Sunday, February 27, 2011

Princess Storybook Dining ~ Akershus Royal Banquet Hall

As you know, I am a Disney fanatic. I am hoping all three of my kids will love Disney as much as I do, and I just think that is going to happen. Last night I was organizing some of our home movies (you may remember from my previous posts I make video montages for everything). My son saw our montage dvd from the last trip and we decided to watch it. There is one part of the montage that is just photos from our first princess dining experience at Akershus. My son made the comment that if we go there again, he will stay with Grammie and Grampa and I can take just the girls. Emily, my two year old who really believes she is a princess, has a look of shock on her face and says to Joey, "But Joey, you get to hug all the princesses, see Belle and eat hot dogs. It is wonderful!" She then turns to me and says, "Mommy, can we go eat hot dogs with Belle tomorrow?"

We had a great experience dining at Akershus and meeting the princesses.  I've added a photo montage of our pictures from that dinner.  You will see that there are no photos of my son. He chose to be a real stinker and participated in none of the pictures . . . maybe next time!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

A View from the Liberty Belle Riverboat

One of my favorite attractions in Magic Kingdom is the Liberty Belle Riverboat in Liberty Square.  This probably comes as no surprise to you, since I have mentioned in a few posts that I am a rollercoaster chicken.  The riverboat is just my speed and a nice place to relax and take in the scenery.  It is about a 20 minute ride through the Rivers of America.  One of the best things about this ride is the great view of a few Magic Kingdom attractions.  I thought I would share a couple of photos I have taken while aboard the Liberty Belle Riverboat.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A Few Photo Tips for Your Disney Vacation

Taken by Katie, a Cast Member at
Cape May Cafe
Our favorite thing to do in between trips to Walt Disney World is to look through our Disney scrapbooks, Disney photo albums and watch our Disney photo montages. The only way to make these great is to take as many pictures as possible when in the parks. As a mom of three, trying to get that perfect, posed shot of all three kids in one photo is nearly impossible. I have learned to just keep clicking and then go back and find my favorites. Over the years, my most favorite pictures are candid shots of my children interacting with a character, playing with someone else in our family and just having fun in the parks.

My first tip is take as many photos as you can without it interfering with your vacation. You want a lot of pictures, but you don’t want to be taking so many that you actually miss out on some of those special moments. Also if you travel with a group, everyone take pictures. I believe you cannot take too many pictures because someone always captures that one moment or expression that no one else gets. Never leave your camera behind with the thought that so many in your group already have cameras.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Contribution to the Minnie Moms over at Growing Up Disney

Once a month the Minnie Moms over at Growing Up Disney come together to share their opinions on a particular topic.  This month we discuss our "must buys" in Walt Disney World.  Check out my entry at Minnie Moms: Must-Buys at WDW Part 1

What are some of your "must buys" in the theme parks?

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Getting the Kids Ready for their Next Walt Disney World Vacation

I have discussed before ways to prepare your children for a Walt Disney World vacation.  If you missed it, you can read my post Preparing the Kids for a Trip of a Lifetime.  I am still doing all those things, but for our upcoming trip in October, I have added a few more "requirements" to the list. 

As you know, The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World is by far my favorite Disney guidebook.  That doesn't mean I don't enjoy a few others, but this book has all the things I love.  Numbers, grades, scores, etc.  Just what I like.  But the first time I opened an Unofficial Guide, I was shocked at the section about traveling with children.  It was called The Agony and the Ecstasy.  How could they dare refer to traveling to WDW with a little one agony?  I had traveled to WDW just one time as a mom with my 14 month old son.  He was the best little baby.  He never cried, was content sitting in the stroller to make our way around the parks and generally the perfect baby.  It was the perfect Disney vacation and nothing but "ecstasy" for a Disney mom who wanted her child to love Disney as much as she did. 

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

I Won the Disney Babies Blog Giveaway!

I am so excited!  I entered the Disney Babies Blog Giveaway and won a monogrammed bag.  Thanks, Jenn and Pixie Vacations!

