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Back in OCTOBER (I know…), our family took one big trip to Disney World. It was just a month after Grandma passed and the day after we sold our house. Whirlwind and a half. Might as well share some of our favorite things about the trip since I’ve finally taken the time to put the pictures from the Memory Maker on Facebook (highly recommend you buy this option with your tickets, thanks for these, Dad!).
(You can check out the full album over on our Flickr page!)
October was not supposed to be hot. It was over 92 degrees when we landed and tried to get the 7 of us (my parents, brother, the four of us) into our rental van that just didn’t accommodate Evan’s car seat all that well. The heat was ON and it started a bit stressful. Then we dined at a super awesome buffet that our cousins had found the day before (but now it’s closed, boo to that mess or I’d share with you) and headed for an evening at the pool with most of the rest of our family who joined in on the fun (at one point there were 25 of us together). We stayed at The Fountains, a BlueGreen Resort and it was actually quite nice (although we always have some issue with the pool…like the one right beside us was not filled although the desk attendant told my dad there was one right beside our building that would be “perfect”).
Day one at Disney was spent at Animal Kingdom. I’ve got mixed reviews. It was so hot and humid that even the animals didn’t really care to be out. We did, however, get some nice shots with the characters, even with Evan being a little standoffish with the whole process. A Dole Whip was a must, too. Favorites of Animal Kingdom? Rafiki (find him by taking the train to the very back of the park), Lion King and It’s Tough to Be a Bug (which we saw another night thanks to our Park Hopper pass).
Monday brought us to Epcot – our favorite to be honest. The kids loved riding Spaceship Earth – we even came back a few times at night to sneak in one ride of it before bed! Greg, Jack, and I enjoyed some of the (Wine) and Food Festival. We discovered what happens when our six year old gets hot RIGHT THIS VERY MINUTE at the very back of the park and allowed for the kids and Grands to have an early night while Greg and I came back to walk through the countries with the Sweazys. I started feeling nauseated due to the scents of the food and sheer amount of people trying to watch the fireworks, so we snuck out of the park a little early and watched fireworks from a distance. Favorites at Epcot – Spaceship Earth, Journey Into Imagination with Figment, Chip and Dale (the kids believe they are twins, so they were captivated) and the princesses (we dedicated a whole afternoon to hopping back to Epcot just to meet Aurora and Sleeping Beauty).
Kids – I am sorry Mama and Daddy met Aladdin and Jasmine without you. We know we owe you big time. We tried. We promise.
Tuesday was quite a special day. It has a lot of awesome memories, honestly. Of course, it was Magic Kingdom day. We started with a late morning at Downtown Disney where Pappy and Grammie had the kids do Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. My mom and aunt coordinated a gorgeous homemade Elsa dress for Arianna. Evan became a night with “Beast” hair (it was the only way we could get him to wear his locks in a ponytail then all week in the heat!). They were simply too cute. We met the family right after a downpour and crammed “the most people I’ve ever seen” (per the photographer) into the Rose Garden to take a shot by Cinderella’s Castle. Before sending the kids back for a nap, we did It’s a Small World as a family – trying our best to fit in one boat but I think we ended up shy two spots. Greg stayed “with the big kids” and I had a Thirty-One meeting then came back with Dana with the sole purpose of eating popcorn, riding Haunted Mansion, and trading pins. Mission accomplished.
Wednesday was a rest day – one that was much needed. We spent the evening at the Fort Wilderness’ Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Review. The show is very entertaining and the food was great. Again, this was a whole family thing, and we captured all of us in a pre-show photo.
Thursday was Hollywood Studios. We started the day with a Character Breakfast (with Doc McStuffins, Sofia, Handy Manny, and Jake). I might have had to pull my ticked off pregnant card with the Cast Members with Jake. They skipped our entire row of tables and made us wait an entire hour before he came back around. Our server was trying to kick us out, but I stood my ground and had a mad husband and uncle with me, too.
