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Taking Your Tween to Magic Kingdom Without a Single Eyeroll

by on July 17, 2014 2 Comments

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Two families ready for a day at Magic Kingdom… look at all those tweens!

This October, our family ventured to Walt Disney World on a shared vacation with good friends, and we spent a beautiful week with four kids between 9 and 11 years old. My two tweens had been to Disney World several times, but it was the other family’s first magical vacation and I wanted it to be special! I arrived with comprehensive two-day touring plans that would cover all of the attractions at Magic Kingdom, in order to give everyone the full Magic Kingdom experience. When it’s your first time touring, you want to see it all, right? As my experience showed, this approach turned out to be flawed.

You see, Magic Kingdom conjures up images of awestruck toddlers dressed in princess costumes waiting to meet their favorite characters, which definitely doesn’t appeal to self-conscious kids on the edge of becoming teens. When I made my touring plans, I forgot to take into account that a member of the fussy preteen demographic can go from elated to scowly in a split second if there’s even a hint of them being treated like a baby. “Just try it, you might like it,” is met with a fierce determination to prove me wrong. And when you add three more children of the same demographic to the mix, you don’t just quadruple the eyerolls, the compounding effect approaches infinity. (I’m sure it can be scientifically proven, I just don’t have time for that today.)

A ride on the Prince Charming Regal Carousel was a “gray area” for the tweens.

So, while my approach was a good one when my kids were in first and second grade, my efforts to expose the tweens to Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room and Dumbo for the sake of experiencing Magic Kingdom to its fullest turned out to be counterproductive. If I could rewind time, I would focus our touring on the “hits” and just repeat them, avoiding the “duds” for this age group. To help you avoid the same mistake, here are the “hits,” as decided by four tweens: Read the rest of this entry »

#TBT: Disneyland’s 50th Anniversary Celebration

by on July 17, 2014 2 Comments

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Sleeping Beauty Castle

Sleeping Beauty Castle dressed for the 50th

Today, Disneyland Park celebrates 59 magical years, and preparations begin for the resort’s next milestone birthday. As some fans get a sneak preview at what’s coming to the resort for the 60th Anniversary, let’s take a look back at “The Happiest Birthday On Earth” – July 17, 2005, Disneyland’s 50th birthday!

The Disneyland 50th Anniversary celebration was a huge campaign that reached Disney Parks worldwide – as well it should! All of this may have been started by a mouse, but when it comes to family vacations as many of us know them, it was all started by Disneyland.

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Daisy Lauren’s Best Week Ever: July 17, 2014

by on July 17, 2014 27 Comments

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Hi, Everyone! Welcome to the Best Week Ever here at Walt Disney World! I have tons of Frozen fun to share, but to start let’s pop over to Epcot. While the weather has been incredibly hot, the skies have been beautiful! Check out those blue skies and fluffy white clouds! 

1

I wasn’t just there to admire the skies, though. I’d heard online that personalized bottles of Coke were available for free. It wasn’t something I was excited about but I wanted to check it out for you guys. I got there about 15 minutes before the posted start time thinking I’d beat the rush. As you can see from the photo below, I could not have been more wrong! There must have been 100 people in line! I quickly decided that Coke bottles were not newsworthy and moved on. ;)
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Disneyland Character Meet and Greets: A Walking Tour

by on July 16, 2014 3 Comments

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Mary Poppins and Bert

My friend Scott and I with Mary Poppins and Bert. I’m trying to make a Bert face.

Meeting characters is an integral part of a day at Disneyland Resort for many Disney fans. Both Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park, in addition to the nearby Downtown Disney District and on-property hotels, have a decent amount of character meet & greet locations.

There are character greeting components in popular parkgoer activities like Disneybounding and the growing number of runDisney events. Plus, we cannot ignore the giant Elsaphant in the room, with waits for characters from Frozen often exceeding three hours! (No offense meant to the lovely ladies who play the very svelte and lovely snow queen.) And who can resist taking an Instagram selfie with Mickey?

In a short series, let’s take a walking tour of various character meet & greet opportunities across Disneyland Resort. First up: Disneyland Park. Read the rest of this entry »

Chill While Others Thrill: Skipping Disney World Thrill Rides, Part I

by on July 16, 2014 7 Comments

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Walt Disney World’s more thrilling attractions may not be part of your plans for multiple reasons. Maybe you simply don’t enjoy abrupt dips and drops, are prone to motion sickness, have a bad back, have a child who doesn’t meet height requirements, or are visiting Walt Disney World while pregnant. Whatever your reason for preferring more relaxing attractions and experiences, you can have as much fun taking a chill as the more adventurous people in your party do seeking a thrill.

Part I of this article looks at some Magic Kingdom attractions where either all or some of your companions may break away for some thrills. While they have their fun, you may be surprised by the number of ways a non-thrill rider can see a whole other side of Magic Kingdom. Part II will focus on Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

Mountains of Walt Disney World

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Halloween Horror Nights 24: From Dusk Till Dawn Added to Lineup

by on July 16, 2014 10 Comments

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HHN23_FromDuskTillDawn

Photo provided courtesy of Universal Studios

After previously announcing that AMC’s The Walking Dead would return for its third straight year at Halloween Horror Nights (the first brand of any sort to accomplish that feat,) Universal added Robert Rodriguez’s From Dusk Till Dawn series to the list of 8 haunted houses that will make up HHN 24.

