Friday, September 28, 2012

Foodie Friday: Garden Grill Review

  An all you can eat? Sounds good to me! A child at heart, I’d always wanted to book a character meal for myself and so when our trip rolled around I knew it was time! Head over to the Land Pavillion in Epcot and you'll find Garden Grill. I was excited as I watched Chip and Dale, Mickey, and Pluto run about the twirling restaurant, visiting children and adults alike while we waited to be seated. I had noted on our reservations that I was a vegetarian and our server kindly asked if I would like the vegetarian plate when taking our drink orders, I quickly said yes and she was off.

 A salad and bread bowl was brought out not long afterwards. The salad was decent but the bread was heavenly! You have plenty to choose from and pretty much ate one of each kind! Finally it was time for the real food. My parents had the usual mix of bread pudding, beef, mashed potatoes, and some fish. If I were to be honest, I can’t remember exactly what my meal was. I believe it was some sort of baked vegetable or grain with a vegetable sauce and zucchini. My parents loved their meal and ordered seconds of a few things. I’m not a big fan of zucchini and the sauce was a little different than what I’m used to, a little too rich. The meal did not stand out to me, but it was decent enough to keep me happy and satisfied.

The usual adult dessert is a fruit cobbler with vanilla bean whipped cream. My parents each ordered one, while my server suggested the “Life’s a Bug Cake” for me. I did taste a bit of the cobbler and it was fabulous! The vanilla bean whipped cream was very flavorful and the berries were great! I did not feel childish at all as I dug into my red velvet ladybug cupcake from the kids menu. Wow, this was one of the best desserts I had the entire trip. I hadn’t had red velvet much in anything, but this was so good!

   Mickey and the gang didn’t come to visit us much during our meal, they usually waved and moved on, which I was actually a little grateful for, because I probably looked ridiculous stuffing my face! After our meal was finished and we were getting desserts, each character stopped by our table and took some pictures with us and messed around, which got a few laughs. I felt like a kid again! I was a little disappointed that Mickey, Pluto, Chip, & Dale are the only characters at Garden Grill, although I knew that going in.

   One of the most interesting things about this restaurant is that it actually revolves and has different scenes as you move around the restaurant. By the time we’d finished our meal we had made it around about once, so don’t worry about getting too dizzy! If I were to give it a rating I would go with a 6/10. I had read some not-so-great reviews about the restaurant and the food before the trip which made me nervous. I can understand their points and some are valid. The food was not as great, as I was hoping, and it is very expensive. While I loved the character interaction, I don’t know if the price was worth it. Despite this, I enjoyed my time there but I think we will pick another character meal the next time around.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Disney Halloween Costumes

Once the school year starts, and actually some years even before it starts, my two children start working on their Halloween costumes.  Halloween is a big deal in our house. My children are now just starting kindergarten and the second grade.  They have already created decorations for the house and spent a lot of time thinking about what they will be for Halloween this year.  

Disney characters have certainly had a big role in the decision making in years past.  When my son was ten months old he was Roo from Winnie the Pooh.  Since that time, he has been Eeyore and Peter Pan.  Last year after an August trip to Walt Disney World he decided to be a Viking as he had seen in the Norway pavilion.  

Walt Disney has also had a strong influence on my daughter’s choices.  She has been Tinker Bell, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and Belle.  My daughter is likely to still wear any of these costumes through the house as often as she can.

One major problem in the creation of a costume is the weather where we live is never dependable where we live.  We have had it warm enough for trick-or-treating and last year many area towns had to close school for a snow day.  This can create problems when kids are happy about what they are wearing and then parents are trying to cover it over with a winter jacket.  

Halloween is a fun time of year for children and parents alike.  We have the opportunity to create a disguise that may or may not reflect our regular personality.  With such a love of so many Disney movies and theme parks it is easy to have ideas for not only the 2012 Halloween cotumes but I have also heard my daughter brainstorm about next year’s costume as well.   

