Monday, January 27, 2014

Polar Play Date Giveaway

Would you like to take a trip to Legoland, Florida? How would you like free admission tickets?! Well, we've got them! These tickets MUST be used by March 13th, 2014. We've also partnered with Beautiful Baubles to bring you an awesome "Frozen" inspired necklace! So... who's ready to beat the cold and have a Polar Play Date?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

LEGOLAND- Land of Adventure

Last April my family of four left the chill of Boston for the warm sun of southern California.  We split the week into two parts.  We spent the first three days based out of Carlsbad, California, which is the home of LEGOLAND and the second half of the week was spent in Anaheim, home of Disneyland.

We were fortunate to have the opportunity to stay at the LEGOLAND Hotel during its second week of operation.  We had been to LEGOLAND four years earlier and my son who was four during the first trip continued to share memories with anyone who would listen.  We knew that we needed to return to LEGOLAND. 

After a long day of traveling out to California, we took advantage of an offer of buy one day, get one day free.  This gave us a chance to spend the afternoon in the park before we settled in for the night.  We first revisited the areas of the park that my eight year old had remembered from four years earlier.  The Land of Adventure is home to eight separate attractions. 

The Pharaoh’s Revenge is a self-contained net covered two-story structure.  Inside the structure, kids are able to aim cannons filled with foam balls and shoot at either targets or other guests in the attraction.  There are larger units in the center which “explode” with these foam balls every few minutes.

There are benches just outside the structure allowing parents to take a quick break and kids the opportunity to move around and have fun.  After my son thought about this attraction for four years, I can honestly say it did not disappoint when we had a chance to get to LEGOLAND again.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Sommerfest Nudel Gratin

If you are in Epcot you have got to try the food in Germany. I have eaten in Germany and I can not wait to go back. Biergarten has some of the best food and the atmosphere inside is really neath. They have almost recreated a small town and every 30 minutes or so they even come out and put on a little show. At Christmas is is even Christmas themed! You can even go down to the floor and dance. (Darleen piping in here: Keep in mind that this restaurant has "family seating". In other words the tables are ALL set for 8 guests, so unless you are a party of 8, you will almost always be seated with other Disney lovers. For some folks this is a lot of fun and you can make new Disney friends, for others, it's an unusual situation and not a "good thing". Just keep this in mind if you are considering this wonderful restaurant.) Now, if you don't want to spend a few hours at a buffet you have another choice located right next door to Biergarten. It's called Sommerfest. It has some of the items that you would get in the buffet, but "to go", and a little bit cheaper on the pocket book.

Last month during the Holiday we got to try this really yummy thing called nudel gratin. It's similar to macaroni and cheese, but a little more dense. So, I asked for the recipe! Did you know if you want to make something at home, all you have to do is ask and it will either be given to you or emailed to you at most restaurants in Disney.

This is the recipe for nudel gratin from Germany.

2 cups of heavy cream
2 eggs
1/4 tsp salt
pinch of white pepper (Darleen again... white pepper is a little milder than black pepper and is used in recipes where specs of black would be undesirable. Black pepper may be substituted.)
pinch of nutmeg
4 oz of swiss cheese
4 oz of white cheddar
1lb of elbow macaroni

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Using a 13 x 9 inch dish, spray lightly with Pam or any butter spray.

Combine cream, eggs, salt, pepper, and nutmeg in a bowl. In another small bowl, combine the cheeses, reserving one cup aside for later.

Stir the cheeses in to the cream mix, minus the one cup you reserved for later.

Cook macaroni until tender, drain, add cream and cheese mix and stir together. Pour into baking dish, cover with foil and bake for 30 min.

Remove the foil and sprinkle the reserved cheese on top and bake for 15 more minutes.

Remove from oven and let cool for at least 10 min. Cut into squares and serve. This is best when served hot, or warm.

In the park this cost 3.49 and I felt it was a good price for what we got.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Who's Who Wednesday: Tow Mater

Tractor tippin's fun!

When you think about race cars and their buddies, thoughts quickly turn to Lightning McQueen and his buddy, Tow Mater. Mater quickly connected with McQueen after the latter was arrested just outside of Radiator Springs and refused to leave McQueen's side, although McQueen definitely tried to escape his clutches.

Mater is a 1951 International Harvester boom truck. Originally light blue in color, he rusted over and became the brownish orange color that we all know and love today.

Mater has a very vivid imagination. Of note, he has pretended to be a professional wrestler, a daredevil, and a matador, among other things. However, after he begins to think about things he claims to have done, something (or someone) shows up that makes him think that it was real.

 Mater is also the self-professed "World's Best Backwards Driver". Using his rear view mirrors to navigate, he firmly believes that he "don't need to know where I'm going, just need to know where I've been."

Perhaps Mater's greatest adventure is when McQueen asks him to go to the World Grand Prix with him. While in Japan, Mater is mistaken for a secret agent and is charged with helping to figure out who is trying to sabotage the race.

One thing is for sure with Mater, he is anything but boring. We will all continue to be amazed and amused at his adventures in the future.