This park wasn’t as much our speed as we hoped, so we saw some characters then hopped over to Epcot (Princess afternoon) and back in time for Fantasmic – worth it.
Friday, our last day at the parks, was spent doing everything we wanted to do again and again. The kids, Jack, and I hit up three parks I think. We got to ride Pirates of the Caribbean (it was broken most of the week!), meet Tiana and Tinkerbelle, rode Spaceship Earth and Figment again, spent some down time waiting for a bus because the monorail failed, rode the ferry, did an Animal Kingdom evening, and seriously wore ourselves out before heading back to the resort for a swim and pizza. A fuller day never did we have!
Our trip came to an end on Saturday after another Downtown Disney visit for the kids “big gift” (we had Tinkerbelle visits each night), pin trading, and unwinding. It was hard to come home to Pittsburgh (especially since we were technically “homeless”) and start our six weeks of transitional living, but we did it.
A few things about our trip…
We used Fast Passes. We highly recommend this, but warn that if you are going in a big group like we did, don’t link your passes. Every time someone else would cancel or change one of their passes, it would impact ours. We showed up for a few things we couldn’t Fast Pass into because of this, and lost the chance to meet Elsa and Anna after I somehow magically had scored a spot late in the game. 🙁
Trade pins! It was so much fun. The kids didn’t get it, but I ate it up.
Eat a pretzel shaped like Mickey. Spend the $ and everyone get one. I still crave that pretzel.
Don’t be afraid to experience Disney your way. I was 3 months pregnant and walked almost 30,000 steps a day. Something I definitely couldn’t do today. My parents could go everywhere we did, but we did try to meet up and enjoy slower paced memories with them. And we also had our crazy days (like Friday) where we simply tried to do it all. That’s why we got the Park Hopper pass. Don’t get one if you don’t think you’ll do it. But then again…you never know when your kids will beg to just stop at Epcot for the last ride of the night to be Spaceship Earth because they somehow know the park is open and there’d be close parking spots.
We tried to eat at the resort as much as we could, but did enjoy some of the food. My favorite restaurant is only open for lunch (Tortuga Tavern) and we made it there JUST IN TIME to enjoy the last of the toppings bar on our taco salads.
It’s okay if you kid enjoys the coasters from the perspective of dad’s armpit. She’ll still talk about it months later like she was a superhero, and she was.
Thanks to our family for the fun and memories on this trip!
Disclosure: I received the app below in exchange for a review. All opinions, as always, are 100% my own.
The Mickey Mouse Mash-Up app has my ‘lil artists getting ready for family game nights by having them “follow along with Mickey Mouse in an adventure involving their own personally drawn character! Mickey and your creation will travel through cities, visit new places and experience incredible journeys, while encountering hi-jinx and hilarious events along the way.”
I was just wowed as Mickey asked Arianna to draw him “something real small that you’d find on the beach” and she drew…
Seriously. I didn’t even know my five-year-old knew what a clam was. But she sure did draw it. I wish I could prove it, but it was in the story in a part where she had to move fast and hide Mickey. I couldn’t move fast enough!
And then, Mickey put that clam in a story about “No Service” at a beach-shack diner. Arianna was totally captivated as the story went on, and didn’t even get upset when Mickey noted that “oops, we forgot to draw food!” and had to go back in and make an addition to the story. (Love that it’s teaching her mistakes are okay!)
There was one part of the story that she didn’t get, a timed activity to draw a box and a trash can to draw something to hide an unclothed Mickey (all part of the “No Shoes, No Shirt, No Service” theme).
She did enjoy recording sounds to be included, too, and even critiqued her ability to make them just right by not hitting the check mark until they were perfect. (Oh my goodness.)
I love that this app doesn’t seem like it will get old. Now to convince Evan that it’s not really in his age range so he doesn’t get mad when he doesn’t *get* all of Mickey’s instructions. (It’s rated 4+, I’d almost wonder though because the store I listened to with Arianna talked about “naked” a few times. All depends on how open you are with your kids – I’ll leave it up to you!)
