, I know. You are excited to be at WDW and want to hit the ground running but I suggest a slow start is the way to go.
Walt Disney World arrival day tips, Downtown Disney Lego Store

My family just got back on Sunday from 8 days at Walt Disney World. Our first day went quite well so let's walk through it. Our reservation at Old Key West (OKW) began on Sunday, November 3. We decided to break up the 650 mile drive and left on Saturday morning. We met my brother, Chris, near Savannah and caravanned to Jacksonville, FL for the night, using business travel points for the room. The girls got a chance, albeit brief, to play in the hotel pool in the evening and started Sunday with a good breakfast. My husband and brother cruised with the top down on Chris' Mustang and the girls enjoyed Disney movies while I drove the minivan. My parents had stayed in Kissimmee on Saturday night so they had already completed check-in at Old Key West and were doing some shopping. We all decided lunch at Olivia's Cafe was the way to go. I love their po boy, the guys are fans of the Duval Street burger, and the girls love the make-your-own ice cream sundae.

taking children to Walt Disney World
Ready to go to Walt Disney World!

driving a convertible to Disney World

make your own ice cream sundae at Olivia's Cafe, Old Key West, Disney World

After lunch, our room wasn't yet ready so we boarded a boat for Downtown Disney (DTD). Dad and Chris went to Guest Relations to buy Tables in Wonderland cards and the rest of us did some browsing. We let the girls ride the kiddie train and then my parents went back to OKW while the children played at the Lego Store. Minnie fell asleep on the bus and Tink voluntarily went to bed as soon as we got in the villa. Dad and Chris went grocery shopping for us all and brought home deli pizzas for dinner. Since the villas at OKW have full kitchens, it was easy to cook this simple meal. After dinner, my husband took the girls to the playground while I worked on a MagicBand issue with the front desk.

ferry boat from Old Key West to Downtown Disney

kids train at Downtown Disney

Fall at Downtown Disney, Pumpkin Mickey
Taking photos of a toddler is an unpredictable thing
Mr. Potato Head at Downtown Disney, Once Upon a Toy
Woody totally photobombed this shot
Movies by the pool at Old Key West, Disney World, Monsters University
Monsters University was playing near the pool and playground
We've tried hitting a park on the first night or making reservations for a character meal or shopping later than we should at DTD, but simply relaxing and getting settled in seems to work best. Allowing this time for the kids to not be strapped into a car seat and not waiting in line anywhere is helpful. Letting everyone chat and catch up is nice. Getting a bit of extra sleep before a tiring week is awesome.

Please leave a comment below and let me know what your family likes to do on your arrival day at Walt Disney World.

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Thank you for joining me today. Your next stop on the Magical Blogorail Loop is My Dreams of Disney.

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 ~ Growing Up Disney
2nd Stop ~ My Dreams of Disney
3rd Stop ~ Disney Donna Kay
4th Stop ~ Heidi's Head
Final Stop ~ A World View


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Monday, June 24, 2013

Five Photos: Radiator Springs at the Flower and Garden Festival


The Radiator Springs area at the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival was a must-see for us.  Why? The playground.  It had a nice double slide for the smaller kids, a rock climbing area for the bigger ones, and some bouncy half tires that they all seemed to enjoy.  I didn't get many shots of the playground itself because I was busy helping Minnie on the tires, photographing the topiaries and visiting the nearby restroom for a diaper change for Minnie...you know, basic mom blogger stuff.  We visited this area after dinner at Garden Grill and both girls loved having some time to play after being at the table for over an hour.  I believe I had to remove Minnie from the area actually kicking and screaming (her, not me.)

The Mater Topiary is the star of the area.

Another shot of our friend, Tow Mater.

Lightning McQueen looks like he is mid-conversation with Mater.

The only picture I could find of both Tink and Minnie on the playground.

Somebody spied my camera....

He cracked me up.


Thanks for joining me on this lookback at Radiator Springs from the 2013 Epcot Flower and Garden Festival.  



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Monday, October 8, 2012

"Best Of" Magical Blogorail: Hidden Treasures of Epcot

Hiya Pals! In our continuing celebration of Epcot, I'd like to share a past article all about my favorite park.  What hidden treasures of Epcot are on your must-do list?  ~Amy


Welcome to those of you joining me from A World View and those of you just hopping aboard.
I am the 3rd stop on our Magical Blogorail.




While at first glance, it wouldn't seem like Epcot is a very kid-friendly park, there are hidden treasures your children will adore.

