Sunday, August 28, 2011

We Pursued & We Found the Magic This Week

Due to the incoming storm Irene and also getting two kids ready to go back to school, we have had a busy week!  I am co-hosting a new Disney project to countdown to Walt Disney World's 40th Anniversary, I have continued my countdown to Disney and am testing out some new-to-me Disney Apps.

This week for 100 Things to Do in Disney:
#75 Seeing the Characters in their Halloween Costumes ~ On Monday, I announced that we purchased tickets to Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party, a special ticketed event hosted at the Magic Kingdom.  This will be a first for us, but seeing the characters dressed up is something I am looking forward to!

#74 Hallowishes ~ Wishes is my favorite of the nighttime shows in Walt Disney World, so I cannot wait to see how they change it up for the Halloween party!

#73 Expedition Everest ~ This is one of Pierre's favorite attractions at Disney's Animal Kingdom.  Maybe I will be brave enough to try it out myself this year! I shared this as part of the Disney Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop hosted by Deb at Focused on the Magic.

#72 Dumbo the Flying Elephant ~ Can you believe I have never ridden Dumbo?  Well, hopefully I will change that this year.  All the kids have this one at the top of their lists!  I shared this as part of the Disney Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop hosted by Deb at Focused on the Magic.

#71 Kali River Rapids ~ On Friday, I joined Disney Flashback Fridays, hosted by Sarah over at Magical Days with the Mouse, with some fun memories of Kali River Rapids firsts, an attraction at Disney's Animal Kingdom.

Friday, August 26, 2011

100 Things to Do in Disney #71 ~ Kali River Rapids

Today I am sharing #71 in our countdown series, 100 Things to Do in Disney ~ Kali River Rapids in Disney's Animal Kingdom, as part of Flashback Fridays hosted by Sarah at Magical Days with the Mouse.  Hayley, Joey and Pierre are looking forward to experiencing this on our next trip.  Hayley is particularly excited because she is finally tall enough to ride!

Though I have never experienced Kali River Rapids, I have some really great memories of it.  Back in 2006, we took Joey, then just 14 months, for his first trip to Walt Disney World.  While we were walking through the Asia part of the park, my dad asked us what the Kali River Rapids attraction was all about.  Pierre explained that it was a rapids ride and that you get wet.  I even added in that you get VERY wet.  My dad had never experienced it and despite our warning, he and Pierre made their way onto the ride.  Well, let's just say, my dad was soaked head to toe!  I laughed so hard because he can be a really serious guy, but he just laughed it off - I was thankful it was a warm day! Here are the before and after pictures:

Thursday, August 25, 2011

40 Days to 40 Years ~ 1974 and the Debut of One of my Family's Disney Traditions

As you might already know, I have partnered up with Donna at DISTherapy on the 40 Days to 40 Years Project.  We have invited Disney writers from around the web to join us in counting down to Walt Disney World's 40th Anniversary by sharing their favorite Disney memories.  Today, it is my turn to share 1974.  I didn't actually travel to Walt Disney World in that year, but something very special to my family debuted in 1974.  You can discover just what that is by taking a stroll down memory lane in my post over at DISTherapy:

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

100 Things to Do #73 & #72 ~ Expedition Everest & Dumbo

Focused on the Magic
Today for the Disney Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop hosted by Deb at Focused on the Magic, I am sharing #73 & #72 in our countdown series 100 Things to Do in Disney

#73 Expedition Everest in Disney's Animal Kingdom ~ This is definitely Pierre's pick for the countdown.  Hopefully one day I will be brave enough to try it out!

#72 Dumbo the Flying Elephant ~ This picture is Joey, Hayley and Pierre's first ride on Dumbo.  Emily and I plan to have out first ride on Dumbo this year!  That's right, I have never ridden Dumbo! 

Make sure you head over to the Disney Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop and see everyone's great photos this week!

Monday, August 22, 2011

100 Things to Do in Disney #75 & #74 ~ Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party & HalloWishes

October 2008, Magic Kingdom
Today I am sharing #75 & #74 in our countdown series, 100 Things to Do in Disney.  Here it is, the big news - we have purchased tickets for the Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party.  Honestly, if you knew us, this news would shock you.  I have always said there is no way I would pay that much money just to go to a Halloween Party.  Well, I was wrong and here's how it all happened.

