Friday, June 28, 2013

Foodie Friday- Yak and Yeti Counter Service

   I have been waiting for months to eat at Yak and Yeti's counter service. We finally got the chance! Located across from the Kali River Rapids in Asia is a cute little eating place. There is an eat in, sit down, and an outdoor counter service offered in this area.  The lines were really short and we found an empty place to sit. There isn't much seating out of the sunlight, but we braved it.

 We ordered our food and it came in cute little take out boxes, like you get at the average Chinese restaurant. These were all jam packed, and had to weigh a few pounds each! The boxes were layered with chicken and rice, and piping hot. This was the first counter service meal that I actually had to wait to eat because it was so hot. I loved it... it was so much food! My husband finished his, but this could have easily been shared between 2 people. They were $9.99 each. I got Sweet and Sour and my husband got Honey chicken. There was plenty of sauce to go around. It was a perfect meal.

 They had a cute pond looking area which my younger son loved sitting by watching the mini waterfall. It was very calming to sit by.

 The food was priced nicely and they had several different things to choose from.

Here are a few pictures of our food...


                                          kids chicken strip meal..


                                         covered with sweet and sour sauce...



Have you tried this Quick Serve location yet? If not, you may want to try it on your next visit to the Animal Kingdom park!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Disney Adventures on the Cheap

My family has gotten to the point where we don't have toddlers any more but we also don't have teenagers.  One thing about Disney that is very important for my family is that we spend our time all together, it's why we always choose Disney as our vacation spot!  When planning our vacations we like to plan a few big adventures for them, such as the Pirate Cruise which they could all go on together.  Children ages 4-12 will be outfitted with a red/white striped pirate Mickey hat (or a bandanna) and board their pirate ship (pontoon boat) under the supervision of the "pirate" crew. At each "port of call" a new treasure awaits. At the final stop, they can share their booty while enjoying lunch. At least two CPR-certified Cast Members accompany the children. All participants must be potty trained. (No Pull-Ups.)  Lunch is usually Peanut butter and jelly Uncrustables, Goldfish crackers, Rice Krispie Treat and fruit punch juice box.
  • Albatross Treasure Cruise - Yacht and Beach Club dock on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The two hour voyage begins at 9:30am
  • Disney's Pirate Adventure - Grand Floridian dock on Mondays, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The two hour voyage begins at 9:30am
  • Island of the Caribbean Pirate Cruise - Caribbean Beach Resort dock on Sunday, Tuesday, Friday. The two hour voyage begins at 9:30am.
  • Bayou Pirate Cruise - Port Orleans Riverside dock on Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. The two hour voyage begins at 9:30am.
You can book this 180 days in advance by calling 407-WDW-PLAY

  The cost is $31.95 per child, a credit card is required at the time of booking, and parents must sign a waver upon arrival. Cancellation policy is 24 hours in advance and no show/not canceled 24 hours in advance, is full charge.  
  We also set up for our kiddos to get Pirate'd up at Pirates League but after that and planning character meals and other reservations we were tapped out!  But luckily Disney thinks of everything!! On our first trip to EPCOT the kids could not wait to do Agent P's  World Showcase Adventure.  They had seen shorts about it on the Disney Channel and were so excited!  It is  an interactive attraction at the World Showcase at Epcott at Walt Disney World Resort, which had its soft opening on June 15, 2012, and official opening June 23 of that same year, replacing Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure. Guests who register at one of five locations within Epcot use a F.O.N.E. - or Field Operative Notifacation Equipment - supplied by sponsor Verizon Wireless, to become agents of O.W.C.A. and help Perry the Platypuss defeat Dr. Doofenshmirtz through the seven country pavilions represented in the World Showcase area by getting clues on their devices for each case. You can do as many as you want or you can stop after each mission.  I loved them all and my kids were really great at taking turns when the music would tell them to, it was fun to see little figures come to life and for them to feel apart of the mission.  And it is all free!!!! 
  Another free favorite at EPCOT was kidcot stations.  Kids can stop and pick a cut out of Agent P or Duffy and color them. They can then take them to each country and get a stamp for.  There are passports that you can purchase for about $10 each but we did not see those till they had almost all the stamps and they were very happy with what they had colored and they are now hung up on their walls. 
  Out of all the free activities we found Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom was the family favorite! 
You join Merlin’s elite squadron of apprentice sorcerers at the Firehouse on Main Street, U.S.A. or behind the Ye Olde Christmas Shoppe in Liberty Square, where you’ll be given all the tools you’ll need to help you on your quest. Using Merlin’s mystical map, embark on missions throughout Main Street, U.S.A.; Adventureland; Fantasyland; Frontierland and Liberty Square. Unlock Magic Portals using your Sorcerer Key card, and challenge Hades and his henchmen using Spell Cards. You can complete as many or as few missions as you wish. Merlin and the keepers of Magic Kingdom park are grateful for any help they can get! And speaking of help, a different Disney pal will pop up to guide you on each portion of your quest—and congratulate you as you thwart each Disney Villain.  Cruella De Vil, Jafar, Ursula, Scar and many more evil doers will be doing their best to get to each crystal shard before you do, so hold onto your wizard hat and get ready for spellbinding adventures at every turn! Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom is included in your theme park admission.
   Once you get into to the park you can head over to the fire house to get a pack of cards per ticket, they do sell accessories such as shirts with power boosts and special card carriers but we never bought any of those and finished the whole game, we all loved it and actually were all excited to do the different spells, this is something fun for all ages as you will see everyone from kiddos to older adults at the portals waiting to battle the bad guys!  I also loved it because they had all different cards so all the kiddos were super excited to use one of their favorite characters.  FREE!
  Of course there is always autographs and pin trading that you can also do for free and give you a souvenir to take home and remember the memories!  Oh and there are a few rides at WDW too, just in case you get bored! 