If you haven't checked out the Disney Babies Blog, make sure you do.  Jenn has great information for travelling to Walt Disney World with a little one!  Her most recent post is her son's first haircut at Harmony Barber Shop on Main Street in the Magic Kingdom.

My First Wordless Wednesday ~ A Little Fun with Goofy at Cape May Cafe

Joey's 1st trip to Walt Disney World, February 2006

Monday, February 14, 2011

My Ideal Disney Menu

This is the view from our table on our
last trip to California Grill
One of my favorite parts of traveling to Walt Disney World is sampling all the different foods in World Showcase and restaurants around the parks and resorts.  Since having children, our favorite meals on property include characters and buffets, with Chef Mickey's taking the lead for dinner and Cape May Cafe in the lead for breakfast.  But we are lucky enough to have my parents travel with us each trip.  They always take the kids one night, so that Pierre and I can stroll through World Showcase and then make our way to a late dinner.  Our children are small, so World Showcase touring has taken on a whole new meaning with them.  I am always thankful my parents give us a night out in Disney.

'Ohana Bread Pudding
We have two favorite restaurants for our night out.  We either dine at California Grill or Artist Point.  California Grill has the obvious benefit of having not just amazing food, but also an amazing view, especially if you get a window table on the Magic Kingdom side.  I am not sure how we have been so lucky, but two trips in a row, we were right at a window table overlooking the castle.  Artist Point also has amazing food.  To get to Artist Point, we love to take the boat ride at night from Magic Kingdom to Wilderness Lodge.  Even better, if you time it right, on your return trip to Magic Kingdom, you can sometimes get a perfect view of the Electric Water pageant, which makes its way around the Seven Seas Lagoon and Bay Lake.  One evening, we actually timed it so we were "stuck" out on the boat waiting for it to pass.  It was really amazing.

So, you can park hop, resort hop and if I could restaurant hop my ideal meal for dinner, based solely on my favorite dishes from Walt Disney World, would be:

Friday, February 11, 2011

Change is Coming – Are you ready? The Fantasyland Expansion Project

Being someone who loves routine and is not so great with change, I must admit I am pretty excited about the Fantasyland Expansion Project. As a mom of three little ones, there are some changes that will definitely increase the already extensive amount of time we spend in Fantasyland. You may remember in a previous post of mine, A Disney Mom’s Lesson: Quality not Quantity, I discussed that our commando park touring of our pre-children days has changed into making our way straight through the castle to Cinderella’s Royal Carousel, now named Prince Charming Regal Carousel, to ride it no less than three or four times before making our way around to other favorite attractions of our children. Now I will admit the changes I am most excited about will not be favorites of my son, but my two daughters will definitely be impressed.

First let me say that my daughters are ages four and three. They love all princesses and each of their birthdays has had a princess theme, except one, though that was Minnie Mouse, who we believe is just as special as the princesses. Of their seven combined birthdays, three have been Little Mermaid themed, which brings me to the first addition to Fantasyland that I am excited about ~ Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid. Now this will not be a thrilled ride, which is fine by me, and I have a feeling my girls are going to love this, which is why I am excited about it. Not only do Hayley and Emily love Ariel and all her friends, but they also love to sing and dance to the amazing songs of The Little Mermaid. I see this ride immediately becoming one of their favorites.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Making ADRs - Part 2 - Help Me Find Something New!

In yesterday's post, Making ADRs - Part 1, I explained the different ways of making ADRs and a few tips to make sure you have the best opportunity to get the times and places you'd like.  Today I am going to share some of our tentative ADRs for our next trip. 

Where we are going to dine in Walt Disney World is by far my favorite part of planning our trips.  As soon as we start talking about our next vacation, I am already thinking of where we are going to eat.  At this point, we have so many favorites that it is hard to give one up to try something new.  But my goal each trip is to try at least one new dining experience.  Since my brother and sister in law were in town this weekend, and we won't see them again until we are all in Disney, we decided to get all our ideas out there for ADRs.  There will be eleven of us for this upcoming trip, including my parents, my brother, sister in law, 2 nephews and the five of us.  

