Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Amy's Bucket List

When it comes to Disney, of course I want to experience absolutely everything. However, there are a few experiences which definitely top the list. Here are my absolute top five:

1. Visit Disneyland Paris. I have never been to Europe, and could not imagine making the trip across the Atlantic without a visit to Mickey's European home. Also, rumor has it, that runDisney may be adding a Disneyland Paris 1/2 Marathon, and if this is true, then a visit to Disneyland Paris just became even more of a highest priority Disney bucket list item!
2. Receive a runDisney Coast to Coast medal. This coveted medal is given to those who run at least a half marathon in Walt Disney World and in Disneyland within a calendar year. The one for 2014 is pink, and I love all things pink so it will be mine!
3. Experience a Disney Cruise. I have cruised before, but never on the floating wonderland which only Disney can provide.
4. Eat at every table service restaurant in the Walt Disney World Resort. With my love of food and experiencing all things Disney, this item is already close to being complete.
5. Yell "Andy's Coming" in the presence of Woody. Rumor has it, if this is done, Woody will drop down and pretend to be in toy form, or as Doc McStuffins would say, he will "go stuffed".

Friday, December 27, 2013

Disney Vanilla fudge recipe

If you are like me, have a sweet tooth, and want to have a piece of Disney made in your own kitchen, you are going to love this recipe!

 Disney's Vanilla Fudge:
1 1/2 cups of butter
1 13 oz (one 12 oz can, plus 2 tablespoons) of evaporated milk
1 pound of brown sugar
2 cups of granulated sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1 pound of confectionery sugar
1 tsp vanilla

What do I do next?
Combine butter with milk and brown and granulated sugars in a 6 qt saucepan, heat over medium heat. Add salt and bring to a boil until it reaches the soft ball stage. (This for me took a while to get to, just keep stirring).
Once that is done, take off the heat and let it cool in the pot for 20 minutes.
Beat in confectionery sugar and vanilla with electric mixer until thick. Use some butter spray to butter pan, use a 9 inch pan, and smear it all in. Put in fridge to cool at least 1-3 hrs!

This was pretty easy to make. The taste alone is worth it!! It has almost a butter cream taste to it.

This is how mine turned out. It wasn't as thick as some, but sooo good!!!!


While cooking

Finished product

Monday, December 23, 2013

Bippity Bobbity Boutique Review

For my daughter's birthday, we surprised her with a makeover at Bibbity Bobbity Boutique. She had no idea we had planned this. We made the reservations and kept it a secret for a month. So, after we took her to Hollywood Studios, we told her we needed to go pick something up in Downtown Disney.

Bibbity Bobbity Boutique has 2 locations, one in Downtown Disney and the other in Magic Kingdom.  I wanted to book at MK, but they were full. Word of advice, book early, this is a very popular thing for the kids to do. So, DTD it was as this was our gift to our daughter from me and my hubby. Booking was super easy, they greet you with a magical phone call of sorts, it's really cute.

We got to the DTD location about an hour and 45 minutes early. It's recommended to be at least an hour early. They took us back within 15 minutes. They asked us if she had a dress to get changed into and we did.  Another word of advice: For those who are frugal like me, bring the outfit with you, it's a huge money saver. Go to your local Disney store in the mall or online if you don't have a local one.

So, my daughter went in and got changed. They have a special changing room to get changed if you bring your outfit with you. She still had no clue what was going on. We went out and the lady at the counter said, "'Princess Jordan, your carriage is ready for you'"! We went into this really pretty purple room filled with Fairy Godmothers in training. Princess Jordan's chair was ready for her.

Another good tip: Have your child's hair ready, brushed out, take out the pony tail etc; it makes it easier on them.

My daughter sat in the chair and picked out which hairstyle she wanted. I was hoping she would go for the Fairytale Princess and she did.

There are 4 different hairstyles to choose from:
Fairytale Princess, Disney Diva, Pop Princess, and Color star.
So, now on to picking the color of her mini crown, Hidden Mickey Barette, and the face gem. 

