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Do’s and Don’ts for doing Disney with preschoolers ~ by Jennifer

Published February 23, 2013 by Disneyways.com

Going to any Disney park or resort should be a magical experience for the whole family, but especially your young ones. They will forever cherish those priceless memories, and your entire family will reminisce on the magical Disney vacation they first took together.

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It is truly the happiest place on Earth, especially if you follow these tips!

Do stay on site

Staying on Disney property will make your trip much easier. You will have access to Disney’s reliable, comfortable, and safe transportation throughout your stay. From the moment you step off the plane to the day you head home, you will not need to worry about finding transportation to your hotel, the parks, or to any places on Disney property. This should keep your little ones more focused and should prevent them from feeling frustrated as the long days of commuting wear them down.

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Do bring or rent a stroller

Click here to see my post on how to make your stroller stand out in the crowd!

Even if you never use a stroller for your toddler, you definitely will need one in Disney World. There is a lot of walking, and a lot of stuff you will be bringing with you. Little ones will want a place to sit and rest, get shade from the sun, and possibly even nap. In addition, the stroller is a great way to store all the stuff you will bring with you.

Do keep hydrated and pack snacks

Photo property of CheapskatePrincess.com

YES you can bring food into the parks. Check with guest services for current rules on this. Make sure you keep yourself, the other adults in your party and your kids hydrated and fed. Hydration is especially crucial as it can get very warm, and you will be doing a lot of walking. Granola bars and other simple snacks will keep them happy when waiting on lines for rides and attractions.

Do plan breaks during your day

If you are relentlessly on a roll, the whole family will be melting down by noon. A great idea is to get to the park when it opens, then head back to the hotel midday for naps, rest and maybe swim. Then head back to a park in the late afternoon.

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The Big Blue Pool at the Art of Animation Resort

Do pack small gifts that you can carry with you and give out when needed

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You can also find fun toys on etsy.com like this one from SweetsByEj.

There is merchandise to be bought everywhere you look. Before your vacation, visit a Disney Outlet or other related retailer (I always find stuff at Dollar Stores and Walgreens) to stock up on t-shirts, figurines, stickers and stuffed animals. You will save a lot of money when your kids are begging for something, and you can take out a surprise item for them!

Do not try to do everything

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There is so much to do and see, and you will want to do everything. Resist the urge. Pick out the rides and attractions you feel your children will enjoy the most. Your children are little, so keep it to one park a day. Remember: you want a reason to come back! There are different phases where kids can enjoy Disney!

Do not force your child to go on a ride if he or she is resistant

If your child does not want to go on a ride, see an attraction or meet a popular Disney mascot, do not try to force him or her. Even if you have waited an incredibly long time, or if you just “know” your child will love the ride, attraction, or their favorite Disney hero, let them skip it.

Do not forget sunblock

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Even on cloudy days, everyone in your party needs sunblock. Unless you are at an inside ride or attraction, do not forget that there is very little shade at the parks. Even on colder days, the California or Florida sun can be very strong. Protect the skin of your whole family, especially our little ones who are more susceptible to burns. If you are traveling in the winter months you will still need it

Do not travel at the most crowded times of the year

If at all possible, try to avoid the most popular times. These include all major holidays, long weekends, and most of the summer. Try to pick the off times such as late September to early November, early December, mid January to early February, and early to mid May. While you will find crowds at all times, these times will be more manageable. Those lines will weigh on the you, and not to mention fussy toddlers.

Do not forget a light sweater and blankets for the evenings

The days may get incredibly warm, but as the sun sets it can get cooler. Depending on the month as well, the later half of the day and evenings can get really chilly. Make sure you pack a sweatshirt for every member of your party. For the little ones, you might even want to make sure you have a blanket they can snuggle under in their stroller.

EmbroideryMark makes a pillow, backpack, and blanket all in one! You can even get it personalized.

If you follow these easy tips you are sure to have a fantastic vacation! I cant guarantee there won’t be a meltdown here and there, but it will be much more manageable.

Jennifer is an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner with Destinations In Florida travel, offering FREE concierge planning services for all guests. Contact her today for a FREE quote.

 

 

Dude, Where’s Our Stroller? A tip for helping your stroller stand out in the crowd at Disney ~ written by Jennifer

Published February 17, 2013 by Disneyways.com

Obviously when you go to Disney you have to expect strollers, it comes with the territory. What most do not expect is that there is stroller parking in each “Land” or area you visit, to help prevent clutter near the attraction entrances. The stroller parking areas are monitored by cast members, who have one job – playing musical strollers. When one stroller leaves the pack, the cast members organize the rest back in to nice neat lines. I cannot tell you how many times we came out of an attraction and played a game I like to call;

“Dude, wheres our stroller?”

We finally wised up to the stroller game and bought a balloon to add the the stroller for the week.