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Making ADRs - Part 1

One of my favorite parts of planning trips to Walt Disney World is making our ADRs, or advanced dining reservations.  ADRs are not technically exact reservation times.  You check in 10 minutes prior to your ADR and you are seated at the next available table.  Sometimes you will be seated right away, other times you could wait beyond your time.  For us, we have never had to wait more than 20 minutes beyond our ADR, though I have read stories of people who have.

First, if you haven't been to Walt Disney World, you can book your ADRs 180 days in advance.  Don't break out your calendar and start counting 180 days.  Use the PS Calculator.  Simply enter your arrival date and you will be given the date you can make your ADRs for things that can be booked 30 days up to 495 days out.  For most dining reservations, simply look at the 180 day mark.  Even better, if you are staying on Disney property you can book up to 10 days of reservations.  This means for each day of your vacation you do not have to map out the 180th day. 

My Guest Post at Meet the Magic

Meet the Magic has long been one of my favorite Disney blogs to read.  Once a week, Natalie posts a strategy for saving money before arriving at Disney, as well as ways to save money while in Disney. 

I am excited to say that I submitted a money saving tip to Natalie and it is posted today!  Make sure you check out Strategies for Paying for Disney - Splitting.  Also if you missed any of her previous posts in this series, make sure you check out Strategies for Paying for Disney.  Have your own money saving tip?  Share it with Natalie and her readers!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Family Fun at Beaches and Cream - The Kitchen Sink

Each of our trips to Walt Disney World, we try to do something new. This is pretty easy since there are so many experiences on Disney property we couldn’t possibly squeeze everything into one seven day visit. During our March trip, we had decided that we were going to go to Beaches and Cream over at Disney’s Beach Club to try out the Kitchen Sink. We had been saying for several trips we were going to do this and just never took the time. I had seen Samantha Brown on an episode of Great Hotels visit Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club and order a Kitchen Sink. That's when I knew that was going to be something we were going to try.

We were visiting Epcot that day, so it was very easy to get to the Beach Club. We simply exited the park through International Gateway and walked. But if you were at DHS, you could easily take the boat from DHS to the Beach Club. I love it over at the Beach Club and certainly hope to stay there one of these trips. The décor, the landscaping and of course our favorite character breakfast at Cape May Café make this one of my favorite resorts to visit.

Because we were a large group, it was a little bit of a wait. We sat outside at the tables that looked like ice cream cones along Stormalong Bay. The hostess soon came out to get us and brought us to a booth. With 4 adults and 3 children it was cozy but manageable. Joey and Hayley loved the jukebox at the table. Emily loved that the lights looked like ice cream cones. Our server, Dolores, was so fun and really great to my kids. My dad decided that he was going to order a banana split, and the rest of us ordered the Kitchen Sink.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Minnie Moms at Growing Up Disney

One of the best things that has come out of writing my Disney blog is that I have connected with so many great people and shared so many special Disney stories, tips and even pictures.  I am very excited to announce that I am now officially a part of the Minnie Moms over at Growing Up Disney.  You can check out my first Minnie Moms contribution in the post Ideal Age for a Child's First WDW Visit, as well as Corby, Janine and Amy's perspectives.

If you haven't visited Growing Up Disney yet, I highly recommend that you do.  Amy and her family share their stories from when Amy was just a little one to today now visiting with her own little one.  For me, Disney is all about family, and that is exactly what Growing Up Disney is sharing with you.  The Minnie Moms are a group who share their thoughts on traveling with little ones.  Our children's ages range from infant to school-aged, so you get many perspectives on one topic.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Wishing I Were Here Right Now

On this very snowy day in New Hampshire, I thought I would post some pictures of a more tropical place!  You can check out my previous post My Favorite Kid Friendly Resort for my review.