Saturday, November 30, 2013

Disney Cruise Must Haves

 

 
Who doesn't love planning for a Disney vacation? There are so many fun cruise must have's. Many cruisers join an FE exchange and purchase a personalized fish extender. When you participate in a FE exchange you will need to bring on board your "fe gifts" for fellow cruisers. I love these adorable light cards, they make perfect "fe gifts".
 
 
Light cards make the perfect FE gifts for your fish exchange. These are lightweight and convenient to carry on board. These are great for keeping the lights on in your stateroom when you need to remove your Key To the World to venture out on the ship but want to leave the lights on for the others in your stateroom. https://www.etsy.com/shop/PixieDustedStitches
 

 
Personalized FE Holder for collecting all of the awesome FE gifts is a cruise must have from StitchesNBows There are many adorable patterns and designs to choose from.
 
 
Adorable tumbler perfect for your favorite beverages while cruising and at home from
 
Minnie Mouse Tropical Door Magnets are a Cruisin must have! Decorate your stateroom door and then after your cruise, save them for your fridge :) https://www.etsy.com/shop/HairMajestyBoutique
 
 
Adorable cruise themed hair bow from Bow A Day
 
Everyone planning a Disney cruise needs to read Passporter's Disney Cruise Line book. Wow! It really has everything you need to know.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

My Favorite Disney Memory

My daughter Sophie whispering in Princess Jasmine's ear!
Hello everyone!  My name is Mike, and I am the creator of the site My Dreams of Disney!  My friend Hayden asked if I wanted to write a guest post, so I gladly accepted!  I hope you enjoy, and Hayden, the offer is always open if you ever want to write on My Dreams of Disney, so let me know!

Today I thought I would talk with you about Disney Memories, and the Magic that can be experienced at Walt Disney World with these incredible moments in time.  As a case in point, I am going to share with you the time that we had an absolutely incredible Disney moment happen, way back in June of 2008.

We were visiting Walt Disney World that year to celebrate Sophie's 7th birthday, and the whole time we were enjoying ourselves at the park, Sophie kept insisting that the only thing she wanted as a souvenir was a Princess Jasmine costume.  Of course, costumes at Disney can be pricey, and the one that Sophie wanted was about $60 -- and we hadn't purchased it yet.

Well, on one of our days of our trip, we were in Epcot, walking in the World Showcase.  We came upon Morocco, which is normally a pavilion we don't spend much time in, but for some reason, we decided to browse on in.  We looked at some of the shops, just kind of looking, not doing any real shopping at the time, but then, as we wandered near the back of the pavilion, we came around a corner -- and who was there, looking as if they were waiting for us, with no line at all -- Princess Jasmine and the Genie!

It was one of those Disney Memories like you see on the TV commercials!  Sophie was so excited, she was seeing Princess Jasmine -- and since there was no one in line, we spent what felt like an eternity talking with them and taking pictures!  It was during this time that I snapped that photo of Sophie whispering in Princess Jasmine's ear.  Later on, when I asked her what she was telling her, Sophie told me that she was telling her that she was going to get her own Princess Jasmine costume to take home with her!

Well, that's what she did, of course, and that costume lasted for an eternity, through Halloween, playdates, little girl dress-ups, and on and on and on.

The magic of Disney is what truly makes Walt Disney World, Disneyland, and all the other great Disney destinations the most incredible places to visit.  It is that magic that my family longs for each and every visit we make; it is that magic that led us to buy our DVC membership so we could bring our own friends and family with us to visit and experience their own Disney Magic; and it is, without a doubt in this writers mind, that Magic that led to this chance encounter with Princess Jasmine, and a memory that I will never, ever forget.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Thanking A Special Cast Member


Welcome to those of you joining me from The Disney Point and those of you just hopping aboard. I am the 3rd stop on our Magical Blogorail.

There are hundreds of cast members employed at Disney World. If we each took the time out of our vacations to simply thank at least two per day think how nice that would be. I have seen cast members go out of their ways to make a guests experience even more magical. We have been at Disney World on my daughter's birthdays each May for the past few years and each year there are many many cast members who have gone above and beyond to make my daughter feel extra special. For example, my daughter was wearing her birthday button and a cast member stopped us while we were walking down Main Street and he handed her a Mickey sticker and a fast pass for Thunder Mountain (her favorite ride!).