Till next time,
Hugs and Mickey kisses!!
April












Thursday, June 20, 2013

Blizzard Beach Review

  This past week, as an Annual passholder, we got to expereince Blizzard Beach for free. We had such a fun time. We had never been to a Disney water park before, and honestly, I am not a fan of water, but never have I had so much fun! We pulled up and saw the huge long line, stretching all the way to the golf course and thought we may never get in. However, it only took us a few minutes! Once inside, we got a locker so we didn't have to carry all our stuff around, and off we went.

 The park is pretty big.  One thing I loved was that it had something for all ages since I have a toddler, a tween,  a teen and us adults. The park is broken down in the cutest areas. Tikes Peak is an area for babies-toddler age. In Tikes Peak they had a few inches of water where a baby could just sit and play with the water in between some snow drifts and floating icebergs.  The snow drifts and icebergs are made of a soft material and bobbed in the shallow water. The park has small water slides just for the little ones and even a small tube ride, which my 3 year old loved. The tween area at the park also includes icebergs on the water, a zip cord and some bigger slides. There were some fun tube slides that the kids will love.
 
   The rest of the park is more for the thrill seekers.  There are 2 really big water slides, which I did not take part in, but my dare devil kids did and they had the time of their lives. We sat at the bottom of the slide waiting for our 2 big kids to come down.  When they tell you it's not a good idea to wear a two piece skimpy bikini, they meant it! One girl, just happened to look down at the end of the slide to see her top almost off.  Just be warned, your top may not make it down the same time you do at the end of the slide. You can take a ski lift to the top of the mountain or walk up. My family chose to walk it up and the view at the top is amazing!  You can see every park and tall ride, it was breathtaking!

   My kids finally had enough of the body slides and we decided to take a ride on the lazy river.  This river goes around the entire park with many on and off points. You can sail away as long as you like.

    At about 3 PM, we decided to check out the free refreshments provided for AP members. We got a free surfbox (an $8.95 value for each AP ticket we had) . It was great to not have to worry about having soggy money and tickets.  We also got free potato chips, cookies and really cold ice water. We sat down at the picnic tables and just relaxed. The day we were there it was 90 degrees and that water began to look really inviting again, so we finished up our yummies and went back to the water. The waiting times were mostly 15 minutes for everything!

   The difference between the water parks and the main parks is that there are no FastPasses, but with the lines being so short, we wouldn't have used them anyway.  We had a really fun day and  I wish I would have taken more pictures.

 All in all, we would love to go back! The place is really nice, the stores had everything you could think of in case you forgot something. There were lots of places to get food and drinks, ice cream or slush and whatever you wanted. The theming was really done well. Some places had water misters going and it made the park look like the snow was actually cold. I do recommend you wear water shoes.The ground was really hot that day. Many people will be barefoot because when you ride the body slides, they make you hold your shoes on the way down.

