Tuesday, February 24, 2015

DisneySide @Home Celebration Kit

I was lucky enough to have gotten picked once again to host a Disney home celebration,and I am beyond excited! Last year we were also chosen, and we had one of the best times with our Toy Story party.

 It all started with signing up for the hostess kit and being chosen out of thousands of applicants. I actually thought I had missed the deadline, but a day later, I got that magical Mickey mail saying I had be picked. I don't know who was more excited, me or my kids!

 So, next comes the waiting for the pixie dusted box to arrive.  Bursting full of Disney goodness! Tons of goodies just waiting to be used for our party.



 The box we recieved was Mickey and friends themed,which was great for what we wanted to do. We love Mickey and all of his pals! We decided to have a Disney Love theme for our party. We are still in the planning stages, but this is what we have so far.

 For food:
 A Valentine's day mix like chex mix
 Heart shaped veggies
 Chocolate covered strawberries
 Heart shaped pizzas/sandwiches
 Sweetheart punch
 Mickey rice crispy treat

Decorations:
We are going to make a lot of the decorations at home with our printer. I am going to do Disney movie love quotes,and make small poster to hang about the room. We are going to have balloons, and Mickey love chains. Red pink and white napkins straws ect.

 Games:
We are planning on playing pin the smile/Kiss on Mickey,Disney trivia, and Disney bingo,and something for the little ones to do. PLus were going to make treat boxes and fill them with candy to take home.

 Photo op:
OUr photo op,I am planning on cutting out small hearts and taping them to the wall, there gonna start out as small Mickey heads, and end in hearts. You will have to see what I mean in a later blog.

So,what did this kit include?

Pin the smile on Mickey, Mini DIY treat boxes,Mini mouse treat boxes, 2 palace pets,2 pks of pencils, Minnie cupcake stand, Mickey cake pan,2 pks of plates, 2 pks of cups,party decoration, crayons, trivia game, Bingo game, cake mix, coupons, Minnie mouse baggies, Invitations,tattoos,stickers,table cloths,10 pks of HP printer paper cards,a few laundry samples and a big tub of All detergent tabs.Sorry if I missed anything.

Our party is planned for the second week in February around Valentine's day.

 Thank you so much BSM media.

Friday, February 20, 2015

My DisneySide @Home Celebration-Villain Edition

**I received free products in order to host my #DisneySide @ Home Celebration. The opinions expressed here are my own. **


    I was so excited to have my party! We scheduled it for February 7, 2015 at 6:30 PM. The villain theme had everyone excited.  My oldest was the hunter from Bambi and we had Darla, Syndrome and Gaston, as well.
I was the Queen of Hearts!
My husband as Syndrome
The Hunter
 We put the finishing touches on costumes and decor as people started arriving.

Doors decorated as a deck of cards
Centerpieces
    There were several local events and sicknesses going around but I still had a great turn out of 17 adults and kids. I had Maleficent playing on the TV in the main room. After everyone arrived and I introduced them, I invited them to partake in some poisonous vittles and potions.

Poison vittles
Everyone loved Vader's Taters
Heart Marshmallows

















One special treat was Snow White's poison apple, it was delicious!


    As people were wrapping up with eating, I showed them the room that was set up with a photobooth. There were famous villains available for photos, but no autographs were allowed.

Elsa and Queen of Hearts
Gaston and Cruella
Maleficent and Darla
    There were several games supplied in the kit so we had a blast playing them!

Word Search
Gaston calling Bingo
Ready to pin the mouth on Mickey
The mouths on Mickey

The winner of each game was awarded door prizes that were supplied by Twinings Tea, my friends at  Sydney's Thotful Spot and our pal Smart Moms, Sassy Daughters.


  All guests left with a goody bag of treats from the kit  that included a luggage tag from Disney, a coupon for a Beyond Meat product, button from the new Cinderella movie and Dalmatian fingernail file from Princessa.

  Thanks again to Disney, Mom Select and all of the sponsors for my successful Disneyside 2015 party!

**I received free products in order to host my #DisneySide @ Home Celebration. The opinions expressed here are my own. **

Thursday, February 12, 2015

DisneySide @Home Celebration Party Planning

   **I received free products in order to host my #DisneySide @ Home Celebration. The opinions expressed here are my own.

   I was so excited to find out that I had been chosen again to be a part of an amazing group of folks showing my DisneySide! The planning began as we anxiously waited for the package that was to be a villain theme.
My box has arrived
My family loves the villain side of Disney. When the box arrived, we tore into it quickly. I loved the tub of All and Wisk laundry detergent and the Twinings tea!