In World Showcase, the Cast Members alone can be a hidden treasure. More than someone to just ring up your t-shirt or prepare your snack, these young people are a wealth of knowledge. Consider having older children ask a certain question of a Cast Member (CM) in each pavilion. Is your child a little foodie, sports fan or movie buff? Have them ask CMs about their favorite foods, sports or films from their home countries. My children are too young for this yet, but I had a CM from each World Showcase country sign a first birthday card for Tink. It was lots of fun for us and I hope it's special to her later.

Be sure to check the entertainment schedule and watch a few of the performers at Epcot. The Jammitors are a fun percussion group who drum on buckets and trashcans while telling silly jokes. They appear multiple times near Innoventions East and West. In France, the kids will enjoy the acrobats, as long as they don't get any ideas about stacking all of your kitchen chairs. The World Showcase Players is another terrific act, performing on the streets in the United Kingdom Pavilion. This troupe recreates stories loosely based on famous tales. There is lots of audience participation so stand up front and jump right in.

The Jammitors as the Jammin' Chefs during the
Epcot International Food & Wine Festival
Candy, candy, candy. What child doesn't love the stuff? Let your child buy a bit of candy in each World Showcase pavilion to see what kids in other parts of the world enjoy as a treat.

Don't underestimate the entertainment value of simply running and being a kid. The hedge maze in the back of the UK pavilion is a wonderful place for children to burn off a little energy and it's tucked out of the way. If the weather is nice, consider letting the little ones play in one of the splash pads or cooling stations. Just pack a change of clothes and let them get wet. In Mission Space, there is a small playground area perfect for some wiggle time while the big kids take in the E-Ticket attractions.

If you time it right, there is a special hidden treasure at Epcot for parents. Be sure to have a stroller for this one. Epcot is a huge park and will tire little legs. If you can get them to sleep in the stroller, Mom and Dad can enjoy one of the many unique adult beverages available at Epcot and walk together along the promenade. It's a way to sneak in a mini-date, even if one of you does have to push the kiddos.


Thank you for joining me today. Your next stop on the Magical Blogorail Loop is Focused on the Magic.

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 ~ A World View
3rd Stop ~ Growing Up Disney (you are here)
4th Stop ~ Focused on the Magic
Final Stop ~ Makin’ Memories


This article originally appeared on Growing Up Disney on 9/16/11.
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Friday, June 29, 2012

Guest Post: Going to the Disney Water Parks with a Toddler

My family recently returned from a vacation to Disney World. We decided to try both of the Disney water parks. We have an almost 8 year old and barely 2 year old which always makes things interesting. If you plan on visiting the water parks (which you should), and you have children with an age gap, I do recommend splitting up because their interests and attractions they can participate in will be different. My 7 year old wanted to go on the big water slides all day long and obviously the 2 year old can't swim yet. To solve this issue, one parent slid while one watched our toddler and then we swapped so each got to experience some of the amazing attractions the water parks have to offer. TIP: Wear waterproof watches and come up with a meeting place to make it easy as the parks are large. Everyone ended up happy which is always a good thing!

I often get asked which water park is better...Typhoon Lagoon or Blizzard Beach. My answer is they are both wonderful so you should give them both a shot but I do have a personal favorite when it comes to toddlers that I will share with you! Both parks offer areas designated for children under 48” but we found both to be very different.

Blizzard Beach has an amazing area for young children called Tyke's Peak which consists mostly of a variety of small water slides which is wonderful if you have a child who enjoys them. Even though there isn't a height requirement on many of the “big” water slides, they still may be too big for young children, especially if they are new to swimming. Clearly you don't want them to go down a slide and land in a 3 or 4 foot deep pool of gushing water. Not a good idea. These small water slides are the perfect size for young children. Some are just a few feet long for little ones while others are curvy which are great for young children. There is also a shallow wading pool with some alligators that squirt water and a waterfall that little ones enjoy splashing around in and even a spray ground and sand area. The issue my toddler had was she was scared of all slides, no matter how little they were. I remember my son going through the same thing at our local water park. It wasn't until he was around 5 that he was comfortable to go down the children's water slides and then he progressed to the “big” slides around 6 (obviously, each child is different). An issue I had with Tyke's Peak is it's in the full sun. Not good if you have a fair skinned little red head who doesn't handle the sun well so we had to take some breaks in the shade which is offered nearby.

