Saturday, April 19, 2014

Dispatch from Disneyland {Book Review}

image from dispatchfromdisneyland.com 
Back in March, I shared a press release for a new Disneyland book~ Dispatch from Disneyland: Stories and Essays from the Happiest Place on Earth.  The author, John Frost, was gracious enough to send me a digital copy to review on my blog.  

I've spent the past month reading these stories and essays each day.  All of these stories are easy to read and very entertaining.  As I read, I could picture myself in the story walking down Main Street, sitting on a park bench or interacting with a character.  They are beautifully written and each story left me wanting to read another!  All of the stories are between 2-5 pages long.  

My favorite story, by far, was the Esmeralda story.  I don't want to give anything away, but anyone who is a fan of Disney magic and Disney characters needs to read this story in particular!  Amazing.  I also loved the "Elements of Magic" in the Addenda part of the book.  These are "stories that make up the elements of the magic kingdom that is Disneyland." Fifteen different buildings and attractions at the park are included in these stories.  These are like "hidden secrets" of Disneyland in my mind.  

Along with the great writing and stories, you will find beautiful photographs throughout the book.   There are 107 pages that hold 17 "Dispatches", 8 "Essays" and 4 "Addendas."    

I believe anyone who is a Disney fan, whether you have been to Disneyland or not, will enjoy these stories in this book.  It's always nice to read about Disney Magical Moments, even if they didn't happen to you!

If you are interested in purchasing your own copy of "Dispatch from Disneyland" visit John's web site with the same name.  The PDF digital copy is $9.95 and the paper version from Amazon is $9.86 with the Kindle version only $4.99. 


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Mickey Mouse Pretzel in Frontierland

I have a long list of favorite snacks and foods from Walt Disney World.  Most of my favorites seem to be shaped like Mickey Mouse.  On our last trip, we made at least three trips to the pretzel cart in Frontierland, across from the Diamond Horseshoe in Magic Kingdom.  There was something special about these Mickey shaped treats!
At this cart you can find my favorite, Mickey Pretzels, for $4.50.  You can also get a churro here.  While I do love a good churro, I haven't had one from this location before.  These will cost you $3.75.  A tad cheaper, but not as good and definitely not Mickey shaped!  In addition to the churro and pretzel, you can get chocolate dipper or cheese sauce for $1.00.  There are also beverages at this location: bottled water, bottled soft drinks, smartwater and drink accessories (toppers and straps).

Have you had a Mickey Pretzel from Frontierland before?  What did you think?  Do you eat it plain, with cheese sauce, with mustard or another creative way?  I'd love to hear in the comments!!

Animal Kingdom Attractions: Discovery Island Trails

I'll be honest.  This is an attraction I haven't spent enough time exploring.  The Discovery Island Trails at Animal Kingdom opened when the park did in 1998.  Originally these trails were called the Tree of Life Gardens, then changed to Discovery Island Gardens, and now they are Discovery Island Trails.  

These self guided walking trails surround the Tree of Life.  While on the trails, guests can see the 300 carved animals in the Tree of Life up close.  Live animals can also been seen off the trails in the vegetation and grass.  You may see deer, kangaroos, flamingos, porcupines, tortoises, exotic birds and more.  While you are looking at the animals you will also walk through caves, over bridges and along paths.  

Tips:
  • Visit the Discovery Island Trails at the beginning of the day.  While other guests are rushing to Kilimanjaro Safari or Expedition Everest and you can be enjoying the trails all to yourself!
  • Guests may stay in wheelchairs and ECVs.
  • Like always, keep your camera out!  You never know what cool animals will come out to visit. 
  • If your children are in strollers, this is a nice, quiet place for them to take a nap while you stroll through the trails. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Tips for a Relaxing Walt Disney World Vacation

Honestly, I wouldn't plan on a relaxing vacation if I were traveling with my boys!  It seems like those trips are all hustle and bustle!  But, if I were traveling with adult friends or my husband, I would definitely want a more relaxed vacation!

Here are a few tips for helping make a Walt Disney World vacation somewhat relaxing. 


  • Consider staying off property.  I know, this goes against everything I've always said about a Disney vacation!  I LOVE staying on property, but staying a few miles from Disney may allow you to get a cheaper room, a full sized house with a pool or more amenities.  It also allows you to get away from the characters and fanfare- which for some people is needed (not me though!).  There are several relaxing hotels in the Orlando/ Disney area that offer spa treatments, lazy river rides, nature hikes and more.
  • Split your vacation between Walt Disney World and the beach.  It's only a 2 hour drive to Tampa/ St Pete on the Gulf or just over an hour to the Atlantic coast where you can visit Cocoa or Daytona Beach.
  • Choose only 2 of the 4 parks to visit (based on your families interests and kids ages) and get there at park opening to get the most out of your stay.  Spend the other days on the golf course, at the spa, at the resort pool or walking the grounds.
  • Make dining reservations at restaurants that aren't so busy and noisy.  The Crystal Palace, Garden Grill or Tusker House would be good eats with characters and less crowds.
  • If your schedule allows it, consider visiting in late summer or fall when rates and crowds are lowest.  It won't be as congested and busy, which makes me feel more relaxed! :)

