2016 Chocolate Easter Eggs at Disney’s Grand Floridian

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2016 Chocolate Easter Eggs at
Disney’s Grand Floridian

 

After having a great lunch at the Grand Floridian Cafe last weekend, my kids and I decided to spend some time looking at the gorgeous display of handmade Chocolate Easter Eggs in the front lobby.

I really love how they incorporated scenes from some of the newer Disney movies such as The Good Dinosaur, Inside Out, Tangled, and even some old favorites like Lady and the Tramp and Robin Hood. Get a load of that BB-8!

You know how the lobby of the Grand Floridian smells like gingerbread during the Christmas season from the life-sized Gingerbread House? Well, imagine that wafting smell of chocolate!

Please excuse the angle of some of the eggs as there were lots of Guests around and I wanted to capture the whole thing from as close as I could get. If you click on the photo, you’ll be able to see it bigger.

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This last egg was just too fabulous and I couldn’t manage to take a still shot of it that was worthy; so I took a video instead! Another disclaimer; PLEASE excuse the vertical video as I only had my iPhone and the egg was tall so it had to be that way to get the whole thing. Hope you like it!

Let The Pixie Dust Fly At DisneySMMC!

Photo Credit: @hyku

Photo Credit: @hyku

Let The Pixie Dust Fly At DisneySMMC!

 

I can hardly believe that it’s just about the end of March. This year has been flying on by and it’s been a long time since I’ve shared anything here with you all. I think my writer’s block may have taken off for a while – thankfully!

Being on social media a little bit the last couple of days has me feeling all Pixie Dusted because I’m seeing that invitations were sent out for this year’s Disney Social Media Moms Celebration, i.e. the MOST Pixie Dusted social media conference you will EVER attend in your life!

My family has been able to be a part of this magic several times since the first year this magical celebration took place and when I think about all of the incredible memories we have to share because of the experiences we have had, it gives me goosebumps!

Related: My Disneyland Experience With A Toddler In Tow

The amount of thought that goes into the planning is just amazing. From the very moment you arrive and through each Pixie Dusted event, you and your family come to realize just how very special it is to be a part of something so magical.

I’m just elated to see so many new faces receiving invitations this year! It truly warms my heart that so many of you will get to experience this wonderful celebration and I can hardly wait to watch and enjoy the magic through the eyes of your families! I’m so excited for all of you!!

My family attended in 2010, 2011, 2012 at the Walt Disney World Resort and in 2014 at the Disneyland Resort and I’ve shared my experiences with lots of photos right here on my blog if you want to take a peek. Just click on “social media” at the top of the page and choose the year you’d like to read about!

If you’re trying to work out the details like airfare and conference fee costs, take it from me (and, I’m certain of many others), if you need to move mountains to attend this celebration, move ’em! No, really.

Tutorial From The Animation Academy: Minnie Mouse

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Tutorial From The Animation Academy:

Minnie Mouse

 

Minnie Mouse has always been my very favorite Disney Character and I was so excited last week when a video tutorial on how to draw her was shared by Disney Parks. For those of you who have never visited The Magic Of Disney Animation at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, this will be a real treat for you. It’s a great place tucked into the back of the Park where you can step inside, have a seat and discover how some fantastically talented Cast Members bring Disney Characters to life.

This unique hands-on experience is so cool and often overlooked. I love it most because you will leave with a great souvenir of your visit there!

Grab your sketchbook and drawing pencils and get ready to draw Minnie Mouse!

Happy Birthday, Donald Duck!

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Hi, everyone! Today is a really special day for a really special Duck! It’s Donald Duck’s 80th Birthday! I thought I’d share some pics with you of some of the fun times my family has had with Donald over the years.

Be sure to check out all of the other fun in today’s blog hop by clicking on the link below!

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My Disneyland Experience With A Toddler In Tow (Part 3)

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Photo Credit: @Hyku

They say a picture is worth a 1000 words, so here are a few of my vacation pictures to share with you as well as a few Disneyland tips and tricks you will definitely want to know about!

1. A Room with a View

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We were lucky enough to stay at the Disneyland Hotel. This was great because we were close to our room for nap time. Eldon was more than excited to spend time looking out at the parking lot from Fantasy Tower. In fact, he spent a lot of time looking at the hustle and bustle down there, seeing buses, taxis, and limos come and go...

My Disneyland Experience With Toddler In Tow (Part 2–The Experience)

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Photo Credit: @Hyku

If you’re just joining in, check out My Disneyland Experience With Toddler In Tow Part 1 to get up to speed.