See the difference? Photo from wdwstrollers.com

I tell you there is extra Magic in Disney balloons! In our experience, Disney balloons can last an entire week without deflating! So on your next visit, put a bright tag or a balloon on your stroller to help it stand out from the rest. Don’t waste time and energy playing “Dude, where’s our stroller?”

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Jennifer is an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner with Destinations in Florida. It costs nothing extra to use a travel planner and you get lots of great perks. Free autograph books, coloring sheets, hidden Mickey hunts and more!

2013 Epcot Flower and Garden Festival Menu Highlights and Food Locations

Published February 1, 2013 by Disneyways.com

Yes, you read that right. Taking a hint from the huge success of the Epcot Food and Wine Festival, food kiosks will be added in the World Showcase in 2013 during Epcot Flower and Garden Festival. What does this mean? Well, we will get to try some delicious new foods and beverages as we stroll around to see Disney characters in topiary, and rock out to the Flower Power Concert series (among other things!).

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I can’t even tell you how excited I am about this – but if a picture speaks a thousand words…

This is how I feel.

Don’t worry  – there are no squirrels on the menu.

Instead, Epcot chefs have some other things in mind.

Some highlights will include:

  • Smokehouse Barbecue and Brew in the American Adventure
  • Primavera Kitchen in the Italy pavilion
  • Hanami in the Japan pavilion
  • Florida Fresh -in the World Showcase Promenade

Menu items will include:

  • Shrimp with grits
  • Zellwood corn
  • Angel food cake with macerated Florida berries
  • Watermelon salad with pickled red onions
  • Feta cheese and balsamic reduction
  • Sweet “frushi” made with fresh fruits and coconut rice.

Specialty drinks will include:

  • Dole Whip with Spiced Rum
  • Hot Sun Tomato Wine from Florida Orange Groves Winery
  • Frozen Desert Violet Lemonade (non-alcoholic)
  • Wild Berry Slush (non-alcoholic)

 Tip: Need a map so you can plan your snack attack? Click here for a link to all of them from WDWInfo.com

What are your thoughts on these menu items?

Epcot’s UK and Canada Paviion Phone Booths are Ringing in the Magic!

Published January 5, 2013 by Disneyways.com

Do you remember seeing these on your last visit to Epcot’s World Showcase? Perhaps you or your family members have climbed inside and posed for photos?

Even if you’ve never been to Epcot at all, you may have heard about the phone booths. So where exactly are they? You will find them in the United Kingdom pavilion located close to the restrooms. These restrooms are on the right as you come into the pavilion from the Canadian side. There is also a lesser-known Canadian phone booth.

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Here’s how to find that one:

On the way up the stairs at the Canada pavilion, you can see the coat of arms of the “Canadian National Hotels.” Just a few more steps and you’ll see that elusive Canadian phone booth. It looks very similar to the ones in the UK.

Did you know they are working phone booths? They really are! Some sources say you can make outbound calls from them and some say you can not. One thing is for sure…you can make an inbound call to the phone booths when ever you’d like.

Are you missing Disney and need to add a little magic to your day? Give the phone booths a call! Sometimes you will hear a busy signal or a fax machine. Other times a Disney guest will pick up and be so shocked to hear your voice on the other end that they just hang up. However, there are lots of great stories about Epcot visitors who will talk to you about everything from the Florida weather, the restaurants, crazy drivers, and maybe even local places to find great frozen yogurt. If you reach ME – I promise to talk your ear off.

Locals and other guests taking a day trip to Epcot sometimes enjoy using their cell phones to play jokes on their friends. Tales abound about calling other members of their own party to surprise them with their best Goofy or Donald impression! Give it a try! You know you want to.

I just met you, and this is crazy, but here‘s the numbers – call them maybe?

(Sorry — I couldn’t resist! Here’s the video if you don’t get the joke.)

Have you called before? How did it go? Do you plan on calling?

Please share your story!

Local Orlando News Station Covers New Fantasyland

Published December 2, 2012 by Disneyways.com

Click here to see the Fantasyland tour from a local Orlando news station!

Gator Spotted in Magic Kingdom! Keep Arms and Legs Inside the Boat!

Published December 2, 2012 by Disneyways.com

With all this talk about the dragon that flew over New Fantasyland during a media event in 2012 –  it was bound to happen. Conversation reemerged about  about this video of the Splash Mountain gator. My first thought?  Of course there are gators in Splash Mountain! They sing, dance and play the fiddle!

But this gator is not the singing kind – or even the University of Florida kind. I thought this story couldn’t possibly be true – so I had to see for myself.

The guests weren’t  in any danger since the gator was not IN the Splash Mountain attraction itself.  He was actually in the Rivers of America (where the riverboat and the rafts are) safely separated from guests on the ride by a dividing wall. I can’t believe people on the bridge were feeding the thing popcorn, however. That is just asking for trouble.