The other night, Pierre and I were sitting in our family room and started discussing how big our kids are getting and how quickly they are growing up.  This discussion then of course turned to Disney and what great ages the kids will be on this upcoming trip.  Add to it, we have had a recent breakthrough with a health issue we have been struggling with for three years with Hayley and are just thrilled that we have been able to conquer that now before she starts kindergarten and before we head to Disney.  I think at some point I probably was a little teary-eyed thinking of how great our kids are and how quickly time is passing by.  Then, it was said, the one statement that always seems to push my emotional mom button - you never know when we will be able to do this with our kids again.  Well, that did it, I went into number crunching mode.  How could we afford Mickey's Not So scary Halloween Party?  What if we never have the opportunity to go again at Halloween time?

So Pierre and I sat down and looked over our tentative itinerary.  We looked at the night my parents would be out at the anniversary dinner.  Since making our itinerary, we have been on the fence as to what we want to do with the kids that night.  We didn't want to do something that would leave my parents out, but yet, we wanted to do something the kids would love.  I know my parents would never go to the Halloween party.  So in the end we canceled two sit down dinners that we weren't so sure about anyways and we purchased the tickets with our Disney Visa Rewards dollars.  So there it is, a mom emotional about her kids growing up too quickly made an impulse purchase that cost us $287.  I must admit, from what I have read online, I have not one ounce of regret and cannot wait!  We will take full advantage of what Walt Disney World has to offer, because, though I do not regret our decision for this trip, I am pretty sure this will be a once in a lifetime event.

So for our countdown . . .

#75 Characters in Halloween Costumes ~ I cannot wait to see the characters dressed up in their Halloween costumes.  This to me is going to be a great opportunity for some some fun photo opportunities with the kids.  The kids have already determined we should all be Toy Story characters - apparently they feel I will make a good Jessie and Pierre will be the perfect Buzz Lightyear.  Hayley wants to be Bo Peep and has somehow convinced Emily she should be a sheep.  Emily has agreed though, I don't see her dressing as anything except a princess.  Joey has said he will be Zurg or Woody.  Of course, it is just August, so we will see what happens as we turn the corner to our trip.  Even better, when I posted last week about Hayley wanting to meet Flynn Rider, who may no longer be at the Magic Kingdom meet and greet, Christina from the blog Disney in our Blood left a comment that he would be at Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party - fingers crossed we see him!  Thanks for the tip, Christina!

#74 HalloWishes ~ I love the nighttime fireworks display Wishes.  I am really looking forward to seeing how they change it up for Halloween!

So, even though we usually have a Disney vacation on a tight budget, we were able to sacrifice a few things to make this work.  I really cannot wait to see how the kids react! 

Will you be attending Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party this year?  What is your best tip for first timers to make sure we have a great time and take advantage of all that the party has to offer us?  I would love to hear about your experiences!

40 Days to 40 Years ~ A Stroll Down Memory Lane to Walt Disney World's 40th Anniversary

I am very excited to say that I am co-hosting this project with Donna at DISTherapy.  We are counting down 40 Days to 40 Years with Disney fans around the web.  Each day for the next 40 days, we will be bringing you a new year of memories and special Disney moments.  Today kicks off with 1971 and Donna from DISTherapy.  To join in the fun, make you way over to DISTherapy and take this stroll down memory lane with us.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

We Pursued and Found the Magic This Week

This week I continued my family's countdown to Disney with our series 100 Things to Do in Disney from #81 to #76.  I can't believe we are quickly closing in on our next Walt Disney World Vacation.  With Joey and Hayley back to school next week, I think time is really going to fly by! 

The Countdown Continues
#81 Meet Rapunzel and Flynn Rider is one of the things Hayley cannot wait to do.  We all love Disney's Tangled, which was the inspiration for our Little Chef Disney Creation recipe over at Cooking with Mickey.  This month we shared our recipe for Tangled Pasta Salad (this link will take you to Cooking with Mickey, a great resource for Disney recipes, food reviews and food news).