Friday, September 21, 2012

Foodie Friday: Landscape of Flavors Review

Landscape of flavors is located in the new Art of Animation resort. As you enter the food court, it seems to be like all the other value resort food courts but the theming gets deeper. There are rooms dedicated to each of the hotel features, Cars, Little Mermaid, Finding Nemo and the Lion King. Each room is decorated with lots of movie cells, pictures, paintings, the overhead lighting is awesome! Each huge lamp is done in the theme of the area . In the Lion King area, there is a general African feel with lots of red and brown hues, very calming. In the Nemo side, it was fun and perky feeling with bubbles and paintings of blue and teal hues adorning the area. The overall feel of each area was really true to its movie theme. 

 We stood in the court looking at each menu to decide what to eat for lunch. I couldn't decide, my mind wandered, as this was a new place after all. We explored each area. Just like the other value food courts, they had pizza and burgers, but to my amazement, this place has a more healthier fare of food!!! Perfect for someone on a diet, or watching what they eat, or even someone who is up for some palate adventures! The first thing that caught my eye was the make your own salad option. This thing was huge!!!! Next, I saw the make your own smoothies area. You don't actually get to make your own, but they will put in whatever you want. I noticed one thing on the menu, a turkey sandwich. This wasn't your everyday turkey sandwich, this thing was loaded with yummy goodness! It's called a buffalo style turkey sandwich and has real sliced turkey, not processed lunchmeat, blue cheese, arugala lettuce and buffalo sauce mayo. The sandwich came with house made chips as well. It was sooooo good!!! A tad spicy, but just good enough to make your palette dance. My hubby got the chicken burger. You can put anything you would like on it, so hubby got queso fresco and black bean relish on a brioche bun. My son got the pastrami cheeseburger. It was topped with pepper jack cheese, lettuce, tomato amd chipotle bbq sauce. He really enjoyed it. 

  Landscape of Flavors has 4 tandoori ovens to make the food taste even better! I enjoyed the healthier options offered. As for my younger kids, I was thankful for the pizza. They are extremelly picky eaters. If you have a super picker eater, lunch and dinner may be pizza every night for them, as this was the one drawback I personally found. 

 After eating, I went to scope around and see what else they had in the fridges. Along with all the sodas, there were beers from Africa, which was something different to see. They also had cupcakes from baby cakes that were are all vegan.
Also available were little packs of fruits, and desserts, perfect for sharing or bringing to the pool. All in all this food court was very pleasant. While we were eating our lunch,one of the chefs actually came to each table, introduced himself, and talked to us for a bit. We felt very at home and I can not wait to go back again to experience it all again!!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Keys to the Kingdom Tour Review

   As a present to myself and my parents I booked the Keys to the Kingdom Tour at Magic Kingdom in June. At $74.00 a person + park admission, it isn’t cheap entertainment, but as a fan, it was worth it. This 4-5 hour tour takes you around Adventureland, Liberty Square, and the all-mysterious utilidors underneath the park. Our tour was scheduled around 8:30 and so we were let into the park around 8 AM where we put our order in for lunch and then allowed to walk around Main Street. Since the park was closed to the public at that time, it was nearly empty with a few cast members and other guests roaming about. It was eerie and at the same time, magical!

   We took a few photos and at 8:30 our tour guide, Claire, gathered us around and handed out our headsets.  We were taken down Main Street where we were educated on the buildings, some of Walt and Roy’s history, as well as how serious Disney is about creating a specific atmosphere for each land. One thing we were told was that no cast member from one land is allowed to go into another land while in their land-specific wardrobe because it disturbs the scene. She also told us that at Disney the create a “set”, it isn’t just a theme park, it’s like a movie and everything must be in place!

   At 9AM we watched rope drop, it was so strange seeing it from inside as the storm of people rushed into the park. We maneuvered our way over to Adventureland where cast member Claire pointed out that even the ground has a “sensory tickle”, as she liked to call it. We walk from Main Street to Adventureland and as you cross, you move from concrete, to a wooden bridge, and then onto a rocky surface. Our first ride was Jungle Cruise, which is one of my favorites! After getting a ride and more neat facts, we headed through Adventureland and backstage to see the floats for Main Street Electrical Parade and other shows. We also saw Woody and Jessie behind the scenes getting ready for work! It was so strange and interesting to see the backstage of the park, something I never thought I’d see.  Next we saw the backside of Splash Mountain and where they pump the water into. Afterwards, we headed over to Liberty Square and had lunch at Columbia Harbor House. We were gifted small KTTK pins and ate our delicious lunch, one that I will have a review for later!

