Saturday, November 20, 2010

Holiday Gift Giveaway Hop - $50 Giveaway

Holiday Gift Giveaway Hop

Have you heard about the upcoming Holiday Gift Giveaway Event?  The Holiday Gift Giveaway Hop is a big Giveaway Carnival. Blogs will each host their own giveaway and the prize must be either CASH or Gift Cards. It runs for 5 days from December 1 through 5thThe hosts this year are Simply Stacie, My Wee View, Little YayasReview Retreat and Stockpiling Moms.  But there will be over 130 blogs participating!!!!  Who couldn't use some extra cash or gift cards right around the holidays?   Between the Lines will be offering a $50 gift card to Just Jewelry.  With that gift card you could by someone you love a Christmas gift and still have some left over to buy yourself something nice! :)  Contact Simply Stacie if you are interested in joining in on the fun!   And feel free to grab the button to help promote this fun Holiday event!  Hope to see you in December!

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Disney's Beach Club

While every resort at Disney has a special charm that invites you in, we have completely fallen in love with the Beach Club Resort.  Everything about the Beach Club screams perfect vacation.   The clean, spacious villas give our family space to relax.  They include a full kitchen, washer and dryer, and jacuzzi tub.  The kids even sleep in a separate room!!!!!   The friendly staff is always available to help you in any way they can.  I love that no one ever seems put out when we ask a question.  The Cast members at the Beach Club definitely get an A+.  Even if you don't stay at the Beach Club, if you are in Disney during November and December, you should swing by to check out their decorations.  They are Spectacular!  By the second week of November all the Christmas decorations have gone up.  When you first walk into the lobby, you won't believe your eyes.  There is a working  carousel made completely out of gingerbread and icing!  We actually had the pleasure of watching them build it last year.  And to my kids delight, they let us sample the gingerbread they were using.  YUM!

The kids absolutely love the pool at the Beach Club.  And really, what's not to love?  Stormalong Bay, shared by the Beach Club and Yacht Club, is a beachside pool area that stretches over 3 acres!   The pool has something for everyone.  For the younger crowd, there is a shallow water area with a sandy bottom.  The kids can actually sit on the side of the pool and build sandcastles.  This is the area where they host many different fun games for the kids, in water and out.  My favorite area at Stormalong Bay is the lazy river.  This circular area has a soft current that allows you to just relax and drift along.  My husband's favorite area at Stormalong Bay is the Shipwreck slide.  This fast, fun slide pours you out into the sandy bottom pool area.  If you have younger kids, there is a smaller slide at the back of the shipwreck.

Probably my favorite thing about the Beach Club is its location.  EPCOT is one of our favorite parks, and the Beach Club is right next door.  Even with two little ones, it is about a 5-10 minutes walk to EPCOT's World Showcase entrance.  This allows us to end each day at EPCOT with a delicious meal or a fun show.  The Beach Club is also about a 5-10 minute walk to Disney's Boardwalk. This is a fun area to visit with many side shows, restaurants, and (for those without kids) clubs.  My kids love walking over the bridge to the Boardwalk to get a special treat from the bakery or from the ice cream shop (although I think the Beach Club has the most delicious ice cream shop ever!).  And if your kids love boats, they will that Disney's Hollywood Studios is only a short boat ride away from the Beach Club.

What is your favorite Disney Resort?  Grab a latte, put up your feet, and join the discussion!

Tricky Trivia: Disney week

Where does President Obama like to hang out at Disney World?

Take a guess in the comments below.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Disney's Hollywood Studio

Lights, Camera, Action!  We are off to Hollywood Studios!  Disney's Hollywood Studios, formerly MGM Studios, is the last of the four major Disney parks we are visiting this year.  Walt Disney World also has two water parks (Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon) and an indoor amusement park (Disney Quest), but because of the kids' ages and the temperatures in November, we've skipped them this year.  Hollywood Studios invites its guests to join them in the movies.  Whether you are enjoying a street production, ride, or show, you are immersed into the magic of movie making.

Hollywood Studio is not known for its rides, but there are few you will definitely love.  Toy Story Mania is loved by all, and I mean all.  If you want a chance to ride this, head over first thing in the morning and grab your family a fast pass.  In November, it is usually not as crowded in the morning, so we grab a fast pass for the afternoon and jump in line for a morning ride.  This way we wait about 20 minutes each time rather than an hour and twenty minutes.  Hollywood Studios is also the home of my husband's favorite ride at Disney, the Rock 'n' Roller Coaster, starring Aerosmith.  This fast paced roller coaster takes you on a trip with the band and includes many twists, turns, and loops.  Right next to the Rock 'n' Roller coaster is the Tower of Terror.  Based off the CBS show, The Twilight Zone, the Tower of Terror takes place in an old abandoned 13 -story hotel.  Once you reach the top of the elevator, beware.  You will be falling back down to the ground.