I want to share with you a quick and easy, fun and creative way to say 'thanks' to a special cast member--the housekeeping. Many times house keeping staff is forgotten. You don't typically see them but they always do an amazing job.You can prepare these mouse keeping envelopes ahead of time and let your children help decorate them. Leave these adorable envelopes each morning for the house keeping staff in your hotel room. They will definitely appreciate the thoughtful gesture.

Get creative, use stickers, stamps, glitter, etc. to create your "mouse keeping" envelopes




Thank you for joining me today. Your next stop on the Magical Blogorail Loop is The Disney Kids

Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail Loop should you happen to have to make a stop along the way and want to reboard:

1st Stop ~ Capturing Magical Memories
2nd Stop ~   The Disney Point
4th Stop ~  Disney with Babies, Toddlers, and Preschoolers
Final Stop ~ The Disney Kids

Monday, November 25, 2013

Catch Santa Customizable Photos

Each Christmas I absolutely love customizing Santa photos for my children to see Christmas morning. You can try it free using the special code #SantaShare on the website http://www.icaughtsanta.com/
 
 
Share these adorable photos with your children for years to come

Use your own photos and really shock your children when they see Santa was really in their house!

Naughty or Nice List


To upload your photos visit http://www.icaughtsanta.com/ and be sure to enter the free code #SantaShare The code expires Dec. 10 so hurry.


I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Thanksgiving Dinner At Disney World-Where To Eat

 
Welcome to those of you joining me from Capturing Magical Memories and those of you just hopping aboard. I am the Final stop on our Magical Blogorail.
 
 
Disney World offers many great options for traditional and non traditional Thanksgiving meals. I am going to share with you some of the options. Don't forget to make your advanced dining reservation (adr) as soon as possible. It is best to plan ahead on major holidays especially and make your adr's at the 180 day mark to avoid long lines and long wait times.
 
Liberty Tree Tavern at the Magic Kingdom serves a traditional Thanksgiving feast everyday of the year. The dinner menu consists of a delicious All You Can Eat buffet with turkey breast, roast beef, mashed potatoes, mac n cheese, stuffing and seasonal vegetables. The cost is $38 per person and children are $19. Don't forget to save room for the dessert! The apple crisp is amazing. They also offer a children's menu for picky eaters.
 
Liberty Tree Thanksgiving Dinner
 
At Animal Kingdom Tusker House is offering a special Thanksgiving feast. At Hollywood Studios 50's Prime Time Cafe' and Hollywood & Vine restaurants will offer a special Thanksgiving fare for lunch and dinner. If you're going to be in Epcot head to Akershush for a special Thanksgiving meal or visit the Biergarten. Also serving Thanksgiving meals are Le Cellier and Rose & Crown.
 
Downtown Disney's Raglan Road will be serving a special Thanksgiving menu including glazed turkey, whipped potatoes, apple, sage and sweet onion stuffing. Brussel sprouts, cranberry chutney and gravy will also be served all for $27.95 per person. Sounds delicious! Fulton's Crab House, Portobello's and Wolfgang Puck Grand Café will also have a special Thanksgiving price fix menu available.
 
 
If you don't want to enter the theme parks you can find Thanksgiving dinner's at select Disney resorts too.
 
The Garden Grove restaurant located at the Swan and Dolphin Resort will be serving a traditional Thanksgiving buffet from 1:00 pm to 9:00 pm on Thanksgiving Day. The cost is $38 for adults and $16.95 for children.
 
If you want to eat with Mickey Mouse on Thanksgiving then head to Fort Wilderness Campground for Mickey's Backyard Thanksgiving Feast. There will be four show times available starting at noon, 2, 4 and 6 pm. Chef Mickey's at the Contemporary is another fun character dining experience that will also be offering special Thanksgiving options. This would be my families go to Thanksgiving dinner! My children love a good character meal!
 
 
 
Wishing you and your family a wonderful Thanksgiving. Wherever you are this Thanksgiving just remember you have something to be thankful for!
 