   After lunch, we hit Haunted Mansion and learned so much about the creators as well as the entire arrangement and how many of the effects were created. Being another one of my favorite rides, it was a lot of fun to learn all those facts! After a bit of rain, it was finally time for the utilidors. These get a bad rap, it seems, for being utterly boring. However, I found it one of the most exciting parts of the tour! We saw many characters and cast members heading off to work and learned even more about the layout of Magic Kingdom. As a hopeful future cast member myself, it was nice to see where I, might one day, will hopefully be working! Unfortunately, our tour came to an end as Claire showed us some of her favorite photos of Walt Disney and the crew as they were constructing the Magic Kingdom. Unfortunately we were not allowed to take pictures in the utilidors, for obvious reasons.

    How many bricks were used to make Cinderella Castle? None!
   Claire was the perfect tour guide, working there for nearly 10 years. She was an expert and her admiration of Walt and the company really shined. Claire was happy to answer questions and our tour group was engrossed in everything she said the entire time. I was so entertained throughout the tour and despite the length, I was never tired as there were plenty of times for drinks and rest. I was a little disappointed at the fact that Fantasyland and Tomorrowland were not included in the tour, as those are my two favorite lands. You need also be aware that participants must be 16 years old in order to take the tour. This is mainly so that Disney does not ruin the “magic” for the younger kids. It was unfortunate as my brother, who was 15 and very interested in technical and behind the scenes work, wanted to go. This should be considered when planning the trip. However, I definitely think that every Disney fan should take this tour and I would gladly go again!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Who's Who Wednesday: Flora, Fauna and Merryweather

We first meet Flora, Fauna and Merryweather as the three good fairy godmothers of Aurora, aka Sleeping Beauty, in the classic Disney film originally released in 1959. They are based on the good fairies appearing in the original French fairy tale and various retellings. However, their number and names vary from version to version, sometimes being seven or twelve. As fairy tale counterparts, Flora, Fauna and Merryweather appear at baby Aurora's christening to present their gifts to the new-born princess. As a group, they all have powerful magical abilities through their wands. They can do  things like shrinking, bringing inanimate objects to life, and putting people to sleep. They were also able to give people extremely powerful weapons of righteousness, which could triumph over the darkest of evil, such as Prince Philip's Shield of Virtue and the Sword of Truth. Their wings are small, but allow them to fly. For doing most of the work for both lovers, Aurora and Phillip, they are the main protagonists.
  • Flora is the tallest fairy, and is dressed in red. She is not the oldest but appears to be the leader of the group. She gave Aurora the gift of beauty. She seems to deal heavily with flowers and nature, and her favorite color is pink.
  • Fauna is the middle fairy, almost the same height as Flora, and is dressed in green. She is the fairy who is too good-natured towards Maleficent and gave Aurora the gift of song. She is quieter than the others, and often is a peacemaker between Flora and Merryweather.
  • Merryweather is the shortest and youngest fairy and is dressed in blue, which is her favorite color. She is the fairy who is too aggressive towards Maleficent. As Merryweather is about to give her gift, Maleficent makes her appearance and curses Aurora to die when she touches a spinning wheel's spindle before the sun sets on her sixteenth birthday. Merryweather's gift is to weaken the curse so that instead of death, Aurora will fall into a deep sleep until she is awakened by true love's kiss. She is feisty and pessimisstic, and is often seen arguing with Flora.
The Fairies are voiced by: Flora: Verna Felton (Sleeping Beauty) who also voiced the Queen (Queen Leah, though she isn't named in the film) Fauna: Barbara Jo Allen (Sleeping Beauty) and Russi Taylor (in other appearances) who, by the way, also currently voices Minnie Mouse! and Merryweather by Barbara Luddy (Sleeping Beauty)

In other appearances Flora, Fauna and Merryweather were featured as guests in Disney's House of Mouse, in Disney Princess Enchanted Tales: Follow Your Dreams during the "Keys to the Kingdom" segment and they have a role in the Kingdom Hearts series of video games as well as various other game, film, theme-park, and live events. The three are also featured in the interactive game Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom.