 They also had a lot of places to take cute pictures, so bring yourself a waterproof camera, or buy one at the park. I think we will definitely be going back since we had such a great time. It was really different than being at the other 4 parks. I loved not having to wear shoes if I didn't want to.

 Lockers were $13.00 for a small and you got $5.00 back or a really nice souvenir cup.


                                    
                                           melting snowmen family..








                                          free surf box, keeps stuff dry.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Disneyland Vs. Walt Disney World: Rides Edition!!

   Growing up in California, I was a Disneyland baby. When someone says they are going to Disney, that is where I think of.  I did visit Walt Disney World once in my teens with my parents but DL was home.  All that changed when we were stationed in Hawaii. I met people who's Disney home was WDW and they would tell me how wonderful their home was.  I couldn't wait to go!!  So in all my research I came across a blog comparing the two, and now that I have been to both I wanted to give my thoughts as well.  This blog is going to be dedicated to the rides that are at both parks, so here we go!!

Pirates of Caribbean:  The line is better at WDW but I give the ride to DL.  The overall feeling of the ride is the same and no matter which one you ride you would feel as though you were ready to buy a wench.   DL wins because nothing can beat starting off in the bayou and seeing the Blue Bayou Restaurant, which everyone should eat at once, and then seeing the old man on his porch rocking. We have always called this old man my grandma's boyfriend!  Seeing the fireflies and hearing the crickets before seeing all the skeletons and getting warned by the skeleton head to beware and that "dead me tell no tales".  It is just that amazing Disney magic that makes everything special, that I grew up with and missed on the ride in WDW.

The Jungle Cruise:  Pretty much the same, I liked WDW better because of going through the enclosed area and seeing the tiger and his glowing eyes. They share many of the same jokes, but the truth about this ride is that your skipper makes this ride and as long as they are fun then this ride is amazing!!

Small World:  Sorry WDW, this made me actually sad to ride.  At DL it is a huge staple of the park. There are shows on the outside at night, the clock tower is a huge event, it is just one of the rides you can't wait to see, as iconic as seeing the castle!  Also the ride itself is better in DL, especially since they added Disney characters, it makes it so much fun trying to find them!

Splash Mountain:  I actually liked this ride better at WDW!  There were a few added scenes that I loved and I really liked sitting next to one of my family members.  There is a scene at DL right before the drop with a different song that we missed a bit but didn't really make a huge difference to me.

Space Mountain:  Could not tell a difference, you are in the dark going in circles and if you are like me you are laughing hysterically at your kiddos screaming their heads off! 

Peter Pan:  There are differences but the truth is as long as they keep you going over London and you can see the little cars and buildings I could care less!  This ride is pure magic, nothing else can be said about it and I love it at both parks, I enjoyed seeing the differences at WDW and would say this ride is perfect at both parks!!

The Haunted Mansion:  I have to say again I can't say one is better than the other, the line at WDW is better, so fun for the kiddos, and adults, to interact with the fun things there.  The ride does have a few differences and I adored them, seeing ghost footprints show up on stairs above your head was so neat and the library.  Once again I have to say this ride is perfect at both parks and is best to just enjoy them!!

Star Tours:  The ride is the same but WDW wins this hand down because of the props outside of the ride.  Any Star Wars nerd like myself will be in heaven and feel like they are in Endor.  I was such a happy girl!! 

Tower of Terror:  So I have to be honest and say I hate this ride at either park because of the drop and spend the whole ride stressed out about it and miss most of the ride.  But I make us all ride it once to get the picture.  So I think I liked the actual story part more in WDW, I know we went through a room with mirrors or something and I thought that was so great but just kept worrying about the drop!  Then the drops happened and they were nothing, so for me WDW wins but if you want the better drop go to DL!

Big Thunder Railroad:  Basically the same, better line at WDW, but once agian great at both! 

There are more rides that both parks have such as Ariel, Toy Story Mania, The Muppet's, Buzz Lightyear but these rides are all basically the same. The only gripe I have is that you can't pick your laser gun up on Buzz and that really lowered my score!  The truth is I think which ever park you go to first is going to be your Disney home but to compare the two is to compare apples and oranges and the truth is if you are truly a Disney dork as myself you are going to Disney to leave reality behind and to add a little magic into your life, and you don't care about the differences! You are just enjoying being there and not having to be an adult for your time there!! 