Some of the freebies in my box
   My whole family got in on the action. The kids helped with the menu and decor. We shopped for food and items to add that villainous touch to each room. I even had some very talented friends donate a few handmade prizes. Thanks so much to my pals at Smart Moms, Sassy Daughters and Sydney's ThotfulSpot for the awesome donations!

Giveaway table
   The night before the party we began preparing the food. We had a blast together making the Ursula mini cupcakes, poison Apple salad and my favorite Disney snack- caramel poison apples!

Making poison apples
We made signs to put on each food item and drink. It was awesome to see the ideas my kids were coming up with.

   I can't wait to share the actual party details!

   **I received free products in order to host my #DisneySide @ Home Celebration. The opinions expressed here are my own.

Monday, February 9, 2015

You Don’t Have To Go Home, But You Can’t Stay Here: Magic Kingdom Evacuations


I know that facing an emergency evacuation is the last thing on anyone’s mind when they visit the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World, but it could happen.  Rest assured that cast members are ready for these situations and have been trained on exactly what to do if they should arise.  I have never been a part of an evacuation as a guest or a cast member but I thought I would run down the 3 levels of evacuation that you may encounter depending on the severity of the emergency. 
As Usual
Guests would be asked to exit the park in an orderly fashion just as they would any other time.  Cast Members would of course be assisting with crowd control and have out their air traffic control wands.  This is for an evacuation where time is not necessarily a factor but there is still reason to evacuate the park.


Just a normal exit from the park after fireworks.
Best Possible Route

Guests would be asked to exit the park and routes that would not normally be traveled by guests would be opened to allow for a faster evacuation.  These routes may take guests into cast member only areas backstage.  Safety is the most important thing to everyone at Walt Disney World, so for these emergency situations the veil of “magic” may be lifted temporarily to ensure the safety of the guests.  Sometimes these routes are used in very high traffic times of the year as well to help ease the flow of traffic down Main Street U.S.A.  They have used one such route so much that they decided to sprinkle some pixie dust on that area so when they do need to use it the guest’s experience is not ruined in any way.  Such a Disney thing to do!
Adventureland: To the left of Pirates of the Caribbean

Frontierland: To the left of Splash Mountain
Where parades will originate or end.

From both above locations you exit out to the right of the
Fire Station in Town Square
(The exit that I'm sure many of you have used is just to the left of the Plaza Restaurant and lets you out up by Tony's Town Square.  This is the one I mentioned before that will surely be getting more frequent use.)
Take Cover

Guests would be immediately escorted down to the utilidors under the Magic Kingdom.  We all know that the tunnels under Magic Kingdom are used by cast members to come and go from their locations and where a lot of the behind the scenes operations occur.  There is an incredible amount of space down there as well and in an extreme weather emergency, like a hurricane, cast members will have no problem evacuating guests down to the first floor of the Magic Kingdom for their safety.  If you think it is bad how the cast members ask you to move down the row and fill in all available space, imagine if every guest in the Magic Kingdom is evacuated down into the utilidors.

This is just another example of how the cast members at Walt Disney World do the worrying for us.  We can visit Walt Disney World and only worry about whether to take a poncho or if we will need sunscreen.  The cast members at the Walt Disney World Resort are always prepared and alert to the other things that could possibly endanger their guests.  If you ever are in one of these situations please understand that the steps the cast members are asking you to complete are for your own safety.  Cooperate as fully as you can with the cast members’ requests and realize that inconveniencing you in any way is the last thing that these cast members wanted to do.  They want to ensure you are safe so that they can see your smiling, happy face visiting their park again.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Foodie Friday: Treats in The World Showcase: Japan

Every time we go to Epcot, I have to go into Mitsukoshi Dept store in Japan. It is one of my favorite stops, the Japanese items are nice, and the anime is cool, but I go for the candy!

 Japan has a unique array of fun foods and they are very budget friendly too! So, for just a buck or two you can enjoy something like rice candy where you actually eat the wrappers.

 I am starting to get more daring with the choices I make, I always look for the new items each time I go. So, this last trip we got a few things to try out and they were all very yummy.

 So first was Jelly candy. I usually always have to pick up a bag of jelly candy as my hubby and kids go crazy over it. This time they had the jellies in a brick form instead of in a small cup, so I got those for only 2.99 for 10 small pieces. You peel out the outer plastic layer, the next layer is rice paper, so you eat the second wrapper, and enjoy the jelly. The flavor we chose was strawberry.  It was pretty good.



 Next we picked up Tohato wheat crackers, which are a Japanese cookie. These are packed in packs of 4 and are super thin and buttery. They reminded me a lot of a town house cracker, but thinner and lighter. These were a great deal at only 3.49.



 Next was Calbee Bean snack. These are sometimes in small bags, and come in 4 single serve bags, which is great for sharing. They are only 3.29. These tasted like the veggie chips I get in the grocery store. They were shaped in tiny little hearts,and were super light and a perfect small snack.