#80, #79 & #78 The 3Gs of Disney I shared as part of Heidi's Destination Disney over at Heidi's Ramblings, Reflections and Reviews. 
  • #80 The Great Movie Ride
  • #79 German Pavilion in Epcot's World Showcase
  • #78 Grey Goose Citron Lemonade Slush
#77 Disney's Animal Kingdom's Pangani Forest Exploration Trail is one of my favorite things to do in Walt Disney World.  I shared my photos from our last trip for the Disney Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop hosted by Deb at Focused on the Magic.

#76 Breakfast at Chef Mickey's is a first for our family.  We figured this would be a great way to kick off our first day in Walt Disney World.  We found the recipe for Chef Mickey's Breakfast Pizza and created it here at home to bring a little Disney to our breakfast table.

As the countdown continues, I am going to share something BIG we are very excited to experience for the first time this year.  I'll be sharing that tomorrow!!  I can't wait! 

Pursuing the Magic around the Web
This week, my friend Beth over at A Disney Mom's Thoughts, shared how she pursued and found the magic in her post A Toy Story Haircut.  This will definitely bring a smile to your face!

Pursuing the Magic News
We also reached a milestone this week on our Facebook page.  In just less than two weeks, we already have over 100 "likes."  If you are on Facebook, feel free to head over to the Pursuing the Magic Facebook page and join in the conversation.  It is a great place to share how you find Disney magic in between trips to Disney.

How did you find Disney magic at home the week?  I would love to hear about it!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

100 Things to Do in Disney #76 ~ Breakfast at Chef Mickey's

Today I am sharing #76 in our countdown series, 100 Things to Do in Disney, which was chosen by the entire family.  Though we have eaten dinner at Chef Mickey's, this year we will be trying the breakfast buffet for the first time.  Our goal this trip was to try some new dining spots, since we seem to always go to the same ones trip after trip.  So we have sacrificed our favorite character breakfast at Cape May Cafe for Chef Mickey's.  It was a tough decision, but we all were in agreement we wanted to try something new. 

A few years ago, my dad recorded the show Unwrapped: Walt Disney World Resorts, which my kids love.  Though now it is somewhat outdated, we still watch it from time to time.  The segment on Chef Mickey's is what drew my children in.  During this segment they show the different offerings of the buffet, but also how to make Chip's Peanut Butter and Jelly Pizza. I am not so sure it would be something my taste buds would enjoy, but it definitely is something my children would eat.

The other day on Twitter, Kristen from Cooking with Mickey tweeted about Chef Mickey's Breakfast Pizza.  I figured that would be a great way to bring a little Disney into our kitchen.  The kids were so excited to help make the breakfast pizza.  We recreated the pizza, placed in the oven and waited for it to cook.  When I took the pizza from the oven, all three kids had a puzzled look on their face.  Joey said, "That isn't the Chef Mickey pizza."  When I asked him what he meant, he responded, "Where are the marshmallows, chocolate chips, peanut butter and jelly?"  I felt so bad because they thought we were making Chip's Peanut Butter and Jelly Pizza. So, in the end, we all had Chef Mickey's Breakfast Pizza and talked about which characters we can't wait to meet in Disney.  But the kids did let me know that on our next grocery shopping trip, we will need to buy the ingredients for Chip's Pizza. 

You can find the recipe for
over at Cooking with Mickey

Have you had breakfast at Chef Mickey's?  Feel free to let me know what you thought of it - good and bad reviews welcome!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

100 Things to Do in Disney #77 ~ Pangani Forest Exporation Trail in Disney's Animal Kingdom

Focused on the Magic

Today for the Disney Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop hosted by Deb at Focused on the Magic, I am sharing #77 in our countdown series 100 Things to Do in Disney.  This happens to be my pick.  I just love strolling through this area in Disney's Animal Kingdom.

100 Things to Do in Disney #78, #79 & #80 ~ 3Gs of Disney

Today I am sharing #80, #79 and #78 in our countdown series 100 Things to Do in Disney as part of Destination Disney at Heidi's Ramblings, Reflections & Reviews.  This week's topic is the "G"s of Disney, and surprisingly, all three are my picks for the countdown!