In other interesting side notes: "Flora" was the name of Walter Disney's mother. Most people will say "Flora, Fauna and Merryweather" when talking about them, so the easy way to remember who is who is to think: Red, Green, Blue, which are the colors of their dresses in order. Interestingly enough, we also usually say "Huey, Duey, and Louie" when referring to Donald's nephews. Guess what, think red, green and blue again... That's right, Huey wears red, Duey wears green and Louie is in blue!

As Fauna would say, "Oh, I just love happy endings." 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Where in the (Disney) World is Adam?

  If you're gonna be in Walt Disney World anytime from September 23 to September 30, those are the days I will be there, here is a game for you. Each day I will announce on the Addicted to Mickey Facebook page which park I will be at, and as I go around each park I will post pictures of where I am, that you can use like clues on a pirates treasure map. Now the first person who can find me each day and say "I love Addicted to Mickey" will win a prize pack. Here is what each prize pack will contain:
      Mickey pen
      WDW key chain
      Disney pin
      Pack of Disney stickers
I'll also take a picture with the daily winner and post it on the FB page as well. You have to find me at the park I'm at, so if you happen to be staying at POR like I am and see me there it doesn't count, unless otherwise stated, and there is only one prize pack per day.
  Simple as that, be the first to find me in the park I'm at each day and you win! Have fun, have a Magical day, and hope you see you, at Disney World, real soon!
  Here is a picture of me so you know who to look for, and yes I will have the Mickey umbrella hat on!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Foodie Friday: The Coral Reef Review

                        Creamy Lobster Soup

The Coral Reef Restaurant is one of two table service restaurants located in Epcot's Future World area. It is to the far right side of The Seas With Nemo and Friends attraction and is connected to it via VERY thick walls of the aquarium that you view from inside the attraction. Actually, this is the largest "inland" saltwater enclosure built to date and if I recall the information they provide, one inch of water from it will fill a large swimming pool. You may even see divers taking care of the sea life or from the DiveQuest program while you dine! You feel like you are underwater as soon as you enter the restaurant. From the lighting effects to the fixtures, walls, ceiling and the use of color, it all works together to make a very unique dining experience. The seating is tiered on three levels, as in a movie theater, and the booths are situated facing the aquarium so that everyone has a good view of its inhabitants as they dine. There is even a "Fish Finder" card on the table to help you identify all the various species you may see. You may want to ask to sit next to the window, especially if you have children in your party.

The culinary part of the experience begins with a complimentary bread service. For an appetizer, Lobster soup has been on the menu since it opened,  though it has had a few changes in recipe since then. The latest version is a Creamy Lobster Soup with tarragon and brandy. I was there the day after this latest change in early May this year. I would describe it as having a bit more of a tomato base than the previous versions, though it is still a "must have" for me at this restaurant. The signature entree is a Lobster Ravioli, which is now Lobster Orecchiette Pasta with White Cheddar Cheese and Basil Oil. The Chocolate Wave is known as the restaurant's signature dessert and has also been on the menu since the opening, but is now being served with Raspberry Gelato. Though I'm not a huge fan of the raspberry in this particular dessert, it is still a favorite. The Abyss is a signature drink made with Skyy Vodka, Bacardi Superior Rum, Blue CuraƧao, and pineapple juice. My dining companions on this last visit declared it "absolutely delicious" and ordered two each. Hey, it was a hot "spring into summer" Florida day, what can I say!  ;)   I have always had great food and fantastic service here, though I have seen other reviewers that have not been as fortunate. As with many table service restaurants at Walt Disney World, and most especially Epcot, you are going as much or more for the environment as for the food; and this restaurant cannot be beat when it comes to a unique environment and dining experience.  I hope you add it to your dining plan the next time you visit Epcot, and say "Hi!" to Nemo for me!

This location takes 1 table service credit on the dining plan and honors the Tables in Wonderland card as well.