Then you pick which level of experience you would like. We chose the coach.
The levels are:
Coach: Hair, make up, gem, sash and tote
Crown: Just like coach, only they add the nails.
Courtyard: Just like coach, though they include a t shirt and tutu.
Castle: You get hair, nails, gem, costume, accessories, nails, make up, sash, tote, and 6 5x8, 4 4x6 pics and a photo holder.

Since my daughter is not a total girly girl, we just went with the coach for her, which she was happy with.

If you choose a costume to buy they have: Ariel, Snow White, Aurora, Belle, Jasmine, Cinderella, Tink, Tiana, Rapunzel, Merida, and now they offer Sofia.

 After picking out all the items, up went her hair. They use gel and hair glue to get it to stay so sleek. Up in a super high pony tail it went and with some Disney magic, Princess Jordan was being transformed from a normal little girl to a Fairytale Princess. Everything was Princess. The mini crown was placed, they added a little makeup and the face gem, handed her a shield (to protect all the hard work already done), and on went the tons of glitter! After this is done, they call the photographer over to catch a photo. They tell the child to close their eyes, they are spun around, and told to open their eyes. Of course, I cried!

The child gets down off the chair and shows everyone the new look. She was sooo beautiful.

You are then handed the bill and head to the counter to pay.  You also receive the prettiest BBB bag ever. My daughter cherishes this bag so much. It is all pink and glittery.

In DTD, if you get there early, they actually have a parade where all the kids that were made over can participate and they walk around DTD. It is really cute.

 Hours at BBB in DTD: 9:30am-6pm, MK: 8am-7pm.

The transformation is amazing, the amount of time spent can differ, from 30 minutes to an hour is the normal time. The ages for this are ages 3-12. The prices range from $54.95 to $189.95 plus tax. Princess Sofia is $64.95. They also do a boys package now. Its called a Knight package for 15.95. They do hair gel, sword and a shield, and then they do confetti in the hair.

ty bobbity boutiue reviewBi

Friday, December 20, 2013

Mickey Gingerbread cookies

The Mickey Gingerbread cookies are just the cutest thing I have ever seen. I am kicking myself for not buying the cookie cutter and the mix, but guess what, I found the recipe, so we will be making Gingerbread Mickey heads some time this week.

Here is the recipe:
Gingerbread cookies
1/4 cup of unsalted butter
1/2 cup of brown sugar
1/2 cup of dark molasses
3 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp of ground cloves
1 tsp of ground cinnamon
3 tsp of ground ginger
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 cup of water

Royal icing:
1/8 tsp of cream of tarter
2 egg whites
3 1/2 cups of powdered sugar

In a large mixing bowl cream butter and brown sugar.
Add dark molasses and mix till blended.
Sift the dry ingredients together and add to butter mixture, 1/3 at a time, alternating with the water.
Blend well.
Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill for at least an hour.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease cookie sheet, roll dough onto lightly floured surface and cut into shapes.
Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes.
Cool on wire rack
Decorate with royal icing when cooled.

Royal icing:
Add cream of tarter to egg whites in a chilled mixing bowl.
Beat with an electric mixer at high speed until peaks form.
Reduce speed and gradually add sifted powdered sugar.
Continue to whip frosting until smooth, spreadable consistency is reached.
Spoon into decorator bag, or you can use freezer bags and cut the corner off.
You can also add red and green candies.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Beach Club Villas: A DVC Resort Review

We celebrate our children's birthdays at Walt Disney World every year.  Their birthdays are one day apart by 3 years.  We chose to stay in a Beach Club villa this year for one reason: the pool.  I'm not even sure it's fair to call it a pool.  It's more of it's own water park and we all know how much in love I am with Disney's water parks!

This was my second trip to the Beach Club, the first being in a standard room.  Our room was ready upon early check-in, so we headed up to drop our stuff off and then head down for some dinner and a splash in the pool.  The one thing I was disappointed in was that the studio is smaller than a standard room at this resort.  This was not a problem though, just something I immediately noticed.  Out of all the pictures I took, I only snapped one of our room and my son is right in the middle...completely naked.  Oops!

