Thursday, May 31, 2012

Destination Disney: The Color Red

This weeks Destination Disney theme is "RED!"  Sit back and enjoy a sampling of my RED photos from my most recent WDW trip!  Thanks Heidi!!
 










iPhone App Review: Firework Photography

If you are anything like me, you are never able to get "that shot" of the fireworks at Walt Disney World!  I have tried and tried to get the perfect shot at Illuminations and Wishes, but can't.  I've read tutorials and books on the subject, but I can't get my gear to work right.  I believe it's user error instead of equipment error!  BUT, I haven't been to WDW since I found this app on itunes!  "Field Guide for Fireworks Photography" gives you step by step instructions on how to shoot fireworks.  You don't have to worry about remembering what to do, lug a big photography book around or carry crumpled up notes in your pocket!  All you have to have is your iphone and the steps are at your fingertips!

For $1.99 you can download this instruction guide for your next WDW vacation or for the next fireworks show you'll see in your hometown!  It guides you step by step through the set up, ISO, Aperture, Shutter Speed, Focusing and Shooting.  It also gives you the required, recommended and optional gear for shooting fireworks.  The composition tab gives you pointers on where to set up your camera and how to frame the show.  

I can't wait to see another fireworks show so I can try out the tips in this app!  I think it's a great addition for any family traveling to WDW who is interested in taking the perfect firework shots!

Requirements: Compatible with iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPod touch (3rd generation), iPod touch (4th generation) and iPad.Requires iOS 5.0 or later.

To purchase, visit itunes: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/fireworks-photography-field/id502088018?mt=8

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Chip and Co: Hurricane Season

Hurricane season and tornado season is right around the corner in Florida.  The season starts June 1.  Are you prepared for your summer vacation?

See the tips I shared over at Chip & Co.

"A" Wordless Wednesday

Apples... yummmmmy!



Focused on the Magic

iPhone App Review: Buses, Boats and Monorails


If you are planning your first trip to Walt Disney World or your 20th trip, this is an app to own!  For only .99 cents on itunes, you can download "Buses, Boats and Monorails- WDW Transportation."  This app will tell you how to get from point A to point B inside the Walt Disney World Resort.  All you have to do is select your starting location and ending location (resorts, parks, and restaurants).  This app also includes maps of the resorts, parks and Downtown Disney.  

For the first time guest, it offers many options for traveling around WDW.  For the experienced guest, it may suggest a new route you have never tried!  One thing I wish it had was a "walking" option as we love the path from Hollywood Studios to Epcot and this is not listed as an option.  
This app is compatible with iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPod touch (3rd generation), iPod touch (4th generation) and iPad.Requires iOS 5.0 or later.

To download visit: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/buses-boats-monorails-walt/id491756245?mt=8&ign-mpt=uo%3D4

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Tuesday's Tip: Ask for Discounts

When you book you room on Disney property (regardless if it's a value or deluxe resort) ask if there are any discounts available.  If you fall into any of these categories, you may be eligible for a discount or at least an upgrade!

  • Disney Visa Card Member
  • American Express Card Member
  • AARP Card Holder
  • Disney Annual Pass Holder
  • AAA Card Member
  • Military
  • Teachers
  • Nurses
  • Government Employee
  • Your Home State! (especially Florida)
Sometimes Disney offers specials that are unadvertised... just ask!  If there is no room available when you want to book, talk to the manager and see if there is a discount or special offered at another Disney Resort.  Again, ask... you never know what'll happen!

Magical Blogorail: All Star Music Resort


Welcome to those of you joining me from Capturing Magical Memories and those of you just hopping aboard. I am the 2nd stop on our Magical Blogorail.



The All Star Music Resort is one of my second favorite Value Resorts at Walt Disney World.  All Star Sports is my favorite, just for the theme, but I love the Broadway building at the Music Resort!  If I didn't live in Alabama it would be a very tight race between the Orlando area and New York City!  Broadway show tunes is one of my favorite genres of music.  The other genres represented at All Star Music are calypso, country, jazz and rock n' roll.  All of the buildings have larger than life musical instruments and paraphernalia that make for great photo ops!  