Thank you for joining Magical Blogorail Green this month. We will be back on December 16 with an all new theme. Keep checking in with our blogs in between loops to keep up to date with our Disney news, photos and stories. If you are looking for more Disney magic, you can make your way over to The Magical Blogorail website to see all our members and their blogs, as well as all our previous loops.
 
Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail should you happen to have to make a stop along the way and want to reboard:

1st Stop ~ A Disney Moms Thoughts
2nd Stop ~ Disney Living
3rd Stop ~ Mouse on The Mind
4th Stop ~ Capturing Magical Memories
Final Stop ~ Disney with Babies, Toddlers, and Preschoolers
 
 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Eating On A Budget At Disney World

Disney World has SO many amazing options for food, drinks and snacks. It can be hard to pass them up and I can see how families end up spending $1,000's on dining at Disney World. My family sets our food budget before arriving at Disney World. With a little planning your family can easily save money on dining at Disney. For starters, set your families food budget. I find it easiest to set a daily food budget for the whole family. We eat breakfast in our hotel room to save time and money. I also pack my kids 'breakfasts to go' in cute little bags that the can carry on the Disney buses and eat on the way to the parks. This is a great way to save money. The top 5 ways to eat on a budget at Disney are:

Pack your lunches in a cooler. Disney allows soft sided coolers to be brought into the parks but they can not contain any alcohol or glass bottles. *Baby food is allowed in a glass jar* Please note that straws of any kind are not allowed in Animal Kingdom. My kids love Lunchables and they are great for on the go lunches. I also pack at least 2 juice boxes per child. The heat in Florida can really get to children so be sure to pack plenty to drink. I also pack a sippy cup and fill it with water throughout the day. Pack plenty of snacks too. I create a fun Disney themed snack mix in a sealed container prior to leaving for Disney World. Each child gets 1 container which contains goldfish, cheerio's or fruit loops, a few Mickey fruit snacks, m&m's and raisins.
 
 
Order from the children's menu. The kid's meal portions fill me up and at half the price you can't beat it! I have a 4 year old toddler and a 2 year old and they are not the best eater's, so when we are at Disney they always share a quick service kids meal.
 
Ask for a free cup of water available at most quick service locations. No need to drink from the water fountain all day.
 
Share a fun snack with your kids. Snacks can get expensive especially if you have more than one child. We usually order a cupcake at Starring Rolls in Hollywood Studios and split it between the 3 kids. These cupcakes are huge and extremely rich so it is best to split.
 
 
 
Avoid eating at the buffet restaurants. Chances are if you have a toddler he or she will not eat enough to justify a $20+ childs buffet cost. Now unless this is a special buffett such as Chef Mickey's then I would say avoid it like the plague. All you can eat buffets really add up for the average family of 4. You could eat 2 dinners at quick services or even a non buffet restaurant for the cost of 1 dinner at the buffet restaurant. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Search For The Jewel Of Oreveille

 
I am excited to be participating in a special search online for the hidden jewel of Oreveille. Play along and join the game while we search for the clues. Daughter of Oreville is a new release book written by author Tricia Ballad. To read a chapter of the new book visit http://www.daughteroforeveille.com/
 

One lucky winner will win a signed copy of the book Daughter of Oreveille and a replica necklace!


Oh Cunning One! Travel the Mists, decipher the clues, and uncover the flow of Page and Paragraph that complete the address to recover the Jewel: http://www.TriciaBallad.com/_(fill in the blank)__

My special clue **The 4 winds blow, but only 2 are true.**

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Disney With A Smoker

I know you have all seen them, Disney tries their best to place them in secluded out of the way areas, well most of them at least, the smoke infested "designated smoking areas" are located throughout the theme parks. Have you visited Disney with a smoker? I have and let me tell you it really eats up your time. My husband is a smoker and I am a non smoker. I actually have asthma, despise cigarette smoke and try my best to avoid the smoking areas like the plague.