Mouse hugs to all!! 
April



























Friday, June 14, 2013

Foodie Friday- Healthy Choices at Disney



You’re lacing up your shoes and hitting the road, walking 3 miles or more a day. You’re forgoing the sweets and staying on your feet most of the day. You’re 2 months away from your vacation but you’re determined to wear that new swimsuit you bought at the pool or maybe you’re ready to hit the parks and spend an entire day on your feet without becoming exhausted. 
Does this sound like you? Not surprising! A ton of vacationers are getting motivated by their upcoming Disney trips to get in shape, whether for life or just for this special occasion! Most of us know that a ton of walking is involved and we know that healthy eating and moderate exercise will certainly help us reach our goals by the time our travel dates come around, but what about while on vacation?
Some of you may think, “This is a vacation! I’m going to eat whatever I want! I will walk it off anyway!”. That may be true for some, but what about you who are dedicated to your exercise and healthy eating? I have some tips for you! 

The following is a list of resorts that have their very own gyms for resort guests. You’re going to be getting up early to hit the parks, why not get up 30 minutes earlier and lift some weights, ride a stationary bike, or use the machines:

Animal Kingdom Lodge
Boardwalk
Coronado Springs
Contemporary
Old Key West
Grand Floridian
Polynesian 
Saratoga Springs
Wilderness Lodge and Villas
Yacht and Beach Club and Villas 

The minimum age to use the gym is 14, but those kids from 14-17 must be accompanied by an adult. If you are on vacation and are staying at a different resort, you may pay $12 a day to use the fitness center at these resorts. However, there are plenty of ways to get your workout in without paying extra! 

So, what about the other resorts? Pop Century, Caribbean Beach, French Quarter, and almost every resort have beautiful scenery and paths for runners and walkers. I went out one morning at Caribbean Beach for a run and enjoyed it immensely. You may not have seen them when you were there, but I have seen a ton of runners in the early morning and late night hitting the sidewalk. If running or walking isn’t your thing, print off a couple of workout sheets that use everyday items or your own body as a weight and bring them with you. Push-ups, jumping jacks, squats, maybe even weight lifting your suitcase!  There is always a way to work out without needing equipment.

So, you’ve gotten in your workout and you’re at the parks and your stomach is growling. Now what? There’s funnel cakes, hamburgers, ice cream, the choices! For those who are dedicated, looking at the menu and planning out your meals is going to be your best bet. For those who are suddenly hungry, there are many carts around all the parks that offer fresh fruit as an alternative to fries or ice cream. If you’re not sure what is the healthiest thing to eat, ask the server or take your best guess. You can probably tell that a salad, veggie burger, or yogurt is probably better than other greasy choices like pizza. Some other tips include:

  • ·         Order appetizers as entrees if you know you’re not that hungry
  • ·         Order one dessert and share it
  • ·         Order veggies, pitas, hummus, or fresh foods
  • ·         Stay hydrated with water!
  • ·         Order sauces on the side and ask if you can forgo the butter
  • ·         Take half of your entrĂ©e back to your hotel fridge in a to-go box (depending on if you’re heading to your hotel right after your meal)


So, what do you do to get in shape and stay healthy for Disney? Do you think Disney is a time to indulge or are you still vigilant about staying healthy while visiting the mouse?

Meals in order: 1. Create-your-own salad chicken at Pop Century food court.  2. Orange Sesame Glazed Vegan Chick'n Chunks with Stir Fry Noodles from Sunshine Seasons. 3. Snacks from the fridge at Art of Animation. 4. Lighthouse Hummus Sandwich at Columbia Harbour House (order apples instead of chips for healthier choice!) 5. Quinoa salad - With Green Beans, potatoes, Olives,Roasted Bell Peppers, Golden Beets and Tomatoes at Be Our Guest. 6. Snacks found in the fridge at Art of Animation. 7. Vegetarian Platter - Served with tangierine couscous salad, hummus and tabouleh. 8. More snacks found at Art of Animation!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Saratoga Springs Resort - Treehouse Villa Review



Welcome to Saratoga Springs Resort!  I am a Disney Vacation Club Member and used some of our points to spend a few nights in a Treehouse Villa for my son's 2nd birthday.  We invited family and friends and had his birthday party in our Treehouse.  