Disclaimer: I was asked to write a review of the app Disney Princess Palace Pets. All opinions are 100% my own.
We have a few new pets in our house today thanks to “Disney Princess Palace Pets”, a free app available in the iTunes App Store.
At present, Arianna is cutting the hair Ariel’s pet “Treasure” because “it’s getting too big”. Earlier, she and Evan just could not get enough of the sweet stories of how they met the Princesses.
These kids really love taking care of pets, and the bonus is that these ones belong to their favorite Disney Princesses. Unrelated? I swear Arianna has other clothes. She just loves to be in her jammies all.the.time.
Here are the details I was sent from Disney:
As any animal lover knows, pets need TLC. With the special styling section of the app, kids can pamper, groom and style the Palace Pets with brushes, bows, tiaras, and more. Kids can also save and share photos of the Palace Pets with the app’s photo-saving tool.
App features include:
Intricate artwork and fun animation
Interactive salon includes washing, brushing, treat, and accessories stations
Professional narration, character voices and charming music
Royal Gallery featuring all styled pets
Now available in toy stores is a new toy line including figures, plush, play sets and more. Children can collect, nurture and pamper the Palace Pets in real life, too. Disney Princess Palace Pets is available in the App Store for free.
I’ve been granted back a solid hour of silence simply from this app. Thanks for the heads up, Disney (and a pay it forward “you’re welcome” to you).
Disclaimer: I received a product code in exchange for an honest review. All opinions, as always, are 100% my own.
Disney Publishing has just released a new app for iPhone and iPad, Jake’s Never Land Shapes and Patterns. My kids were super excited to give this app a try, because not only do they like to watch Jake, but they are both math geeks like their Mama. (So, shapes and patterns are right up their alley.)
In this app, characters from Disney Junior’s “Jake and the Never Land Pirates” took us on a treasure hunt through games and a story (complete with interaction with Captain Hook, Evan’s favorite villain). The games have three levels of fun for the kids:
– Shadow Puppets: Drag and drop matching shapes onto Circle Rock. – Rolling Hills: Help the crew make a path by completing patterns. – Lightning Bugs: Spot and trace shapes in the Cave of the Twilight Treasure.
Evan, who is not quite three, loved the Shadow Puppets game because he’s great at “matchy-match” activities. Arianna enjoyed Rolling Hills because she’s just started to do some work with patterns at school. Both of the kids were okay at the Lightning Bugs activity, but definitely enjoyed the other two a lot more. The games are were I see the value of the app as they are great for repeat play.
In the games, you earn gold doubloons for completing levels. Let’s talk about those doubloons a quick second – this actually stumped me. I couldn’t figure out how to “grab” them, and when I did, it closed the app. I’m still not 100% sure how to “grab” them! (If you know, send me a comment!)
As for the story, we enjoyed reading along with it at bedtime, but I’m not sure how many times the kids would read it without memorizing the plot. The voices are the same as the ones used from the characters on the show, which is great from the kids’ perspective. You can also play the games during the story, which extended our bedtime routine in a way that I’m okay with. (Note, I wish there were a few more stories or songs in the app, this would up the value in my mind.)
There’s also a “Pirate Puppet” feature where you can “trade the gold doubloons you earned in the shape games for fun pirate attire, record a silly pirate phrase, and watch as your puppet dances to lively tunes”.
My kids were glad to add this app to their growing library of fun for bedtime, and both give it two thumbs up.
Designed for kids ages 4 and up, Jake’s Never Land Shapes and Patterns features three leveled curriculum activities that support shape and pattern identification. Kids can match shapes, complete patterns, and trace their way to treasure – all while Captain Hook is hot on their trail! (App price is $2.99, available on the iTunes Store. This app is NOT compatible with iPhone 3GS, iPod Touch 3rd and 4th Generation, and iPad 1.)