Now that you have officially packed and are proudly wearing your newly-earned “Always be Prepared” badge on your scout vest, let’s dive into the FUN. I will never forget the time when we took our then 12-month old to his first Disney Park. It was about the third morning into our vacation and while we ate breakfast in our room, he crawled to the door, stood up, banged on the door with both hands wide open, then quickly crawled as fast as he could to his stroller. At 12-months old, this kiddo had no doubt in his mind where the fun was. :)

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THE PARK, THE RIDES, AND THE EXPERIENCE–

  • STOP! Go Back!!! Did you grab not only a Park map but an Entertainment Times Guide when you entered the Park? Be sure to! Because it contains show information you need to know as well as tips to help you manage your time. Another helpful tool if you have a smart phone is to check your phone’s app store for a wait times app like My Disney Experience or other Park apps.
  • Everyone’s family travels a little different, but peak times of attendance at the Park tend to be about late morning to midday. If you want to do your best to avoid crowds, you may choose to get up early and/or stay out late–with a trip to the pool in the middle.
  • If you are looking to ride a popular ride, see if there is a Disney FASTPASS available. Get them first thing in the day though, because once they are gone, they are gone!
  • Realize that your toddler may want to experience the park SLOWER differently than you do. And that’s OK! Enjoy the pace and take a deep breath. Some of the best things we did was to stop and enjoy the parades! I highly recommend the Pixar Play Parade in Disney’s California Adventure Park as well as Mickey’s Soundsational Parade in Disneyland Park. See your Entertainment Times Guide for times.
  • Grab your treats and toys and tricks up your sleeves for waiting in lines. Most of the smaller, toddler rides don’t have FASTPASS available. If you go in line with a plan, waiting isn’t as bad as you are dreading it to be. When you forget to grab something, bust out your “I Spy” skill-set.
  • Measure your toddler either at home or if you forget (like THAT would ever happen! ;) ) at the first opportunity when you see a “You Must Be This Tall” yardstick. The Park map prints all the rides requirements. It is helpful to know before migrating your family across the expanse if your kiddo can ride Gadget’s Go Coaster in Mickey’s Toontoon when you are currently all the way over at the Enchanted Tiki Room in Adventureland.
  • Know that there is a Baby Care Center in each park for you to take a break, nurse, or purchase any forgotten supplies you may need. They’re located at Disney’s California Adventure Park in Pacific Wharf and at Disneyland Park on Main Street U.S.A. And most, if not all bathrooms have changing stations.
  • Disney has done a great job of getting healthy food into the Parks. Look for the Mickey Check on everything from quick service stations to restaurant menus!
  • Hang on to your hat and literally your kids especially on faster rides like Mad Tea Party teacups, Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree tractors ride, Francis’ Ladybug Boogie teacup-like ride, and Gadget’s Go Coaster roller coaster even if they are in their seat belts. They can be swingin’!
  • For Toddlers, some of our favorite rides at Disneyland are climbing on the antique Fire Engine (Main Street, U.S.A.), The Enchanted Tiki Room (Adventureland), Jungle Cruise (Adventureland), The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (Critter Country), King Arthur’s Carrousel (Fantasyland), Casey Jr. Circus Train (Fantasyland), Dumbo the Flying Elephant (Fantasyland), “it’s a small world” (Fantasyland), Goofy’s Playhouse climbing structure (Toontown), Gadget’s Go Coaster (35″ height requirement, Toontown), Mickey’s, Minnie’s, and Donald’s houses (Toontown), Autopia (Tomorrowland), Astro Orbitor rocketships (Tomorrowland), and the Disneyland Railroad the circles the Park (Mainstreet, U.S.A, New Orleans Square, Mickey’s Toontown,Tomorrowland). FYI, I am sure Nemo’s Submarine Voyage will be amazing too once it reopens in Fall 2014.
  • For Toddlers, some of our favorite rides at Disney’s California Adventure Park are Flik’s Fliers (“a bug’s land”), Princess Dot Puddle Park Splash area (“a bug’s land”), Heimlich’s Chew Chew Train (“a bug’s land”), Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree tractors ride (Cars Land), Luigi’s Flying Tires (Cars Land) and the World of Color show will not disappoint if you are out late (Paradise Pier). But I would also have loved to see Disney Junior–Live on Stage! (Hollywood Land)

MY LAST BIT OF ADVICE–

Go into your adventure with all of your patience. Know that nothing is quick, but you will get your turn! When you are relaxed and smiling, your kiddo will follow your lead. One thing that I had to learn as a parent on this trip was if my toddler was content, leave him and let him play–even when you see a new character come or a new opportunity present itself because when you pick up your happy kid and race him across the way, you spend your time consoling a now-upset toddler instead of enjoying a fun experience. Know too that it is impossible to see everything! You just can’t because there is SOOO much to do! So come up with a daily plan that includes your favorite activities, and try to do all the rides you want in one area before moving on to another, then there will be less backtracking and scurrying. Be sure to schedule some breaks in your day. No one, especially your toddler, can go non-stop for days on end.