Many know the From Dusk Till Dawn brand thanks to the original 1996 film which was directed by Robert Rodriguez, written by Quentin Tarantino, and featured George Clooney in his first major movie lead role. From Dusk Till Dawn went on to have two straight-to-video sequels (the second of which stars Robert Patrick, who played the T-1000 character in Terminator 2) and has recently been revived into a television show on the El Rey network.

The haunted maze at HHN 24 will be based on the From Dusk Till Dawn television show, featuring characters and locations from the first season’s 10 episode run.

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Favorite Parks Series: Disney’s Animal Kingdom

by on July 16, 2014 14 Comments

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We’re at the half way point in our Favorite Parks journey! (Read about Disney’s Hollywood Studios here.) Before doing research for this article, I’ll admit that Disney’s Animal Kingdom was my least favorite park. However, the more I delved into the MAGIC* behind the park, the more I realized how spectacular and incredibly unique Animal Kingdom is.

Memorable Moments

Since Animal Kingdom is known for its hot environment, Kali River Rapids is just the attraction to cool you off. As the unpredictable rapids decide which way the raft spins, no one is safe from the surprising splashes and torrents. Once you’ve become thoroughly soaked, dry yourself off by enjoying two delightful shows; Finding Nemo – The Musical and the Festival of the Lion King. Adrenaline junkies will love running into the Yeti on Expedition Everest, while those looking for further adventure can experience DINOSAUR. An underrated attraction at Animal Kingdom worth attending is Flights of Wonder, an educational and entertaining exotic bird show. You’ll be ‘squawking’ about it for days!

How many animals can you spot?

How many animals can you spot?

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Walt Disney World To Hold ESPN Fantasy Football Convention

by on July 15, 2014 1 Comment

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©Disney

©Disney

Are you ready for some football? It seems so weird to ask in JULY, but football season is just around the corner, and this year Walt Disney World is getting in on the fantasy football fun.

Over at ESPN Wide World of Sports, from August 22-23, Disney will be holding the inaugural ESPN Fantasy Football Convention. (For those who follow along with my In Case You Missed It posts, you may have seen me mention the event was taking place about a month ago.)

The convention sounds like a dream for those who love their fantasy football. The festivities will include events such as the exclusive ESPN Tailgate Party, where guests can mix and mingle with ESPN talent, like Matthew Berry, Adam Schefter, Chris Mortensen, Tim Hasselbeck, Stephania Bell, Trey Wingo, Robert Flores and Sara Walsh. The Tailgate Party will also feature the first ever ESPN Chili Bowl. (Yum!) Here chili will be prepared by world class chefs from around the world, and guests can judge which is the best of the best. (I’m ready to vote now…my spoon is currently in hand.)

The next morning, things will kick off with a breakfast that features characters dressed ready to catch the pigskin. Guests can also witness a live broadcast of Fantasy Football Now, which will be aired on ESPN2, plus they can take part in a post-broadcast Q&A session. The evening will end with an opportunity to participate in a live fantasy football draft, where this season’s winner will receive a customized trophy!

The event costs $349.00 per person to participate, and registration is now open at the ESPN Wide World of Sports page.

Who do you want on your fantasy team?

Trattoria al Forno Restaurant To Open at Disney’s BoardWalk

by on July 15, 2014 15 Comments

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©Disney

©Disney

While it’s well known that Kouzzina by Cat Cora is slated to close this fall (its last day of operation is September 30), what we didn’t know and have all been waiting to hear is what new restaurant was going to take its place.

Well, wait no more! Disney has officially announced that a brand new Italian restaurant, called Trattoria al Forno will be opening sometime this December at Disney’s BoardWalk Inn.

This brand new restaurant will serve up delectable, Old World-inspired dishes, showcasing dishes from the different regions of the country. Menu items will include Neopolitan-style pizzas, Bolognese with house-made cavatelli;  whole roasted fish with roasted vegetables; semolina tagliatelli carbonara; grilled steak; a seasonal risotto; pork chop alla Milanese; chicken breast alla Parmagiana with tagliatelle pasta; shrimp with garlic, capers and anchovy butter with polenta;  baked lasagna; slow-cooked lamb shank with polenta; ruffled campanelle pasta with green beans, roasted potatoes and Genovese pesto; and eggplant rollatini.   Read the rest of this entry »

Disneyland Planning for Disney World Experts

by on July 15, 2014 16 Comments

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Planning for Disney World is what I do, but planning for Disneyland is proving to be an entirely different matter. Joining the pilgrimage of Disney fans to Walt Disney’s original park? If you’re a Walt Disney World veteran, you’re going to need new skills for Disneyland planning. Or for some, old ones.

Disneyland Resort offers a host of new experiences for the Disney World veteran, such as World of Color at Disney California Adventure.

Disneyland Resort offers a host of new experiences for the Disney World veteran, such as World of Color at Disney California Adventure.

If you’ve been visiting Walt Disney World Resort long enough, you remember the days before FastPass+, My Disney Experience, even that weird blip when dining reservations were only available 90 days in advance. You remember planning your days with a much more loose feel, instead of racing from one reservation to the next. Of course, those days are gone. That knowledge is useless now.

Or is it? For Disney World veterans traveling to Disneyland Resort, planning a visit can feel like a return to form. So how does a Disneyland trip differ from a Walt Disney World trip? Dining, touring plans, getting around the resort, and fitting in extras and off-site adventures are all different with Disneyland planning. Let’s take a look.

Dining: 180 days prior to arrival, I’m rising with the sun to book Walt Disney World dining reservations. With a Disneyland trip, 180 days comes and goes without fanfare. You’ll have to wait until 60 days prior to your visit to make Disneyland dining reservations. Read the rest of this entry »