The hallways are really long and can be quite a hike if your room is at the end of a corridor.  We were about halfway down our hall and that seemed excessive.  On a positive note, it was forced exercise after eating all the yummy food!

The DVC side of the resort has it's own pool, the quiet pool.  It has a beautiful view of the building and the fountain out front.  Stormalong Bay (the main water play area) doesn't open until 10am, so this is where you go when your kids wake up at 7am on vacation.  Hehe.  We grabbed breakfast to go on our last morning and ate it poolside.

A huge plus for this resort is the location, another reason we chose to stay here this time.  You can walk right to the International Gateway at Epcot and you can also walk or take a boat ride right over to Hollywood Studios.  We loved the resort so much that we only went into Epcot one time for lunch during our stay.

Did I mention Stormalong Bay yet?  Oh. my.  My family LOVES swimming and we were certainly happy with what this resort had to offer.  There is a super cool slide that starts inside a pirate ship, a whirlpool section that swirls you around in circles, a huge sandy beach area without the hassle of saltwater, a lazy river with rafts and a poolside quick service restaurant complete with bar!  Did I also mention we spent pretty much every waking minute here?  

Beach Club is definitely in my top three Walt Disney World Resorts.  We can't wait to stay here again!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Disney Christmas Sugar Cookies

Don't you love Disney cookies? There is something special about getting a huge Disney cookie that makes you feel like a kid again. I love the Holiday cookies even more than the regular ones.They are decked out in Holiday sprinkles and always look so festive. Do you want to have that Holiday goodness at home?
These are for you!!!

3 1/2 cups of sifted flour
2 1/2 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
6 oz of sweet butter
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups of granulated sugar
2 tbsp of sour cream
Rind of 1 lemon, grated
2 eggs
1 tbsp milk
Decorations/sprinkles as desired

Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Sift flour, baking powder and salt together.
Cream butter, vanilla, sugar, sour cream and lemon together and beat.
Add eggs one at a time, then add the milk.
Slowly add the dry mixture to the wet mixture.

Let rest for 3 hours.
Then you can take it out and roll it onto a floured surface,and cut it into shapes. I recommend a Mickey cookie cutter of course, but any one will do.
Place on an ungreased cookie sheet (or line with parchment paper) and bake 8-10 minutes.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Fun Things to Do Around Disneyland

We have been asked about other things to do while visiting Disneyland in California. I wanted to tell our readers about some of my family's favorites around the area. 

Other theme parks:

Let me be honest that it is very hard for me to go to other parks around that area but we have done it! One of our favorites is Knotts Berry Farm. It is such a fun theme park with an old western theme and has enough kid rides and shows to make a day of it. The park has thrill rides to keep older kids and adults satisfied. There are some really fun shops that you can go to, even if you don't go into the park and they have the best fried chicken ever is a restaurant that you can eat at without going into the park!
Sea World is fun for those who love shows. There is a very small area with rides. We actually did the whole park in less than a day, but we did enjoy it. 
LegoLand!  My kiddos loved LegoLand.  Great rides for them and Legos galore!  There were some really fun show and play areas and seeing the different statues that were built out of Legos was amazing.  There is a little water play area in the park and some rides that soak you. You can pay extra for the waterpark that is attached. There is a very small aquarium you can buy tickets for, but I don't recommend this because it is so small you can walk through it in 15 minutes. 
Universal Studios is another really fun park.  This park is a bit more focused for older kids and adults. There are some rides and shows for the whole family but older ones will enjoy this park the most. Universal is only one park in CA and doesn't have Harry Potter world like Florida.