#80 ~ The Great Movie Ride is one of my favorite things to do in Disney's Hollywood Studios.  But as we were creating this list of things to do in Disney, I realized I have not experienced this since 2004, our last trip before we had children.  Because of a few elements of the attraction, we have not brought the children through because we felt there were some scary parts that our kids can wait until they are older to experience.  For this trip, we still probably won't bring the children on, but I hope to sneak away at some point during our DHS day to take another ride through.  I just love movies, and many of my favorites are found along the way.

Joey at his favorite spot in
World Showcase

#79 ~ The Germany Pavilion in Epcot's World Showcase is probably the pavilion I could spend the most time browsing.  Though we won't be having dinner at Biergarten this trip, it is one of our favorite family dining spots.  This pavilion also houses one of my favorite shops in all of Walt Disney World.  Volskunnst has a wide variety of goods from beautifully detailed clocks to German beer steins.  Though we do not normally make a purchase in this shop, it is definitely a place I visit every trip.  The German Pavilion is also a great place to grab a drink and a snack with their German beers and pretzels.

Monday, August 15, 2011

100 Things to Do in Disney #81 ~ Meet Rapunzel and Flynn Rider & a Tangled Inspired Recipe

Since we haven't met Rapunzel
yet, here's Hayley in Emily's "Ears"
Today I am sharing #81 in our series 100 Things to Do in DisneyThis is something Hayley is really looking forward to, and that is to meet Rapunzel and Flynn Rider in Walt Disney World.  It just happens to also be our inspiration for this month's Little Chef Disney Creations at Cooking with Mickey. 

Our family loves Disney's Tangled (yes, I still get teary-eyed at the lantern scene, even after several viewings!).  The characters are so endearing, how can we not love them?  Hayley has mentioned over and over how much she wants to meet Rapunzel and Flynn.  I am hoping we have that opportunity, but after reading an article by Wendy at Your Highway in the Sky, I am not so sure we will have that chance meeting with Flynn.  It seems that he may be, or has been, removed from the current meet and greet area with Rapunzel. (For more details, you can head over to Wendy's post A Loss of Character: Flynn Leaving Rapunzel Meet).  Hayley is already disappointed that she won't be able to meet Maximus, the horse, which took a lot of explaining on my part.  So my fingers are crossed we can somehow find a way for her to meet Flynn.  Have you been lucky enough to meet him somewhere in the parks? 

Disney's Tangled was the inspiration for this month's Little Chef Disney Creations, our column at Cooking with Mickey, where we share our Disney-inspired recipes to create wth kids.  Today we are sharing our recipe for

For a little more Tangled fun, do you think you can spot my little Hayley in Amanda Tinney's video Now I See the Light from Tangled Sung by Disney Fans for Disney Fans?  I'll give you a hint, be watching for pigtails and a princess sweatshirt at 2:29!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

We Pursued & We Found the Magic This Week

We had another great week, and next week is looking to be even better.  We are continuing our countdown to Disney and cannot believe it is coming up so quickly.  Once Joey and Hayley start school, our trip will be here before we know it!

Here's this week's 100 Things to Do in Disney #85-#82:

#85 Build Your Own Lightsaber at Tatooine Traders in Disney's Hollywood Studios ~ This is definitely Joey's pick, but I must admit, as a Star Wars fan myself, I am really looking forward to seeing this!  It will be a first for the family.

#84 Riding the Monorail ~ We haven't stayed in one of the monorail resorts, but we still make sure every trip we take a ride on the monorail!  We all enjoy this, but I will have to say this is definitely my dad's pick.  I shared a photo of Emily from her first monorail ride as part of Disney Worldess Wednesday Blog Hop hosted by Deb at Focused on the Magic.

#83 The Magic Carpets of Aladdin ~ Hayley and Emily cannot make their way through Magic Kingdom's Adventureland without a stop to ride the Magic Carpets.  I shared a photo of our family on the Magic Carpets as part of the Disney Worldess Wednesday Blog Hop hosted by Deb at Focused on the Magic.

#82 Earl of Sandwich in Downtown Disney ~ What a great place to grab a bite to eat!  It is delicious, filling and affordable.  Our trips aren't complete without at least one, if not two, meals here.