So what did we do all day at a water park with a child who wouldn't go down a single water slide? We found plenty to do! Our little one had a great time running around and splashing in the wading pools. I brought some beach toys and she had the best time filling the water up in the sand bucket, dumping it out and then filling it back up again. TIP: If you order a children's entree at some of the water park restaurants, their food comes in a sand bucket. She also enjoyed the wave pools. Clearly, not wise to go in too deep but if you stay right where the pool starts, little ones usually have a blast with the waves that are small at the end. She particularly enjoyed Typhoon Lagoon's wave pool which features one large tidal wave. Sounds scary but if you stay in the very shallow part, the wave is pretty small. She got a kick over me holding her and “jumping” the wave. She also loved when the water was soaked back in just like at the beach with the tide. Very cool. We enjoyed going around the lazy river at both parks. I put her in a small inner tube that had a bottom and pushed her around. Throw in some time to relax and have lunch and there you have a good day at the park with a toddler.

Even though we had a great time at Blizzard Beach, my toddler and I fell in love with Ketchakiddee Creek (gotta love the catchy name) which is the children's play area at Typhoon Lagoon. It was perfect for her! There are shallow streams, small water falls, fountains, a spray ground, all kinds of areas for them to splash around in that were toddler friendly. I loved that Ketchakiddee Creek provided some shady areas which is a welcome relief on those hot sunny Florida days. I thought it was perfect for toddlers!

 I definitely recommend giving the Disney water parks a try! You won't be disappointed and no matter when you visit, the water is heated. If you are visiting Disney for several days and want a break from the parks, I would recommend adding the Water Park, Fun and More option and go to both water parks to see which one suits your family best. I guarantee the whole family will have lots of fun!


Contributed by Corby C. of Atlanta, Georgia. She is a proud wife and mom to Banks and Henley, a Disney Destination Planner with Travel with the Magic and one of our Minnie Moms.
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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Photo Flashback! His Bill Holds More Than His Belly Can

One of the must-do's while in Hilton Head is Harbor Town.  If you like photography, it's hard to pass up on the lighthouse and expensive boats.  Oh, and there is also shopping, dining, and a really nice playground.  The marina is in a horseshoe shape near the lighthouse and as we were walking around, we noticed a pelican looking for lunch.  It was tremendous fun to watch him.  While my new zoom lens helped, I am certainly no wildlife photographer in the making.  






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Monday, September 19, 2011

Guest Post: Little Ones Enjoy the Little Things at Walt Disney World

I often get questions from clients wanting to know about which rides to ride for their young children. They are often concerned there won’t be enough to do for their little ones. They always want to know how many days they will need to spend when traveling to Disney World. It’s difficult to fathom how much there is to do while at the parks and looking at a park map alone can be a bit deceiving if you’ve never visited.

I was thinking about some of my family’s previous trips to Disney World and some of the highlights that my son has enjoyed over the years. Sure, he loves Test Track, Big Thunder Mountain, Splash Mountain and plenty of other rides but here are some of his absolute park favorites that may come as a surprise.

Playgrounds: I used to get frustrated when I would have to literally drag him out of the play areas in the parks. Darn you, Honey I Shrunk the Kids, The Boneyard in Dinoland USA, and the former Ariel’s Grotto and Pooh’s Playful Spot! (Note: there will be a new play area in the new Fantasyland expansion and there is now the fun interactive queue at The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.) Doesn’t my child understand we came to ride RIDES and not run around on playgrounds? Doesn’t he understand we could do that at home in Atlanta for free? It wasn’t until I stopped and allowed myself to see them through his eyes that I understood why he loves them so much. They aren’t your typical playgrounds. They are amazingly themed areas featuring cool slides, tunnels, water features, and more. While at the parks, kids are usually standing in line or are sitting on a ride so I’ve decided if he wants to go burn off some steam and run around like an absolute lunatic, it’s his vacation too so let him go for it.

Water: What do the spray ground and jumping fountains at Epcot, the squirting Tikis at Magic Kingdom, and the splash pad at Polynesian Resort all have in common? They are all areas my son has decided to spend unexpected hours running around fully clothed while on vacation. Sure he has gotten absolutely soaked but seeing the pure joy on his face having the time of his life has been priceless. I say let your kids have fun and get wet! If you’re staying on property, take time to enjoy the wonderful pool and water slides at the resorts. I’m pretty sure we spent just as much time at the pool at Wilderness Lodge as we did at the parks this past June because he‘s really into water slides at this time in his life. While my son went down the water slide for the 150th time, I was able to relax and sit on my patio while my little one took naps. A win win for all. I also enjoyed going down the slide quite a few times which my son thought was so cool. I know all too soon he more than likely won’t want mom in a bathing suit riding water slides with him so why not enjoy spending the quality time with him doing what he loves while I can (and besides that, they‘re fun)!

