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.

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
  • battery fan with mister for the stroller

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.

DisneySMMoms 2014 Conference Day Take Aways – My Favorites

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Photo Courtesy: @hyku

DisneySMMoms 2014 Conference Day Take Aways – My Favorites

After attending the first 3 Disney Social Media Moms Celebrations at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, you can only imagine how excited I was last year when the announcement was made that the exclusive event would be held at the Disneyland Resort in California in 2014! I absolutely love Disneyland and haven’t been there since we relocated to the East coast back in 2010. I was over-the-moon excited to have received an invitation for the event this year, and although it was too short of notice to organize flights and vacation time for my hubby and the kids, most of my family from Seattle was able to fly down and attend with me which was pretty awesome!

Each year that I’ve attended this event, I find it so fabulous to be surrounded by so many wonderful men and women who are just good people. It’s sometimes hard to meet people that have some of the same things in common with you but this is one event that, not only do I meet new people each time, but I also meet people who I’ve interacted with online for years so it’s somewhat of a reunion! Plus, it’s always good for the soul to meet people in-person and get real hugs from them, but it’s even better when you automatically know who they are because of their online profile pics. Social media is pretty cool, isn’t it? I have so many things still to share with you about this year’s event, but I thought I’d take some time today to share 6 of my favorite take-aways from our day of sessions.

Here goes…

1. Mickey Mouse Hugs Are The Best No Matter Your Age!

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Remember I told you that some of my family from Seattle was able to join me this year? Well, my mom was one of them! I absolutely love visiting Disney Parks with my mom.

After we checked in at The Disneyland Hotel, her and I walked into the ballroom together to get registered for the event when we stopped to look around before proceeding. There's nothing in the world like the feeling of walking into a grand welcome reception and looking over to your left [or right, whichever the case may be] where Mickey Mouse is standing by himself looking RIGHT AT YOU with open arms! When my mom and I saw this, we knew what we had to do which was to race right over to Mickey for big hugs and pictures! I love Mickey Mouse and so does she! It was sure fun to be greeted by The Big Cheese upon our arrival! We also got to spend some quality time with a few other Characters during registration! What a kick!

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“it’s a small world” 50th Anniversary at Disneyland With Richard Sherman

Richard Sherman Collage

“it’s a small world” 50th Anniversary
at Disneyland With Richard Sherman

 

Some of you who have been reading my blog for a couple years may remember when I told you briefly about my mom’s love for “it’s a small world” and how she originally saw it at the 1964 World’s Fair.

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I was so excited to find out that the 50th Anniversary of “it’s a small world” would be taking place while my family was visiting the Disneyland Resort for the 5th annual Disney Social Media Moms Celebration! There were all different things going on for the special occasion including a sing-a-long where Richard Sherman would be parading down Main Street U.S.A. singing along with the world! We even had a special, reserved place on Main Street to watch the magic!

Small World Collage

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My mom was the cutest thing ever, you guys. She hand-wrote the lyrics before she left home and brought them with her to Disneyland so she’d be all ready to sing along. Seeing the excitement on her face when she heard Richard Sherman singing and hearing her sing along with him was an absolutely priceless memory that I’ll cherish forever! It was so sweet!

I was able to capture some video, but I really love the video that Wendy of Plugged In Family took, so have a look!

This was such a special treat to have a front row viewing for this super special afternoon and to be able to share it with my mom and family! A big thanks to the folks at Disney for continuing to make magic for families! These are the moments I live for!

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Happy Birthday, Mickey Mouse!

Since today is Mickey’s special day, I thought I’d share some photos over the years of our family meeting The Big Cheese! Wow, the kids have grown up so quickly! It seems just yesterday that we met Mickey Mouse at his house in ToonTown at the Disneyland Resort!

Mickey, Mom, & Dad

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Happy Birthday, Mickey Mouse!

Monstrous Summer Preview – The Most Amazing Thing EVER Happened At Epcot!

Last week, I was so excited to be in attendance for Disney’s Monstrous Summer Media Preview! After a special Illuminations Dessert Party, we were asked to be at the front entrance of the Park for a special announcement. I had no idea that what was about to happen next would be the coolest thing I’d ever seen take place ON Spaceship Earth! Don’t believe it? Well, have a look at my video below!