On Friday, I shared my best tips for enjoying your Disney vacation with your children.  Each and every trip with them, I learn something new that makes our vacations more and more magical!

Tomorrow, you will find me over at Cooking with Mickey for our Little Chef Disney Creations.  The kids and I share our Disney-inspired recipes and our cooking with kids tips.  All these recipes are kid friendly and fun to create as a family.  If you have missed any of our previous episodes, you can find them at Cooking with Mickey: Little Chef Disney Creations.  Check in tomorrow to see where this month's Disney inspiration comes from!

How did you find Disney magic this week?  I would love to hear about it!

Friday, August 12, 2011

My Top Tips for Enjoying Your Disney Vacation with Little Ones

Traveling to Walt Disney World with my three little ones has taught me several lessons.  Every trip I have taken with my kids has been more than magical, but also very educational from a parent's perspective.  Here are my top tips for enjoying your Disney vacation with your children. My post focuses on preschool aged children and older, but Jenn of Disney Babies Blog has a great article that focuses on vacationing with infants and toddlers.

Use Disney's Fastpass System: Standing in long lines isn't fun for anyone, especially little ones.  One of the best ways to reduce the time you spend in line is to use Disney's Fastpass System.  Using a Fastpass gives you the opportunity to return at an assigned time and skip the standby line.  Not all attractions offer this service, but if the wait is more than 30 minutes at an attraction that offers a Fastpass, I recommend you use it.

Standing in Line Strategies: If there is a long wait at an attraction that does not offer a Fastpass, then you have the option to return at a later time and hope the line is shorter or, have a few things in your backpack to occupy your child's time.  We use this time to find out what the kids have liked so far and to plan out what we will do next.  I also use my camera to let the kids looks at the pictures we have taken (my camera has a slideshow option which is quite nice!).  In our back pack, I carry a small magnetic drawing board for quick games like Tic, Tac, Toe and Erase a Face (Just like Hangman, except erase a feature of a face).  My kids also love playing I Spy and searching for Hidden Mickeys.  These things make the time go by just a little bit faster as we wait to experience an attraction.

Snacks and Drinks: Sometimes, just taking a quick break from the action is exactly what my kids need to rejuvenate.  We carry plenty of snacks into the parks to keep our energy up, but also, I can make sure my children have something to eat before reaching the stage that they are so hungry that they get cranky. We also carry water bottles with us to stay hydrated.  With all the walking they do, extra snacks and water are always needed.

Consistent Rules and Consequences: Just because you are in Disney doesn't mean you should forget all the rules and expectations you have for children's behavior at home.  We let our children know before we leave the resort each morning what our plan for the days is.  This is also a good time to add a few reminders about what is expected of them.  Our children are very well behaved but that doesn't mean they won't have their moments.  By having consistent consequences at home, they are very easy to implement on vacation.

First Aid Kits: In our backpack that we carry in the park, we pack a first aid kit with us.  This is a quart size bag that includes neosporin, Disney band-aids, tissues, travel size paper towels and tweezers (for splinters).  It is an easy way to make quick fixes for skinned knees or potential blisters.  For my kids, a Band-Aid, especially one decorated with their favorite character, can cure just about anything and help us get back to enjoying our vacation quickly.  When that doesn't work, Grampa usually comes to the rescue with a Mickey Premium Ice Cream Bar!

Don't Forget the Sunscreen: No matter what the weather is when we are up and getting ready to head to the parks, we make sure the kids have on their sunscreen.  We actually have this rule at home all summer, but in Disney it is just as important. 

Check for Blisters: There is a significant amount of walking around Walt Disney World.  When my children were really small, when we would take potty breaks/diaper change breaks, I would check the kids' feet for blisters.  Now with them being a little older, I ask them every so often and then check their feet when we take breaks back at the resort.  By keeping up with it, I can make sure I have our band-aids ready in case I see a blister forming and do something about it before it is too late.