 The last thing we picked up this trip was something called Cream Collon They are a wheat cracker, and have cream inside them. They are just like a combo to me, they had that same feel to them. They were stuffed with some form of vanilla cream, again super light, and yummy.These were only 2.99 a box.



 For the hot times don't forget outside in the small kiosk, they sell ice pops that are only 2.00, Perfect for the smaller kiddies.

So, if you're in the mood for some fun snacks, don't just walk on by Mitsukoshi while in Epcot's Japan.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Coronado Springs Resort: A Hidden Treasure



My family and I really enjoy visiting the various Walt Disney World resorts and spending a little time walking around and taking in the ambiance.  We go through phases where a particular resort becomes a favorite.  For the longest time that resort was Disney's Art of Animation.  Lately our allegiance has shifted to Disney's Coronado Springs Resort. 

I know that it may come as a surprise to some that we would enjoy this resort as it consistently gets a bad name as a "business" resort because of its onsite conference center.  I say that this is all the better reason to visit Coronado Springs and would make a great choice when planning a vacation.  Every time I visit Coronado Springs it is a very quiet and relaxing experience.  The beautiful scenery and southwest motif is right up my alley.



This moderate resort boasts a quick service restaurant (The Pepper Market) as well as a table service restaurant (The Maya Grill).  Both look to have amazing menus staying true to the southwestern theme of the resort.  My wife and I hope to report back after our anniversary dinner at Maya Grill in a few weeks.  Besides the fact that Coronado Springs has two amazing restaurants, it also an amazing pool (The Dig Site) that is, in my opinion, one of the nicer pools at all of Walt Disney World.  The giant pyramid and water slide make it aesthetically pleasing as well as fun!



The next time you have a little time to kill while at Walt Disney World and you are the type of person who truly enjoys the effort that Walt Disney World puts into theming, I suggest you head on over to Disney's Coronado Springs Resort.  I truly believe that it is a hidden treasure.  Just to give you a little taste of what you will find I have put together a slideshow of some of the sights from my last walk through the resort.

As you go through the video keep your eye out early for my favorite Hidden Mickey on Walt Disney World property. (hint: Lobby/Lights/High on Wall)


Monday, January 19, 2015

Disney Travel and Making Memories that Last: Is it really that important?

    I know what you're thinking... You just read the title of this post and thought, "Duh."  Of course, making memories that last are important.  Trust me, no argument here.  I'm a big fan of memories that last.  I peruse my online photo albums repeatedly; I laugh, I cry, I cringe at the memories said photos provoke.  So, let me explain.  I come to this topic by way of numerous conversations I've had as a Disney specific travel agent.  You see, as a lover of all things Disney, I'm pretty much a walking advertisement for the brand.  Chances are, I'm wearing a Disney related article of clothing (Mickey Mouse thermal at the time of this writing).  I love talking about Disney.  If you're talking about Disney travel within earshot of me, I will butt in.  Not just to promote my free travel planning/booking services, but just because I genuinely love talking about Disney.  So, I cannot tell you the number of times I've heard someone say, "Oh, we'd love to go to Disney World but we're not going to go until Insert Child's Name Here is OLD ENOUGH TO REMEMBER IT."  I smile and nod, and my inner Disney geek sheds a little tear.

The Hurdle Family at Wilderness Lodge, Photo provided by Tracy Hurdle
My son will be 4 years old in a few short months and he's a very fortunate young man in that he has been to Disney World twice.  He was 2.5 years old when his feet hit Main St. USA for the first time. I am well aware that he will not remember what it was like to see that glorious Castle for the first time. So, why did we go?  Why spend that kind of money (typically the number one reason following the "they won't remember it" adage) for something with no lasting effect or apparent benefit to your child?  We'll get to that in a minute.  First, science.

Fire up your old Google search engine and enter "Toddlers and Memory" and you'll receive about 9,730,000 results in 0.24 seconds.  The first entry is from a website called Today's Parent and the article is entitled "Your toddler's memory: How much do toddlers remember and for how long?"  The following is an excerpt from this article:

In a study published in the journal Memory in 2005, researcher Carole Peterson, a professor of psychology at Memorial University of Newfoundland, found that six- to nine-year-olds have verbally accessible memories from toddlerhood that seem to disappear as they get older. A follow-up study published in Child Development in 2011, which tracked four- to 11-year-olds over a two-year period, found that “earliest memory” changed as the children aged, even if they were given cues about the original earliest memory from two years prior. It was infantile amnesia in action.
“We documented the fact that children were losing memories,” explains Peterson. Intrigued, she decided to find out why some memories stay and others go. This newest study, which is awaiting publication, found that memories “infused with emotion, either positive or negative,” were three times more likely to stick, says Peterson. The other factor was coherence — the memory needed to fit together as a whole, in narrative form, rather than just being a stand-alone snippet. In other words, if you want your toddler to remember something, talking about it with her helps, too. “Children acquire the habit of remembering life events because they talk about them,” says Peterson.
Did you catch what I did?  The part about memories that last are the ones associated with emotion?  I can't speak for anyone else's child but my own.  I assure you that my son experienced a multitude of emotions on his Disney trips.  Excitement, Happiness, Fear, Awe, and a myriad of others as he experienced his first roller coaster (The Barnstormer), his first Disney character meet (Minnie Mouse), his first haircut (Harmony Barber Shop on Main St.), his first parade, and so on.                                                                                                                  
The Hurdle Men with Minnie Mouse; photo provided by Tracy Hurdle
The second part of the above paragraph that is important is the concept of coherence.  Children may not remember certain activities but by golly, they remember stories.  Sometimes the elements may have a bit of fantasy about them, but they remember them.  To help my son remember his time in the House of Mouse, I created a large and very sturdy photo album with as much detail as I could muster about our trip.  We look at this photo album fairly regularly and talk about the memories associated with each page.  We tell stories about our experiences and watch YouTube videos of Disney rides (The Haunted Mansion is a favorite). Again, I understand that my son will likely not remember these trips when he is older, but he remembers enough now to exclaim, "I want to go back to Disney World" at random moments.

Back to the questions at hand: Why does my family go to Disney World now?  Why spend the time and money on something our children won't remember?  The answer is profoundly simple.  I'm actually going to let Neil Patrick Harris do the talking for me.

<Double Take>  What does Neil Patrick Harris have to do with this?  Fair question and I'll start with a little exposition.  Neil Patrick Harris is an outstanding entertainer of stage, screen, and film and is a long time Disney fan.  He hosted the Disney Christmas Day Parade in 2013 and for years has narrated the Candlelight Processional at Epcot.  He and his husband, David Burkta, are parents to two adorable twins, Gideon and Harper Burkta-Harris.

Photo provided by Amazon.com


I recently finished reading Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography, a charming and fun book that was published in 2014.  At the very end of the book, Mr. Harris talks briefly of his associations with Disney and perfectly relates the thoughts and feelings that I share about this magical place.  The following is an excerpt from page 287 of his book as he describes his children's first ride on one of my favorites, Peter Pan's Flight:

And now for your hundredth time and their very first, you are boarding Peter Pan's Flight in Fantasyland.  It's one of the few original Disney attractions still in operation, and of course you-savvy, sophisticated you-know all its secrets.  You're familiar with how Omnimovers work, you've seen how Audio-Animatronic figures are programmed, you've studied the circuitry, you know where the speakers are.  And knowing all this makes you greater appreciate the artistry, and you find yourself admiring the thousand little details that go into the ride.  But some of the wonder, you admit to yourself, is gone.

Until you gaze at your two-year-old son sitting on your lap, and his twin sister, sitting on the lap of the man you love so much, and this five-minute climate-controlled adventure that you've grown a little jaded about is once more a spellbinding enchantment, because you're seeing it anew through their eyes.  Gideon gapes at Captain Hook.  Harper gasps at Peter soaring through the sky.  They both squeal with delight as the crocodile does his dirty work.  You experience them experiencing pure magic, unadulterated by cynicism or irony or self-consciousness.  And as the ride makes its full circle, so do you, until Peter Pan has done it again, and you are once more a child, taking it all in, amazed, overwhelmed, and enchanted.  

Then it's over, and Gideon and Harper, these two little organic walking talking miracles that are somehow yours, are cheering at the end for the ride they called "Boat".  "More, more!" they shout.

And so you cry your eyes out.  And ride it again.


You see, gentle reader, the memories we make when our children are small, the memories that last, are our own.  I took my son to Disney World when he was 2.5 years old because I wanted those memories.  I will forever remember my son's face, his maniacal laugh, his genuine delight.  I will remember him facing his fears, trying new things, and interacting in a world unlike anything he'd ever seen.  I will remember watching my husband and my son stroll hand in hand down Main St. and the feeling that my heart would burst with gratitude and joy.  I promise you, it's worth every penny.

That is the face of a boy who just met his favorite character of all time.; Photo provided by Tracy Hurdle





Tracy Hurdle is a fellow agent and Family Destinations Specialist with the travel agency, Magical Vacations by Me. If you have any questions about Disney travel, feel free to contact her on her Facebook page, Magical Vacations by Tracy, or by her email address: tracy@magicalvacationsbyme.com.