Related: First Look Inside “it’s a small world” And Meeting Snow White…

Lastly, no matter what you do, walk away from your vacation knowing that everyone, including your toddler had a blast. When I talk to other moms about bringing their toddlers to Disneyland, they all say how shocked they were that their children really did enjoy themselves and really did remember their trip for a long time! (And be sure to take lots of pictures! Those toddlers LOVE to go back and look at them, parents too!… like I had to tell you that.) There really is something for everyone, so don’t assume that your toddler is too small to really enjoy it. Would I do it again?…. Does a Mouse have Ears!? :) …In a heartbeat.

Stay tuned for the last post in this series, a slideshow with the last of my tricks and tips!

Disclosure: I paid to attend the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration. In exchange for my registration fee, I received deeply discounted rates on hotel, park tickets, events, meals, and swag. I am not required nor was I asked to write about the events by Disney or any other party affiliated with the event. Thoughts are 100% my own.

My Disneyland Experience with Toddler in Tow (Part 1–What to Pack)

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Photo Credit: @Hyku

We recently went to Disneyland with our two year-old toddler during the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration April 10th – 13th (despite my initial fears of Eldon throwing fits in inappropriate places).  But we really did have a wonderful time! As we were leaving, I thought about other parents heading to Disneyland whom may have all of the fears and questions that I had once too. And, it might help a mom or dad out by blogging my own experience and newly-learned tricks for others to use or jump off of for their own solutions.  Granted my trip was in the spring time, so if you are traveling during a different season you may need to adjust your supplies. Hello, Weather.com.

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BEFORE YOU FLY OUT

Boy was I glad that I had some tricks up my sleeves all ready to go! I needed them before we even got on the plane! And not to mention, once you arrive, you want to just get out and have some fun! … not finish your errands…Also, if you buy your products at home, you will likely spend less money on said supplies.

  • Sunscreen — I buy one new, baby, tear-free, waterproof bottle and then use it on the kiddo and myself and my husband.  It helps my liquids load when I fly so that I don’t have to check any bags. My favorite is Neutrogena Pure and Free Baby Faces. I love that it is new because sunscreen can loose its effectiveness over time or if stored in the car since last summer and who knows what else. I also love that it is tear-free because I hate that sunscreen burn in my eyes, OUCH! Additionally, it contains the active cancer fighting ingredients, zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. And when I am on vacation, I just don’t want to worry about running out or who knows what else! Also, I like the swimsuits with the SPF shirts. This saves on sunscreen product and application time and I worry less that I missed a spot somewhere important… LOL!
  • Ibuprofen or Acetaminophen or the like for your toddler. This way, if you wake up one morning at 3:00 AM and the kiddo is unexpectedly teething something fierce, you have everything you need. Sometimes I haul my favorite toddler cough and cold medicine too just in case.
  • Sunglasses for everyone
  • Filling Snacks–We never left the room without some granola bars with little or no chocolate (because of the sun) or slurpable single-portion applesauces like Go-Go Squeez
  • Special Snacks–Bring something that is special or that your kid hasn’t had before.. I grabbed Annie’s Organic Fruit Snacks, which our toddler loved! These kinds of things come in handy when waiting in line for Dumbo the Flying Elephant or you just need a quiet activity to give yourself 5 minutes of peace… :)  Keep a few in your purse, sometimes you need them while away from your stroller…
  • Water bottle(s)–You may choose to share in order to cut down on the object weight you are hauling around the park
  • Thin blanket–It really can cool down at night, especially in the spring, and when you started out your day in shorts, it’s easy to forget.
  • Small Toys–One of my favorite purse toys is a travel-size magnet doodling toy. Do you have any idea how many bulldozers and tractors I have drawn? .. My toddler then scribbles over the entire picture to add his “smokestack.”
  • A change of clothes for the toddler including pants and shorts.. you never know what the weather is going to do, and those Mickey Bars are messy!!! (..but worth it)
  • Light coat or sweatshirt for everyone
  • Stroller and small bag for contents when folding, see below for more
  • For extra questions about your upcoming trip, check out the Disney Parks Moms Panel, a site of Disney-fanatic “moms” who simply love to answer questions about Disney Parks.

AND IF IT’S LOOKING LIKE IT WILL BE ESPECIALLY HOT–

  • hats for everyone
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WHAT KIND OF STROLLER TO BRING

I know that a lot of people out there wear their babies, but with a heavy, slow-walking toddler, I without question advise you to bring a stroller. (Or, you can also rent one at Disneyland.) The stroller we brought was The First Years Ignite Stroller. Disneyland is SUPER stroller friendly, so whatever stroller you have will probably be fine, but if you are in the market for a good traveling stroller, this is my favorite for sure. We also have a Bob jogging stroller in our stroller army which I love for home excursions, but when I travel, I like the Ignite stroller because it folds really small, is lightweight, has a shade to help keep off the sun or rain, has small basket underneath for storage, a cup holder and zipper pouch for snacks, and taller hand holds so that my husband doesn’t look ridiculous when he is “driving” it. No matter what stroller you bring, know that you will have to fold it up on the monorail and the train around the park.  I kept a small fabric bag flat at the bottom of the basket so that when I had to collapse my stroller, I had a place for the basket’s contents.