The All Star Music is the only resort in the "All Star" family to have family suites that will sleep up to 6 guests.  The other rooms are your traditional "hotel room" with 2 double beds, a table with 2 chairs, and a dresser with TV and mini fridge.  The rooms all open to the outside with a standard or preferred view.   You can view the floor plans below, thanks to Dave at Your First Visit


When arriving at All Star Music, you will check in at the lobby located in Melody Hall.  Along with check in and the lobby, you will find the Intermission Food Court which features American cuisine, Maestro's Mickey Gift Shop and Note'ables Arcade.  On the grounds you will find 2 swimming pools: the guitar shaped Calypso Pool and the Grand Piano shaped pool.  The Calypso pool is the main pool that features a water fountain with the Three Caballeros: Donald, Panchito and Jose.  Along with the pools, children can enjoy the resort play ground or the Note'ables Arcade.

If you stay at the All Star Music Resort, you will need to use the Disney Bus Transportation to get you to the other areas of the Walt Disney World Resort.  Your only other options are a taxi (which can be very expensive!) or a car (rental or personal).  Once you arrive at a park, you can then use different transportation to get from park to park (monorail, bus, boat or walking paths).


While the rooms are smaller at the All Star Resorts and the bus is your main transportation, you can't beat the price!  According to the WDW web site, you can get a room for as low as $89 a night- and I've seen it even cheaper in the past!  The Family Suites will run you more (about $190), but they are larger and have "cooking" options with a microwave, sink and fridge.    For our family, we spend all of our time in the parks, at Downtown Disney or resort hopping.  So, all we are paying for is a place to sleep, shower and keep our belongings.  The Value Resorts make perfect sense for us!



Thank you for joining me today. Your next stop on the Magical Blogorail Loop is Magical Mouse Schoolhouse.


Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail should you happen to have to make a stop along the way and want to reboard:









Focused on the Magic
 

This post is being featured in the Magical Blogorial Rides Again Hop on 4/22/13~ hop over and check out the other posts about Value Resorts! 

Destination Disney: One Favorite Park




My "one favorite park" has changed quite a bit over the years.  But, right now, my favorite park is Magic Kingdom!  There were a few years in the 90s where MGM was my favorite.  Then in the 2000s (as an adult) Epcot became my favorite.  Now, as an adult with children, Magic Kingdom is top on my list!  While I do love all of the parks for different reasons, I feel "at home" at Magic Kingdom.  While it doesn't have the best thrill rides or restaurants and it's farther away from the other parks, it still is my favorite.  Maybe it's because it was Walt's dream and it's the original Florida park.  Maybe it's because I can interact with the characters more.  Maybe it's because of the home town feel of Main Street.   Maybe it's because it's C-man's favorite.  Or maybe it's a combination of all of this and more.

I'm always asked, if you only had one day in the parks, which one would you choose... my answer is always Magic Kingdom, even though I do love Epcot, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom too!

Thanks for the fun countdown Heidi!!  I look forward to future themes! :)

Monday, May 28, 2012

Destination Disney: Two Favorite Memories


I'm waaaayyyy late in linking up with this awesome meme!  The end of school, Memorial Day, being a mom, being pregnant and everything else has gotten in the way of my Disney blogging!  This theme is "Two Favorite Disney Memories."  Really?  TWO!?!?  That's so hard!  So, I'm going to cheat (sorry Heidi!)

I have two categories of "favorites."  1) Favorite memories with friends.  2) Favorite memories with my family.

So my first "friend memory" is the day I discovered "squished pennies!"  You can read the whole story of that night here, but I'll give you a quick recap too!  My friend Heath went to WDW with my family in 2001.  We made fun of the $10 penny albums in the gift shops and wonder who in the world would spend money on that!  Then one afternoon, Heath felt bad and went back to the hotel for a nap leaving me at Epcot alone.  He felt bad for leaving me by myself, so when he came back to Epcot for dinner he brought me a penny album as an "I'm sorry" gag gift.  Little did we know that gag gift would turn into a decade long obsession!  That night and the next day, all we did was run, literally, from attraction to attraction looking for the penny machines!


My second favorite "friend memory" was with Deb on Test Track in 2003.  We had been on this attraction several times during our trip and could not for the life of us figure out where the on ride photo was taken!   We eventually gave up on our last day in the parks before we ran the marathon.  The day before the race we took the day off from park hopping.  We stayed at the hotel to rest and attended the pre race dinner at Epcot in the building where the Food and Wine Festival exhibits are held.  After the dinner, we were supposed to follow the guide back to our bus exiting through a back gate- the same one we entered.  But we were rebels and HAD to find out where that stinkin' picture was taken on Test Track... so we snuck off and rode Test Track a few more times.  We were successful and found where the photo was taken!  We took a few crazy pictures (one acting like the cheerleaders who infiltrated the park that week and one with the bananas we got at the dinner!)  