Monday, April 14, 2014

Birds Eye Kid Friendly Veggie Dishes Link Up {Giveaway}

With spring here and summer right around the corner, we are finding our family outside more and more.  Being outside means more grilling out and eating on the back patio.  When I think of summer eating, grilling out and eating on the patio, I naturally think of fruits and vegetables.  The only problem with this is my kids aren't the best veggie eaters. :(

I've looked on the Birds Eye web site and have found three options that my kids may eat.  I'm sharing the recipe for my favorite!

image from Birds Eye

  • 1 can (16 oz) black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 bag (12 oz) Steamfresh® Super Sweet Corn, cooked according to package directions and cooled
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil

  1. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl until well combined. Season with Tabasco sauce and salt to taste.
  2. Cover and chill for up to 1 hour before serving.
  3. Serve with baked whole grain tortilla or pita chips.
2) Purple Berry 'N Broccoli Smoothie
image from Birds Eye
image from  Birds Eye
Can you help me?  Can you create and share your own healthy and kid-friendly veggie dishes?   

The first THREE bloggers to link up a post showing their favorite Kid Friendly Veggie Dishes in the linky below OR comment with the recipe will get a Free coupon for (1) Birds Eye item (up to $3.49 max value) mailed to your house!






Sunday, April 13, 2014

Animal Kingdom Attractions: The Oasis

Some people might argue with me that "The Oasis" at Disney's Animal Kingdom is not an attraction.  But, I think it is!  When you enter this park, you can't get to any of the park's lands without traveling through the Oasis.  This area literally sets the stage for your day in Animal Kingdom and helps you transition from "out there" to "in here."  

Here you will find waterfalls, streams, beautiful plants, habitats, animals and trails.  You are literally in a tropical oasis.  You can find all sorts of animals here, if you keep your eyes open and aren't too rushed to make your way to Expedition Everest or Kilimanjaro Safaris!  Look out for deer, iguanas, anteaters, and birds of all kinds.  

When you enter the Oasis, you have several options.  You can travel towards the Tree of Life and Discovery Island.  You can take your time and look at the birds and animals.  Or you can slow down even more and look at the birds, animals, plants and flowers. 

Tips:

  • No matter which path you choose in the Oasis, they all end at the same place, the bridge to Discovery Island and the Tree of Life.
  • If you choose the path to the left, chances are you will find the one that is less crowded.  This is true for opening and closing- go left!
  • Wes Palm, a roving palm tree, has been spotted at the Oasis in the past!
  • Have your camera ready even if you are trying to get through the Oasis in a hurry.  You never know when that Macaw will pose for the perfect picture!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Walt Disney World Freebie Friday: Sassagoula River Cruise

One of the free things we enjoyed while we were staying at Port Orleans French Quarter was the Sassagoula River Cruise.  This is water taxi service connecting the Port Orleans Resorts to Downtown Disney Marketplace.  The 2½ mile waterway travels from Port Orleans Riverside to Port Orleans French Quarter to Downtown Disney Marketplace and back to the French Quarter and Riverside Resorts.  On the route you will pass through woods, the Treehouse Villas, Saratoga Springs Resort and on to Lake Buena Vista and the Downtown Disney district.  It's a great, leisurely ride through parts of Walt Disney World that you may not see if you aren't on this cruise.
   

The Ferryboats are all named with a Southern Charm!  Some of the creative names are: 
  • Sassagoula Sunset
  • Bayou Princess
  • Magnolia Blossom
  • Delta Lady
  • Azalea Bloom
  • Southern Breeze
The Ferryboat leaves every 20 minutes traveling from the Port Orleans Resorts to Downtown Disney Marketplace from 10am - 4pm, and every 10 minutes from 4pm - 11pm.  The final departure time from the resorts is 11:00pm.  The final departure time from Downtown Disney Marketplace dock is 11:30pm.  

When you are leaving Downtown Disney, pay attention to the departure docks.  The Port Orleans
 “Sassagoula River Cruise” service departs from the Downtown Disney Marketplace dock next to the Rainforest Cafe.   The services for Old Key West and Saratoga Springs operate from the dock behind Paradiso 37 on Pleasure Island.  Downtown Disney also has an internal shuttle boat service that runs between West Side, Pleasure Island and Marketplace.

The boat service will cease operating if there are lightening storms or if the water levels are too high.  Pay attention to the local weather conditions and water conditions.