Lunch entrees range from $15.50-32, dinner entrees $19-35 (market price for the Chef's selection) and the Kids menu selections are $8.99.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Finding Nemo: The Musical, a Review

Do you ever take the time to sit and relax to watch a Disney stage show? At Animal Kingdom, since they close early, my family is always in a rush trying to get to the next major attraction and never stopped to enjoy them, until our last trip. My family had split up, my son and I are not adventure seekers and chose to head to DinoLand and not ride Expedition Everest. As we were walking, a cast member got our attention and motioned us to come check out the Finding Nemo Stage Show. I looked over at my son, and since he is an aspiring actor and Finding Nemo is my favorite movie, we headed in to find a seat. The seating is stadium bleacher style, but lots of it and offers handicap accessible options. This is also a nice, air conditioned, indoor venue. The musical goes along the story-line of the movie with Nemo getting "fish napped" and Marlin and Dory taking on the adventure to find him and meeting Bruce and Crush along the way. The performance is put on by actors and giant theatrical puppets dancing and singing all of your favorite songs from the movie, plus a few new ones that will be stuck in your head the rest of the afternoon!
It is a lively performance that gets the audience involved and keeps the attention of even the youngest fans. The lighting and choreography are spectacular. Try and catch the giant bubbles that make you feel like you're in the ocean with Dory! This show lasts approximately 30 minutes and is put on at scheduled times throughout the day. Please check times guides for exact performance times.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Who's Who Wednesday: Dory

Just keep swimming..Just keep swimming...You know her,and can't help but love that little blue fish, but do you know the specifics of Dory?
 Dory is a Pacific Regal Blue Tang from the Great Barrier Reef. She is very sociable, befriends the sharks, can speak whale and even read! Did you know the original Dory was written to be a male part? Yup, the writer was writing the character of Dory as his wife was watching Ellen on tv when she commented that Ellen DeGeneres had the perfect voice for Dory.

 The sad part about Dory is that she suffers from short term memory loss, but has lots of trust in others because of it. Did you know Dory has been in several cameos or "Easter Eggs"? She appears in an underwater scene in the Incredibles and also in Darkwing Duck.

 Dory is my personal favorite. She is full of optimism and spunk, and always sees the glass half full.
Dory made her debut in theatres in Finding Nemo on August 1,2003 and will appear in the 3D version in theaters this week!

 If you get the chance to visit the new Art of Animation resort, make sure to go in the Nemo pool. Underwater, you will get to hear Dory talking. It is really cool how they pumped up the noises and can only hear it underwater!!

 Don't miss Finding Nemo 2, said to debut in 2016, because Dory is included in this sequel.

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Seas with Nemo & Friends: Ride Review

Mr. Ray: Oh, let's name the species, the species, the species. Let's name the specie that live in the sea!

That’s right folks, we’re taking an adventure on the East Australian Current with Nemo, Dory, and all their friends on The Seas with Nemo and Friends! Take a right when you enter Epcot bright and early and you’ll find yourself in Futureworld where Soarin’, Living with the Land, and Nemo await!  You’re drawn in by the beautiful and colorful wall of fish that leads you into the Seas. The queue to the ride is strangely longer than you would expect, but walk past the well-created beachy decorations and you will eventually find yourself maneuvering through more walkways that make you feel like you’re really under the sea!
The cool and dark queue is perfect for hot guests to cool off while waiting for their adventure. Eventually you will make it to the ride where you hop into your moving “clamobiles”. Seating 2-3 people, this is a great ride for kids. Slow-moving and appealing to the eye, you move through short scenes where Nemo is once again lost and Dory and Marlin must find him. Using television screens, as well as real-life mechanics, kids (and adults!) will be surprised at the realness of the ride and the seamless combination of graphics and real 3D objects. One of the coolest parts of the ride is Dory and Marlin’s frolick through Jellyfish territory where simulated jellyfish bounce around you! Bruce and friends do appear, and like the movie, they do tend to forget that fish are really friends, not food!  Dory and Marlin get into a little trouble with Bruce and some other dastardly fish, but things start looking up when they meet up with Crush and his son Squirt. Using a circular television screen that encases the attraction (think of the end of Space Ranger Spin when you’re hurling through space!) you feel like you’re swimming at super speed through the EAC. But no worries, in the end Dory and Marlin find Nemo and they live happily ever after!
At the end of the ride you are moved past a large aquarium where guests will enjoy pointing out all the cool fish that are swimming about, and keep your eyes peeled, you might spot Dory and Marlin there too! The Seas with Nemo and Friends also includes a large structure filled with aquariums that guests may explore after exiting the ride. Shows and exhibits allow guests to learn more about the underwater world!
The line for Nemo can be a bit on the long side, but Fastpasses were just recently installed for the ride, so grab yourself a FP and make sure to come back and check out The Seas with Nemo and Friends!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Foodie Friday: Anandapur Yak & Yeti Review