How did the gator get in to Magic Kingdom without a ticket? Well, this body of water he is enjoying is said to lead to a waterway – that then leads to Seven Seas Lagoon and finally empties in to Bay Lake. I’ve lived in Orlando my entire life so I can tell you from experience that Gators abound in Florida lakes. Man made or natural bodies of water can attract them, they do not discriminate. It is not unusual to see news stories about gators that have found their way to the backyard pools of Florida homeowners!

However…this is Disney after all…and this was filmed way back in 2003. I imagine some sort of precautions have been taken since then that would prevent anything like this from happening again. Unless of course…this is actually a baby dragon. I have heard that 9 years is about how long dragons take to mature into adults.

Maybe this guy just wanted to get a good spot for the parade or fireworks like the rest of us. What do you think?

Festival of the Masters (FREE!) Begins November 9, 2012

Published October 30, 2012 by Disneyways.com

I’ve been called many things but “refined” and “cultured” aren’t adjectives that have been used very often. That’s probably one reason why the Festival of the Masters has not really been on my radar until this year. One of my friends is really excited about this event because she is a person who really appreciates fine art. She is also an AMAZING artist herself!  So, of course, I will be heading to check out the Festival this year and I am really excited to share this experience with her (and you!) . Perhaps some of her “culture” will rub off on me!

Besides – many activities, as well as parking at Downtown Disney are FREE! That’s a great price if you ask me!

From Disney:

“The 37th Festival of the Masters presented by Michaels is a vibrant, open-air fine arts festival in the Downtown Disney area, held November 9-11, 2012. Featuring award-winning artists, this world-renowned show is a highly anticipated annual event for Guests, artists, collectors and art lovers.
Discover fun for the entire family, including:
Dazzling displays of one-of-a-kind and limited-edition painting, photography, sculpture, jewelry and more
Hands-on activities for Guests of all ages and interests
Live musical performances
Unique shopping opportunities—from fine art to Disney collectibles

Whether you’re seeking a colorful day amid Disney magic or a spectacular piece for your personal collection, you’ll discover a variety of delightful experiences at Festival of the Masters presented by Michaels.

— Marketplace
• Family Interactive Activities:
o Disney Interactive –Showcasing Epic Mickey and the Power of 2
o Ghirardelli Ice Cream & Chocolate Shop – Kids can make their own Sundae magnet.
o LEGO® – Join in the fun as you help a real LEGO Master Builder to construct an 8-ft tall Hulk™ model for the first time!
o Rainforest Cafe® – Experience the joy of watching tropical birds as they perform for you
• NEW! Emerging Masters – Get a glimpse of more than 30 up-and-coming artists as they display their unique talents.
• The Florida Chalk Artists Association – Street Painters from the Florida Chalk Artists Association will cover over 1,000 square feet of sidewalk! The awards ceremony will take place on Sunday at 3pm at the Waterside Stage
• Art of Disney – Our flagship store at the Marketplace full of art from the Disney Masters! Artist appearances will be scheduled throughout the weekend. In addition, this location will present a unique offering by artist Dave Avanzino, giving them the opportunity to have their name made into a custom art using letters found around the Disney Theme Parks
• Michaels® – Make It Take It – Duct Tape Craft – Who knew duct take could be this fun? Visit the Michaels exhibit near the Waterside Stage to create your very own luggage tag take home craft.

Pleasure Island
• Disney Artist Village – This location will be immersed with character art created by our own Disney Masters from Disney Design Group, Yellow Shoes, WDI, Acme Archives Limited and local Disney licensed artists. See original works of art, giclées, prints, one-of-a-kind Vinylmation and the opportunity to meet the artists behind the creativity
• Michaels® Master Mural – It’s your turn to take center stage in the creation of this Disney masterpiece! Join the Michaels team as together we bring to life a masterful work of art…piece by piece!
• Fuego – Come play dominoes! Three custom domino tables will be available for play
• Curl – See several artists create a masterpiece on a pair of TOMS shoes
• Irish Artwork at Raglan Road™ Irish Pub and Restaurant – Check out the designs of Graham Knuttle, a renowned Irish painter and sculptor.

West Side
• Michaels® – Make-it Take-it – Mickey Ear Wood Framing Experience – It’s time to get creative! Design and take home your very own Mickey Ear Wood Frame with a personalized artistic touch. Let your imagination take the wheel with this fun experience designed for families and children of all ages.
• D-Street – Home of Disney Vinylmation; a uniquely shaped three dimensional pallet with creative design from many of our talented Disney artists. Whether you collect or trade, make sure you stop by to see the newest collections
• Cirque du Soleil – Complimentary face painting by a La Nouba artist Friday and Saturday noon – 4pm and live performances by La Nouba performers 4:00pm to 4:30pm
• House of Blues® Folk Art Festival – See grassroots and funk art at its finest, presented by approximately 35 local and national folk artists.
• Disney Art Tent – View a variety of art styles featuring beloved Disney Characters, presented by featured artists.”

For even more info on the festival click here and here.

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