My husband prefers to ride a few rides then visit each smoking zone at least once every few hours-this drives me crazy! When he is in the "smoking area" my kids always want to go with him thinking it is a fun attraction haha and I am stuck having to keep them occupied nearby so that we don't get too far away. Well, not this year! I have come up with a plan! :)

My brilliant plan this year: only let the husband bring in a certain amount of cigarettes. I am thinking 4 will be the maximum. This will cut back on how many trips he makes to the "smoking area" and how much time is 'wasted' in my opinion. Also, when he is in the "smoking area" I am planning to designate that as the kids snack time. We will all treat ourselves to some yummy ice cream for the kids and dole whips for mommy and then when he returns to find us he will wish he hadn't smoked! I know this sounds kind of mean but this is our vacation too. He can smoke all night long once we have left the theme park. To see a map of the designated smoking area's visit:  https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/guest-services/designated-smoking-areas/

Designated Smoking Areas:

Resorts

Smoking is allowed only in select outdoor smoking area's only. There is a $500 fine to guests smoking in non designated smoking area's such as guest rooms, restaurants, bathrooms and indoor and outdoor common area's.

If you are a smoker then the ideal resort for you is the Fort Wilderness campground. Disney allows campers to smoke at their campsites and on cabin porches. Smoking inside of the cabins is NOT allowed though.

Downtown Disney is a little more lenient with the designated smoking area's. Smoking is actually allowed throughout all of Downtown Disney with the exception of the Cirque De Solei La Nuba Theater, Disney Quest, children's areas, restaurants and shops.

Magic Kingdom currently has 6 designated area's. Most of which are conveniently located beside an ice cream shop :)

  • Aloha Isle

  • Big Thunder Mountain

  • Space Mountain

  • Fairytale Garden

  • Plaza Ice Cream Parlor

  • Walkway to Tomorrowland

Epcot currently has 8 smoking area's. A smoker's dream--haha you can smoke around the world as there are smoking area's every few countries.

  • Future World East and West 

  • International Gateway

  • China

  • Italy

  • Japan

  • Showcase Plaza East and West


Hollywood Studio's currently has 7 smoking area's.

  • ABC Commissary

  • Sunset Ranch Market

  • Echo Lake

  • Hollywood Hills Ampitheater

  • Streets of American

  • Studio Backlot Tour

  • Brown Derby

Animal Kingdom currently has the fewest smoking area's of all of the theme parks. There are just 5 designated smoking area's at Animal Kingdom.

  • Camp Minnie Mickey

  • Chester & Hester Dinosaur Treasures

  • Expedition Everest

  • Main Entrance

  • Conservation Station









Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Special Reader Review Of Disney's Shades Of Green Resort


Today you are in for a special treat! We have a very special reader review of Disney's Shade's of Green Resort. Nichole and her family visited Shades of Green just a few months ago and she has written a very detailed review of her experience. Enjoy!
 
In September 2013 my family made our fifth trip to Shades of Green. This time we had two kids in tow; my daughter who was 2.5 and my son who was 13 months. Although we had visited the resort plenty of times before we weren’t exactly sure what to expect since we had two little kids with us.

As we arrived through the gate we were greeted by beautiful scenery. There are golf courses located on each side and a large waterfall directly in front of the resort with each of the Armed Services flags in the background. We pulled our vehicle up to the front of the resort and were greeted by bell hops offering to take our luggage. My daughter and I headed inside to start the check in process. I proceeded right up to the check in desk while my daughter was occupied by the children’s movie area. The lobby is stunning. Shades of Green has been adding plenty of upgrades in the past few years and the lobby has been one of them. Next to the check in desk is a children’s area with a TV playing Disney movies and two rows of little chairs. The lobby itself is very large with plenty of seating areas, a fireplace, a patriotic Mickey statue, and a café that serves drinks, pastries, ice cream, and Starbucks.

After check in we headed back to the car to park it in the garage. Shades of Green does charge $5 a day for parking but there are always plenty of spots available and your vehicle will be out of the sun. For those that do not take their car, the resort does offer plenty of transportation options which I will get in to later and there is also a rental car agency on location. Once the car was parked we loaded the kids up in to their strollers and headed up to our room.