I know there is quite a concern among vegetarians on what to eat while at Disney besides the usual cheese pizza and veggie burgers. I was on a mission at our table service meals to find anything besides the normal substitutes, so that I could enjoy a variety of foods.
As my family and I wandered through Animal Kingdom, our bellies began to rumble when we stumbled upon Yak and Yeti. We were taken to the top floor and seated. Being summertime, you can bet that it was crowded. However, it was peaceful despite the chattering of park guests. The designs and positions of all the decorations were nearly perfect and the simple green walls were inviting and matched well with the earthy feel of Animal Kingdom. Our server took our orders and brought our drinks to us. One of the things I love about AK is the fact that they use paper straws. It always makes me happy to see a company who cares about the welfare of the animals, as well as our earth. I’d actually been excited about trying the straws! They were so simple and I’m surprised at how strongly they held up. I decided to order the vegetarian lo mein, which is a mix of carrots, noodles, cabbage, green onions, bean sprouts, and tofu. My parents are not vegetarian and decided to go for the Crispy Honey Chicken with chicken fried rice on the side. The crispy honey chicken consists of tempura chicken, broccoli, carrots and honey sauce.
This meal probably rounded out at #2 on my list of top meals for our trip. The noodles and sauce were delicious and while the tofu was a little undercooked for my usual taste, the sauce and flavor of the dish made up for the squishiness of the tofu. I am not a big fan of bean sprouts and so if I was to order it again, I’d ask for it to be without. My meal cost around $17 with the tofu added, but I ended up only eating half while at the restaurant and taking half with me back to the resort. It was a lot of food! The meal even tasted delicious when reheated. My parents said they enjoyed their meal, as well and we were impressed by how animated our waiter was. He continuously smiled and was always there to refill our drinks. We definitely plan to return to Yak and Yeti on our next trip!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Disney with Little Guys and Gals

One of the number one questions most people ask me is "What is a good age to take my kids to Disney"? I answer it like this....Why wait? Yes, younger children may not remember everything, so if this is a once in a lifetime only trip, then yes, wait until they can at least have some kind of memory. But, for the people who come down to Florida once a year every few years, there is no age limit.  I have a few tips on how to bring the kids and make the most of your stay!

 Nap times are a necessity, especially if your kids take naps at home. Let them nap while on vacation, they are going to be doing more. More walking, if they walk, and more time outside in the fresh air. Make time during the day for relaxing so they don't get tired and irritable.

 Eating...there is nothing worse than a cranky hungry child. Feed the kids before you get to the park, or if your child isn't afraid of characters, book a character breakfast for them. Make sure to keep their feeding schedule near normal. Personally, with my kids, when we are on our mini vacations, they don't eat much. If you have kids that are not breakfast eaters, just have some fruit, granola bars or poptarts in the room and let them eat something before you head to the parks.

Packing your bag: every mom or dad must have a bag!! This bag will have, at the minimum: sunblock, bottles or sippy cups, extra pacifiers, (bring more than one, looked all over for bottles and pacifiers and none were found, Tylenol, Benadryl, meds for tummy aches, diapers, pull ups, wipes, formula, a plastic baggie (gallon size for those wet clothes), a set of extra clothing, accidents happen.

 One great thing to note is all the parks have a baby centers. Here you can breast feed, warm bottles or food, use high chairs, change diaperrs, or just go on in to sit a few from the hot sun.

 Also, the hotel stores know, sometimes in the hustle and bustle of packing, we can forget things, so the stores have formula, pacifiers, bottles, band-aids, diapers, pool diapers, pain meds, case you forgot something. **Note: if you have a lactose intolerant baby or child, the only thing I have found is soy milk products. Make sure that issue is taken care of from home. You can even ship it down early. We spent a lot of time looking for lacto free milk for my son on our visit and only find soy on property.