Beams and ceiling fan
The Treehouse Villas stand 10 feet of the ground, have 3 bedrooms, a full kitchen, washer/dryer and can sleep up to 9 guests.  These are fantastic little bungalows if you have a large family or are traveling with another family and want to see Disney World a different way.  I am a huge fan of Fort Wilderness, so staying here gave me a little sense of living in the wild, but in total luxury!  The gorgeous wood ceiling beams paired with the rustic decor make for a very relaxing stay all while at Disney.  Can't beat that!

Our Treehouse had a view of the the river, where you can sail on a water taxi over to Saratoga Springs Resort or to Downtown Disney.  We also have the option of taking a Disney bus to go anywhere we wanted. 

The entire space, indoor and out, is huge.  We had 9 family members staying with us and had plenty of room for everyone.  We even had about 20 people in it at one point during the actual birthday party!  It really made for a unique birthday and everyone had a great time.

Walk-thru kitchen

Since we were equip with a full kitchen and a BBQ grill, we ate all of our dinners in our hut.  I love the way the kitchen is the middle point in the Treehouse and has a walk-thru design.  I could see everyone while I was cooking and see the gorgeous outdoors with the enormous windows in the living room.  




The price of these Treehouses starts at almost $800/per night (according to the website), which has significantly increased in the past couple of years.  If you are a DVC member, you can book a Treehouse for as little as 39 points per night, which I think is a great deal considering how many it sleeps and the fact that you get own little piece of Disney heaven.





I will absolutely stay here again!  My family and friends loved it and it made for a great space for my son's Buzz Lightyear party!



We requested a wheelchair accessible villa for my mom
Master bedroom
Bedroom with bunkbeds
Outdoor table
Each Treehouse has its own grill
Laundry


Dining area from the living room
View from the master bedroom

Kitchen
View from the kitchen





Thursday, June 6, 2013

Disney'd Out- What to Wear?

    Every time we plan a Disney trip, which is our only real vacation spot, the real trouble begins. What will the family wear?  I know that we could go and have just as much fun if we were not all in a Disney themed shirt but the thought of that actually hurts my heart.  Luckily, we only have one girl, because otherwise the budget on our clothes would be insane! First off I never worry about jackets.  Our tradition is to buy new sweatshirts and jackets as soon as we get there.   For my husband and boys, ages 11 and 5, I usually just buy from The Disney Store and Old Navy.  I have also found cute Disney shirts at Target and I know Wal-Mart has some also.  I have purchased a few for the boys from Etsy as well , but it is hard once they get older to find age appropriate ones for them. I  purchased my youngest son's birthday shirt off of Etsy to wear on our trip, which of course was Disney themed!  I like to have at least one day where my two boys match, on our last trip my hubby matched also.    I have bought some shirts for me from Target and Old Navy as well, but my favorite ones are from Forever 21 and Hot Topic. These literally made me squeal with joy when I found them!  Forever 21 has great prices and they were really different from what I have seen before and I found one of my favorite Disney shirts ever from Hot Topic which was one of Ariel and Prince Eric. 
    My daughter is a different story. Oh the fun I have getting her outfits together for a Disney trip!  Luckily my daughter is nothing but girl and loves to dress up so she is all for it.  I always know that my daughter will be dressing up a couple times during our trip in some sort of costume.    I have ordered many of her dresses off of Etsy and on our last trip had dresses custom made for her by Where the Magic Begins, they were amazing and had so many compliments.  My daughter does wear regular shirts but I always make sure and have accessories that match.  I always buy my bows from a shop called Lil Miss Sassy Boutique, they are amazing and have made me custom  bows for each of our trips, both of these shops are on Facebook.  On our last trip, I had a pirate skirt made for the day that my daughter would become a pirate at Pirate's League.  One of my biggest tips to pass on is to look on Ebay as well. I found an outfit on Etsy for about $80, so cute but crazy!   I found the petty skirt on Ebay for $9, never been wore and was able to find the shirt on Etsy for $20, so don't buy the first one you find, bargain shop!  If you are able to make it yourself, that is awesome and the cheapest option, but I am not crafty enough :(.    Once again, I say I don't think you have to go to Disney decked out but it is part of our tradition and it makes me feel like I am part of the magic while there.  Right now I am planning our next round of outfits but having even more fun because we are going for the Halloween party so the whole family will be in costumes!  Our plan is Peter Pan, my oldest son is not super excited about wearing a "nightgown" as he calls it but my husband seems way to excited to wear tights!  Does your family go  Disney'd out or do you wear your regular clothes?  Till next time, hugs and Mickey kisses!!

April