My first "family memory" was with my mom and C-man at MNSSHP in 2011.  We dressed up as Carl, Russell and Dug from "UP!" and had the BEST time!  I just wish the rest of the family could have joined us!  I loved everything about this party: being with my family, seeing the great costumes, trick or treating, riding attractions, meeting characters and dancing at the dance parties.  Everything was perfect and I look forward to the next MNSSHP experience we have!

My second "family memory" is when my husband, Jonathan, and I went to WDW for the half marathon in 2008.  Prior to the race we spent several days touring the parks. The day before the race we spent the morning at Magic Kingdom.  It was extra magic hours and we arrived for rope drop.  Once inside the park, all we did was walk around looking for hidden treasures I had found online!  It was an awesome morning together!  We also saw a family 6 doombuggies ahead of us at the Haunted Mansion win a night in Cinderella's Castle.  Crazy how close we were!!


Heidi, thanks for the awesome meme and for keeping it open long enough for slackers like me! :)


Friday, May 25, 2012

Magical Blogorail Green: Best Way to Get Wet at WDW

Welcome to those of you joining me from Adventures of a Disney Princess and those of you just hopping aboard. I am the 4th stop on our Magical Blogorail.

There are so many fun ways to get wet and cool off at Walt Disney World!!  I can think of the following ways:

1) resort pools
2) water parks: Typhoon Lagoon, Blizzard Beach
3) water attractions: Splash Mountain, Kali River Rapids
4) splash pads: Downtown Disney and Epcot
5) fountains/ squirting water/ jumping water: Imagination, Aladdin's Carpets, Fountain of Nations, etc.
6) misting stations: Hollywood Studios and Epcot
7) renting water craft: Downtown Disney and Bay Lake
8) summer rain showers

But, my family rarely experiences any of these options!  Since we usually travel in January or February, we tend to stay away from the water.  Even though it's much warmer in Florida than it is at home, we still try to stay dry and not deal with wet clothes and hair!  


However, I have experienced almost all of these water options at some point in the past.  While I do love the water attractions, they aren't high on my list.  I love the different pools at the resorts, but honestly, I think I've only swam in 2!  I like to spend my time at the parks rather than the resort pools.    So, my #1 place to cool off and get wet at Walt Disney World is at the water parks!  And between the two parks, I would choose Typhoon Lagoon as my favorite. While I do miss River Country at Fort Wilderness, Typhoon Lagoon still tops my list.


I love the back story for the park!  
"According to Disney legend, Disney's Typhoon Lagoon was created by an epic storm. Surfboards were hurled into palm trees and boats were tossed around like toys. The typhoon made the storm-soaked Mount Mayday an ideal source for exhilarating waterslides. Surrounding the mountain, a 56-acre topsy-turvy tropical paradise was formed—full of waterways, rivers, rapids and slides. The park's famous icon is an ill-fated shrimp boat named Miss Tilly. She found herself swept up by the twisting tides of the fierce typhoon and came to rest on the peak of Mount Mayday. Every half hour, the boat's whistle blows and the volcano attempts to dislodge the ship, resulting in an enormous geyser of water." (from disney.go.com)  

My favorite attractions are "Castaway Creek", the lazy river, and the Typhoon Lagoon Wave Pool, which is the largest wave pool in the world! I like this wave pool better than others because the waves are continuous, like ocean waves. You can actually "ride" or surf the waves all the way into shore! You can actually pay additional money to have 2 1/2 hour surfing lessons prior to the park opening! Another unique attraction in this park is the shark reef where you can snorkel with live sharks... leopard and bonnethead sharks- no great whites! ;)


What is your favorite part of Typhoon Lagoon?



Thank you for joining me today. Your next stop on the Magical Blogorail Loop is Walt Disney World: Not Just For Kids.

Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail should you happen to have to make a stop along the way and want to reboard:

2nd Stop ~ Disney Living

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Minnie Mouse Birthday Party Craft and Games


Welcome to those of you joining me from Can Do It Mom and those of you just hopping aboard. I am the 5th stop on our Magical Blogorail.

Today, as you know by now, we are celebrating a first birthday, Minnie Mouse style!!  My part of the party was to provide crafts and games.  I had my "assistant" helping with both, so enjoy our pictures, directions and modifications!