 Where to stay: I personally like the value resorts. They are inexpensive and for the time we spend in them, it's the best way to go for us. The only difference to me is there is no pool slide, or hot tub in the value resorts. The campground has both now. IN my opinion, stay on Disney property!!! It's nicer, easier, and more fun than a local hotel. The theming is fantastic. There is plenty for the kids to do. They have   pools, little kid water areas, movies at night, games during the day near the pool. Also, depending on where you stay, some of the moderate and deluxe resorts have child care centers, where you can drop off your child for fun and activities while you get alone time.

 Where to go first: I know most people you should think run right to Magic Kingdom. I think you should wait. My family starts at Epcot. If you have toddlers or under teen kids they will love Innoventions. This is like a hands on, indoor place where the kids learn and have fun at the same time. Kids can make their own sheet of paper, learn how to save the enviroment and ways to save money with a really cool piggy bank game. The teens will also have fun with the  games in the back, a whole wall of video games they can play for free. You will even catch some husbands over there too. Another option here is to ride a segway if your over 16. You can enjoy the sum of all thrills by creating your own roller coaster and ride it! The younger kids can learn about what to do in a house fire and how to survive a tornado. At night, the kids will love the LED lights on the ground.

 In Mission to Mars, don't think because you can't ride the ride that you can't have fun too. Go through the store and you will find a huge room of fun and games. For the smaller kids, there is a neat space themed tunnel area where they can get in and crawl around. You can send a postcard from space as well.

 Another ride small kids will enjoy Living with the Land. This is a nice, gentle boat ride that takes you indoors to see the history of agriculture what what disney is doing to improve it, then outside to a huge garden area, don't miss the 3 or 4 hidden Mickeys in here!! The Living Seas is a place the kids will love. There are fish everywhere, plus Turtle Talk is where the kids get to sit up front and actually get to talk to Crush.

 The kids can also spend time hopping in the water areas. There are a few where they can get wet, stay cool and have some fun. while the adults cool off under some water mist sprayers in the heat. (Hence the change of loathes stated earlier). There are jumping fountains over by Captain EO, too.

 One more fun thing to do in Epcot is to go around the world with Duffy the Disney Bear. The children get a paper Duffy on a stick and in each country they visit, they can color Duffy,and collect stamps. These spots are called Kidcot Fun Spot. They are educational and all for free.

 The next park we hit is Animal Kingdom. If your kids love animals like mine, they will love AK. There is plenty to look at here. As you enter the gates, start at the front, enjoy the ducks and the waterfall and the small animals that line the sides as you get into the park. In the back of the park, children will love Kilimanjaro Safaris ride with lots of animals. It's fun to let them see the animals and let them show you what they love. The person driving during your tour is very informational in letting you know more about each animal.

 Take the train and go to conservation station. The younger kids love this area and it's hands on. Children can actually brush and pet the goats, and sheep, and see the llama and pig. They can see the animal hospital, color and learn more about the animals inside.

 The trail is where you will see birds of all kinds and surprise creatures walking near you and flying over there heads. You can also see lions,hippos, bats and all kinds of animals here.

 The boneyard, is a place that is so fun for the kids. It's a neat dinosaur play land. The kids can slide on the many slides or just run wild in here. Make sure to go up top and let them actually dig for bones in the sand. Dinoland also has a few rides for the younger ones to enjoy.

Disney's Hollywood studios, is one of those places I would almost skip with the little kids. If they are into Playhouse Disney, you can visit the Playhouse Disney show and have fun there or play in the Honey I Shrunk the Kids area, but there aren't many rides that the small children can ride. Be sure and check ride restrictions before venturing out to the park.

 So, I've saved the best for last, this is where the kids have the most fun. The most rides they can go on and the most memories. In my opinion, if you have little ones, this is where you will want to focus your time at. The kids can get on most every ride, even infants.

  My first bit of advice is get to the park early and get fast passes!!! We all hate standing in long lines for hours,especially with fussy kids. Get to the park early, leave around lunch time, go back to the resort to relax for a swim or naps and go back later on.

 Strollers:This really depends on your child. The easiest way I have found to do this is to rent one. This way you don't have to lug it around. They are not that expensive to rent. The only pain is, if your little one is sleeping and you have to return the stroller.