Having stayed in value resorts before, the size between each of the rooms is pretty noticeable with Shades of Green being much larger. Although the room and maybe the hotel itself might lack the Disney feel, there is plenty of room to stretch out. The rooms are pretty basic. You will not find any Disney decorations within the rooms. The comforter, curtains, and rug are all different shades of green with flower accents. A standard room has two queen sized beds, a pull out couch, table and chairs that can serve as an eating area, small refrigerator, coffee pot, and bathroom with separate sink area. Each of the rooms also has a balcony with a seating area and beautiful views. Our room for this visit was located on the second floor overlooking the Mickey pool and children’s pool. The kids loved it! If you are in need of a crib during your stay these are also available. A quick call to room service and they will bring a clean crib right to your door.

Shades of Green has two pools, a children’s pool, and a hot tub. During our visit one of the pools was shut down as they are once again making several upgrades. The Magnolia pool, which was the one shut down during our visit, will be reopening shortly with a zero entry feature. This will enable many of the resorts disabled veterans to easily enter the pool without having to worry about stairs. Once renovations are complete on the Magnolia pool, construction will begin on the Mill Pond pool to add a water slide and splash pad area for kids. A list of current renovations can be found on the Shades of Green website so you can further plan for your trip.

Also located at the resort is a ticket booth. Tickets for just about anything in the Orlando area can be bought here including Disney tickets, Universal Studios tickets, Sea World, area water parks, dining adventures, NASA, and many others. A full list of available tickets and their prices are also located on the Shades of Green website. All tickets are offered at a military rate. While transportation is provided for all of the Disney parks it is not for other area attractions such as Universal Studios or Sea World. If you did not drive on your own or rent a vehicle, Shades of Green will provide transportation to these destinations for an additional fee per person.

Transportation to Hollywood Studios, Disney water parks, Animal Kingdom, Downtown Disney, and the Ticket and Transportation Center are all provided by bus. The buses require you to fold up your stroller completely before boarding so make sure you can do so. Buses run on a strict schedule and arrive every hour for the parks or every half hour for the ticket and transportation center. The bus station for Shades of Green is located on the lower level. No worries if you have a stroller, there are plenty of elevators located within the resort. Once you arrive down to the first floor there is another café that sells sandwiches, fruit, cereal, yogurt, drinks, and plenty of snacks to grab on your way out. If you are interested in going to the Magic Kingdom or Epcot there are a few options available. Our favorite option is walking across the street to the Polynesian Resort and catching the monorail. A paved trail is available for the walk to the Polynesian but beware it is about a half mile walk. If you have kids in tow it is best to bring the stroller along. If you have older kids and no stroller is needed the shady shuttle may be available. The shady shuttle is a golf cart which provides transportation to the end of Shades of Green property and makes the trip to the Polynesian much shorter. Once you arrive at the Polynesian you can make your way up to the second floor for the monorail or take the ferry over. If you choose to take the small ferry your stroller must once again be folded up as there is not much room onboard. The other option to get to the other parks is the bus ride to the ticket and transportation center. Once you arrive there you can use the monorail, ferry, or bus.

Shades of Green also has two gift shops. One sells items specific to the resort with Shades of Green logos while the other shop offers discounted Disney merchandise, snacks, drinks, and other items you made need during your stay.

The Magnolia Spa offers massages, facials, haircuts, manicures, pedicures, and plenty of other services. While I haven’t checked out this area of the resort yet, I definitely plan to for my next trip.

There are many food options available at the resort as well. One of my personal favorites is the Garden Gallery. The Garden Gallery is primarily open for breakfast and is served buffet style but if a buffet isn’t your thing a breakfast menu is also available. They also do themed dinner nights such as carnival night where corn dogs, pizza, cotton candy, and other carnival favorites are served up while balloon animals are made for the kids around the restaurant. Another restaurant available at the resort is Mangino’s Bistro. Mangino’s offers Italian cuisine decently priced. My husband and I have eaten here once but don’t plan to go back. While the food sounds great on the menu, it’s pretty bland. There is also a sports bar, Evergreens, located behind one of the pool areas. Pizza, sandwiches, wings, and drinks are served here. Pool tables and arcade games are also available at this location. As mentioned earlier there are also two cafes on the premises as well.