Glow Sticks: Having a child with anxiety, the dark attractions can sometimes be scary for him.  I bring a collection of glow sticks with us to Walt Disney World, which come in all colors and sizes.  At our local dollar store, I have found bracelets, necklaces, fairy wands, tridents and many other shapes.  If any of the kids get nervous on one of the dark attractions, or just walking around at night, I hand them a glow stick.  It gives them just enough light to calm them, but it also is a light that will not disturb other guests' experience.  If you do stock up on these at home, remember they have liquid in them, so if you are flying, pack them in your luggage that you will check, rather than in your carry on bag

Potty Training Routines: If your child is potty training while in Disney, keep to your home routines as much as possible. Just a warning, the toilets in Disney are loud.  When my daughter was just two, they scared her to the point she refused to go into the bathrooms.  It turned into quite a struggle that lasted well beyond that particular vacation, so be prepared.  It actually set her back in her potty training significantly.

Meeting the Characters: Ease into a character meeting.  Let your child approach the character in their own way.  I have found that from trip to trip, my son's fear of them has changed.  Never take for granted that because they loved meeting the characters on your last trip that they will on this trip.  If your child has never met a character, I recommend planning a character meal before heading to the parks to give him a chance to meet the characters in a very laid back setting.  The cast members at character meals have always asked us if our children were comfortable with the characters.  They would then make sure the characters knew how to approach our table.

These are just a few of the many things we have learned along the way to help make our vacation as magical as possible.  Most importantly, I have learned to enjoy the time I have with my little ones.  I am finding that time goes by much too quickly to take these moments with them for granted.

What is your best tip for enjoying a Disney vacation with your little one?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

100 Things to Do in Disney #82 ~ Earl of Sandwich

Since I have no pictures of Earl of Sandwich, here is
what we do after we eat.  We head over to World
of Disney.  Here's Emily in her favorite section
of the store!  March 2010
Today I am sharing #82 on our series 100 Things to Do in Disney. This is definitely my pick because it is one of my favorite spots for great food at a great price!  It is Earl of Sandwich at Downtown Disney.  We make sure we have lunch at least once here, though sometimes twice, per trip.  They have an extensive menu of salads and sandwiches.  I have tried several different sandwiches and loved each and every one of them.

On our last trip, I discovered that you can have their salads in a wrap!  I don't know why this impresses me so much, but I had the cobb salad in a wrap, and I just loved it.  They have a wide selection of salads, including caesar, caprese and chinese chicken, to name a few.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

100 Things to Do in Disney #85 ~ Build Your Own Lightsaber

Today, I am sharing #85 in our series 100 Things to Do in Disney, and this is definitely one of Joey's picks.  Joey has became a huge Star Wars fan in a very short amount of time.  Someone in his preschool class loved Star Wars and would take the huge Star Wars Encyclopedia type books out of the library every week, which Joey started to do too!  He has never seen any of the movies, but we have read plenty of Star Wars books, so he knows many of the characters. 

Back in May I came across a post at Makin' Memories about something special at Tatooine Traders, the gift shop as you exit Star Tours.  I couldn't believe it when I read that they give you the option to build your own lightsaber.  I knew Joey would just have to do this, and I added it immediately to our to trip's to do list!  When I told Joey, he was so excited that he has made me look at the post several times.  Now the big decision is which lightsaber he is actually going to create!

Have you experienced this yet? I would love to know what you think!

For more information, make sure you check out Melissa's post at Makin' Memories Every Jedi Needs a Lightsaber.  She has a great photo of the make your lightsaber kiosk.

Also, you will soon see me writing some book reviews of those Star Wars Encyclopedias over at Jedi Mouseketeer.  If you are a Star Wars fan, make sure you check out his site for all your Star Wars news with a Disney twist, as well as updates and news about The Muppets and much, much more.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

We Pursued and We Found the Magic This Week

I cannot believe we are another week closer to our Walt Disney World trip!  Our countdown, 100 Things to Do in Disney, continues with lots of fun things.  In addition to our countdown, there were some other great things happening this week!