Other Fun Places
There is of course Hollywood!  Go see the walk of stars and the shops. Here is my warning, it is a bit dirty. Not what you expect, but still great to see. There is Ripley's Believe it or Not! and other wax museums to check out as well. There are lots of little shops and of course you get to see the real Grauman's Chinese theater. I have to say I actually preferred the copy in Hollywood Studios with The Great Movie Ride, but maybe that's just my opinion.  You can go to Rodeo Drive and do some shopping too! There are also a few themed dinners close by, Medieval times and a Pirate show.  These are a blast and the whole family gets to be involved while eating with their hands.   The San Diego Zoo is about an hour away from Disney and if you have the chance you must go, absolutely the best zoo I have seen. There really is so much to do and if you need or want info on any of these suggestions please let me know and I will help you out.

Magic hugs and kisses!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

RunDisney: Kid's Races

I often hear parents complain about Disney being “too expensive”, that they wish there were inexpensive experiences available. Well, ask and ye shall receive, the low price fairy has arrived. When it comes to activities for children, nothing beats the value of the experience of a runDisney race. For just about $15 any child can run a distance ranging from 100 meters to a full mile depending on age. However, it is so much more than just a race. Included in the entry fee is a personalized bib, a finisher’s medal featuring Disney pals, a t-shirt commemorating the finishing of the event, and that’s just the merchandise. Before each race a dance party hosted by runDisney staff welcomes all runners and spectators, and at the end of each race is a Disney character awaiting the arrival of each runner. Greetings of high fives and hugs are in abundance, and everyone walks away with a huge smile, a banana, and of course some water.

My two year old daughter, Bella, ran her first runDisney race last October during the Tower of Terror 10 Miler race weekend. She had witnessed me running a handful of Disney races, and even raced with me when there were stroller divisions of the 5K races, which have since been discontinued. This race was all her own though, she ran, hand in hand with her daddy, and loved every second. At the end of the race, she posed for pictures and said, “Look, I got a medal and a banana just like mommy!”  You could see the excitement and pride beaming from her face. She will now run races of her own during all future Walt Disney World runDisney race weekends, and I can’t help but wish that I had entered her sooner. RunDisney races start with the “Diaper Dash”, if your kiddo can crawl, then they too can be a runDisney participant, and experience all of the Disney magic that goes along with each event. With such a high value that produces endless smiles and joy, who wouldn’t want to enter their child? Kid’s races are just another piece of wonderful magic brought to you by the one and only Disney, and this time at a very affordable price.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Wild Africa Trek Review

I have experienced a few tours that Walt Disney World has to offer and the Wild Africa Trek is by far my favorite.  Disney recently released a discount for the tour, so I snagged a spot along with 11 of my Disney Parks Moms Panel buddies.

The first stop on the tour was getting fitted for gear.  Each person is given a vest with a harness, a souvenir water bottle and a set of earphones for listening to the guides speak.  Once we were all geared up, it was time to set foot on the trail.

I was most looking forward to the rope bridges.  I don't have a fear of heights or being dangled over an alligator pit, so this was just pure fun for me.  What I didn't anticipate is how far apart the foot boards are.  For short legs, it's a stretch, but I was able to get across just fine.

We had a couple close up encounters with the hippos and alligators as our guides told us about these beautiful animals.  They were able to answer any and all questions we threw their way.

After the rope bridges, we took the harnesses off and loaded up on a private truck that took us into the Savannah.  We stopped several times along the way to get a better look at some of the free roaming animals.

After the safari ride, we were taken to a gorgeous setting where we had our snack.  I wish I could give you a review on the food, but I am such a picky eater and barely touched anything in my canteen.  I will tell you that the juice is delicious! **Are you a picky eater?  Ask for a non-seafood snack before your trek.**

We couldn't have asked for a better afternoon.  A new baby giraffe was roaming around so close to us.  We were able to snap some really beautiful photos!

After snack time we boarded our truck and headed back to our beginning point where we were given a website and code to download all of the photos that were taken of us during our trek.  You can bring your own camera as long as it has a strap that can be secured to your vest.  Honestly, I wish I had left mine behind because the guides have an incredible Nikon camera that they use to get candid photos of everyone in the group.

I would love to do this tour again with my hubby!