Disney's Hollywood Studios is best know for its shows.  By far, our favorite is the onstage production of Beauty and the Beast.  Everything from the music, costumes, and atmosphere makes you feel like you are watching a Broadway production.  My girls also love the Voyage of The Little Mermaid.  This show mixes live performances with animation and puppetry.  It captivates its audience with its multi-sensory effects and music.  If you have young ones, you also won't want to miss Playhouse Disney.  This live, interactive musical, features your kids' favorite Playhouse Disney friends, including Mickey Mouse.  This show offers carpet seating only and is sometimes a little hard on the parents' backs.  Try not to sit too close to the stage or your kids won't be able to see the characters who pop out of the floor.

Hollywood Studio also has a few fast paced, action pack shows.  The Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular is a 30 minutes show that invites you to share the magic of the movies.  Throughout the show, they demonstrate numerous stunts while filming various scenes.  And who knows, they may just ask you to join the fun.  Next to Indiana Jones is Star Tours.  Although, this is not a typical show, the simulator type ride, takes you on a thrilling adventure.  Just past Star Tours is the Muppet 3-D show.  But if you keep walking you will reach the location of the Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show.  Make sure to grab a show schedule when you first arrive at the studios.  The Extreme Stunt Show usually only plays a couple of times a day and you wouldn't want to miss it.  This show demonstrates how big time vehicle stunts are done for Blockbuster Hollywood films.

There are many more things to explore and see at Hollywood Studios.  However, I think this post is already getting too long. ;)  Have you ever been to Hollywood Studios?  What were your favorite parts?  My kids' trip wouldn't be complete without visiting the Honey, I Shrunk the Kids movie set.  The set, taken from the outside scene of Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, has been transformed into a fun oversized playground.  Can't wait to hear your stories!  Grab a latte, put up your feet, and join the discussion!

Tricky Trivia: Disney week

Which countries are represented at EPCOT's World Showcase?  And on a side note, have you ever visited any of those countries?

Take a guess in the comments below.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Animal Kingdom

Today we're off to the Animal Kingdom.  The Animal Kingdom is Walt Disney World's newest and largest  park.  Opened in 1998, The Animal Kingdom offers visitors a theme park experience like no other.  The Animal Kingdom focuses entirely on animal conservation while offering visitors animal attractions, rides, shows, and Disney fun. The park is divided into 7 different areas: The Oasis, Discovery Island, Camp Minnie-Mickey, Africa, Rafiki's Planet Watch, Asia, and Dinoland, U.S.A.

Although the Oasis is the first area you enter, the Tree of Life on Discovery Island is the park's main focal point.  It is equivalent to Cinderella's Castle at the Magic Kingdom or Spaceship Earth (the EPCOT ball) at EPCOT.  The Tree of Life is 14 stories tall and 50 feet wide.  This spectacular piece of art consists of about 325 sculpted animals.  Visitors heading on their way to the Bug's Life 3-D show, have an opportunity for a close up look at the animals.  My girls love making a list of animals before we go and racing to see who can find the most animals on their list.  And don't miss a great photo-op in front of The Tree.  Disney can even add characters to your photos.  One year my daughter got a picture that looked like she was holding baby Simba and one year it looked like Tinkerbell was standing in her hand.  Discovery Island is also the home of my favorite restaurant at The Animal Kingdom.  The Flame Tree Barbecue, is a quick meal restaurant, with good food and great scenery.  It so relaxing to eat your lunch on the water while looking out towards "Asia" and  Mount Everest. 

Camp Minnie-Mickey is the place to visit if you have little ones who are ready for some character interaction.  At Camp Minnie-Mickey, you will find Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, Chip and Dale, Pocahontas, and many more (depending on the time you go).  And if you don't have any little ones, you still won't want to miss The Festival of the Lion King.  The Festival of the Lion King is one of Disney's most spectacular shows.  The music, costumes, stunts, and interaction are amazing.  At the end of one show my older daughter had the opportunity to go out with a "monkey" and play an instrument during the closing song.  Such a little thing made such a huge impact on her.  She loved it.  And the following year, my husband was chosen to be the head elephant for our elephant section.  By far, the funniest thing that ever happened at Disney!