For our craft, we decided to paint initials "Minnie Style!"  For each child at the party, purchase a wooden letter from the craft store for each child's first initial.  You'll also need red paint, white paint, smocks, newspaper, paint trays, a paint brush and one small circle sponge "brush" for each child.  Prior to the party, paint each letter red.  Once it's the kids turn to paint, you'll need to lay newspaper down to protect your surface and put a smock on each child.  Give them a circle sponge "brush" and a tray of white paint and let them add the white dots to their initial.  For the girls, you can add a bow to the top.  For the boys, leave it red with white dots!


You could also paint the top half black and the bottom red- only adding the white dots to the red part.  Instead of a wooden initial, you could also paint wooden frames in the same way.  If painting is too advanced for your audience, you could always try to find white circle stickers to put on the painted letter or frame. 

There are several games you could play with your party guests.  
1) Go on a bow hunt!  Make several bows out of construction paper or use actual bows made from ribbon.  Hide the bows around the yard, house or party area and have the kids "hunt" for the bows- Easter egg style!  

2) Bust a Minnie Pinata!  For our Mickey Mouse party we made a pinata, but you can easily add a bow to Mickey to make it Minnie!  Fill it with your favorite candy!
3) Play Pin the Bow on Minnie!  I had to improvise on my Minnie image!  It's hard to find a picture of Minnie without a bow, so I used a picture of Mickey, from the internet, and added eyelashes!  It will be up to the kids to add Minnie's bow.  I used a sheet of foam with a sticky back to cut out the bows.  You can use one color or swap out the colors for different kids.


Thank you for joining me today. Your next stop on the Magical Blogorail Loop is Disney Babies Blog.


Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail should you happen to have to make a stop along the way and want to reboard:



Monday, May 14, 2012

Safety Tat: Review and Giveaway

Several weeks ago I was contacted about reviewing the "SafetyTat" product.  I was able to choose which product I would review between the following: Original SafetyTat, Quick Stick Write-On!, Custom Quick Stick, or QR SafetyTat.

I chose the "Quick Stick Write-On!" product.  According to the web site, you can find "adorable Mouse, Frog, and Surf Board designs that both boys and girls love."  All you have to do is peel and stick the tattoo on your child's body and hold for 20 seconds.  Once it's on, you write your emergency contact information using the SafetyTat pen that is provided. "'Quick Stick!' Made with proprietary Tateck®, it is an ultra-durable, medical-grade, skin applique 'tattoo' with vibrant colors perfect for any skin tone."

My son (3) and I decided to test the SafetyTats together.  On Wednesday morning we chose our tattoos.  I got the mouse and he got the frog.  After we got them on our arms (we put them on the inside of our forearm) he told me to write "Mommy" on his and I wrote his name on mine.  Since we weren't really going anywhere, I didn't feel the need to write our phone number on the tattoos for our review.


I kept my tattoo on my arms for five days and C-man still has his on!  He was much more rough with his than I was!  His managed to stay on through multiple plays on the playground where his arm was covered in sweat and grime.  It stayed on through multiple baths and lotion applications.  Mine stayed on for 5 showers using bath gel, a bath "poof" and lotion.  While we didn't go swimming in the SafetyTats, I feel certain they would have survived a day in the sun and water.  I decided to take mine off on Sunday morning since I was speaking from the pulpit at church and didn't want to be sporting a tattoo on the inside of my arm!  As I said earlier, C-man is still wearing his.

I only found two downsides to this product.  After I took mine off I read on the web site that pregnant or nursing moms should not wear the SafetyTats.  Ooops.  But, this product is designed for children, so I doubt that will be a concern for 99% of the people using it!  The only real downside to this product is trying to get it off!  It felt like peeling off a crazy, sticky bandaid!  I did try to take off my sons, but he started crying when I started peeling it off and wanted me to stick it back on.  I guess we'll have to wait for it to come off on its own!  I think next time, I may try the Original SafetyTats instead of the Quick Stick Write-On for my toddler.  While I may have to reapply more often, I don't think it will hurt as much coming off.  For older kids, I don't think there will be an issue with the "taking off" process of the Quick Stick product!

I will definitely be using this product on our next vacation to Walt Disney World and I will encourage my readers and friends to do the same.  Thank you for this opportunity and good luck to those of you entering to win the giveaway!

If you are interested in ordering some for your next vacation, you can receive 10% off an order of $15 or more through the next week (March 14, 2012-March 21, 2012).  When you check out, you need to enter the following discount code: ADisneyMomsThoughts (case sensitive).


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