100 Things to Do in Disney #86 to #91:
  • #86 Create You Own Potato Head at Once Upon a Toy (Hayley's pick)
  • #87 Mad Tea Party (Hayley's pick) ~ This was part of Disney Flashback Friday hosted by Sarah at Magical Days with the Mouse. You can see our "spins" on Mad Tea Party from 1986 to 2010.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

100 Things to Do in Disney #86 ~ Create Your Own Mr. Potato Head

Today I am sharing #86 in our series 100 Things to Do in Disney, and this is one of Hayley's favorite things.  Hayley absolutely loves Mr. Potato Head, so every trip we must make a stop at Once Upon a Toy for the Create-Your-Own Potato Head Center.  I believe we might just have every single possible Potato Head outfit you can purchase, so when we go to Once Upon a Toy, she can find some Disney themed outfits that we can't purchase here at home.  Even better, if you haven't been to Once Upon a Toy, there is a set up right in the center of the first room you enter, where kids can create their own Potato Heads.  Of course, the goal for Disney is to get you purchase the pieces, but this particular spot is a great place for Hayley to just play.  On our last trip, we purchased the pieces to create Tinker Bell, Darth Vader, Minnie Mouse and Sorcerer Mickey Potato Heads.  There are plenty of characters to choose from, and Hayley tells me she can't wait to go back to buy more Disney outfits, Joey let her know that he think the she should buy some Star Wars outfits too! 

Emily was just tall enough last trip to join in the
fun. This year, she should have no problem
reaching all the pieces she wants.
March 2010
When I went in 2010, it was about $20 to buy a box to fill with the Potato Head pieces.  Luckily, for us, we have plenty of the potatoes heads at home, so we just filled the box with accessories.  If you pack it just right, you can fit plenty of things in there. One little tip though, bring a potato from home.  Last trip, Hayley picked out all the pieces and we had no potato to put them on.  It was not fun to buy all the brand new things that she couldn't play with!  Another tip, when filling the box, we make sure you can close the box.  The first time we purchased this, I was trying to be so careful about making sure I could close the lid.  The Cast Member let me know not to worry about it, and she had Hayley add a few more items to the box.  But this last trip, we were told the box has to close all the way.  I am not sure if it a policy change or just that it was different cat members, but something to keep in mind if you are purchasing a box of Potato Head pieces.

Do you make sure to stop at this spot?  Even if you don't purchase any of the pieces, if your child loves to play with Mr. Potato Head, this is the place!  Of all the things to look forward to in Disney, this is definitely one of Hayley's favorites!

Friday, August 5, 2011

100 Things to Do in Disney #87 ~ Going for a Spin (through the Years) at the Mad Tea Party

I am sharing #87 in our series 100 Things to Do in Disney - The Mad Tea Party, as part of Magical Days with Mouse's Disney Flashback Fridays hosted by Sarah.  This is one of Hayley's most favorite attractions in the Magic Kingdom and is a close second to Prince Charming's Regal Carousel.  It is also one of the first attractions I remember from my very first trip to Walt Disney World in 1986.

When my parents decided to take my brother and I to Walt Disney World, we purchased one guidebook before leaving home and that was it.  We didn't have my now color coded Excel spreadsheet or daily itinerary.  There were no dining reservations.  We just showed up and had a great family trip.  Of course, at that time, there was only the Magic Kingdom and Epcot. 

On our very first day of the trip, we made our way over to the Magic Kingdom.  We were in such awe walking around the park that not until we made it all the way to the tea cups did it hit us that we should probably experience an attraction.  How we passed so many attractions and never experienced them, I'll never know.  It's funny because we rode the tea cups that trip when I was just 13 and I never did again until I had children.  Either way, it is always the one I remember as being my first Walt Disney World attraction.

Here we are through the years at the Mad Tea Party:

My dad, my brother and me ~ October 1986

Joey was a little young for the Mad Tea Party on his first trip, but here he is near the Mad Tea Party:
Joey and Grampa outside of the Mad Tea Party ~ February 2006

Thursday, August 4, 2011

100 Things to Do in Disney #88 ~ A New (to us) Signature Dining Experience

Canada Pavilion, April 2003
Today in our countdown of 100 Things to Do in Disney, I am sharing #88 a signature dining experience we will be trying for the first time - LeCellier in Epcot's Canada Pavilion.