The most popular attraction is located in Africa.  The Kilimanjari Safari takes you on an exciting expedition through the African Savanna where the animals roam freely.  When they say freely, they mean freely.  Our first Safari trip we were actually chased by an angry ostrich.  It was not happy that we were driving near where he was eating.  After you exit the Safari you have the option of walking the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail.  This trail has many exciting viewing areas including, gorillas and hippos.  After you explore the walking trail, hop on the Express train to Rafiki's Planet Watch to have a behind-the-scenes look at Disney's animal care facilities.  The kids can even visit the petting zoo and brush a few goats or sheep. 

Asia is the home of  Animal Kingdom's only roller coaster.  Expedition Everest - The Legend of he Forbidden Mountain is a high speed roller coaster that takes you into the heart of Mount Everest...Yeti  territory. There are many hidden surprises on this roller coaster, but I won't ruin it by sharing the secrets.  Asia also has the very wet Kali River Rapids and the Maharajah Jungle Trek.  The turbulent rapids will guarantee you get wet, but you can dry off  by exploring exotic animals including giant fruit bats, birds, tapirs, Komodo dragons, and tigers.  If you like birds, don't miss the Flight of Wonders show.  It is truly a sight to see! 

The final area of Animal Kingdom is Dinoland, U.S.A.  Dinoland has rides, carnival games, a Boneyard playgroud, and the amazing Finding Nemo Musical.  The Finding Nemo Musical is a stage show created by combining live performances with outstanding puppetry.  This is a show that is a must-see for anyone who visits Disney World.  The entire show is phenomenal.  Disney spared no expense while creating life-like puppets and underwater scenery.  The music and visuals will keep any age viewer memorized.

Have you ever been to the Animal Kingdom?  What was your favorite part?  What attraction is on your must-see list?  Grab a latte, put up your feet, and join the discussion!

Tricky Trivia: Disney week

Aurora's castle in Dinsneyland was based on what real castle?

Take a guess in the comments below.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Today we are heading to EPCOT.  Technically, we will be visiting EPCOT everyday, but this is our full day at the park.  Although many families with small children steer away from EPCOT, we love it.  Last year (and this year), we stayed at the Beach Club Resort in order to be a short walk away from EPCOT.  But I will talk more about that in a different post.   EPCOT is one of Disney's most fascinating parks.  Its main focus is on cultural and technological innovation.  EPCOT covers over 300 acres, twice the size of the Magic Kingdom, and it split into two separate areas, Future World and The World Showcase.

Future World is definitely my kids favorite part of EPCOT.  They enjoy visiting the Nemo and Friends ride the most.  Not only do they enjoy riding in a shell while exploring Nemo's world, but they love that after the ride they can visit the aquarium, play at the shark playground, and watch Turtle Talk with Crush.  If you've seen Finding Nemo, then you know that Crush is the "totally awesome" sea turtle that helps Nemo's dad find his way through the EAC.  Turtle Talk with Crush is an interactive show where the animated Crush actually talks to the kids in the audience and answered their questions.  It is very entertaining for kids and adults alike. 

Future World has some faster pace rides for those a little older.  Mission Space is my husband's favorite.  This ride simulates a space flight to Mars.  I honestly have not been brave enough to try this one, but they do have a milder version that you can try.  My favorite ride in Future World has to be Soarin'.   Soarin', located in The Land Pavilion, is a "multi-sensory attraction ... that simulates a peaceful hang-gliding flight over the Golden State of California".  With a huge IMAX theater in front of you, you really feel like you are flying .   While you are in Future World, make sure to stop by Test Track.  My 6-year old is convinced that it is the greatest "big kid" ride.  Future World is also the home of the famous EPCOT "ball", Spaceship Earth.  If you haven't been to EPCOT within the last year, you will be surprised at the changes made in Spaceship Earth.  As always, added interaction makes a slow ride more fun.  The real fun, however, starts when you exit your ride.  There a many hands-on activities that are fun and challenging for all.  And don't forget to meet Mickey and the gang at the Character Spot  and to visit Innoventions, both located in Future World.

Visiting The World Showcase is like taking a mini trip around the world.  There are 11 different countries represented in The World Showcase:  Mexico, China, Norway, Germany, Morocco, Japan, Italy, France, England, Canada, and the United States.  There is also a small African Outpost that offers authentic African refreshments and souvenirs.  There is no way that I could even begin to explain the wonder that is The World Showcase, but each country is fabulous.  They are run by people from the actual countries that they represent and they serve food and drink that are authentic to that country.  Many of the countries provide live music and entertainment.  There are little shops to browse, rides to explore, and fantastic shows to watch.  There is so much to do and experience at The World Showcase.  If you are actually planning a trip and would like to know more, I'd be more than happy to chat.  Just shoot me an email!