Now that you know what to bring, stay tuned for part 2, The Park, the Rides, and the Experience!

Disclosure: I paid to attend the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration. In exchange for my registration fee, I received deeply discounted rates on hotel, park tickets, events, meals, and swag. I am not required nor was I asked to write about the events by Disney or any other party affiliated with the event. Thoughts are 100% my own.

Happy Birthday, Goofy!

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Happy Birthday, Goofy!

Best Friends Pet Care At Walt Disney World – My Thoughts

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Best Friends Pet Care At Walt Disney World
My Thoughts

Most of you know that our family got a new Akita puppy back at the beginning of last month. He was 8-weeks old when we got him and weighed about 18 pounds! Once he had his 3rd round of shots, our Veterinarian gave us the okay to let him stay in a kennel, so it was off to Walt Disney World for us!

When I called Best Friends Pet Care to make a “Resort Reservation” for Kenji, the staff were so caring and understanding of the concerns I had about “Doggie Daycare.” See, my husband has wanted an Akita puppy for the entire 22 years that I’ve known him and now that we’ve got one, I’m acting like we have a brand new baby in the house. I mean, look at this precious face! What can I say? He’s such a sweet baby ball of fur!

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We walked into Best Friends Pet Care at the Walt Disney World Resort and everyone was so friendly. The staff was excited to see Kenji and they were full of smiles. I loved that the person I spoke with on the phone was actually there to greet our family. There were other dogs waiting with their humans to be checked in too. It felt like we were checking in at a Resort!

I was really impressed because we were able to have Kenji stay on his feeding schedule that he’s used to and we had the option of bringing his food or he was welcome to use the food they provided. We chose to bring our own simply because we’d gotten him used to it and didn’t want to make any changes in case he had a reaction. We were also able to bring 2 of his toys from home plus a chew toy. I really loved being able to do that because I think it’s important for our fur babies to have some of the comforts of home when they’re away from home.

There was lots of fun merchandise to look at while we waited. They had cute costumes and all sorts of leashes and collars that were Disney themed. There was a Nightmare Before Christmas one that we absolutely LOVED but we decided to wait to buy it since we really don’t know how big Kenji will get.

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Someone was VERY anxious to go check out the dog park that was right out back. There were sprinklers!! I had to stop and take a quick pic of Kenji with Pluto but neither of these two were terribly interested in a photo shoot, as you can tell. Not even looking at the camera. That’s OK though. Pluto always enjoys having his picture taken!

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Let’s talk about sprinklers and swimming pools for a moment. These two adorable little pools were filled with fresh, clean water each time we stopped by and Kenji took a dive, or a face-plant rather, right into either one of them as soon as we got through the gate. My little girl was a little afraid of him hurting himself so she was holding onto him for dear life. He was so funny because he’d stand in the water and drink it at the same time. It was completely adorable! He tried running around in the sprinklers too but he kept on slipping on the pavement while he was running toward them. He’s so cute and clumsy still!

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One of my favorite things about Best Friends was that while we were outside hanging out with Kenji in the dog park, the staff was out playing and walking other dogs around the walking path right there. It was so fun to listen to them interact with the dogs and really have a great time while doing their jobs.

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I know I’ve told you about a lot of my favorite things about Kenji’s visit here, but this next one is my VERY favorite! When we went to pick Kenji up, we were given a report card on how his visit went overall!! How fun is this? I’ve got scrapbook pages calling my name over here!!

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Another great thing was that we didn’t need to bring Kenji’s bed as they provided beds for the dogs. This was really nice not to have to schlep that down with us. Not to mention, they keep everything nice and clean and they even dry the dogs off and make sure they’re cleaned up when they come in wet from outside. Love that!

One more thing I want to make sure and share with you, and it’s a BIG one for me. The place did not smell when we walked in. Dogs are sweet and everything, but I’ve been inside of a kennel or two and no matter how they’ve looked, they’ve smelled B-A-D, you know what I mean? Best Friends Pet Care at the Walt Disney World Resort did not knock me over as soon as I walked in and that was awesome! They get two thumbs up from our family!

Be sure to “like” Best Friends Pet Care at the Walt Disney World Resort on Facebook and follow them on Twitter!

Have you experienced the service there? What did you think?

Wordless Wednesday – Both Sides Of The Force

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Wordless Wednesday – Both Sides Of The Force

(Note: Click on the picture to see how you can have this fabulous item delivered to your Walt Disney World Resort hotel during Star Wars Weekends!)