 Fireworks: this is coming from a mom of 4 on a tight budget. Before you leave home,go over to the Target dollar bin and pick up a few glow in the dark items. When it gets dark at Disney, all the glow items come out. If you are on a budget,you will not want to pay the average $10 for one of these things. Stick yours in your bag and then the cast members come around selling, you won't need one, just whip out the ones you brought from home. I even give the my away extras to other kids, who are crying ,because they can't afford one.

 Bring something from home that the kids love. If they have a favorite blankie or stuffed animal, bring it with you!!! Nothing is worse than trying to console your 3 or 4 yr old that won't go to bed without his lovey!

 What will my child eat? Most places in the parks have counter service restaurants that offer meals on a healthier side now that include: apple sauce , carrots,grapes, yogurt,milk and juice.

 So, there you have it, have fun, let the kids have fun too, and you can easily keep your sanity.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Who's Who Wednesday: Contributor Darleen

Hi everyone! My name is Darleen and I am a Disney fanatic. I live on the west coast of Florida and consider WDW to be my "second home". I've been an AP holder for many years and my first trip was in 1972. I can't count how many trips I've made since then, but probably over 100 in all. I've also been to the "Original Magic Kingdom" twice and taken two Disney cruises. I've planned everything from solo trips to four generation family reunions and everything in between. I enjoy the Disney movies, the magic of the Parks and especially the heritage and history of Walt Disney himself and the vision he had for the company. I also enjoy all the wonderful food options available at the parks. To me, that is an "attraction" by itself! My favorite time of year at the parks is the joy at Christmas. I hope to share my love for everything Disney with all of you and look forward to being inspired by everyone else here as well. Thanks for taking the time to read and remember, "It all started with a mouse"!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Port Orleans French Quarter Review

  Located on the Sassagoula River in the Downtown Disney area is Port Orleans French Quarter, one of 5 moderate resorts at Walt Disney World. It is the smallest of the Disney World resorts, which means quieter, and less crowded, and easier to get around. The theming of the resort if just like the name states, the French Quarter of New Orleans. Having visited New Orleans before, I would say it's a very good representation of the real thing, though cleaner and less people. One thing I really loved was how the walkways were like real streets, with sidewalks, light posts and street signs.
Head on down to the river.

One of seven buildings, broken up between the South Quarter
and the North Quarter.

  The rooms are your standard Disney moderate rooms. I wasn't overly impressed with theming in the rooms, but they were clean, comfortable and included a mini-fridge. One thing that was different about the room we were in, and something I haven't noticed before at any other resort, was that it had a door that was flush with walkways instead of angled like most, though that could have been because we were next to a handicap accessible room. I noticed a few other rooms like this as I walked around the resort, and I have to say it was nice to have the little bit of extra room, it helped keep our stroller out of the way.
Notice the first floor compared to the second floor.
  For dining options at this resort you have the Sassagoula Floatworks and Food Factory, which has pretty standard quick service food like you find at the other moderate resorts. There were a few specialty items though, including beignets, and jambalaya. If you want a table service type restaurant you can head over to Boatwright's at POFQ's sister resort, Port Orleans Riverside. It's a little bit of a walk or you can take boat up the river. You can also take this boat to Downtown Disney, which is a nice ride, and a welcome change from the buses that you have to take everywhere else. The pool, Doubloon Lagoon, isn't very big but it does have a slide, which is rather short but I found it nice with a small child because you can see them the whole time. If that isn't enough for you, you can head over to POR and use the pool there. There is also a jacuzzi available. Jackson Square is the store in the main lobby and it has everything from souvenirs to things you may have forgotten to bring on your trip. There is also an arcade for the older kids (or adults) and playground for the little ones.

  Another great thing about POFQ is all the other activities you can do. There is a marina where you can rent water crafts, they offer carriage rides, surrey bike rental (the big group bikes with the canopies on top), and cane pole fishing over at POR. So even though Port Orleans French Quarter is small there is still much to do, and if you're looking for something a little more intimate this is for you. I have to say, even though I stayed there a short time I enjoyed it and would stay again. So have you ever stayed here? If so would you again? As always have a Magical day and see you real soon!