Have you been to EPCOT?  What it your favorite  part?  What things could you do without?  Grab a latte, put up your feet, and join the discussion!

Tricky Trivia: Disney week

Which Disney princesses were actually born princesses? 

Take a guess in the comments below.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Magic Kingdom

Today we are visiting the Magic Kingdom!  For those who don't know what the Magic Kingdom is, it is the main park at Disney World.  The Magic Kingdom is such a...well..Magical place.  From the moment you cross under the train depot and step onto Main Street, U.S.A, you are immersed into the Disney Magic.  If you go to the park right when it opens, you are greeted by a character filled welcome song, friendly cast members waving their huge Mickey's hands, and meet and greets with some of your favorite characters.  I think everyone has to stop and stare for just a moment when Cinderella's Castle first comes into view.  It is absolutely breathtaking, and even more so as you get closer.  I wish I had the time to explain to you all the Magic you will find on Main Street, but I don't have time to write 30 pages.

The Magic Kingdom is broken into seven different areas: Fantasyland, Tommorowland, Frontierland, Adventureland, Liberty Square, Mickey's Toon Town Fair (although this is closing), and Main Street, U.S.A.  My daughters' favorite section is Fantasyland.  My youngest is in love with It's a Small World.  She could sit on the slow boat ride all day if we let her.  Towards the end of our last vacation she would point at different dolls dancing in the ride and tell me which country they were from.  Fantasyland is also home of the very popular Dumbo ride.  This ride usually has a very long line, so we are glad they are adding a second Dumbo ride within the next few years.  And no child should leave Fantasyland without riding the Carousel, Peter Pan's Flight, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, the Mad Tea Party, or watching Mickey's PhilharMagic 3D Spectacular (even the parents love this show).  Fantasyland is currently under construction, but if you visit in a few years you will be able visit the new Little Mermaid ride, The Beast Castle, and the princesses.

Moving on to Tomorrowland, you will my husband's all time favorite ride,  Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin. This picture is not from the ride, but it had my girls in it and they are cuter! :)  The Buzz Lightyear is interactive.  Each rider has a lazer gun to shoot at the "Z's".  My husband went online to find the target that would give him the most points and he ended up maxing at the points at 999,999.  A little better than my 200,000, but who's counting (besides him:).  While you are in Tomorrowland, don't miss out on the Monster Inc. Laugh Floor.  This is an interactive comedy show hosted by Mike Wazowski.  Fun for the whole family!  You can even text in your own jokes that may use during the show.  Tomorrowland is also the home of the fast-flying Space Mountain and Astro Orbiter (for the younger astronauts).   And be on the lookout for a meet and greet with Buzz, Stitch, and a trashcan names PUSH.

While visiting the Magic Kingdom, you definitely do not want to miss out on Adventureland.  Adventureland has something for everyone.  You'll find pirates, flying carpets, a jungle cruise, and even spitting camels! Want to explore a little?  Take a leisurely stroll through the Swiss Family Robinson Tree House and discover how they survived out on their own.  Want to meet some characters?  Don't miss a chance to see Jasmine, Aladdin, Genie, Captain Hook, Smee, or Captain Jack Sparrow (and no, Johnny Depp will not be there).  And if you are ready for a cool snack, Adventureland is the home of the infamous Dole Whip!!!

The last major "land" in the park is Frontierland.  Frontierland has two of the three Magic Kingdom mountain rides.  This year my four-year is so excited to be allowed to ride Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain.  I'll have to let you know how it goes.  Frontierland is also the home of Woody and Jesse from Toy Story.  My girls were so excited to meet Woody last year.  They also enjoyed visiting Tom Sawyer's Island.  After a little boat ride, you arrive on a fun little island full of tunnels, obstacles, and many places to explore.  If you have little ones, make sure to hold on tight to them so they don't wander off into the dark caves alone.  After your adventure, why not stop in at the Country Bear's Jamboree for a snack and show.  How often do you get to see a band of bears perform?

Have you been to the Magic Kingdom?  What were your family's favorite attractions? Characters? Sights?  I obviously wrote this post before I left, but I will be reading your comments after the kids are in bed each night.  I look forward to hearing all your thoughts and opinions.  Grab a latte, put up your feet, and join the discussion!

Tricky Trivia: Disney week

What was the first full-length animated feature film to come out in the United States?

Take a guess in the comments below.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Silent Sunday

Disney Week Begins!

Disney 2007

Disney 2008

Disney 2009