How unbelievably AWESOME was that? I’m so excited that I was right there at the front of the action for the special announcement and I sure hope that you will be able to make a visit to one of the three-park all-night parties happening at Magic Kingdom Park in Florida and Disneyland park and Disney California Adventure park in California. The parks will stay open from 6 a.m., May 24 to 6 a.m., May 25, 2013, local time.

Keep an eye out on the Disney Parks Blog and the Monstrous Summer site for upcoming details!

My Take on Starbucks Coffee Locations Coming to Disney Parks

Photo Courtesy: The Walt Disney Company

Photo Courtesy: The Walt Disney Company

My Take on Starbucks Coffee Locations Coming to Disney Parks

When I moved here to Savannah almost three years ago, I never even thought about the possibility of not having a drive-thru Starbucks [or three] within five minutes of my house. That’s probably a good thing, because if I would’ve researched it, I wouldn’t have found very good news. You see, there is only ONE drive-thru Starbucks in Savannah [yes, I really said ONE], and it’s about a 35-minute drive from my house. There is one inside Kroger, but I can hardly even count that one because, seriously…who wants to park, get out of their car, stand in a line of at least six people, and come out 15 minutes later with their drink? Not this girl. Coffee is serious business in Seattle and the longer I’m here, I’m realizing that it’s NOT a priority for people to have a drive thru on their way to work because there aren’t any of those tiny little coffee stands either.

Here’s the funny thing about me and coffee. I only like the fancy espresso drinks at Starbucks. My favorite summer drink is a White Chocolate Mocha Frappucino and my favorite winter drink is a Peppermint White Chocolate Mocha. The only drip coffee I LOVE is from Dunkin’ Donuts. And it’s not their fancy, flavored stuff either, just the plain old regular. We were lucky to have Costco back home and when they started carrying Dunkin’ Donuts coffee, we became spoiled. Then we learned about the Keurig! Thank goodness for Dunkin’ Kcups! Don’t get me started about their prices though…that’s a whole separate blog post!

Anyway, as some of you may have heard, Starbucks will be opening locations at Disney Theme Parks at the Walt Disney World Resort. The first two Walt Disney World locations will open in 2013. The picture below shows the Fiddler, Fifer & Practical Café that has already opened on Buena Vista Street at Disney California Adventure Park. I’m super excited that the very first location EVER inside a Disney theme park where you can enjoy refreshing Starbucks coffee and espresso drinks has opened at the Disneyland Resort!!

At Magic Kingdom Park, Main Street Bakery was closed for refurbishment back in January 2013. When it re-opens in early summer, Main Street Bakery will keep its name and theming and continue to serve Disney favorites like cookies, brownies and seasonal cupcakes, in addition to Starbucks signature beverages and other menu items. At Epcot, Fountain View has temporarily closed. When Fountain View reopens in midsummer, it will serve Starbucks products.

Now, don’t worry, each Starbucks location inside a Disney Park will reflect the theme of its surroundings. At Magic Kingdom Park for example, Cast Members will wear a costume consistent with the early 20th century look and feel of Main Street, U.S.A. At Future World in Epcot, the new Starbucks location and Cast Member costumes will be designed to match the park’s futuristic theme. The Imagineers know what’s up and I have complete confidence that when I walk into these new locations, it will not feel like I’m walking into my local Starbucks in my home town.

My friend Nicole over at SparklyEverAfter.com was fortunate enough to visit with her friend Robert Farrell, an Artist at Disney Consumer Products, and was able to capture and share some of the artwork he drew for a few select Starbucks locations at Imagineering, Walt Disney Studios and the creative campus where Disney Consumer Products is! Check out Part I and Part II of her awesome report! You won’t believe how awesome the drawings are!

I am so excited about the thought of walking down Main Street, U.S.A. during the holiday season with my Peppermint White Chocolate Mocha that I LOVE! How about you? Which signature Starbucks treats are your favorite? Let me know in the comments below!