Tom Sawyer Island: May not sound very appealing to adults but I think most kids will find this island located in Magic Kingdom to be pure heaven. My guy loves to run around, going over the bridges, running through the tunnels, “shooting” at folks in the fort, etc. I think this attraction is often overlooked by parents and should be a do not miss for young children who enjoy adventure and what child doesn‘t have an imagination and enjoy some adventure?

Music: There are some different areas, particularly in Epcot where instruments can be found. My son will make a bee line for the drums every time.

Meet and Greets: I have mentioned this before but on our family’s first trip this is literally all my son wanted to do. Seriously. I waited in line after line getting autograph after autograph. I sure wish there had been a Fastpass option for Toontown Fair like there is at Town Hall now. There were times it wasn’t all that fun to be honest while standing in 100 degree humidity outdoors in September but seeing the pure joy on my son’s face when he got to hug and interact with the characters was worth every drop of sweat to me. He still talks about when Tigger took his blankie and covered his eyes with it and walked around pretending he couldn’t see. That was 4 years ago when he was 3.

Sometimes it really pays to just stop and enjoy the little things the parks have to offer. Don’t be in too much of a hurry. Allow yourself more time when possible and don’t just rush by everything between ride A and ride B. You may find opportunities you didn’t expect that will make priceless memories for you and your children and to me that’s what a Disney vacation is all about and why my family continues to go back as regularly as we do.

What are some of your family’s favorites in the parks that aren’t rides?

Contributed by Corby C. of Atlanta, Georgia. She is a proud wife and mom to Banks and Henley, a Disney Destination Planner with Travel with the Magic and one of our Minnie Moms. Pin It

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Team Post: What would you like to change at WDW?

DisneyDad: This post requires a lot of thought. I have been going to Walt Disney World since it opened in 1971 and I have seen a lot of things change over the years. Some things for the better, others I’m not so sure. I am on an email group of DVC members and I see a lot of complaints voiced there. There are always complaints when admission prices go up. One person was complaining about the bullfrogs outside their room at Old Key West. They could not stand the noise and wanted to know why Disney didn’t do something about it. I on the other hand, stayed in almost the same room, and heard the same frogs and just absolutely loved it. It wasn’t noise; it was some of God’s most beautiful music. Restaurants change menus; attractions are updated or changed out. All in all I guess it fits with Walt’s vision that the “Florida Project” would never be completed.

My complaints:
1) Olivia’s changed menus years ago and took Key Lime White Chocolate Mousse off the menu. I still miss it.
2) Prices keep going up on everything; admission prices, room rates, food, souvenirs. Prices go up, but it keeps everything open and people working and someone making big profits.
3) The selection and quality of souvenirs, especially DVC Member merchandise. I need a new jacket with DVC Member on it and can’t find one.
4) I don’t get to go as often and stay as long as I’d like.


Ridge: We drink the Disney Kool-aid here.  We all like Disney because it is good family entertainment, the parks are clean, there is a feeling of security on the premises, free transportation while staying on resort property, and there are hundreds of DVC destinations around the world.  Is it hard to find something to complain about?  For me, it is but for others it isn't. But I thought let's find something to talk about that isn't the best. Again I have a hard time with this, but here it goes. I love the classic attractions as much as the next person, being able to share an experience with parents, grandparents, children and grandchildren but some things need to be updated and renovated. Number one on my list is the Carousel of Progress. It's a definite classic and one that Walt personally oversaw when it was being designed for the World's Fair. However, now is the time, now is the best time to update the animatronics and give everything a cleaning and polishing. The last scene is the only one that I think needs to be changed a little because the future of 1994 has come and gone.


Amy: What would I change at Walt Disney World? As a mom, I'd love to see more playgrounds within the parks. They wouldn't need to be large and the ones tucked into open and unused space at Epcot during the Flower and Garden Festival proved this is do-able. One of my big concerns for this fall's WDW trip is letting the little one burn off some energy in a safe environment. She's only a toddler so she can't run free just anywhere. Walt Disney World does have some fabulous amenities for small children, but it seems like they underestimate the number of babies and toddlers. When we took Audrey for her first birthday, the smallest "My first WDW vacation" t-shirt was in a size 3T. Seriously?!?! Look around. The first visit is much younger for lots of kids.

Time to vent a little.  What would you like to change/fix/upgrade at the Walt Disney World Resort? Pin It

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Photo Flashback! Pixie Hollow

These beautiful topiaries of Tinkerbell and her friends were featured in the Pixie Hollow Fairy Garden at the 2010 Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival. 

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