If golf is your thing, Shades of Green is the place to be. While I haven’t personally experienced the courses here, my husband has. Shades of Green offers 3 different courses; one walking and two you would need a cart for. You can choose to play 9 or 18 holes and rates are excellent if you have a military ID. Rates range from $39-$69 per player with cart rental depending on what time of the day it is. While my husband played golf I had plenty to do with the kids right at the resort. Along with the arcade, children’s TV area, and pools, there is also playground equipment.

While we love Shades of Green resort it does definitely lack a bit of that Disney feel that the other resorts do have. The price alone might change your mind in to staying here and forgoing the other resorts though. Shades of Green offers tiered pricing depending on what your military rank is. The less you make, the less you pay. A standard room for E1-E5 starts at $95 a night. The resort also offers many discounts during the year and if you catch it soon enough you can save up to 30% off each of those nights. Veterans, widows, Medal of Honor recipients, DOD civilians, and family members of active duty military and any of the previous listed members may also stay at the Shades of Green. While the prices will be higher than $95 a night you will be provided with a large room, beautiful scenery, security, and a resort located within the deluxe resorts.

 

PROS:

·         Price …. Especially for active duty military

·         Scenery

·         Large rooms

·         VERY clean

·         Transportation not overcrowded

·         Security

·         Activities (golf, spa, workout room, pools, playground area, arcades)

·         Located within deluxe resort area

·         Ticket booth with military pricing available

·         Family friendly. Staff is courteous and our children were referred to as Prince and Princess daily

CONS:

  • Lacks a Disney feel
  • Long walk to monorail
  • Pools need updating to compete with other resorts (currently in the works)
  • Restaurants, specifically Mangino’s, need a menu change

To learn more information about Shades of Green Resort visit their website at http://www.shadesofgreen.org/

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Mickey Mouse Inspired Christmas Ornaments + Giveaway

Who doesn't love a custom made Christmas ornament? I recently received this adorable custom made silver Mickey Mouse inspired porcelain ornament from Dixie Midwest. Prices start at just $12.50 for the porcelain ornaments. Creating a custom Christmas ornament is a sentimental and creative gift for grandparents, family and friends, etc. Visit www.DixieMidwest.com and click on Disney Inspirations for more Disney related items. You will even find a FREE Disney countdown printable. One lucky reader will be receiving their very own personalized Mickey Mouse inspired porcelain ornament! To be entered to win simply leave a comment on this blog post letting me know what your favorite personalized product is on Dixie Midwest's website. To enter follow the directions on the Rafflecopter below.

 
I also received a custom keepsake metal tag with the same photo of my children at Magic Kingdom. This can serve as a Christmas ornament, keepsake luggage or purse attachment or even could fit in your wallet.
front

back
 
 
Winner must be 18+ and a US resident. Contest will run from Thursday November 7 2013 for two weeks.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Pack More Fun With American Tourister Colora

 

 
American Tourister is now the official luggage for Disney World and Disneyland! I recently received the new American Tourister Colora 20" spinner and I am so excited to travel with it to Disney World in just a few months. I don't know about you but I don't enjoy trying to find my luggage at the airport carousel and it seems like everyone's suitcases all look the same! This is why I absolutely love the new Colora collection. There are three fun colors to choose from: lime green, orange and raspberry. These are available in three sizes, the largest is the 30" spinner and the medium sized 25" and then the smaller of the three (pictured above) is the 20" spinner. Whatever your preference may be you can rest assured with the 10 year warranty that they each come with.
 

 
The 20" Spinner pictured above is a bright and fun addition to your luggage. Plenty of space for the essentials makes this an ideal carry on bag. There is even a separate detachable space inside the luggage that would be perfect for toiletries such as shampoo and lotions. This can be removed for convenience when unpacking. The 20" spinner only weighs 8 lbs making this a great carry on piece of luggage. There is a large exterior pocket which is perfect for storing your favorite book, Disney maps, plane tickets, Passports, etc. There is a retractable handle perfect for wheeling your luggage around the airport. The four spinning wheels are 360 degree's making it easy to handle and very lightweight.
 
 To purchase your own bright fun set of luggage visit this website:

Shop American Tourister's Website