Monday, January 6, 2014

Parade Viewing Magic Courtesy of FastPass+

We have all seen, or even been, those people who park a family member somewhere in front of the castle or on Main Street USA hours before a parade starts in order to get an unblocked view of the artistry that is a Disney parade. That person sits, typically with a defeated look, watching other families pass by sharing magical memories, knowing that his or her family is exploring the magic as well. Sure this person gets interaction, but it is mainly from other families asking if the space next door, clearly covered by a jacket or shopping bag, is vacant and available for their chosen family member, to which the answer of course is no. Saving seats for parade viewing, for some families, makes any given parade seem like the longest wait in the park.

Well, over the holiday season, our family said goodbye to having a token seat saver, and hello to FastPass+ provided by MagicBands. MagicBands, still in their testing phases, are currently bestowed upon guests who consider a Disney resort home for their vacation stay. These magical pieces of arm candy serve as a room key, easy mode of payment if linked to a credit card, your entrance to the park if desired, and your only opportunity to take part in the new FastPass+ system. We were the lucky recipients of MagicBands during our stay at the Art of Animation Resort in October, and we linked our bands to our annual passes. Linking them to our passes allows us to use these magical bands and all of their powers for every time we visit the parks. Why is this completely awesome you may ask? Well, the MagicBands allow you to take part in the FastPass+ system which gives the power to pre-select up to three fast passes for any given visit. The bonus of course is that the FastPass+ system will allow you to get a fast pass for entertainment like parades or fireworks. Getting a fast pass for a parade, gives you exclusive prime viewing that is reserved for only those who have the fast pass, which is the most amazing way to watch a parade.

First, cast members rope off arguably the best spot to view a parade, which is directly across from the castle. This of course means that the castle can be the backdrop for any photo taken. But wait, it gets better. Since you have a fast pass for this area, you are only allowed to enter between ten and twenty minutes prior to parade time. That's right, prime viewing, and no hours of waiting. But wait, that's not all! Not only is this space amazing for photo opportunities, but the space that they rope off is huge, and the amount of people who actually take advantage of using a fast pass for a parade is very few, so you aren't stuffed into an area like a sardine. I know that I am usually squished into an area with strangers, sometimes ones who are smelly, who are pushy and not always considerate of tiny human parade viewers. So, this experience was absolutely, hands down, the best. Literally no one was standing behind me, there was at least five feet between my back and the end of the roped off area, and there was a good couple of feet between us and the family next to us. My little princess and prince had unblocked views of everything, and were even the recipients of high fives and personal waves from characters. Seriously, this was the best parade viewing experience of my life, and theirs so far. If you have the opportunity to use the FastPass+ system, I highly recommend taking advantage of the parade or firework viewing option. I know we won't ever again watch a parade or fireworks in any other way. So, thank you MagicBands and the FastPass+ system, now we can enjoy every experience with our entire family!

Pop Century Review

Let me start with saying in my opinion Pop Century is by far my most favorite value resort. I have stayed there probably over 50 stays. When we have the chance and they are available that is where we go.

Pop Century opened in 2003. It was meant to have 2 different areas, the Classic years and Legendary years. What was to be The Legendary years part is now the Art of Animation. The Classic years go from 1950's to the 1990's.

Pop Century is located in the Wide World of Sports area, which means it is closest to Hollywood Studios. Pop takes you through the decades. It brings me back to my childhood when I go into the lobby and see the cute little displays from the decades. I show my kids what we had growing up as kids. They have cute little displays of toys and gadgets from each decade. They even have you dancing in the lobby at certain times. It's really fun!

Pop has 3 pools. The big one up front is called the Hippy Dippy pool. It is so cute with its flower shaped sprayers. Even the pool bar is taken back to the 60's! The other pools are located in different areas. There is a big bowling pin pool and a big computer pool.

Among the room you will see giant icons like a huge Mickey mouse phone, a huge cell phone, a Big Wheel, and many more icons.

Pop also has a jogging trail, a playground, and an arcade to entertain the kids for the off times that you're not in a park.

The rooms are an average of 260 square feet, usually have 2 double beds, a table, 2 chairs, and a 32 in, TV.

There is a store to get your souvenirs and odds and ends. Dining is like the other value resorts. One of my favorite things about Pop is Mom's night out meal! This is a special meal, just like we had as a kid, it comes in a tray just like an old fashioned TV dinner. The other favorite is the tye dyed cheesecake! It will dye your lips blue, or red, or green!! It is soooo good!!! They also have pizza delivery.

The rooms are nicely done, like the other values, with themed pictures and wallpaper.

Here are some pics from my trips...enjoy!!!

These soccer players are 12 ft tall!!!

This big wheel can hold 644 lb kid!

Mom's night out meal!



Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Will's Bucket List

There is so much out there that is Disney related. As a self-professed Disney geek, I would love to do the following things. So, here is my bucket list.

1) Disney cruise. I don't care where it goes, I just want to cruise with my buddy Mickey Mouse.

2) Dine at the Chef's Table at Victoria and Albert's.

3) Stay at the Grand Californian over Christmas.

4) Visit Disneyland Paris.

5) Visit Hong Kong Disney.

6) Ride one ride in each of the 6 major parks between Disney World and Disneyland on the same day.