My parents travel with us to Disney every trip.  It is amazing that the two people who started our family's love of Disney when I was just a teen, now get to share that love with the next generation of our family, my children and my brother's children.  There are so many benefits of traveling with family.  First, magical moments are so much more memorable when shared by all of us.  Second, it is always nice to have a few extra hands to help out with the kids, especially on our trip when all three of my kids were in diapers.  Plus, of course, it is nice to see the kids get spoiled by the grandparents.  For us, there is one more thing my parents do that my husband and I love and really appreciate.  They take the kids one night of the vacation so that Pierre and I can have a night out in Disney. 

Canada Pavilion, April 2003
Flower & Garden Festival
Being big fans of Epcot's World Showcase, it gives us an opportunity to spend the evening strolling through the pavilions, sampling the food and drinks, and browsing through the different shops.  Even better, after that, we have a late dinner at one of Disney's signature dining restaurants.  In the past, we have alternated between Artist Point at Disney's Wilderness Lodge and California Grill at Disney's Contemporary Resort.  This year, we are trying something new, LeCellier.  Even better, our friends will be in Walt Disney World at the same time and will be joining us for dinner.  Because they have two little ones, this will be the first time the four of us are able to coordinate babysitters for all five kids on the same night.  Who knew, to actually have a date night with our friends, we would have to travel all the way to Walt Disney World!  I say there is Disney magic at work here!

One of the things that brought LeCellier to our attention was the recipe I found over at Cooking with Mickey for the Canadian Cheddar Cheese Soup.  Creating Disney dishes is one of my favorite ways to bring a little Disney magic into our home between trips.  My husband made this recipe for the family, and let's just say, it put LeCellier front and center on our "must do" list for this trip.  If the soup is this delicious, I can only imagine what the rest of the menu is like!

Have you had dinner at LeCellier?  I would love to hear what you think of it.  Also, menu recommendations are always welcome - from appetizer to dessert, let me know your favorites!

It's Official! Pursuing the Magic is now on Facebook!

I have finally set up a Facebook page for Pursuing the Magic.  I hope you will join me over there to talk Disney and keep up with how my family is counting down to Disney.

Also, if you are on Twitter, feel free to follow me over there too!  My Twitter name is

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

100 Things To Do in Disney #89 & #90 ~ Tower of Terror and The Lego Store

Focused on the MagicI am joining in on the fun of the Disney Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop hosted by Deb at Focused on the Magic with #89 and #90 on our countdown to Disney in my series 100 Things to Do in Disney.  Join in the fun and add your own Wordless Wednesday post and check out everyone's great photos!

#90 ~ The Lego Store in Downtown Disney (Joey's Pick): Joey has just started getting into Legos.  He has talked constantly about going to the Lego Store.  If he thinks the Lego aisle in Wal-Mart is impressive, I can't wait to see what he thinks of this Downtown Disney store!

#89 ~ Tower of Terror: Those of you who have been following me for a while already know that I am a complete thrill ride chicken, so this pick comes from Pierre.  He makes sure to hit Tower of Terror in Disney's Hollywood Studios at least once per trip, if not more!

Monday, August 1, 2011

100 Things to Do in Disney #91 ~ Flights of Wonder

One of my favorite photos from
Flights of Wonder
I am sharing #91 on our countdown to Disney in my series 100 Things to Do in Disney.  Today I am talking about one of my personal favorites - Flights of Wonder in Disney's Animal Kingdom.  My husband and I discovered Flights of Wonder one trip purely by accident.  It is an attraction at Disney's Animal Kingdom that I really never took the time to see just what it is.  Since that first accidental "meeting," it has become an item on my "must do" list each trip.  I have already blogged about Flights of Wonder (this link will take you to my article describing the attraction, as well as a photo montage of my favorite photos from the show), but there is one aspect of the show I am really hoping to experience this time around - being chosen from the crowd.

Every show, they choose two volunteers from the crowd.  The volunteers get to sit on stage, get their cameras ready and then click away as one of the show's "actors" swoops in toward the stage.  I can only imagine the types of photos people get from this amazing experience.  My recommendation to you, next time you are at Flights of Wonder and they ask for a volunteer, raise your hand!  I know I will be!